The name Godzilla is instantly recognizable to people all around the world, even to those who’ve never seen a single movie from the world’s longest continuously running movie franchise. Godzilla was originally called Gojira, and was created in 1954 by Ishiro Honda of Toho Studios in Japan. Since then, the monster has spawned over 30 remakes and has made a name for himself as “king of the monsters.” It remains one of Japan’s biggest cultural exports to this day.
Gojira was originally crafted as a metaphor for the nuclear bomb that destroyed the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki just 9 years prior to the film’s release. Gojira was a monster that inspired solemn remembrance as well as fear of recurrence among the Japanese people. How, then, did a monster that stands for such a horrific period in Japanese history, come to be one of its greatest prides? The fact that Godzilla evokes sentimental feelings from the nation that he famously flattened and set aflame 61 years prior reflects the extent to which Godzilla the popular culture icon is removed from its 1954 predecessor.