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Film / Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah

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"I nearly died on Lagos Island, along with my entire garrison, but the dinosaur saved us all. Now all the prosperity that I built... it's being destroyed by the very same dinosaur as we speak. How ironic!"
Yasuaki Shindo

The eighteenth Godzilla film and the third in the Heisei series. Though Godzilla vs. Biollante was a creative film, it didn't exactly rake in the yen. After some legal wrangling in a failed attempt to remake King Kong vs. Godzilla for Toho's 60th anniversary Milestone Celebration, Toho instead settled on bringing back Godzilla's Arch-Enemy, King Ghidorah. Creatively, it's Japanese title is Gojira Tai Kingu Ghidora.

The film explored the origins of Godzilla, and the plot was influenced by Japan's growing influence and the fear that Japan Takes Over the World. This wasn't helped with the portrayal of American soldiers in World War II and the antagonists being Western Terrorists from the future, though the director said it wasn't an Anti-American film. At any rate, this entry did well at the box office, inspiring the return of other old Godzilla foes in future films.


People come from the future (they are appropriately named the Futurians) to offer to erase Godzilla from history, under the claim that in their time, Japan had long since been destroyed by the radioactive beast. After going further back in time to World War II and observing the dinosaur that would become the King of the Monsters save a Japanese brigade from the Americans, they teleport Godzillasaurus into the sea.

But another monster takes his place: King Ghidorah, a mutation of three pets of the Futurians called Dorats that were left on the island to be irradiated. The Futurians use King Ghidorah to terrorize Japan, so as to prevent the Japanese Empire from being born. With the help of a renegade Futurian, our human heroes lay their hopes in reviving Godzilla. But would it be wise in reviving such a destructive monster? And if the past had been changed, why can they still remember the King of the Monsters...


This film contains examples of the following:

