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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

Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah is the 1991 sequel to Godzilla vs. Biollante, the eighteenth Godzilla film and the third in the Heisei series. The film is written and directed by Kazuki Omori, who took the roles from the previous film.

While Godzilla vs. Biollante has since been Vindicated by History, it was not a commercial success. 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.

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 (or rather, the Japanese reaction to said fear). It has been accused of being anti-American, 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.

The Futurians—consisting of Wilson (Chuck Wilson), Grenchiko (Richard Berger), Emmy Kano (Anna Nakagawa) and the android M-11 (Robert Scott Field)—offer to erase Godzilla (Kenpachiro Satsuma) 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 (Wataru Fukuda) into the sea.

But another monster takes his place: King Ghidorah (Hurricane Ryu), 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, how do they still remember the King of the Monsters...

The film also stars Kōsuke Toyohara as Kenichiro Terasawa, Megumi Odaka as Miki Saegusa, Katsuhiko Sasaki as Professor Hironori Mazaki, So Yamamura as Prime Minister Hayashida, Akiji Kobayashi as Ryuzo Dobashi, Koichi Ueda as Masukichi Ikehata, Tokuma Nishioka as Takehiko Fujio and Yoshio Tsuchiya as Yasuaki Shindo.

The film was released on December 14, 1991. Its story is followed by Godzilla and Mothra: The Battle for Earth.

