(OOC Note: This will not include every possible Kaiju story, only ones that I am especially familiar with. I shudder to think of even trying to include all forty-odd years of Ultraman series in here, as well as all the various tokusatsu that were essentially Ultraman knock-offs. Since many of these stories contradict one another, I will be "adapting" continuity somewhat arbitrarily to suit myself, and what I think makes for a better story.)
”Kaiju” is a Japanese word usually translated as “giant monster”, but which would be better rendered as “strange creature’. It is typically applied to a wide range of creatures, including but not limited to:
The term kaiju was used primarily in Japan for many years before it became known in other parts of the world. There have been objections to the word as "unscientific", but it did enjoy a brief vogue outside Japan in the early Twenty-First Century. Whether the newer term "Titans", which has come into vogue recently. will supplant it remains to be seen. Note that kaiju are distinguished from "mecha", giant robots which are often used as weapons systems, and which often share many characteristics with them.
What little we know about this period in Earth's history comes from scant archaeological evidence and the occasional testimony of the beings known variously as the "Cosmos", the "Elias" and the "Shobijin".
65,000,000 BC: King Ghidorah visits Earth, wiping out the dinosaurs. It battles a time-traveling Mothra V from the year 1998.(1)
60,000,000 BC: The spacecraft containing Orgah crashlands on Earth. (2 )
10,000,000 BC: Death Ghidorah attacks Earth, but is sealed away by a race of moth-like creatures and their humanoid allies, the Elias. (3)
10,000 BC: Mothra battles Gigan on Infant Island. (4)
The First "Monsters"
AD 1933: Promoter Carl Denham brings the giant ape named “King Kong” from Skull Island to New York City, where Kong escapes and is destroyed by military airplanes A subsequent expedition to Skull Island discovers a juvenile giant ape they name “Son of Kong”. This ape perishes in a volcanic eruption, and the island is believed destroyed. (5) Sometime later, Denham adopts the alias “Max O’Hara”, and, returning to the U.S., and establishes himself as a theatrical agent.(6)
AD 1944: Events this year include:
AD 1945: The beating, undying heart of Frankenstein’s Monster is taken out of Germany by U-boat and delivered to a Japanese submarine in the Indian Ocean. It is then taken to Hiroshima, where it is presumed destroyed in the atomic blast. (9)
AD 1949: Max O'Hara brings the gorilla called "Mighty Joe Young" to Hollywood. Joe does not enjoy his show business career. After saving some children from a burning orphanage, he is returned to Africa. (10)
AD 1953: An American nuclear test (the imaginatively-named "Operation Experiment") in the Arctic awakens a hibernating Rhedosaurus, which proceeds to New York City, where it is destroyed by the military. (11)
The Age of Kaiju: The Early Years
AD 1954: Nuclear testing in the Pacific awakens and mutates a hibernating dinosaur that comes to be known as “Godzilla”. It attacks Tokyo, but is destroyed by Doctor Daisuke Serizawa’s Oxygen Destroyer. Serizawa allows himself to be killed so that the secret of the Oxygen Destroyer is lost. (12)
AD 1955: A second “Godzilla” appears in Japan. Godzilla II battles and defeats another newly-appeared monster, Anguirus, before being frozen in an iceberg. (13) The continued appearance of giant, destructive creatures galvanizes the world’s scientific community.
AD 1956: Seismic activity in Japan awakens two hibernating pterosaur-like creatures that come to be known as Rodan. One Rodan is apparently destroyed by the Japanese military and the other is forced back into hibernation. (14)
AD 1957: Aliens claiming to be from Mysteriod, formerly the fifth planet of the Solar System, land on Earth, demanding land and the right to breed with Earth women. The Mysterians send the robot MOGUERA to attack Japan. They are defeated by Earth forces, and driven from the planet. (15) Galvanized by the reality of extraterrestrial threat, the nations of the world begin the slow process of realizing that humans no longer had the luxury of fighting among themselves.
