|Godzilla film series character|
|First appearance||Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1974)|
|Last appearance||Godzilla: Tokyo SOS (2003)|
Mechagodzilla 2[Note 1]
Mechagodzilla 3[Note 2]
|Forms||Fake Godzilla[Note 3]
Super Mechagodzilla[Note 4]
Mechagodzilla (メカゴジラ Mekagojira?) is a mecha that first appeared in the 1974 film Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla as an extraterrestrial villain opposing Godzilla. In subsequent iterations, Mechagodzilla is depicted as a man-made weapon designed to defend Japan from Godzilla. In all incarnations, Mechagodzilla appears as a robotic doppelgänger and arch-enemy of Godzilla, boasting a vast array of weaponry.
Concept and creation
Mechagodzilla was conceived in 1974 as a more serious villain than its immediate two predecessors, Gigan and Megalon, whose films were considered creative disasters. According to Tomoyuki Tanaka, Mechagodzilla was inspired by both Mechani-Kong from the previous Toho film King Kong Escapes and the robot anime genre, which was popular at the time. Effects director Teruyoshi Nakano also felt that a mechanical monster was cheaper to construct than the mutated animals Godzilla had previously faced. As the resulting Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla proved to be a greater critical success than previous 1970s Godzilla films, the character was revived in 1975's Terror of Mechagodzilla. The film's screenplay was based on the winning entry of a story-writing competition won by Yukiko Takayama, who continued the darker tone of the previous film by adding the subplot of Mechagodzilla being cybernetically connected to a young woman. Mechagodzilla's design remained largely unchanged from its previous appearance, though it was made to look thinner and more angular, with a darker sheen and an MG2 insignia emblazoned on its upper arms. The film's original draft was going to have Mechagodzilla destroy Tokyo utterly, though the destruction was cut down for budgetary reasons.
Mechagodzilla was brought back in 1993's Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II, as the success of Godzilla vs. Mothra and the popularity of its main antagonist Mothra spurred Toho into reintroducing familiar characters rather than inventing new ones. Originally, the new Mechagodzilla was to be named "Berserk", and was envisioned as being a much more organic Godzilla-like creature which would later turn on its creators after becoming infected with a computer virus which makes it self-aware. Berserk would subsequently absorb more and more machinery, to the point of degenerating into a mass of metal and wires, though this concept was rejected early in pre-production. As Mechagodzilla was intended to be a military defense weapon rather than an alien construct, the character was redesigned as looking sleeker and smoother. It was portrayed by suit actor Wataru Fukuda, and consisted of multiple separate elements which were worn like plate armor. Special effects artist Koichi Kawakita originally envisioned Mechagodzilla being able to split into aerial and terrestrial units, though this idea was scrapped in favor of the character merging with the flying battleship Garuda. The film was promoted through the children's program Adventure Godzilla-land, which portrayed Godzilla and Mechagodzilla as rival news anchors reporting on the events of the upcoming movie. Composer Akira Ifukube wrote a theme for Mechagodzilla incorporating a slow battle march with heavy percussion and pentatonic phrasing.
The decision to incorporate Mechagodzilla into the Millennium series was taken by producer Shōgo Tomiyama, who gave the general outline of what would become the story of Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla to Godzilla vs. Megaguirus director Masaaki Tezuka. Tezuka instructed his staff to research both cybernetics and DNA engineering in order to make the character scientifically plausible. Tezuka had initially wanted Mechagodzilla to be a much speedier robot than the one on film, envisioning it as becoming progressively more agile during its fight against Godzilla as the latter tore off its opponent's armaments. This incarnation of Mechagodzilla was deliberately shown being airlifted by carriers rather than flying directly into battle as the previous two incarnations had done, as Tezuka felt that it made little sense for Mechagodzilla to drain its energy in such a manner. Upon being asked why the Mechagodzilla suit wasn't painted with military camouflage colors, Tezuka answered that "Mechagodzilla doesn't need to hide." Tezuka had originally intended to have both Godzilla and Mechagodzilla die at the end of the film, but was forced to change this on the insistence of Toho managers, who felt that such an ending was too dark for a New Year movie release.
