Posted on Thursday, June 6th, 2019 by Joshua Meyer
At 8:55 a.m. on a Friday in the Tokyo suburbs, I sat down at my local Toho Cinemas multiplex to watch Godzilla: King of the Monsters. It was a fitting location to be in: first, because Godzilla destroyed landmarks from this very city in his first movie appearance back in 1954, and second, because the Toho chain of theaters is a subsidiary of the company behind Godzilla. Its theater in Shinjuku — the last stop on the train line where I live — is even situated in a building that is topped with a life-size Godzilla head. A couple of days later, I would commune with the spirit of Godzilla at an 8th-floor terrace cafe with a direct view of the head, before going downstairs to rewatch the movie and takes some notes.
In November of this year, Godzilla will celebrate his 65th birthday. Right now, he’s still averaging one new movie every two years here on his original stomping grounds. Toho’s homegrown series of Japanese Godzilla films boasts thirty-two entries alone. There was a record break of twelve years between Godzilla: Final Wars (2004) and Shin Godzilla (2016). However, with the latter film, plus Netflix’s anime Godzilla trilogy and two recent Legendary Pictures productions, the King of Monsters has been enjoying a global resurgence as of late.
Now, in Godzilla: King of the Monsters, Hollywood has assembled its very own all-star kaiju flick, which draws from Toho tradition to present what USA Today called “the Avengers of giant creature features.” For the first time in an American movie, the gang’s all here: not just Godzilla, but also King Ghidorah, Mothra, and Rodan. Their appearance in King of the Monsters is informed by past appearances in Toho films, so if you’ve seen the movie and are curious to dive deeper into its ocean of references, then prepare to embark on a spoilery submarine expedition through Toho history.