AD 1958: A monster named Varan is discovered in a Japanese lake. Provoked by the Japanese military, it attacks Tokyo, but is driven off. (16)
AD 1961: Events this year include:
AD 1962: An expedition sponsored by the Pacific Pharmaceutical Company travels to Faro Island near the Solomon Islands. They find a giant ape they call King Kong II. They capture it and bring it to Japan even as Godzilla II revives. Godzilla II and King Kong II battle inconclusively in Japan before vanishing into the sea. (20)
AD 1963: The undersea Mu Empire attacks surface shipping with the monster Manda. The Japanese government sends the submarine Gotengo to Mu, where it defeats Manda and the Mu Empire. (21)
AD 1964: Events this year include:
AD 1965: Events this year include:
AD 1966: Events this year include:
AD 1967: Events this year include:
AD 1968: Events this year include:
AD 1969: Events this year include:
AD 1970: Events this year include:
AD 1971: Events this year include:
AD 1972: Alien cockroaches from Nebula M Spacehunter use King Ghidorah and Gigan to attempt to conquer the Earth but are stopped by Godzilla III and Anguirus. (44)
AD 1973: Events this year include:
AD 1974: Alien Simians attack Japan with the robot Mechagodzilla, but are defeated by Godzilla III and the Okinawan guardian monster, King Caesar. (46)
AD 1975: The Simians send the dinosaur Titanosaurus and a rebuilt Mechagodzilla to attack Japan, but they are defeated by Godzilla III and the JSDF. (47)
AD 1976: An expedition by the Petrox Oil Company discovers a giant ape called King Kong V on an island in the Indian Ocean. They capture it and return it to New York City, where they exhibit it. Predictably, Kong breaks loose and must be killed.(48)
AD 1977: A Godzilla-type monster, hereafter “Godzilla IV” appears in Alaska and begins making its way across North America. The US government organization SHIELD is charged with stopping it. (49) When Godzilla IV reaches San Francisco, it battles the American super-hero team known as the Champions. (50) Godzilla IV subsequently battled monsters created by the criminal Douglas Birely (Doctor Demonicus).
AD 1978: Events this year include:
AD 1979: Events this year include:
AD 1980: The alien warlord Zanon revives the monsters Gyaos, Jiger, Zigra, Viras, Guiron and Barugon and sends them to attack Earth. Two super-heroines known as the Spacewomen recruit Gamera, who defeats the monsters, and sacrifices its own life to destroy Zanon. (55)
The Age of Kaiju: The Middle Years
AD 1984: A Soviet nuclear submarine sinks in the North Pacific near the hibernating Godzillasaurus, causing it to mutate into Godzilla VI. (9) It attacks Tokyo, but the Japanese military manages to seal it into a volcano. (56)
AD 1988: The United Nations Godzilla Countermeasures Center (UNGCC) is formed. One of its first recruits is Saegusa Miki, a young X-mutant. with telepathic and telekinetic powers. (57)
AD 1989: Godzilla VI battles a plant monster called Biollante. (57)
AD 1991: Eccentric roboticist Joel Robinson claims to have been visited by Mothra and Gamera while imprisoned on the so-called "Satellite of Love". His reports are never corroborated, (58)
AD 1992: Events this year include:
AD 1993: The UNGCC has built its own Mechagodzilla (hereafter Machagodzilla II) An expedition to Birth Island in the Bering Strait discovers that Rodan III has hatched from an egg. They discover an unhatched egg that they take back to Japan while Godzilla VI battles Rodan III. The egg hatches into a Baby Godzilla. Both Rodan III and Godzilla VI travel to Japan to retrieve it. Rodan III is destroyed by Mechagodzilla II. Godzilla VI destroys Mechagodzilla II, then returns to Birth Island with Baby Godzilla. (60) The UNGCC rebuilds the remnants of Mechagodzilla II into MOGUERA II, a new robot based on the Mysterians’ design.
