Godzilla Raids Again (1955) – The 2nd Godzilla Film – Directed by Motoyoshi Oda – Starring Hiroshi Koizumi, Setsuko Wakayama, Minoru Chiaki, Takashi Shimura, and Haruo Nakajima.
It would be hard for any movie to have to follow GOJIRA, the dark, moody masterpiece that introduced Godzilla to the world, but GODZILLA RAIDS AGAIN does a solid job providing a serious backdrop while upping the Kaiju mayhem.
Tsukioka (Hiroshi Koizumi) and Kobayashi (Minoru Chiaki) are pilots. Not military pilots, but pilots working for a tuna cannery. Yup. Sexy. They’re out looking for schools of fish so the canners have something to can when Kobayashi’s plane realizes its job is to look for fish and gives up. Tsukioka is a good pal, so he lands his sea plane near the small island where Kobayashi is awaiting rescue and the two of them are happy until they look up and see the big, angry head of Godzilla. It’s not the original Godzilla, of course, because he was killed thanks to the Oxygen Destroyer, but another Godzilla.
I find that revelation to be both intriguing and disappointing. On the one hand, it’s a nice twist that “Godzilla” is an equivalent name to “Tyrannosaurus Rex” or “komodo dragon” or “cocker spaniel.” It certainly makes it easier for additional Godzillas to keep showing up and frees up writers to kill the giant, mutated, amalgamated dinosaur if they feel that makes for the best ending. On the other hand, I kinda liked my ignorant notion that “Godzilla” was the equivalent of “Thanos” and “Darkseid” and “Barney.”
Tsukioka and Kobayashi witness Godzilla fighting with another big monster, but this one doesn’t stand upright but rather walks on all fours, and has enough spikes all over his body that he looks like Rob Halford designed a the most metal turtle in history. The two Kaiju go tumbling into the ocean, never to be seen again.
Or, until later in the film.
The pilots come back to land and they have a meeting with some scientists, including Dr. Yamane (Takashi Shimura) from the first movie, and they figure out that the most metal turtle ever is likely related to an ankylosaurus. A book from a Polish scientist informs them that the “angilosaurus” wasn’t cool with dinosaur bullies like Godzilla, so of course they’re going to fight.
At the meeting, Dr. Yamane is total doom and gloom. There’s no way to defeat Godzilla because there’s no more Oxygen Destroyer. He suggests the military uses bright lights to keep Godzilla away from the city because the bright lights might remind him of the atomic explosions that brought him to life.
Godzilla does show up again (of course), but instead of terrorizing Tokyo, this one’s got the hots on for Osaka. Bright lights are shone at him as he walks in from the ocean, flares are shot, and they work, causing the monster to turn around. But then there’s an explosion thanks to some escaped convicts and Godzilla turns back towards the city. Anguirus intercepts him and they have a nice, impressive brawl. Yeah, sure, it’s two guys in a rubber suit, but they do a really good job knocking each other around around and then Godzilla goes and burns him to death.
After that, it’s Godzilla’s show until the end. Kobayashi gets in a plane and Godzilla uses his atomic ray to knock him down and he dies in a crash. The military then goes after the big guy near a mountain and they bury him in an avalanche of ice and snow and rock. It’s a pretty awesome sequence and a unique way to take him out.
The Tsukioka and Kobayashi relationship is the emotional portion of the film, and it’s a really great, engaging friendship. I love their flirting at the start of the film with the radio operator (who happens to be the daughter of the company’s owner) and I love that when Kobayashi is killed by Godzilla, it’s Tsukioka who fires the final shots that buries Godzilla for good, and he dedicates the death to Kobayashi’s memory.
What I really like about GODZILLA RAIDS AGAIN is that it’s clearly its own movie; it’s not looking to simply replicate GOJIRA, but instead tells its own story. There’s a clear attempt to up the action and dampen the narrative darkness, but the film doesn’t totally sacrifice its emotional core and sell out for the monster mash. Tsukioka and Kobayashi are good characters and the action is surprisingly fast and violent. I can feel the enmity between Godzilla and Anguirus and you can tell early on that one of them is going to kill the other one. I love the idea that Anguirus is genetically predisposed to go after Godzilla, and it’s based on Godzilla being an aggressive species. It makes Anguirus a tragic hero in the story and gives his death a real impact in the film.
That underdog quality relates to the film, too. RAIDS AGAIN doesn’t have the cultural cache of the original GOJIRA, but this is a really good, really enjoyable movie.
Mark Bousquet is the author of several novels and collections, including The Haunting of Kraken Moor, Gunfighter Gothic, Stuffed Animals for Hire, Dreamer’s Syndrome, Harpsichord and the Wormhole Witches, and Adventures of the Five. He has also published a review collection entitled Marvel Comics on Film, which covers every cinematic and TV movie based on a superhero from the House of Ideas. A complete listing of all his work can be found at his Amazon author page.