In the 2003 sequel Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S., creature designer Shinichi Wakasa used the same mold to create a redesigned Mechagodzilla, which was meant to look more weathered than its predecessor. According to production designer Shinki Nishikawa, several other changes were made to the Mechagodzilla design's head, chest and arms in order to make the character look less heroic and more machine-like. The robot's back unit was reduced in size and flipped upside down, and the head was made smaller. As the previous design's shoulder canons were considered uneven and unsophisticated-looking because of their rectangular shape, special effects director Eiichi Asada made them more pentagonal. As the character was supposed to rely more on its forearm cannons than in the previous film, Nishikawa made them larger and more powerful looking.
In Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla, Mechagodzilla is created as a weapon of destruction by the alien Simians, who intend to conquer Earth before their own home world gets destroyed by an expanding black hole. First appearing in a pseudo-flesh outer covering and masquerading as the real Godzilla, Mechagodzilla attacks Japan and overpowers Godzilla's ally Anguirus. Godzilla appears and destroys the pseudo-flesh disguise, forcing Mechagodzilla to reveal itself in full. Their initial battle results in a tie, as Godzilla is severely wounded and Mechagodzilla is forced back into the Simian's base for repair. Mechagodzilla is deployed again, but is overpowered through the combined efforts of Godzilla and King Caesar. Godzilla ultimately defeats Mechagodzilla by decapitating it and blowing its body apart.
The Simians return and rebuild Mechagodzilla in Terror of Mechagodzilla. This time, it is further modified with living human brain cells, and has its control circuitry integrated into the body of the human woman Katsura Mafune. Mechagodzilla is teamed up with the dinosaur Titanosaurus, who is controlled by Katsura's crazed father. Although Mechagodzilla survives another decapitation during a battle against Godzilla, it is once more defeated after Katsura commits suicide, destroying the robot's controls and freezing it long enough for Godzilla to use its atomic heat ray on Mechagodzilla's headless body, causing it to explode.
In Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II, Mechagodzilla is built as an anti-Godzilla weapon by the United Nations Godzilla Countermeasures Center using 23rd century technology reverse engineered from the remains of Mecha-King Ghidorah. Mechagodzilla overpowers Godzilla in Kyoto, but is rendered harmless by a voltage backsurge caused by Godzilla. Mechagodzilla is recovered and merged with the smaller airship Garuda to form Super-Mechagodzilla (スーパーメカゴジラ Supa-Mekagojira?). This combined mecha later fights both Fire Rodan and Godzilla. It proceeds to cripple Godzilla by destroying its secondary brain and mortally wounds Rodan. Rodan then sacrifices its energy to revive Godzilla, who then uses its new red spiral atomic breath to destroy the weakened Super-Mechagodzilla.
The Millennium incarnation is featured in two films: Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla and Godzilla: Tokyo SOS and is referenced as Kiryu (機龍 Kiryū?), derived from Kikai ryu (Japanese for "machine dragon"). When a second Godzilla appears in 1999, the Japanese military create a Mechagodzilla codenamed Kiryu, built around the skeleton of the original Godzilla from 1954. During its first battle with Godzilla, Kiryu's genetic memories of its 1954 incarnation are awakened, and it proceeds to attack Tokyo, free from the controls of its pilot until its power drains. During its second battle with Godzilla, Kiryu forces Godzilla to retreat after using its Absolute Zero Cannon.
In Godzilla: Tokyo SOS, Mothra's fairies warn Japan that Kiryu's creation is a violation of the natural order, and that Mothra would gladly take the cyborg's place in protecting Japan, should Kiryu be dismantled. The ultimatum is declined, as Kiryu was built partially to defend against a second attack from Mothra herself. Godzilla eventually appears, prompting Mothra and Kiryu to cooperate with each other. Kiryu momentarily is forced to fight Godzilla alone after Mothra is killed, but is later assisted by Mothra's larvae, who encase Godzilla in a cocoon, allowing Kiryu to transport Godzilla far into the ocean.