AD 1994: Godzilla VI, MOGUERA II and the monster Space Godzilla have a three-way battle in Tokyo in which Space Godzilla and MOGUERA II are destroyed. (61) A young X-mutant telepath named Ozawa Meru joins the UNGCC.
AD 1995: Events this year include:
The Age of Kaiju: The Later Years
AD 1996: Events this year include:
AD 1997: Mothra V defeats Dagahra. (65)
AD 1998: Events this year include:
AD 1999: Events this year include:
AD 2000: Events this year include:
AD 2001: Another Godzilla-type kaiju, Godzilla XI, is possessed by the spirits of those that died in the Pacific War, and attacks Japan. Three “guardian monsters” – Baragon II, King Ghidorah IV, and Mothra VI – defeat it, but are destroyed in the process. (70)
AD 2002: The JXSDF constructs Mechagodzilla III (nicknamed “Kiryu”) from the bones of the original Godzilla. It battles Godzilla X to a draw. (71)
AD 2003: Mothra V and Mechagodzilla III battle Godzilla X. Mothra V is killed in the battle, although two new Mothra larvae appear. (As before, only one Mothra is seen going forwards. The fate of the other is unknown.) Mechagodzilla III is also destroyed. (72}
AD 2004: Events this year include:
AD 2006: A new Gamera-type kaiju, Gamera III, appears and battles the monster Zedus. (73)
AD 2008: Events this year include:
AD 2009: Susan "Ginormica" Murphy, B.O.B., the Missing Link, Doctor Cockroach and Insectosaurus defeat Gallaxhar's invasion of Earth. (76)
AD 2013: Alien invaders send kaiju to attack Earth through a dimensional gateway that comes to be known as "The Breach". Terrestrial monsters including Godzilla VII and Gamera III defeat the alien monsters, and Earth's heroes seal the Breach. (77)
AD 2014: A new Godzilla-type creature (hereafter “Godzilla XII”) appears and battles two creatures known as "MUTOs" in San Francisco. (78)
AD 2016: A new kaiju that superficially resembles Godzilla, and which comes to be known as Godzilla XIII, attacks Tokyo, but is frozen by Japanese scientists. (79)
AD 2019: Godzilla XII and a new Mothra, Mothra VII, battle King Ghidorah IV and Rodan IV in many places around the world, including Antarctica and Boston. (80)
AD 2021: Godzilla XII and King Kong IV battle at sea and in Hong Kong, before allying to defeat Mechagodzilla IV, a robot created by Apex Cybernetics. (81)
AD 2204: Japan has become the world's dominant economic power. A man called Wilson steals a time machine and travels into the past in an attempt to alter history and prevent Japan's rise to power. Emi Kano subsequently returns to this time and has the remains of King Ghidorah II rebuilt into Mecha-King Ghidorah. She returns to the 20th Century with Mecha-King Ghidorah to battle Godzilla VI. She returns to her own time when the battle is over. (8)
1)See Rebirth of Mothra III (1998) The origin of King Ghidorah and other similar creatures is unknown. I speculate that they may be varying types of living “Doomsday Machines”, remnants of a cosmic war fought unimaginable eons ago, and long since run out of the control of their presumably long-dead creators.
2)See Godzilla 2000 (1999) The origin of this spacecraft remains unknown,
3)See Rebirth of Mothra (1996) The nature of the relationship between the Mothrae and their tiny companions is unclear, but it does seem to be symbiotic in nature. Their origins are unknown.
4)See Godzilla: Final Wars (2004) Several civilizations with technology in advance of our own are known to have existed around this time, but they were destroyed in a cataclysm said to have been brought about by their own hubris. Only garbled legends and hidden remnants (Mu, Seatopia) remain. What little information we have about this period makes it clear that these civilizations engineered what we now call “kaiju” to serve as weapon systems. It is unknown whether the Gigan of this time period was serving a terrestrial or extraterrestrial agency.
