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Film / Atragon

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Atragon (aka Kaitei Gunkan, or Undersea Warship) is a 1963 tokusatsu film from the producers and crew of Godzilla.

The lost kingdom of Mu, which sank beneath the sea over twelve thousand years ago, launches an assault to make the upper world their domain again. With an array of super-weaponry, the Mu Kingdom wages a war against which the surface dwellers seemed powerless to resist.

Human civilization's only hope soon lie with the super-scientific battleship Atragon, built in secret by Captain Jinguji of the former Imperial Japanese Navy after the war as a means of restoring his defeated country's honour. While at first he refuses to use it for any other purposes, his daughter's kidnapping by the Mu to prevent Atragon from being used against them would lead to him putting aside his pride and bring his super-battleship into battle against the forces of Mu.

As the Atragon attempts to defeat the Mu Kingdom in their own underwater domain, a defiant Mu empress unleashes the legendary sea dragon Manda against the Humanity. The fate of the world hangs in the balance as only one or the other - Atragon or Manda, Earth or the Mu - will emerge victorious.

This movie introduces Manda to the Toho universe, who was later incorporated into the Godzilla universe. It also marks the first appearance of the Gotengo/Atragon, which became one of Toho's signature military battle vehicles. The Atragon appears 2004's Godzilla: Final Wars, which recreates the battle between the Atragon and Manda from this film.

See also Super Atragon.

Tropes that apply to Atragon include:

  • Artifact Title: Later releases have kept the Atragon title despite the fact that the original name of the Gotengo was restored and the Dub Name Change was undone.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Captain Jinguji is so fixated in restoring Japan's honor after the nation's defeat in World War II that everyone, including his own daughter, calls him out on this. Granted that Nationalism and Patriotism is the basic themes of this film, but he actually took it too far.
  • Central Theme: Blind nationalism is a self-destructive behavior, and both Captain Jinguji and the Empress of Mu are perfect examples of this. Captain Jinguji wants to use the Gotengo to restore Japan's honor after the country's defeat in World War II that he's willing to strike back against the Allied Forces even though Japan adopted the United States' Constitution. It took his daughter's kidnapping by Mu agents that he personally pushes his national pride aside to save her. The Empress of Mu however refuses to surrender to Captain Jinguji, and chooses to die with her country.
  • Cool Ship:
    • The Gotengo/Atragon.
    • Subverted with the Red Satan, supposed to be a super-advanced submarine but is destroyed after one encounter when it pursues a Mu submarine past crush depth.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: The entire war, once the Gotengo/Atragon gets involved
  • Doomsday Device: Mu's seismic generator.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: The Atragon froze Manda to death.
  • Dub Name Change: Gotengo to Atragon.
    • The film itself was renamed by Toho for greater appeal in overseas distribution, Atragon being a portmanteau of the English words Atlantis Dragon, a clear reference to Manda. The net result of this Executive Meddling is that the movie's native-language title refers to the protagonist supership, and its overseas title does the same, but said overseas title was actually created in reference to the kaiju antagonist... a dragon that technically isn't even from Atlantis!
  • The Dragon: Manda literally is one, but he's also a guardian monster
  • Genre-Busting: Toho's war films were very popular during the 1960s, so writer Sekizawa came up with the idea of combining Toho's popular war films with their fantasy/kaiju films and voila! You end up with a movie that, on paper, sounds like a wacky pulp Two-Fisted Tales type adventure, but is actually a surprisingly somber meditation on the postwar world order and Japan's place in it.
  • Inferred Holocaust: The ending implies that not only has Mu's military been destroyed, but that the entire empire may have drowned in a mass genocide.
  • Intrepid Reporter: Played with. Umino seems to take his job seriously in an odd matter. Later defied when he was a Mu Agent all along.
  • No Name Given: The Mu Agents and the Empress. As well as her Chancellor.
  • Papa Wolf: It took Captain Jinuji a long ass time to see he should use the Atragon to save his daughter. And he does.
  • Rent-a-Zilla: Manda is a big kaiju who has even met Godzilla, but his role in this movie is actually fairly minimal. You could cut his scenes completely and the movie would still work. For proof, see the book, which doesn't have Manda in it.
  • Sea Serpents: Manda's design is a mix of this and an Asian-style dragon
  • Scenery Porn: The panoramic shots of the kingdom of Mu are breathtaking. Tsuburaya-sama outdid himself on this film.
  • The Stoic: Captain Jinguji, played by the master of stoics, Jun Tazaki.
  • Sub Story: Most of the movie's third act
  • Underwater City: An entire underwater empire!
  • Yamato Nadeshiko: The Empress of Mu.