The Return of Godzilla

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The Return of Godzilla
Godzilla 1984.jpg
Official Japanese poster
Directed by Koji Hashimoto
Produced by Norio Hayashi
Kiyomi Kanazawa
Written by Hideichi Nagahara
Story by Tomoyuki Tanaka
Starring Ken Tanaka
Yasuko Sawaguchi
Yosuke Natsuki
Keiju Kobayashi
Shin Takuma
Music by Reijiro Koroku
Cinematography Kazutami Hara
Edited by Yoshitami Kuroiwa
Distributed by Toho
Release dates
  • December 15, 1984 (1984-12-15)
Running time
103 minutes
Country Japan
Language Japanese
Budget $6.25 million
Box office $11 million

The Return of Godzilla, released in Japan as Godzilla (ゴジラ Gojira?), is a Japanese science fiction kaiju directed by Koji Hashimoto and a reboot of Toho's Godzilla franchise. It is the 16th film in the franchise and the first film in the Heisei series, despite the film having been produced during the Shōwa period. The film serves as direct sequel to the original 1954 Godzilla film, completely ignoring the events of the Showa series, which saw the franchise return to the darker tone and themes of the 1954 film and returned Godzilla to his destructive antagonistic roots.

In 1985, New World Pictures released Godzilla 1985, a heavily re-edited American adaptation of the film which included additional footage, which featured Raymond Burr reprising his role from Godzilla, King of the Monsters!, which was also produced, filmed, and edited with the same techniques.


After a volcanic eruption on Daikoku Island, the Yahata-Maru Japanese fishing vessel is caught in strong currents off its shores. As the boat drifts into shore, the island begins to erupt, and a giant monster lifts itself out of the volcano. A few days later, reporter Goro Maki is sailing in the area and finds the vessel intact but deserted. As he explores the vessel, he finds all the crew dead except for one young man called Hiroshi Okamura, who has been badly wounded. Suddenly a giant Shockirus sea louse attacks him but he is saved by Maki who kills it with a cleaver.

In Tokyo, Okamura realizes by looking at pictures that the monster he saw was a new Godzilla. Maki writes an article about the account, but the news of Godzilla's return is kept secret and his article is withheld. Maki visits Professor Hayashida, whose parents were lost in the 1954 Godzilla attack. Hayashida describes Godzilla as a living, invincible nuclear weapon able to cause mass destruction. At Hayashida's laboratory, Maki meets Okamura's sister, Naoko, and informs her that her brother is alive and at the police hospital. When Naoko and her brother are reunited, a photographer at Maki's newspaper photographs the reunion.

A Soviet submarine is destroyed in the Pacific. The Soviets believe the attack was done by the Americans, and a diplomatic crisis ensues, which threatens to escalate into nuclear war. The Japanese intervene and reveal that Godzilla was behind the attacks. The Japanese cabinet meets to discuss the defence of Japan. A new weapon is revealed, the Super X, a specially-armored and weaponed aircraft that will defend the capital. The Japanese military is put on alert.

Godzilla attacks the Ihama nuclear power plant. While Godzilla is feeding off the reactor, it is distracted by a flock of birds and leaves the facility almost as quickly as it arrived. Hayashida believes that Godzilla was distracted instinctively by a homing signal from the birds. Hayashida, together with geologist Minami, propose to the Japanese Cabinet, that Godzilla could be lured back to Mt. Mihara on Oshima Island by a similar signal, and a volcanic eruption could be started, capturing Godzilla.

Prime Minister Mitamura meets with Soviet and American envoys and, after some debate over the issue, decides nuclear weapons will not be used on Godzilla even if it were to attack the Japanese mainland. Meanwhile, the Soviets have their own plans to counter the threat posed by Godzilla, and a Soviet control ship disguised as a freighter in Tokyo Harbor prepares to launch a nuclear missile from one of their orbiting satellites should Godzilla attack.

Godzilla is sighted at dawn in Tokyo Bay heading towards Tokyo, causing mass evacuations. That evening, Godzilla abruptly appears in Tokyo and is attacked by the JASDF, but their missiles are useless against it. Godzilla then proceeds to the harbor, where the army uses tanks and rockets against it, but they are quickly subdued by a long blast of its atomic breath. The battle causes damage to the Soviet ship and starts a missile launch count-down. The captain attempts to stop the missile from launching, however, he is killed by an explosion. Godzilla proceeds towards Tokyo's business district, wreaking havoc along the way. There, it is confronted by four laser-armed trucks and the Super X. Because Godzilla's heart is similar to a nuclear reactor, the cadmium shells that are fired into its mouth by the Super X seal and slow down its heart. After unleashing its atomic breath on the Super X, Godzilla falls down unconscious.

The count-down ends and the Soviet missile is launched, leaving the Japanese government and people helpless to stop it. The Americans intervene and fire a counter-missile at the Soviet missile. Hayashida and Okamura are extracted from Tokyo via helicopter and taken to Mt. Mihara to set up the homing device before the two missiles collide above Tokyo. The American counter missile soon hits the Russian missile and Tokyo is saved. Unfortunately, the atmospheric nuclear blast creates an electrical storm and an EMP, which revives Godzilla once more and temporarily disables the Super X.

Godzilla has a final battle with the Super X, eventually damaging the aircraft and forcing it to make an emergency landing where Godzilla destroys it by toppling a building on it. Godzilla continues its rampage, until Hayashida uses the homing device to distract it. Godzilla leaves Tokyo and swims across the Japanese sea, following the homing device to Mt. Mihara. There, Godzilla follows the device and falls into the mouth of the volcano. Okamura activates detonators at the volcano, creating a controlled eruption that traps Godzilla inside.