  • Action Film, Quiet Drama Scene: There's quite a powerful one near the end of the movie. When Shindo is face to face (literally) with Godzilla and sees the destruction the beast has caused due to his actions, he says that he deserves to die for it. Godzilla just stares at him when he says this, and in a moment almost uncharacteristic for him, makes a facial express that implies "I understand" before personally killing Shindo at point-blank with his atomic breath.
  • Action Girl: Not as great as others, but Emi is able to hold off M-11 pretty well in the chase scene and is able to go toe-to-toe with Godzilla while piloting Mecha-King Ghidorah.
  • Adaptational Backstory Change: King Ghidorah is a genetically engineered creature with a dose of atomic mutation thrown in, rather than a space monster. Played With in Tanaka's original intent and the novelization, however, where the Dorats were created from the DNA of a space borne King Ghidorah's corpse found on Venus, making Ghidorah a clone of a Ghidorah with his Showa origin.
  • Artificial Limbs: An artificial HEAD, for King Ghidorah after his middle head is decapitated by Godzilla.
  • Asshole Victim: Wilson and Glenchico are both killed by Godzilla after their Evil Plan is foiled.
  • Bad Future: The Futurians claimed this, stating Godzilla was the one who made Japan severely uninhabitable via radioactive fallout. This is a lie, considering Japan became a Superpower, buying off nations around the world. If Godzilla vs. Destoroyah is anything to go by, the adult Godzilla Junior's non-malicious nature may have something to do with this.
  • Behemoth Battle: The two title monsters first battle in Hokkaido, one which ends with Godzilla blasting off King Ghidorah's middle head.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: Wilson and Glenchico, with King Ghidorah as Dragon-in-Chief.
  • But Not Too Foreign: Emi Kano is half Japanese. Guess who defects to the good guys in the end.
  • Choke Holds: King Ghidorah does this with Godzilla, to the point foam comes out of his mouth. This doesn't take Godzilla down, though.
  • Clip Its Wings: Happens to King Ghidorah twice in the film. Both times his wings are ripped to shreds by Godzilla's atomic breath, the first being when he first fights Godzilla and the second being when he returns as Mecha-King Ghidorah.
  • Continuity Snarl: Godzilla in the original film is said to be a hybrid of both land-dweling and undersea dinosaur. The dinosaur that would become the Heisei Godzilla is more land-dwelling.
    • King Ghidorah's radioactive mutation would cause a lot of this, considering he'd would appear in Emiko's flashbacks in Godzilla vs. Destoroyah, given she witness Godzilla (1954) die in the original film as well as prevous films beforehand.
    • In general, the film's time travel antics create a lot of confusion among fans about what is and isn't still a part of history in the later films. However, careful analysis reveals that the Futurians actually changed nothing but in fact created a Stable Time Loop and a Predestination Paradox where every Heisei-era film, as well as the 1954 film, all still happened, only with the Futurians now responsible for the Heisei Godzilla's existence. Thus references to the the original film and Biollante being made in the later films is not actually an error as most fans believe.
      • In a nutshell, the previous belief in the series until this film was that the original 1954 Godzilla and the one that appeared in 1984 were the same individual. This film established they were in fact, two different creatures with the events of this film's 1940s scenes causing the future Heisei Godzilla to be created from a submarine accident in the 1980s. However this wasn't clearly communicated, especially in the dubs, so the revelation flew over a lot of viewers' heads.
      • It's sad that neither of the above statements actually explains how there can be no Continuity Snarl, when there is a simple explanation. If we are to take this film seriously when it insinuates that "Godzilla popped out of existence" just as "King Ghidorah popped into existence" due to their time shenanigans, this would fix the Continuity Snarl because it automatically makes all speculation void, despite also raising a buttload of more questions about how time travel works in this universe.
  • Computer Voice: The Mothership's PA system.
  • Cyborg: Mecha-Ghidorah
  • Did You Actually Believe...?: Wilson opens up his Evil Gloating with this. See Xanatos Gambit below.
  • Death by Adaptation: In the manga adaptation, Emi is killed by Godzilla after dropping him into the ocean in the climax.
  • Death by Irony: Mr. Shindo by Godzilla, the same dinosaur who saved him and his entire garrison.
  • Disc-One Final Boss: Wilson, Glenchico and King Ghidorah are all killed by Godzilla half-way through the film, who then proceeds to be the main threat for the rest of the movie.
  • Dragon-in-Chief: It's clear that Wilson and Glenchico would get nowhere without King Ghidorah.
  • Every Car Is a Pinto: The car M-11 drives explodes being flipped up-side down for some reason. Obviously, being an android, M-11 survives the explosion.
  • Expy: The Futurians are the plot equivalent of the Xiliens from Invasion of Astro-Monster, in that they initially claim to want to work with the (modern) humans to defeat some monster menace but are actually scheming to use said team-up to turn against the humans afterwards.
    • M11 is quite clearly meant to be a reference to the Terminator.
  • Freudian Excuse: Ever wonder why Godzilla's hell-bent on attacking humans post-mutation in this series? Getting attacked by the US army and abandoned by the Japanese garrison may stem from this.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Two films in the series foreshadow what's to come in the future:
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: 3 cute little Dorats + Nuclear Radiation = KING GHIDORAH!
  • Giant Equals Invincible: Subverted with the Godzillasaurus. He can take on gunfire and rocket launchers, but he can be injured by ship-borne artillery and rockets.
  • Godzilla Threshold: Gets crossed to defeat King Ghidorah. Turns out it wasn't a good idea...
  • Gratuitous English: While there are androids and characters that speak English, Terasawa says, in response to M-11's "Go ahead!", in the most hammiest way possible, "MAKE MY DAY!!!". Note: This occurs in the Japanese version.
  • Harp of Femininity: Strangely, a harp plays when Godzilla first surfaces.
  • Heel–Face Turn: Emi Kano, after King Ghidorah wreaks havoc on Fukuoka. M-11 as well, after Emi does some reprogramming. And King Ghidorah... kinda sorta.
  • Hell-Bent for Leather: Emi wears some in the raid on the Futurians.
  • Historical Hero Upgrade/Historical Villain Downgrade: In general, the Japanese troops in the World War II scenes are portrayed much more sympathetically than U.S. troops. This is not uncommon in Japanese media, which controversially overlooks unflattering facts about the behavior of its military during the Imperial era.