The Showa Mechagodzilla stands 50 meters in height and weighs 40,000 tons. It is built from "space titanium", and is capable of launching missiles from its fingers, toes and knees, as well as firing energy beams from its eyes and chest unit. Its head can spin 360°, and can form a force field capable of repelling and shocking opponents. The upgraded model featured in Terror of Mechagodzilla included revolving missiles, and was no longer vulnerable to decapitation, as its main computer was housed in an external power source.
The Heisei Mechagodzilla is powered by a nuclear reactor, deriving its energy from heavy hydrogen and helium-3 in pellet form. Its frame is coated in an armor made of synthetic diamond codenamed T-1, allowing the robot to resist and repel Godzilla's atomic ray, as well as absorb its power to energize its "Plasma Grenade", an energy weapon housed in its abdomen. Additional armaments include a "Laser Cannon" and "Mega Buster" ray fired from the eyes and mouth respectively, and shock anchors capable of piercing Godzilla's hide and electrocuting him. The model is later combined with the flying battleship Garuda, thus allowing it to hover and adding two additional laser cannons to its arsenal.
The Millennium Mechagodzilla is piloted remotely from a control craft, and can be remotely recharged from the ground using microwaves that are relayed through a power system on one of the command aircraft, and then beamed back down to the robot. Its armaments include an oral maser cannon, arm-mounted laser guns and a flight pack containing rocket launchers. Its deadliest, but most energetically costly weapon is the Absolute Zero cannon housed in its chest, which fires a beam capable of flash freezing enemies and disintegrating them. In Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S., the Absolute Zero Cannon is replaced with a "Triple Hyper Maser Cannon".
The various incarnations of Mechagodzilla has appeared in other media associated with the series, such as video games, television shows or comics. In the 5th season episode of 30 Rock, "Chain Reaction of Mental Anguish", Kiryu appears as one of the characters in a theme restaurant.
In the game Bulletstorm there's a level where the player controls a mechanical version of a Hekaton (which is the game's equivalent to Godzilla) as well as the song being played during this part of the game being called "Mecha-dzilla"
Godzilla and Mechagodzilla make a cameo appearance in Ugly Americans (Season 1: Episode 7 Kong of Queens) in which King Kong fights Godzilla (King Kong's children watching the movie Godzilla vs. King Kong) and another when Kong punches a wall (after an argument with Mark Lily on the phone), the Showa-era Mechagodzilla was seen having breakfast.
The Shōwa Mechagodzilla appears in the video games Godzilla: Monster of Monsters for the Nintendo Entertainment System, Godzilla for the Game Boy, Super Godzilla for the Super NES (American release; replaces the Heisei version from the Super Famicom release, since the Heisei incarnation's film had yet to be released in America when the game was released), Godzilla: Battle Legends for TurboGrafx-16, Godzilla Generations for the Dreamcast (erroneously using his Heisei counterpart's sound effects) and Godzilla Generations: Maximum Impact for the Dreamcast and the Wii version of Godzilla: Unleashed.
The Heisei Mechagodzilla appeared in the video games Super Godzilla (Japanese version, replaced by the Showa Mechagodzilla in the English release) and Godzilla: Monster War, both for the Super NES, Godzilla: Domination! for Game Boy Advance, Godzilla: Save the Earth for Xbox and PlayStation 2, Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters Melee for Xbox and the Nintendo GameCube, and the Wii and PlayStation 2 versions of Godzilla: Unleashed.
Kiryu first appeared in the Japanese version of Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters Melee on the Nintendo GameCube. Since the Millennium Mechagodzilla duology would take a few years to reach US stores, it was dropped from the American version of the game but did appear as an exclusive in the Xbox version. Kiryu was next playable in Godzilla: Save the Earth for the Xbox and the PlayStation 2 under the title "Mechagodzilla 3"; this would be Kiryu's first PS2 appearance in the United States. Kiryu also appears in both versions of Godzilla: Unleashed, for the first time under the name "Kiryu" as opposed to its names in the two previous games; "Millennium Mechagodzilla" and "Mechagodzilla 3".
