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"Daikaiju" and "Kaijin" redirect here. For the alleged sea monster, see Kaijin (cryptid). For other uses, see Daikaiju (disambiguation).
Daikaiju (giant monster) Godzilla from the 1954 Godzilla film, one of the first Japanese movies to feature a giant monster.
Kaijin (humanoid monster) half-human from 1955 Half Human film

Kaijū (怪獣 kaijū?) (from Japanese "strange beast")[1] is a Japanese film genre that features monsters, usually attacking major cities and engaging the military and other monsters in battle. It is a subgenre of tokusatsu (special effects-based) entertainment. This word originated from Shan Hai Jing (The Classic of Mountains and Seas).[2][3]

Related terms include kaijū eiga (怪獣映画 kaijū eiga?, monster movie), a film featuring giant monsters or a single monster; kaijin (怪人?, referring to roughly humanoid monsters); and daikaiju (大怪獣 daikaijū?, giant kaiju), specifically meaning the larger variety of monsters.

Godzilla is an example of a daikaiju; others include Mothra, King Ghidorah, Mechagodzilla, Rodan, Gamera, Gyaos, Daimajin and Gappa. The term ultra-kaiju is longhand for kaiju in the Ultra Series.

Toho has produced a variety of kaiju films over the years (many of which featured Godzilla and Mothra) but other Japanese studios contributed to expanding the genre in Japan by producing films and shows of their own, including Daiei Film Co., Ltd., Kadokawa Pictures, Tsuburaya Productions, and Shochiku and Nikkatsu studios.


Kaiju are typically modeled after conventional animals, insects or mythological creatures; however, there are more exotic examples.

Monsters famous in English stories (although usually depicted as gigantic in size), such as vampires, werewolves, mummies and zombies, fall into this category. Frankenstein's monster was a starring kaiju in the Toho films Frankenstein Conquers the World, and The War of the Gargantuas.

Kaiju are sometimes depicted as cannon fodder serving a greater evil. Some kaiju are elite warriors which serve as the sidekick to the greater villain and are destroyed by the heroic forces. Others have a neutral alignment, only seeking to destroy buildings and other structures. During the early eras of tokusatsu, "heroic" monsters were rarely seen in daikaiju eiga films, and it was not until later when television tokusatsu productions began using kaiju which aided the hero, saved civilians, or demonstrated some kind of complex personality. These kaiju adopted many classic monster traits, appearing as the "misunderstood creature". Some kaiju hung out with the heroes and provided comedy relief, in contrast to the darker approach to these characters from more mature franchises. Godzilla, arguably the most well known of the daikaiju, has played the roles of hero, villain, and force of nature in the course of his existence, one of the few kaiju of any type to be depicted in multiple roles and having those around him react in different ways, depending on how the creature itself was being presented in the films.[citation needed]

Selected media[edit]


Godzilla and Anguirus from 1955 Godzilla Raids Again film. The film was the first to feature two kaiju battling each other. This would go on to become a common theme in kaiju films.
Daikaiju (giant monster) Rodan from a 1956 Rodan film








Japanese Manga[edit]

America comics[edit]

Video games[edit]


Fan films[edit]

  • Godzilla X The Kaiju Killer (2009)
  • GFantis: World's Collide (2011)
  • Godzilla Rises (2013)
  • Godzilla: Battle Royale (2014)
  • Godzilla: The Destroyer of Worlds (2014)
  • GFantis: DEATHGAME (2015)
  • MechaGFantis Backfires (2013)
  • GFantis vs. THING (2012)
  • Godzilla: Heritage (2017)

Fan series[edit]

  • Godzilla and his Amazing Friends (2009 – present)
  • The Adventure of Ultraman & Godzilla (2010 – 2011)

In popular culture[edit]

  • In the Japanese language original of Cardcaptor Sakura, Sakura's brother Toya likes to tease her by regularly calling her "kaiju", relating to her noisily coming down from her room for breakfast every morning.
  • In the second season of Star Wars: The Clone Wars, there is a story arc composed of two episodes entitled "The Zillo Beast" and "The Zillo Beast Strikes Back", mostly influenced by Godzilla films, in which a huge reptilian beast is transported from its homeworld Malastare to the city-covered planet Coruscant, where it breaks loose and goes on a rampage.[7][8]
  • In Return of the Jedi, the rancor was originally to be played by an actor in a suit similar to the way how kaiju films like Godzilla were made. However, the rancor was eventually portrayed by a puppet filmed in high speed.[9]
  • In The Simpsons: Treehouse of Horror VI - Attack of the 50-Foot Eyesores, Homer goes to Lard Lad Donuts; unable to get a "Colossal Doughnut" as advertised, he steals Lard Lad's Donut, awakening other giant advertising statues that come to life to terrorize Springfield. When Lard Lad awakes, he makes a Godzilla roar. Guillermo del Toro directed the Treehouse of Horror XXIV couch gag which made multiple references to Godzilla and other Kaiju-based characters, including his own Pacific Rim characters.[10]
  • In the 2009 film Crank: High Voltage, there is a sequence parodying Kaiju films using the same practical effects techniques used for Tokusatsu films such as miniatures and suitmation.[11]
  • In the 2013 film Pacific Rim, "Kaiju" is the moniker bestowed upon giant inter-dimensional monsters that invade Earth and attempt to exterminate humanity.[12]
  • Kaiju-Bird Monster was the alt-mode of Decepticon Leader Emperor Deathsaurus in the Transformers: Victory anime.
  • A series of cards in the Yu-Gi-Oh! Trading Card Game called "Kaiju" are inspired, both in name and/or visually, by multiple kaiju from Godzilla-related films, including Mothra, Gamera, and direct monsters of (previous) said series - Gigan, Kumonga, Rodan, MechaGodzilla, and King Ghidorah.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Yoda, Tomiko; Harootunian, Harry (2006). Japan After Japan: Social and Cultural Life from the Recessionary 1990s to the Present. Duke University Press Books. p. 344. ISBN 9780822388609. 
  2. ^ "Introduction to Kaiju [in Japanese]". dic-pixiv. Retrieved 2017-03-09. 
  3. ^ "A Study of Chinese monster culture - Mysterious animals that proliferates in present age media [in Japanese]". Hokkai-Gakuen University. Retrieved 2017-03-09. 
  4. ^ "Pacific Rim: Tales from Year Zero". Legendary Comics. Retrieved 2015-04-06. 
  5. ^ "IDW Solicits Godzilla: Rulers of Earth #12 and Vol. 3 TPB for May 2014 « SciFi Japan". Scifijapan.com. Retrieved 2014-04-29. 
  6. ^ "Pacific Rim: Tales from the Drift, Black Bag, Cops for Criminals - Comics Announcements". Legendary Comics. Retrieved 2015-03-25. 
  7. ^ ""The Zillo Beast" Episode Guide". Retrieved October 5, 2014. 
  8. ^ ""The Zillo Beast Strikes Back" Episode Guide". Retrieved October 5, 2014. 
  9. ^ "The Cinema Behind Star Wars: Godzilla". Retrieved October 5, 2014. 
  10. ^ "Treehouse of Horror XXIV Couch Gag by Guillermo del Toro". Youtube. October 3, 2013. 
  11. ^ "Crank: High Voltage: Godzilla Fight Scene". Youtube. October 1, 2009. 
  12. ^ "Pacific Rim - Legendary". Retrieved October 5, 2014.