Godzilla has been around for over half a century and, appropriately, always has something new looming on the horizon. Most of the time it’s a new movie or toy, occasionally it’s a video game or in the pages of a comic book. There’s even been novels that took place in Godzilla’s world, complete with epic kaiju battles. Sometimes, though, he sets his sights on the smaller screen with various cameos in other shows and some shorter subject put out by Toho themselves, though many of these haven’t been seen outside of Japan in any meaningful way. Today, we’re looking at this fully-animated appearances which does put Adventure! Godzillaland out of the running which is just as well since I have neither the desire nor means to seek it out. There’s also Godzilla Vs. Bambi but it’s like ten seconds long.
THE THEME SONG
Since it’s a Hanna-Barbera theme song from the seventies, it tells you everything it thinks you need to know about the show. In this case, it just tells you a few things about Godzilla before completely upending any sense of awe it might have inspired by introducing Godzooky. It’s also probably the most memorably aspect of the show.
As has been previously mentioned, this was a Hanna-Barbera produced adventure cartoon from the seventies which means it’s about a group and a funny animal sidekick traveling around the world solving problems. The only difference between this show and, say, Scooby-Doo is that in this show the monsters are real and also gigantic.
THE HUMANS (and non-human sidekick)
The humans are a captain, a scientist, and the scientist’s kid, and some guy. They existed to get into trouble in order to be rescued by Godzilla, and could summon him with a special device. The non-human sidekick is Godzooky, who is supposedly Godzilla’s nephew which raises a lot of questions the show doesn’t care enough to answer.
The monsters ranged the typical gamut of “giant animals” to “kind of inspired” with a number of classic mythological beasts thrown in for good measure. The humans also ran into a number of non-human civilizations, a lot of them hostile. None of the other Toho monsters showed up.
Godzilla himself fared fairly well in the series, though he suffered the same dramatic vulnerability as Superman typically does in his series. This makes sense, since both are nigh-invulnerable super-creatures. This iteration of Godzilla also has some sort of laser vision and is very dexterous and agile for a creature that is, supposedly, thirty stories tall.
The show lasted two seasons and then, like many Hanna-Barbera shows from this era, found a long half-life as part of a number of programming blocks until its original run ended and it was later brought back on various Turner networks until ending up on Cartoon Network for a time. It aired randomly.
Unfortunately, the series cannot be easily seen in the United States today. The first season was released on DVD and then forgotten about, though this version of Godzilla did appear in one panel of an issue of Scooby-Doo Team-Up. We shall never know the true fate of Godzooky.
THE THEME SONG
There were many cartoons based on movies when Saturday morning cartoons were still a thing, and the people behind the 1998 American Godzilla knew that kids would want to see the giant lizard monster every weekend. They also seemed to know all the criticisms that people would have against the movie and this theme song does its level best to address every single one of them.
Why is traveling such a trope in kid’s cartoons? So many of them involved the protagonists going somewhere new almost every single week, and this one was no different. Much like its predecessor, it involved a group of people going around solving problems with the help of Godzilla.
THE HUMANS (and non-human sidekick)
Movies based on cartoons typically carry over everyone they can since it’s a cheap and easy way to create characters, and Godzilla: The Series was no exception. Doctor Nick Tatopolous is here along with the two other major scientists, Nick’s reporter love interest, her cameraman, and even the Army guy who helped end the first movie. The only one not here is the French secret agent, who was replaced by his female protege. There’s also Nick’s assistant and a robot that manages to be useful. All in all, a major upgrade from the Hanna-Barbera series.
Most of the monsters were based upon actual creatures, simply mutated into giant monsters and given assorted powers to make them more menacing and fun to watch fight. As the series progressed, aliens were also introduced, which is a welcome far cry from the “realistic” take of the 1998 film. Oh, and the Godzilla from that movie also becomes a cyborg that fights the current Godzilla.
When the first American Godzilla movie was announced, the world waited with bated breath since the advertising campaign hid the monster from us for as long as they possibly could. This wound up being until Toys ‘R’ Us accidentally leaked the design, which absolutely no one was prepared for. We were willing to give it a shot, but once it was released along with its own storm of multimedia, the verdict was in: this was not our Godzilla. He was dubbed GINO (Godzilla in Name Only) by some and later Zilla by Toho itself, and the years have not been kind to him.
As mentioned, the cartoon sought to fix most of those criticisms. Godzilla in this movie is actually the sole surviving offspring of the film’s Godzilla, whose demise we’re reminded of in the opening scene of the first episode. This new Godzilla is initially treated with some distrust considering his parent rampaged across New York City and all, but his actions proved he could at least be useful. This was in part due to him imprinting upon Nick, a bond tested when Cyber-Godzilla arrived. Most importantly, this Godzilla fought other monsters all the time and was able to shoot fireballs so it was much more in line with the Godzilla we knew and loved.
The cartoon launched on Fox Kids scant months after the movie and lasted two seasons before it became a casualty of the Pokemon/Digimon wars of that era. You can’t stream it anywhere in the United States, to my knowledge, though you can get the entire series on DVD for less than ten dollars.
THE THEME SONG
It’s a movie trilogy so there’s not really a theme song, though I daresay the whole affair would have been much improved by a hard J-Pop ballad fronted by a female singer, perhaps something along the lines of Babymetal? Imagine something similar to them singing predominately about stuff like Godzilla and Ultraman. If anyone knows of anything like that let me know immediately, it’s all I want now.
After monsters wreak havoc across the world, humanity (and their allies, the extraterrestrial Xians and Bilusaludo which are inspired by the Planet X aliens and aliens from the Third Planet of the Black Hole from the Showa era) bugger off into space for twenty-thousand years and return to Earth to find that it’s been overrun with monsters with all three films featuring the humans trying to contend with all this nonsense going on. It was, indeed, a situation.
THE HUMANS (and non-human sidekicks)
The main human is Captain Haruo Sakaki and the movies are more about him trying to kill Godzilla than anything else. There’s a bunch of other people, too, and while some of them are nice they don’t make much of an impression. The Xians are here and are secretly trying to perform a ritual for their death cult, and the Bilusaludo like to hurt things with technology. Later on, there’s another race of humanoids that evolved from insects which seem to be a nod to Mothra.
As mentioned, Earth has become overrun with monsters. The main ones we see are these weird dragon things, and that’s actually about it. The second movie promises Mechagodzilla and never delivers, while the third movie has a version of King Ghidorah summoned by the Xians who is just his three heads jutting out of a black hole. So the monsters are kind of underwhelming.
Godzilla is here. Two Godzilla, maybe more, with the first movie featuring an offspring of the original Godzilla who is know large enough to be mistaken for mountain ranges. This version is somehow plants, and has some new powers, and the first movie really showcases how strong even a lesser version of Godzilla can be while the other two have him fight underwhelming things and he deserved so much better.
All three of the movies have been released and are available on Netflix. Whether or not you should actually watch them is another matter entirely. ou should definitely watch the first one, as it’s tensely plotted and features the kind of robot-on-kaiju action the animation company Polygon Pictures seems to be quite good at producing. The major issue with the second two movies is how they skirt right up to where they might be interesting and fail to stick the landing. More kaiju action would have made them much more palatable as it’s long stretches of person-sized drama and then Godzilla gets hit with a bunch of lasers or grapples with some giant heads. It should be a lot more exciting. As mentioned, they’re on Netflix, if you’d like to take the plunge.