Disagreeing with Toho's decision to lay the series to rest, producer and creator Tomoyuki Tanaka began developing ideas for a reboot immediately after the release of Terror of Mechagodzilla. Several scripts were prepared, with the idea of returning the franchise back to the dark nuclear roots of the original 1954 film.[1]


The screenplay was first written in 1980, but as an entirely different film. Godzilla was to fight a shape-shifting monster named Bagan, and the Super X played a much smaller role.[2] Elements of the original screenplay, such as Bagan would appear in the 1995 Super Nintendo game known as Super Godzilla.[2]

Producer Tomoyuki Tanaka offered Ishirō Honda a chance to direct this film, but he strongly rejected the offer,[2] because of what came of Godzilla in the 1970s, and his belief that Godzilla should have been permanently laid to rest after Eiji Tsuburaya's death.[citation needed] Also, at this time, he was busy assisting his friend Akira Kurosawa with films he was directing, such as Kagemusha and Ran. Koji Hashimoto, who had worked on several Godzilla films was given the job instead.[2]

Veteran Godzilla actor Akihiko Hirata, who appeared in several past Godzilla films (best known of his role of Doctor Serizawa from Godzilla) was slated to play Professor Hayashida; however, he had died from throat cancer before production began. Yosuke Natsuki, another veteran, took the role instead. Stuntman Kenpachiro Satsuma (who previously played Hedorah and Gigan in the original Godzilla films) played Godzilla for the first time, as a replacement for another stuntman who backed out at the last minute.

Aside from being heavy, the suit was very dangerous (it was not only built from the outside in, but not made to fit him), and Satsuma lost a lot of weight during filming. This mildly mirrored what Haruo Nakajima went through when he played Godzilla in the original 1954 film. Subsequent Godzilla suits worn by Satsuma were much safer and more comfortable, as they were custom-made to fit him (even though the suits still had some dangers of their own).

The special effects were again directed by Teruyoshi Nakano, who had directed the special effects of several previous Godzilla films. The decision was made by Tanaka to increase the apparent height of Godzilla from 50 metres (160 ft) to 80 metres (260 ft) to that Godzilla would not be dwarfed by the contemporary skyline of Tokyo. This meant that the miniatures had to be built to a 140th scale, and this contributed to an increase in the budget of the film to $6.25 million.[3]

The lifelike animatronic Godzilla prop used in close-up shots is the 20-foot (6.1 m) "Cybot Godzilla." It was heavily touted in the publicity department at the time, even though it was not used in the film as extensively as promoted. It was not well received. The Godzilla prop received a Razzie Award for "Worst New Star" after the release of Godzilla 1985. A full-size replica of Godzilla's foot was also built, albeit all of the scenes in which it is used were removed from the American version (the sole exception being a shot of the foot crushing a row of parked cars during the attack on the nuclear power plant).

Prior to New World Pictures' release of the film, Toho had the film dubbed in Hong Kong. This "Toho international version", titled The Return of Godzilla is uncut and was released in the United Kingdom in the 1990s. So far, this version has not been made available in the United States.


Box office[edit]

The Return of Godzilla was a reasonable success in Japan, with attendance figures at approximately 3,200,000 and the box office gross being approximately $11 million (the film's budget was $6.25 million).[4]

When Godzilla 1985 failed at the box office, it was the last Godzilla film produced by Toho to receive any major release in North American theaters until Godzilla 2000 fifteen years later.[citation needed]

Critical reception[edit]

The New World version of the film was almost universally criticized by North American critics.'[citation needed] However, the Japanese version was received better, mainly by fans; many praised it for being very close to the original Godzilla film.[citation needed]


In 1985, the film won the Japan Academy Award for Special Effects.[5]

Home video[edit]

The international version was released on VHS (dubbed in English) in the UK in 1998. The running time matches that of the Japanese version, and the only notable difference is the English text and dubbing. This version of the film has remained unreleased in both the USA and Canada.

This film was distributed to DVD in Japan, Hong Kong, Germany, Finland, Sweden, Thailand, Spain, Italy and France, but never officially in the United States and Canada due to legal issues. Since the release of Godzilla vs. Biollante in 2012, The Return of Godzilla remains the only Godzilla film to not have been officially released on DVD in the United States.


In 1988 Dark Horse Comics released a six-issue limited series, Godzilla, which was an American adaptation of the Japanese manga adaptation of The Return of Godzilla.[citation needed]


  • Tsutsui, William (2004). Godzilla on my mind: fifty years of the king of monsters. New York, New York: Palgrave MacMillan. ISBN 1-4039-6474-2. 
  1. ^ "The Return of Godzilla 30th". Scifi Japan YouTube channel. December 4, 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d "60 Years of Godzilla - The Return of Godzilla". Life Between Frames. July 13, 2014. Retrieved July 30, 2015. 
  3. ^ Ryfle 1998, p. 234.
  4. ^ Tsutsui 2004, p. 65.
  5. ^ Awards for Godzilla 1985: The Legend Is Reborn at the Internet Movie Database

Further reading[edit]

  • Lees, J.D.; Cerasini, Marc (1998). The Official Godzilla Compendium. Random House. ISBN 0-679-88822-5. 
  • Ryfle, Steve (1998). Japan’s Favorite Mon-Star: The Unauthorized Biography of the Big G. ECW Press. ISBN 1550223488. 

External links[edit]