I’ve been doing extensive kaiju profiles for Toho’s stable of giant monsters for well over a year now, and there’s still quite a few to go through. But now the list has shrunk even more because in this very article, I’ll be paying tribute to some of the most underutilized monsters of all time. Why have these mighty monsters only reared their ugly heads once on movie and/or T.V. screens? Is it because of their lack of sex appeal? Or have their careers suffered due to bad management? I really couldn’t tell you. All I know is that some of these Godzilla co-stars are definitely in need of some good press, so without further ado, here is the first volume of my Kaiju One Hit Wonders!
BATTRA (A.K.A. BLACK MOTHRA) – LARVAL FORM
Length: 90 meters (295 feet)
Mass: 20,000 metric tons (22,000 tons)
Weapons/Abilities: Prism beam from eyes and horn. Can also burrow underground and swim in water.
BATTRA (A.K.A. BLACK MOTHRA) – ADULT FORM
Length: 73 meters (239 feet)
Wingspan: 180 meters (590 feet)
Mass: 30,000 metric tons (33,000 tons)
Weapons/Abilities: Prism beam from eyes; flight at Mach 3(?).
First and Last Appearance: Godzilla vs. Mothra II (a.k.a. Godzilla and Mothra: The Battle for Earth)
Origin: Battra was created by a highly advanced ancient civilization to protect the planet from harm. The only problem? Apparently Battra attacked its creators to protect the Earth from further pollution, and nearly wiped out humanity. Thankfully, Mothra was around to halt Battra’s act of genocide, paving the way for future pollution of Earth’s ecosystem! Yay Mothra!
Battra’s first and final starring role was in 1992’s Godzilla vs. Mothra II. In that film, Godzilla is awakened by a fallen meteor, causing the cranky King of the Monsters to go on a tantrum of epic proportions. With the Japanese Self-Defense Forces failing to stop the mighty beast (like that never happens), Mothra is called in to bring Godzilla down. There’s just one slight problem though. Apparently in ancient times, Mothra had saved the last vestiges of humanity from her evil twin, Battra (also known as Black Mothra). Battra is a sort of planetary safety measure in that the creature protects mother Earth from anything that would harm the ecosystem. And since Japan is one of the most polluted countries on the face of this planet, Battra is awakened and prepares to do battle against any and all comers.
In it’s larval form, Battra proves to be an extremely powerful foe and fights Godzilla to a standstill in the film. But it seems that once Battra morphs into its adult flying form, the rookie kaiju loses a lot of it’s former power. In the end, it seems that Battra is nothing more than a pale imitation of Mothra (who now has a variety of beam weapons at her disposal). However, that doesn’t stop Battra from coming to terms with Mothra, and teaming up with its sister kaiju to stop Godzilla. Both flying monsters manage to stun and paralyze Godzilla temporarily and then carry him off out over the sea. During the tail end of the flight, Godzilla snaps out of it and takes a bit out of Battra, mortally wounding Mothra’s co-pilot. Battra quickly succumbs to the wound and falls into the sea with Godzilla, never to be seen again.
Battra is a rather large disappointment in my book, and I truly hated this kaiju creation when I first watched Godzilla vs. Mothra II. Over time though, Battra has grown on me, but I still have some issues with this Toho monster. First of all, why is this monster called Battra? As far as I can tell, Battra has absolutely no characteristics of a bat, save for its wings which are primarily insect-like in design. And why does it lose so much of its power when it becomes and adult?! Did the larval Battra sacrifice all that immense strength just so it could sprout wings? That’s just stupid! Since its only film appearance, Battra has appeared in several of Mark Cerasini’s Godzilla novels as a minor supporting monster character. Will Battra be seen in a movie again? It’s very doubtful, but who knows, it could happen!
BIOLLANTE (ROSE/LARVAL STAGE)
Height: 85 meters (279 feet)
Mass: 60,000 – 100,000 metric tons (66,000 – 110,000 tons)
Weapons/Abilities: Biollante can attack opponents with a variety of vines and roots, some of which have "toothed mouths" on the ends.
First and Last Appearance: Godzilla vs. Biollante
Origin: Biollante is the result of an experiment with Godzilla’s cells. A geneticist named Dr. Shirigami combined Godzilla’s cells with the cells of a rose, believing that doing so would keep the essence of his deceased daughter alive. Instead, he managed to create the biggest, meanest, and toothiest rose bush on the planet.
BIOLLANTE ("ADULT" STAGE)
Height: 120 meters (394 feet)
Mass: 200,000 metric tons (220,000 tons)
Weapons/Abilities: Radioactive acidic spray from mouth, choking vines (some with "toothed mouths" at the ends), and spines.
First and Last Appearance: Godzilla vs. Biollante
Origin: Seemingly destroyed by Godzilla in their first battle, Biollante returns bigger, badder, and uglier than before after a short vacation in Earth’s atmosphere.