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:
    • A little with the backstory with Godzilla's pre-radiation species. In the first film and the 14th Edition of Definitive Edition Godzilla Introduction, Dr. Yamane states that Godzilla must have been a dinosaur from the Jurassic era before coming into contact with H-bomb testings, and the Definitive Edition confirms this. When we meet the Godzillasaurus, he doesn't look aquatic, though it's possible he's an adolescent.
    • 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: Godzilla has no clue of the Futurians trying to kill him twice now, and only kills Wilson and Glenchico after their Evil Plan is foiled because their ship was teleported next to him, but since the duo attempted to destroy Japan out of xenophobia they completely deserved it.
  • 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.
  • Cat Like Dragons: The Dorats are cute kitten-like creatures.
  • 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.
  • Computer Voice: The Mothership's PA system.
  • Continuity Snarl:
    • Godzilla in the original film is said to be a hybrid of both land-dwelling and sea-dwelling 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 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. A common theory is 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. However, official material reveal that two branched timelines were created by King Ghidorah's creation and Mecha-King Ghidorah being sent back in time. Some official sources state that the events of The Return of Godzilla and Godzilla vs. Biollante were erased from continuity, but this is contradicted by Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla.
  • Contrived Coincidence: One of the questions this movie raises is how they knew that the Godzillasaurus on Lagos Island wasn't the same Godzillasaurus destined to become the first Godzilla that attacks Japan in 1954. They did no DNA tests and relied solely on visual evidence to identify the Godzillasaurus as the one from their future. They could have gotten really unlucky and ended up with two different Godzillas in the future, plus King Ghidorah, none of whom would be in the mood to save Japan.
  • Cyborg: Mecha-Ghidorah
  • 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.
  • Did You Actually Believe...?: Wilson opens up his Evil Gloating with this. See Xanatos Gambit below.
  • Disc-One Final Boss: Wilson, Glenchico and King Ghidorah are all killed by Godzilla near the end the film, who then proceeds to be the main threat for the rest of the movie, although Ghidorah then returns as Mecha-Ghidorah to battle him once again.
  • Dragon-in-Chief: It's clear that Wilson and Glenchico would get nowhere without King Ghidorah.
  • Dub Personality Change: 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.
  • 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.
  • Evil vs. Evil: The titular battle falls under this, as King Ghidorah is being directed by the Futurians to destroy Japan while Godzilla is also attempted to do the same thing and just doesn't like competition. Once Godzilla kills both Ghidorah and the Futurians he immediately starts rampaging in Japan again.
  • Foregone Conclusion: Two films in the series foreshadow what's to come in the future:
  • 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.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: 3 cute little Dorats + Nuclear Radiation = KING GHIDORAH!
  • Genre Throwback: to the more fantastical, adventurous tokusatsu films Toho made in the 1960s and 70s, complete with the return of Godzilla's most iconic opponent from that era, colorful human villains, and Akira Ifukube helming the music for the first time since 1975. Japanese audiences turned out in droves for it compared to the more serious, grounded style of The Return of Godzilla and Godzilla vs. Biollante.
  • 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: Deconstructed: when King Ghidorah appears to wreak havoc, the Japanese government have no choice but to bring Godzilla back in order to stop the kaiju. It works, but without anyone to oppose him, Godzilla goes back to rampaging. Another threshold is crossed by reviving Ghidorah, but fortunately, it ends with a Mutual Kill.
  • 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.
    • Mr. Shindo realizes that he’s affectively doomed the very country he’s helped rebuild by making Godzilla, an already tragic being born from nuclear radiation, even bigger and more powerful after seeing it it defeat King Ghidorah and killed the Futurians.
  • 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.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain: Way to go Futurians, by teleporting the dying Godzillasaur out into the ocean after Shindo and his men in WWII leave in an attempt to erase Godzilla from history, you’ve effectively created the Heisei Godzilla!
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Retcon: Godzilla's origin. In the original film, Dr. Yamane explains that Godzilla is simply a hitherto undiscovered type of dinosaur, with his massive size and near-invulnerability being Hand Waved as natural traits of his species (which was common in both American and Japanese monster films of the time) and his atomic breath presumably being a side effect of his exposure to H-bomb testing. Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah puts forth an arguably more "realistic" explanation in which Godzilla is initially a normal dinosaur and the radiation is responsible for him growing to Kaiju size and becoming so hard to kill. Later retellings would alternate between the two origins, but this was the only time the explanation was changed within a single continuity.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Terminator Impersonator: M-11, an android from the future who gives chase to the heroes, gets into a car crash and is disfigured, and is later reprogrammed by the heroes to help them.
  • 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, the writers 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?
    • Basically, the time travel appears to be a mix of Stable Time Loop and Alternate Timeline. The Futurians came from a future where Japan was the dominant superpower and Godzilla never recovered from the anti-nuclear energy bacteria (ANEB) he was infected with in Godzilla vs. Biollante. In their efforts to prevent Godzillasaurus from mutating into Godzilla in the first place, they actually put him in a place where, after a Russian nuclear submarine accident in the 1970s, he became Godzilla (setting the stage for The Return of Godzilla and Godzilla vs. Biollante). But, if their time travel was a Stable Time Loop played straight and they were always responsible for the mutation of Godzillasaurus into the second Godzilla, then logic should dictate Godzilla would recover from the ANEB and mutate further thanks to his encounter with Shindo's submarine, because that was a direct result of their actions. And if that happened, then they couldn't have come from a future where Godzilla didn't recover from the ANEB, which means Japan couldn't have become a superpower, which means they would have no reason to travel back in time. Instead, it seems likely that a "soft" Stable Time Loop took place: in the original timeline, the second Godzilla was not born from the Russian sub in the 1970s, but some other, unknown nuclear event, and he went on to ravage Japan in The Return of Godzilla and Godzilla vs. Biollante. All the Futurians managed to do was change the circumstances of Godzilla's birth, and he still went on to do what he did in the aforementioned films. In fact, dialogue in the film hints that this is the case; the Futurians muse that in a time where nuclear proliferation was rampant, it was never a matter of if there would be a Godzilla, but how. However, because of the Futurians' interference, the protagonists operate under the faulty assumption that Godzilla was erased from existence and end up reviving and strengthening a Godzilla still weak from the ANEB, which actually ends up changing the future: when Emmy returns to the future, she discovers a world where Japan was destroyed by Godzilla. To save Japan, she ends up traveling back in time once more with Mecha-King Ghidorah. While she saves Japan from immediate destruction, she doesn't permanently put a stop to Godzilla, and the new future that results from this unknown.
  • 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.
    • For that matter, Ghidorah. The computer that controlled King Ghidorah was destroyed halfway through his fight with Godzilla, and even there Ghidorah has the upper-hand over Godzilla until the very end. If Ghidorah had won, he'd have likely killed Godzilla and gone on to slaughter the rest of humanity himself. The only reason King Ghidorah didn't kill them after their control was broken was Godzilla was still there to fight him.
  • Villain Has a Point: Even though their plan to use King Ghidorah to destroy Japan has failed, Wilson is dead on that Godzilla is not friendly and will attack Japan on his own.
    Wilson: Do you think that means you won, it doesn't matter, we don't need a Computer or King Ghidorah to do our work. Godzilla's gone to destroy the Country of Japan himself, you'er Nuclear Fanatics have no idea what they created. This new Godzilla is unfriendly and he's gone to destroy your Planet! There's nothing you can do about it! YOUR COUNTRY HAS NO FUTURE NOW.
  • We Can Rebuild Him: How King Ghidorah is resurrected as Mecha-King Ghidorah to fight Godzilla.
  • Western Terrorists: But from the future!
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Mr. Shindo reveals that he owns and has access to nuclear missiles, something the government is NOT happy about, considering Japan's sad and awful history with nuclear weaponry. But by this point, empowering Godzilla was their only hope to defeat King Ghidorah.
  • 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 Japanese created to counterattack King Ghidorah, will actually destroy Japan and that the first Godzilla wouldn't have due to not being aggressive enough.
      • This appears to be the case. In the Futurians' original timeline, Godzilla never recovered from the anti-nuclear energy bacteria he was infected with in the last film. In the Japanese's effort recreate Godzilla, who actually still existed, they ended up not only reviving him but making him more powerful than ever.


Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah

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