Memorable Title: The cheap cash-in that’s more than just a cheap cash-in
Just a lead in, when I was originally planning this series, I was just going to be going over the films I had managed to acquire, and the Showa series of Godzilla films was going to end up being incomplete. Thanks to Red Metal pointing me to where, when, and how I could buy the complete Showa series on the cheap, we get to have all the Godzilla movies here. So shout out to him for making this all possible.
The OG Godzilla film was a pretty big risk for Toho. Big, expensive, ambitious, in a largely unknown genre. And, as it turns out, with some of the other high expense movies they were making at the time, Toho was gambling with their very existence. Either those films turned a profit, or Toho was bankrupting itself out of existence. And, in the type of example that would be glorified in the average business textbook, their risk payed off. Godzilla was a big success. So was the Seven Samurai, for that matter, which was another film they had in production at the time, but we’re not going to talk about that right now. Godzilla made it big, baby!
And what do you do when you have a huge success? You do another business textbook thing, and you reinvest. You strike while the iron’s hot! You take all that goodwill and interest and you hit when it’s at its peak! What, the director of the original is already committed to other projects? Who cares?! We’ve got directors lined up out the door! And you want what kind of budget!? No, no, of course not, we just barely escaped bankruptcy! We made the original at a time that we needed to escape bankruptcy, that’s why it had the giant budget it did! Yes, there is a massive difference between the two situations. Don’t ask questions, just go make the movie.
And so they did. Starting pre-production just weeks after the release of the original Godzilla, Godzilla Raids Again is the traditional tag-along sequel, made to capitalize on the success of the original, capture its momentum, and share in its success, with speed of release being more important than quality. It brought back much of the creatives of the original Godzilla, with one notable exception. OG director Ishiro Honda was already wrist deep in his next project, leaving Motoyushi Oda to take the helm on this one. The rest of the crew was largely the same, with Tomoyuki Tanaka producing, Eiji Tsuburaya directing the special effects, and Haruo Nakajima taking the place of the big G inside the suit. And rapid-fire sequel though it is, it does bring in a development that would change the Godzilla franchise forever. So, you know how giant monsters are metal as hell, right? What if you had, get this, two of them! Blowing your mind right? And they hate each other! Kickass monster battles, man!
The movie ostensibly has its protagonist, but the way it rolls out, it really seems to have two dudes in the leading role. And the film opens with both of them in action. You have Planebro and a character I don’t even need to make up a memorable nickname for because the movie did it for me, Mr. Groom, doing their day jobs as aerial spotters for a fishing company in Osaka. After Godzilla struck Tokyo in the original movie, that city’s still pretty ruined, so Osaka has become the center of Japanese civilization. Mr. Groom’s seaplane suffers a major malfunction and he has to make an emergency landing near some island. Planebro rolls in for the rescue, and the two of them pal around on the island for a few minutes until SUDDENLY! There’s Godzilla! And some other giant monster! And they’re beating the hell out of each other! And then they fall into the ocean. Planebro and Mr. Groom wisely decide to get the hell out of there.