Biollante is by far one of Godzilla’s coolest and most poetic foes (in my opinion) and it’s a lowdown dirty shame that this monster hasn’t been used further. First (and last) seen in the aptly titled Godzilla vs. Biollante, Biollante starts out innocently enough as a genetic creation to keep the life essence of a grieving father’s deceased daughter alive. Dr. Shirigami spliced cells from a rose plant that he thought was possessed by the "soul" of his dearly departed daughter, with some of Godzilla cells. The result astounds even him when the Zilla-plant escapes from his lab and grows to enormous size in the center of a lake. However, Biollante soon meets her "father," and the two immediately have some differences of opinion. Biollante in her rose form tries in vain to defend herself from Godzilla, only to be completely destroyed by the monster king. However, that is not the end of Biollante by a long shot.
After their first battle, some of Biollante’s spores went airborne and traveled into space, where Biollante finished mutating. After Japan’s military and scientific community fail to stop Godzilla, Biollante returns to Earth to take on Godzilla. When she emerges from the ground, Biollante is a rather awe-inspiring and terrifying sight. What was once a beautiful rose is now a vicious plant creature with reptilian features and a mouth large enough to swallow half of Godzilla! Biollante uproots from the ground and charges at Godzilla and soon a battle rages on between to two titans. In the end, Biollante claims victory after Godzilla begins to succumb to the anti-nuclear bacteria that he was infected with earlier in the film. Apparently the battle with Biollante got Godzilla’s core body temperature up high enough for the bacteria to be effective. With Godzilla out of commission, Biollante returned to the heavens, waiting and praying for a sequel. Her prayers still have yet to be answered.
Biollante interestingly enough was the brainchild of a dentist named Shinichiro Kobayashi. Toho held an open story contest in order to get some new ideas for a film, and Mr. Kobayashi turned out to be the winner! Three years later, a script was written based on his treatment, and Godzilla vs. Biollante was born. This is probably my favorite film in the Heisei series of Godzilla movies and features some of the coolest military battles against the Big-G that have yet to be matched. But the main attraction here is Godzilla’s new foe, Biollante. Starting out as nothing more than a giant rose plant, it’s a major shock when first time viewers see Biollante in her final form. Upon seeing the enormous Biollante uprooting from the ground, you instantly think "Holy sh*t! Godzilla is completely screwed!," regardless of any prior knowledge that Godzilla is pretty much invincible. Since this film, Biollante has been in several Godzilla video games ("Godzilla’s Greatest Battles" and "Super Godzilla" for the Super NES) and a novel, "Godzilla at World’s End" by Marc Cerasini. Hopefully Biollante will climb back out of the Earth and battle against or even alongside Godzilla in a future film. Here’s hoping!
Height: 50 meters (164 feet)
Mass: 25,000 metric tons (27,500 tons)
Weapons/Abilities: Flight at Mach 3.5, can grow or shrink at will, and can communicate with monsters.
First and Last Appearance: Godzilla vs. Megalon
Origin: Created by inventor Goro Ibuki, Jet Jaguar was given the ability to self-program at will. After being used as a pawn by agents from an underground kingdom called Seatopia, Jet Jaguar programmed himself to fight against them and their giant monster, Megalon to save Japan.
Jet Jaguar is probably one of the goofiest looking characters in the Godzilla universe and has amazingly become a cult sensation among Godzilla fans over the years. Jet Jaguar made his only appearance in 1973’s Godzilla vs. Megalon, in which the people of an underground kingdom called Seatopia declare war on us surface dwellers. Two Seatopian agents manage to take control of Jet Jaguar and command him to lead their giant monster Megalon on a destructive tour of Japan. Eventually control is wrestled away from the two agents, allowing Jet Jaguar to go out on his own and live his own life. Before he buys a house, gets married, and starts a successful career, his first real order of business is finding an ally for the upcoming monster bash, namely Godzilla.
Jet Jaguar then takes matters into his own robotic hands and battles Megalon. Things are going great, until Gigan shows up to help Megalon put a big hurt on Jet Jaguar. The two monsters gleefully punish humanity’s pointy-headed, would-be savior until Godzilla arrives on the scene. Soon, a kaiju tag-team match kicks in to full gear with Godzilla and Jet Jaguar claiming victory after a hard fought battle. Both Megalon and Gigan retreat to their respective safe havens to lick their wounds, and Godzilla and Jet Jaguar exchange a few words before going their own separate ways. Jet Jaguar is now retired with three bionic children, somewhere near the Mt. Fuji region of Japan. (HA!) However, you can currently see (and play as) Jet Jaguar in the all new "Godzilla: Save the Earth" game for PS2 and X-BOX. He’s definitely one of my favorites to use and has some of the coolest moves and combos you could possibly ask for.
Well that does it for Volume 1 of the Kaiju One Hit Wonders. There’s still quite a few monsters to write about so this could end up being a three volume series! To read my next installment, you’ll have to check back in October because I’ll be taking a break for writing for Rogue Cinema all through August. Don’t miss me too much and be sure to keep visiting and reading all of the awesome reviews, interviews, and articles on this site. Your continued visits and support means a lot to us writers, and most especially to our editor. See you in October!
Pictures courtesy of Toho Kingdom.