5)See King Kong (1933) and Son of Kong (1933) It is now believed that this original Kong and his so-called “Son” (Since the “Son”’s body was never retrieved, it is impossible to establish its relationship with Kong, but it seems likely that they were close kin.) were simply extremely large apes of a previously unknown species. It is unknown who constructed the ancient wall that stood on Skull Island. From the photographs that Denham’s expedition provided, it seems unlikely that the natives could have constructed it. Denham's belief that Skull Island was destroyed would later be proven to have been erroneous.
6)(OOC Note: The idea that these two were the same person was not original with me, but I can't remember where I first saw it.)
7)See Kong: Skull Island (2017) MONARCH (See 1973) was a U.S. government organization tasked with studying the creatures they called "Titans" (i.e., kaiju)
8)See Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah (1991)
9)See Frankenstein Conquers the World (1965) The story of the infamous scientist Baron Viktor von Frankenstein (1767-1798) is clouded in a miasma of myths and legends, exacerbated by the liberties taken by his biographer, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley. How the heart of his creature came into the Nazis' hands is unknown.
10)See Mighty Joe Young (1949)
11)See The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms (1953)
12)See Godzilla (1954) While Godzilla is commonly believed to be a mutated dinosaur, there are still competing theories as to its origins. The fact that there have been multiple “Godzillas” with varying characteristics over the years has clouded the issue. The name “Godzilla” is an anglicization of “Gojira”, the name of a legendary monster in the culture of Oto Island, near where Godzilla first appeared.
13)See Godzilla Raids Again (1955) The name “Anguirus” is derived from “ankylosaurus”. Although it was initially believed that Anguirus was killed by Godzilla II, it was later found to have survived.
14)See Rodan (1956) The fate of the second Rodan is unclear. That it would be destroyed where the other survived seems unlikely. The creatures were originally called “Radon” from “PteRAnaDON” (and so it is still called in Japan) but the first English language reports mis-rendered it as ”Rodan”, and so it has remained.
15)See The Mysterians (1957) The exact origins of the Mysterians are unknown, but the fact that they could interbreed with Earth women suggests the possibility that they may be a remnant of one of the ancient Earth civilizations.
16)See Varan the Unbelievable (1958) The creature’s name was derived from a term meaning “father of lizards”.
17)See Mothra (1961) (OOC Note: In the original film, Rolisica is a fictional nation that is obviously a stand-in for the U.S.A. For my purposes, I am treating it as an English-speaking Pacific island nation without a counterpart in our world.)
18)See Gorgo (1961)
19)See Reptilicus (1961)
20)See King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962) It is generally accepted that King Kong II was unrelated to the much-smaller original. As on Skull Island, there was a barrier on Faro Island designed to protect the natives from the island’s unusual fauna. This wall, while well-made, was more primitive than the Skull Island wall, and is believed to be the work of the current inhabitants. Godzilla II looked somewhat different than it had before it was frozen, the first instance of the Godzilla-type creatures tendency to mutate periodically.
21)See Atragon (1963) As Mu was devastated by the Gotengo’s attack, little is known of its culture or history.
22)See Dagorah the Space Monster (1964)
23)See Godzilla vs. The Thing (1964) In future, only one of the two Mothra larvea would be seen. The fate of the second is unknown.
24)See Ghidorah the Three-Headed Monster (1964) It is speculated but unproven that King Ghidorah’s attack at this time was an initial probing attack from Planet X.
25)See Monster Zero (1965) The origins of the X-ists are unknown, but there is evidence that they are a remnant of one of the ancient Earth civilizations.
26)See Gamera the Invincible (1965) There is strong evidence that Gamera was an artificially-created “living weapon”, manufactured by an ancient civilization. The fact that it seemed to take a particular interest in defending human children would seem to indicate that it was programmed to be a defender of humanity.
27)See Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster (1966)
28)See War of the Gargantuas (1966)
29)See Gamera vs. Barugon (1966)
30)See Son of Godzilla (1967) What relationship there was between Godzilla II and Minilla - if any - is unknown.
31)See Gamera vs Gyaos (1967)
32)See Gappa – The Triphibian Monster (1967)
33)See King Kong Escapes (1967) This “Kong”, although smaller, bore a strong resemblance to the second Kong.
34)See Yongary (1967)
35)See The X From Outer Space (1967)
36)See Destroy All Monsters (1968) I'm positing that it took at least a year to set Monsterland up. (OOC Note: The film gives the year as 1999. I arbitrarily moved it to the film's year of release, because I feel it works better.)
37)See Gamera vs. Viras (1968)
38)See Godzilla’s Revenge (1969)
39)See Gamera vs. Guiron (1969) Terra is a sort of “Counter-Earth”, sharing Earth’s orbit on the opposite side of the Sun. Its very existence set off a furore in astronomical circles which has yet to die down completely. Of the Terrans themselves little is directly known, as the last two died in their encounter with Gamera. UN research teams began exploring Terra almost immediately, but gaining a comprehensive understanding of Terran culture and technology is considered at least a lifetime’s job.
40)See Gamera vs. Jiger (1970)
41)See Yog – Monster From Space (1970)
42)See Godzilla vs. The Smog Monster (1971) Hedorah is believed to be an extraterrestrial organism of unknown origins. (OOC Note: Making this "Godzilla" an adult Minilla is arbitrary on my part, to explain how "Godzilla" became more "human-friendly.)
43)See Gamera vs. Zigra (1971)
44)See Godzilla vs. Gigan (1972)
45)See Godzilla vs. Megalon (1973)
46)See Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1974) “Caesar” is a misinterpretation of “Shisa”, the traditional Okinawan guardian lion statues.
47)See Terror of Mechagodzilla (1975)
48)See King Kong (1976)
49)See Marvel Comics Godzilla #1- #24 (1977-1979) (OOC Note: This timeline does not necessarily include all of the Marvel Universe as we know it, merely the elements of it included in this series.) SHIELD ("Supreme Headquarters International Espionage Law-enforcement Division") was a U.S. government intelligence organization.
50)The Champions were a short-lived team super-hero based in Los Angeles. Its members included former (?) Soviet agent Natalia Romanova (The Black Widow), “Hercules” (a person claiming to be the legendary demi-god), the mutants Warren Worthington III (The Angel) and Robert Drake (The Iceman), and John Blaze (The Ghost Rider), a motorcycle stunt-rider allegedly possessed by a demon, although Blaze was not present for the battle with Godzilla IV.
(Note: There are two types of mutants, "X--mutants" and "M-mutants". Worthington and Drake were X-mutants. These were individuals who had genetic mutations that gave them unique abilities and/or physical adaptations. M-mutants will be discussed separately.)
51)See The Godzilla Power Hour (1978-1981) The finals fates of Godzilla V and Godzooky are unknown.
52)The Fantastic Four were Reed Richards (Mister Fantastic), Susan Storm Richards (The Invisible Woman), Jonathan Storm (The Human Torch), and Benjamin Grimm (The Thing), who gained super-powers after being exposed to cosmic rays.
53)The membership of the Avengers varied over the years. Those present for the battle with Godzilla IV were World War Two veteran Steven Rogers (Captain America), “Thor” (a person claiming to be the Norse god of thunder), industrialist Anthony Stark (Iron Man), scientist Henry Pym (Yellowjacket), his wife,Janet Van Dyne Pym (The Wasp) and “The Vision”, an android. The vigilante/photographer Peter Parker (Spider-Man) was also present, but took no part in the battle.
54)See Marvel Comics The Shogun Warriors (1979-1980)
55)See Gamera: Super Monster (1980)
56)See Godzilla (1984)
57)See Godzilla vs. Biollante (1989)
58))See Mystery Science Theater 3000 (1988-1999, 2017-2018)
59)See Godzilla vs Mothra (1992) According to the Cosmos, Battra was created by the Earth itself to defend against human depredations.
60)See Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1993)
61)See Godzilla vs. Space Godzilla (1994) Space Godzilla's exact origin is unknown. The most widely-accepted theory is that some of Godzilla's cells were carried into space by one of his extraterrestrial opponents, and once there, they were mutated by cosmic radiation.
62)See Godzilla vs. Destroyah (1995) Destroyah originated from creatures mutated by the original use of the Oxygen Destroyer.
63)See Gamera: The Guardian of the Universe (1995)
64)See Gamera 2: Attack of Legion (1996)
65)See Rebirth of Mothra II (1997) Dagahra was created as a living pollution control device by the lost civilization of Nirai Kanai.
66)See Godzilla (1998)
67)See Godzilla: The Animated Series (1998 – 2000)
68)See Gamera 3: The Revenge of Iris (1999) The origin of Iris is unknown.
69)See Godzilla vs. Megaguirus (2000)
70)See Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (2001)
71)See Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (2002) The JXSDF was the Japan Xenomorph Self-Defense Force, a branch of the Japanese military.
72)See Godzilla: Tokyo SOS (2003)
73)See Gamera the Brave (2006)
74)See Monster X Strikes Back: Attack the G8 Summit (2008) Take-Majin's origin is unknown.
75)See Cloverfield (2008) The origin of the "Cloverfield" creature is unknown, although it is believed to be extraterrestrial.
76)See Monsters vs. Aliens (2009)Susan Murphy was a young woman who was exposed to an unknown radiation which cause her to grow to be fifty feet tall. B.O.B. (Benzoate Ostylezene Bicarbonate) was a from of living protoplasm. The Missing Link was a humanoid amphibian. Doctor Cockroach was a scientist who accidentally fused himself with a cockroach. Insectosaurus was a gigantic insect of unknown origins.
77)See Pacific Rim (2013) (OOC Note: I'm assuming that a world that has been fighting kaiju for decades, and which has super-heroes, these events would have gone a great deal differently.)
78)See Godzilla (2014) There is unproven speculation that Godzilla XII was a mature Minilla II. "MUTO" stood for ""Massive Unidentified Terrestrial Organism".
79)See Shin Godzilla (2016)Godzilla XIII was perhaps the most unusual of the known kaiju and potentially the most dangerous with its apparent ability to perpetually mutate in the face of new threats.
80)See Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019)
81)See Godzilla vs. Kong (2021)
Looking forward to the rest of the discussion.
[Do you take requests? :) ]
One question about the terminology: I thought the word "dai" in front of kaiju meant "big" or giant"...?
I think you're right.
Jeff of Earth-J said:
Looking forward to the rest of the discussion.
[Do you take requests? :) ]
One question about the terminology: I thought the word "dai" in front of kaiju meant "big" or giant"...?
Updated through Pre-History.
To answer Jeff's question, I'll happily listen to suggestions, but I can't promise to act on them all.
I love this!
Updated through 1953
And we love you, too!
Tracy of Moon-T said:
I love my monster friends.
Updated through 1958.
"I already have two movies I want to re-watch! I love my monster friends."
This explains Tracy's "quiz" from earlier today, to which I answered, "Yes, dear... we do own copies of those movies."
"To answer Jeff's question, I'll happily listen to suggestions, but I can't promise to act on them all."
The one I was thinking of is Daimajin. I saw [what turned out to be] the first movie when I was very young. It was before I had ever read a Jack Kirby monster story, but it was like a Jack Kirby monster story brought to the screen. Decades later (in the 1990s), I discovered there was a trilogy of Diamajin movies on VHS, but I procrastinated buying the third because I assumed the third would "always be available" (the same mistake I made regarding Tarzan and Doc Savage books). When I mentioned this fact of the previous version of this board (oh, it must have been 15 years ago by now), Bob sent me a copy. The slipcase doesn't complete the visual of the trilogy release, but I never forgot that.
Thanks again, man!
I thought about Daimajin, but I didn't think of it as a kaiju. It's more a sort of vengeful kami.