Like the other kaiju in the game, the backstories of all three Mechagodzilla incarnations are altered slightly, to fit the context of the game. The Heisei Mechagodzilla and Kiryu are man-made mecha created by the G.D.F. (Global Defense Force) faction to defend Earth from the Vortaak and their kaiju of the Aliens faction. The original Showa Mechagodzilla was salvaged and rebuilt by the Vortaak to be used in their kaiju force.
In the PlayStation 4 version of Godzilla: The Game, 4 incarnations of Mechagodzilla appear, the original Showa Mechagodzilla appears as both Mechagodzilla from Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla and as Mechagodzilla 2 the rebuilt Mechagodzilla from Terror of Mechagodzilla. The Heisei Mechagodzilla appears in its Super Mechagodzilla form, while Kiryu appears in its rebuilt design from Tokyo S.O.S.
In the PS4 version, all 4 Mechagodzilla are playable, the 2 versions of the Showa Mechagodzilla can be played in God of Destruction Mode via the Invade option (which allows the mode to be played using Kaiju other than the Heisei era Godzilla), while Super Mechagodzilla and Kiryu can be played via selecting Defend option (where the player defends humanity as friendly kaiju such as Mothra and various G-Force Mecha). In the PS3 version, only Mechagodzilla 1975, Super Mechagodzilla, and Kiryu appear as bosses and are not playable.
- Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1974) – as Mechagodzilla/Fake Godzilla
- Terror of Mechagodzilla (1975) – as Mechagodzilla
- Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II (1993) – as Mechagodzilla/Super Mechagodzilla
- Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (2002) – as Kiryu
- Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. (2003) – as Kiryu
- Godzilla Island (1997–1998)
- Godzilla: Monster of Monsters (NES – 1988) – as Mechagodzilla (1974).
- Godzilla / Godzilla-Kun: Kaijuu Daikessen (Game Boy – 1990) – as Mechagodzilla (1974).
- Battle Soccer: Field no Hasha (Super Famicom – 1992) – as Mechagodzilla (1974).
- Super Godzilla (Super NES – 1993) – as Mechagodzilla (1974) and Mechagodzilla 2.
- Kaijū-ō Godzilla / King of the Monsters, Godzilla (Game Boy – 1993)
- Godzilla: Battle Legends (Turbo Duo – 1993)
- Godzilla: Monster War / Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters (Super NES – 1994)
- Godzilla Giant Monster March (Game Gear – 1995)
- Godzilla Trading Battle (PlayStation – 1998) – as Mechagodzilla (1974) and Mechagodzilla 2.
- Godzilla Generations (Dreamcast – 1998) – as Mechagodzilla (1974).
- Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters Melee (Nintendo GameCube, Xbox – 2002/2003) – as Mechagodzilla 2 and Mechagodzilla 3 (Xbox exclusive)
- Godzilla: Domination! (Game Boy Advance – 2002) – as Mechagodzilla 2 and Mechagodzilla 3.
- Godzilla: Save the Earth (Xbox, PlayStation 2 – 2004) – as Mechagodzilla 2 and Mechagodzilla 3.
- Godzilla: Unleashed (Wii, PlayStation 2 – 2007) – as Mechagodzilla (1974, Wii exclusive), Mechagodzilla 2 and Kiryu.
- Godzilla Unleashed: Double Smash (Nintendo DS – 2007) – as Kiryu.
- Godzilla on Monster Island (AVP Slot – 2011) – as Kiryu.
- Godzilla: Daikaiju Battle Royale (Online game – 2012) – as Fake Godzilla, Mechagodzilla (1974), Mechagodzilla 2 (1975), Mechagodzilla (1993), Super Mechagodzilla, and Kiryu (2002)
- Godzilla (PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4 – 2014/2015) – as Mechagodzilla (1974), Mechagodzilla 2 (1975, PS4 exclusive), Super Mechagodzilla, and Kiryu.