  • Insane Troll Logic: In the dub, the justification for Godzilla becoming the main threat at the end of the movie quite literally amounts to "Look at how big that thing is! It won't be friendly!".
  • Japan Takes Over the World: By 2204, Japan has become rich enough to buy off the "nations" of South America and Africa. The real reason the Futurians went back in time was to prevent this from happening.
  • Lighter and Softer: While Biollante did have a subdued jaded attitude and even some brief slapstick, King Ghidorah continued to push the franchise back into lighter territory and a lot of the film is not meant to be taken in a completely serious manner (e.g. Terasawa's "He's gonna regret this! I'll show him!").
  • Living Dinosaurs: Pre-mutated Godzilla was a Godzillasaurus living in an Island.
  • Make Wrong What Once Went Right: The Futurians went back to try and destroy Japan to prevent them from becoming a global superpower.
  • Market-Based Title: The last Godzilla film to be released theatrically in Germany, the title was changed to Godzilla - Duell der Megasaurier (or Battle of the Mega-Dinosaurs).
  • My God, What Have I Done?: It's clear that Emi begins regretting the whole operation the minute the other Futurians mention King Ghidorah's name.
  • Never the Selves Shall Meet: According to the Futurians, this rule used Mr. Shindo as an example should he ever met his past self in World War II.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero!: Nice job giving Godzilla a unnecessary power boost, Shindo and company!
    • Technically, it wasn't their fault. On the below Poor Communication Kills, Terasawa was gonna inform them of Godzilla's existence anyway so that it wasn't necessary to nuke the thing. The problem is that M-11 interfered, so they had no way to telling the government.
  • Off with His Head!: King Ghidorah's middle head gets blown off in his defeat. It gets replaced by a metal head.
  • Oh, Crap!: Wilson and Glenchico when they see Godzilla standing right in front of their ship, and fully ready to destroy it.
  • Older Than They Look: Shindo looks pretty good for someone who is at the very least in his seventies.
  • Poor Communication Kills: Our heroes are about to inform the government that Godzilla still exists anyway, so it's not necessary to nuke him. Then M-11 railroads the plan and the crew of the nuclear submarine dies upon finding Godzilla.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: Godzilla succeeds in destroying Mecha-King Ghidorah, but he's sunk into the ocean and cannot continue with his rampage on humans.
  • Ridiculously Cute Critter: The Dorats. Miki agrees, once she gets over her shock. King Ghidorah, not so much.
  • Ridiculously Human Robots: M-11 and the other robots of the Futurians.
  • Recycled Soundtrack: In addition to the obvious Godzilla and Ghidorah motifs, Ifukube revamped several of his compositions for Daimajin, such as Godzilla's reunion with Shindo and the chase scene with M11.
  • Set Right What Once Went Wrong: According to the Futurians, Godzilla is about to destroy Japan and they want to go back in time further to Ret Gone him. Turns out it's a big fat lie. They're actually trying to destroy Japan themselves. Emi ultimately plays this straight by coming back with Mecha-King Ghidorah to stop Godzilla before he can destroy Japan for real.
  • She's a Man in Japan: Not literally, but: In the original Japanese Emi's voice is low and business-like. In the English dub, her voice is much higher and perkier, changing her whole character.
  • Shout-Out:
    American officer: That we're being invaded by little green men from outer space? No one would believe us. You can tell your son about it when he's born, Major Spielberg.
  • Stable Time Loop: The only explanation for why everyone remembers Godzilla, as this SciFi Japan article suggests.
  • Super Speed: M-11, fast enough to keep up with a jeep and outrun World War II bombs.
  • Super Strength: M-11, strong enough to lift a vehicle
  • Timey-Wimey Ball: The second Godzilla's origin is certainly a Stable Time Loop, suggesting a model of time travel where the past can't be changed, only completed, but the fact that King Ghidorah is introduced where he didn't previously exist and that Godzilla's fate as remembered in 2204 is changed indicate that we have an alternate universe thing going on. To put it simply, they screwed up the time travel badly. Thus, the original Godzilla would have encountered King Ghidorah this way, but the events of this film were never brought up in Godzilla vs. Destoroyah.
    • This Sci-Fi Japan article suggests that the Futarian's plans were based on a incorrect theory and that they didn't prevent the creation of the Godzilla they were aiming to, but instead created the Heisei Godzilla in the first place. And even then, they didn't even remove the first Godzilla from history, as he's clearly referenced in later films (VS. Destoroyah), and events from pre-G.KG Heisei films are mentioned in later films (VS. Spacegodzilla), meaning that the entire subplot is a Stable Time Loop and the entire "replace-Godzilla-with-Ghidorah" plot was a total bust.
    • The apparent complication of King Ghidorah being introduced to the timeline can be solved by assuming that he was always there, but never left Lagos Island until 1992 when the Futurians summoned him, making it appear as though he had suddenly been introduced into history when in fact he was always a (secret) part of it. Also, while at first Godzilla dying in Godzilla vs. Destoroyah may seem to contradict the Futurians mentioning him attack Japan again at a much later date, it's possible that the one they're referring to is Godzilla Jr., who is still alive at the end of Destoroyah. The Futurians may simply not know the difference between Godzilla and Godzilla Jr., or they may disregard it since if they erase Godzilla, Godzilla Jr. will be wiped out as well.
      • On the other hand, in regards to King Ghidorah, remember that they do have a time machine. Who's to say they didn't let the Dorats get nuked, time jump without telling anyone, and bring Ghidorah back to 1992 before anyone notices him?
  • Tom the Dark Lord: You probably wouldn't expect a man named Chuck Wilson to be such an enormous menace.
  • Villain Ball: Nice plan, Futurians. You want to unleash King Ghidorah on the Japanese to prevent Japan from becoming an economic superpower in the future? Right... there's no way that your Japanese accomplice could ever possibly have any second thoughts about that plan.
  • We Can Rebuild Him: How King Ghidorah is resurrected as Mecha-King Ghidorah to fight Godzilla.
  • Western Terrorists: But from the future!
  • Xanatos Gambit: Wilson states that they have won even if Ghidorah was defeated by Godzilla, as he gloats Japan will be destroyed by Godzilla instead. But then that raises the question why he wanted to erase Godzilla from existence in the first place.
    • Unless Wilson is saying that the new Godzilla, that the humans created to counterattack King Ghidorah, will actually destroy Japan and that the first Godzilla wouldn't have due to not being aggressive enough.


Example of: