I vowed to myself that anytime I am watching a show, and something comes up and causes me to say “what is that?” I would research it and write a post on it. Partially to keep up my What IS That? post series to which this will be the…. fourth installment and first one in over a year. I would like to say it is because I am so knowledgeable about everything in anime but is actually that I forget to write them. Whoops. Anyway, I thought why not do one about something that originally baffled me originally in Fall 2018 as well as bring this series back for 12 Days of Anime! So today we are talking about the giant beasts that loom over a city in Fall 2018’s SSSS.Gridman.
What IS a Kaiju?
*There may be spoilers pertaining to SSSS.Gridman so tread carefully*
The very first kaiju, and probably the most famous and well-known one, came from a film from 1954 that was titled Gojira or, as it was known in The West after some rough translation, Godzilla. These creatures came from the idea that science at the time had no idea what all radiation could do, and also that since the dropping of the atomic bomb it became clear to the Japanese people that cities could be there and gone in just seconds. Inspiration also came from the West where films featuring giant animals terrorizing cities had been out since 1933 when King Kong first decided to climb the New York skyline. All that combined is what lead to the creation of Gojira in 1954. That film and the many that followed gave birth to the term kaiju, which translates to “strange monster” in English. Now, these movies performed very well in Japan and a certain studio that may sound familiar, Toho, flooding the market with these films. The only difference to the West’s creations and the creatures we see now is that the kaiju back in the day were just guys wearing suits.
Since kaiju seemed to be selling movie tickets more and more creatures began to be created. Something interesting to note is that most kaiju have been birthed from nuclear-related tests and usually the people fighting them are not successful. Which is not great for us. By the 1960s, not on Japan and the US but also countries like the UK and Korea were putting out their own kaiju films and frightening stories to tell. And these movies, while having fallen in popularity in some areas are still being made today. Movies like Pacific Rim are being made, and while they are not my cup of tea, I did see the Godzilla movie that was released in 2014 IN THEATERS. The most important thing that the kaiju genre and its kaiju monsters have kept consistent is that they not only bring a trail of destruction but also the important message that nuclear weapons are bad and dangerous. Some kaiju monsters are actually out there saving people, and several TV shows around them have been ongoing since the 1960s. You don’t believe me? Ultraman first aired in 1966 and is still around today.
Fun fact for you, they totaled the cost of how much Godzilla’s rampages would have cost Tokyo and the total comes to 45 billion yen! BILLION! That is over 400 millions US dollars! Crazy.
So, how do the original kaiju monsters transfer over to our new kaiju in SSSS.Gridman. First of all, while the Gridman kaiju are not actually men in suits, there are humans who turn into kaiju so there are some similarities there. As I write this, I have only seen up through episode 9 so I may be so far off on some things here so sorry if something that happens in the next three episodes proves me wrong. The kaiju in Gridman play two very important roles. The first being Akane’s way of “fixing” the city to be the way she likes by killing those who evenly slightly aggravate her, and then secondly the kaiju that work to repair the city after all of the destruction. As of now, they carry no message about how bad nuclear weapons are and from what the series it has shown us so far all of the kaiju are manmade. Whether it be from Akane herself or the other kaiju that come from a different creator. Gridman and his allies also seem pretty capable of defeating the kaiju, so their threat is not as severe as the original. They are different from some ways from the original kaiju monsters but are still kaiju because…well…they are still strange monsters after all.
The reason the idea of kaiju threw me off so much at first was that it was such common knowledge among all of these people what kaiju where. They were throwing the word around like they were saying potato or something. Which baffled me. After researching the origins of kaiju, it clear that all of these people were aware of the term because in Japan kaiju and kaiju related materials have been around for over half a century and have been popular and well known for a long time. Not like here in the west where we do not have a term another than giant monster to use for things like that. Several of you were wonderful enough to explain it to me, which I appreciate because at first, I was lazy and was hoping the show would teach me about it. Was it so much to ask to have one character just ask, “wait what’s a kaiju?”. Was that too hard? I guess though we would not be here if they had told me in the show. Utsumi in the show is also a fan of the kaiju genre so I think that the show is mirroring how the genre is perceived in real life. Utsumi also likes to throughout some references that I do not quite understand and will probably need someone else to explain to me a different day.
Overall, I think that SSSS.Gridman logically uses kaiju for what they are supposed to be used for. I may not have seen every single kaiju film known to man, I mean come on guys it’s hard enough to keep up with season anime while watching Criminal Minds, but if a kaiju is a monster that destroys cities and that is exactly what they do in Gridman…then yeah it is an accurate representation. TRIGGER has at least gotten that part right, thank god.
That is all that I have for Day 2 of 12 Days of Anime as well as another installment of What IS That?. Please let me know what you think of the kaiju genre. Have any recommendations for movies or TV shows related to kaiju that I should check out? Have you watched SSSS.Gridman? What are your thoughts on it? Favorite character? Let me know down below!
See you tomorrow!
- You can check out the original 12 Days of Anime post here: 12 Days of Anime 2018, where you can get more information and get links to more posts!!
– You can also check out the master list of participants and posts here.
– You can also check out all of my 12 Days of Anime posts here.
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