- Ready Player One (2011) – as Kiryu.
- Godzilla: Rulers of Earth (2013) – as Mechagodzilla (1974) and Kiryu.
The character has generally been positively received. It was rated #15 of the 50 Best Movie Robots by The Times, beating other such legends as C-3PO from Star Wars, the T-1000 from Terminator 2: Judgment Day, and Optimus Prime from Transformers. WatchMojo.com listed Mechagodzilla as #2 on their "Top 10 Godzilla Villains" list, Complex listed the character as #6 on its "The 15 Most Badass Kaiju Monsters of All Time" list, while IGN listed it as #4 on their "Top 10 Japanese Movie Monsters" list.
- The Heisei Mechagodzilla is referenced as "Mechagodzilla 2" in multiple video games. The 1975 Showa Mechagodzilla is referenced as "Mechagodzilla 2" in Bandai's 2014 video game Godzilla, see Video games
- The Millennium Mechagodzilla is referenced as "Mechagodzilla 3" in multiple video games, see Video games
- In Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1974), Mechagodzilla first appears disguised as Godzilla. His true mechanical form is later revealed when the real Godzilla appears.
- Combination of Garuda and Heisei Mechagodzilla.
- Ryfle, S. (1998). Japan’s Favorite Mon-Star: The Unauthorized Biography of the Big G. Toronto: ECW Press. pp. 195–7. ISBN 1550223488.
- 元山掌、松野本和弘、浅井和康、鈴木宣孝 『東宝特撮映画大全集』 ヴィレッジブックス、2012年9月28日。ISBN 9784864910132
- Kalat, David (2010). A Critical History and Filmography of Toho's Godzilla Series (2nd ed.). Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Co. pp. 136–9. ISBN 978-0-7864-47-49-7.
- Ryfle, S. (1998). Japan’s Favorite Mon-Star: The Unauthorized Biography of the Big G. Toronto: ECW Press. pp. 200–6. ISBN 1550223488.
- Ryfle, S. (1998). Japan’s Favorite Mon-Star: The Unauthorized Biography of the Big G. Toronto: ECW Press. pp. 287–93. ISBN 1550223488.
- Kawakita, Koichi (2012). 平成ゴジラパーフェク [Heisei Godzilla Perfection] (in jp). Dengeki Hobby Books. ISBN 4048861190.
- Kalat, David (2010). A Critical History and Filmography of Toho's Godzilla Series (2nd ed.). Jefferson, N.C.: McFarland & Co. pp. 196–201. ISBN 978-0-7864-47-49-7.
- "Tokyo SOS Director EXTRA / 東京SOSの監督〜EXTRA〜 (SciFi Japan TV #27)", CHO Japan (September, 2014)
- "Interview: Masaaki Tezuka and Wataru Mimura", henshionline (accessed 2016-26-05)
- "Godzilla X Mothra X Mechagodzilla: Tokyo SOS production report - The men behind the monsters discuss the latest Godzilla film", Uchusen #108 (Asahi Sonorama) (October 22, 2003)
- Ryfle, S. (1998). Japan’s Favorite Mon-Star: The Unauthorized Biography of the Big G. Toronto: ECW Press. p. 196. ISBN 1550223488.
- Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1974). Directed by Jun Fukuda. Toho
- Terror of Mechagodzilla (1975). Directed by Ishiro Honda. Toho
- Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II (1993). Directed by Takao Okawara. Toho
- Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (2002). Directed by Masaaki Tezuka. Toho
- Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. (2003). Directed by Masaaki Tezuka. Toho
- Michael Moran (2007-07-25). "The 50 best movie robots". The Times. Retrieved 2007-08-06.
- WatchMojo.com (September 25, 2015). "Top 10 Godzilla Villains". YouTube. Retrieved September 25, 2015.
- Josh Robertson, "The 15 Most Badass Kaiju Monsters of All Time", Complex (May 18, 2014)
- Hawker, Tom (May 15, 2014). "Top 10 Japanese Movie Monsters". IGN. Retrieved May 17, 2016.
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