Fanart Friday returns, and conventional weapons cannot stop it! Last week, we battled and trained alongside our favorite Pokémon, but this week's monsters are a bit too big to fit in your pocket... well, most of them, anyway. Kaiju (怪獣) means "strange creature," and is normally used to refer to the giant monsters in movies, TV, anime and games.
Much like the tokusatsu and Super Sentai heroes of Spandex Squadron Supreme Edition, kaiju are an important part of Japan's pop culture landscape, especially top-billing movie monsters like Godzilla and Gamera. Kaiju also show up in the most unexpected places, so let the battle begin!
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Let's start with the one we all know and love--Godzilla, King of the Monsters! Originally an allegory for the horrors of nuclear war, Godzilla began his reign of terror in 1954. Sometimes a hero, sometimes a villain, but most times a grudging anti-hero, Godzilla always returns to the big screen, leaner and meaner than before.
He's not without help, though--Rodan had a standalone movie in 1956, but has since shown up several times as a reluctant ally to Godzilla. Honestly, I remember him putting up a better fight against Godzilla himself (in Godzilla: Final Wars) than against an actual bad guy (in Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster), and that's not saying much.
The reach of Godzilla (and kaiju in general) as a cultural icon is pretty easily shown by Reptar, the Godzilla-alike from Rugrats. Wikipedia teaches me all sorts of amazing things--did you know that in the first Rugrats movie, Reptar was voiced by Busta Rhymes?
There's a slight difference between kaiju and kaijin (giant human) characters like Ultraman, but Ultraman himself regularly fights gigantic monsters. Gomora here is one of the most recognizable of Ultraman's rogues' gallery!
In the early '90s, SNK paid homage to kaiju classics with King of the Monsters, a multiplayer arcade brawler. I don't know how much money I spent total on this game--the SNES and Genesis ports were never quite good enough, and no way in hell could I convince my parents to get me a Neo Geo.
Say what you will about Godzilla's enemies, but I feel that the most brutal fights tend to be in movies with Mechagodzilla. The monster's arsenal keeps getting more advanced and deadly and ridiculous, which in turn means that the filmmakers are given free reign to make the most awesome and ludicrous fight scenes they can imagine. I wouldn't have it any other way.
Okay, I'll be straight with you--this isn't really fanart. It's official concept art for a possible revival of giant monster-based arcade game Rampage, which would be totally awesome, except that parent company Midway is now gone. This artbook features this piece and more from the talented AtomHawk design team!
I've always found Mothra to be kind of a tragic kaiju--Mothra regularly dies (in her flying form), only to be reborn for her next appearance. Best finisher? A flying, flaming kamikaze attack in Godzilla: Final Wars.
Bagan is a request from last week that I've always loved. While he's an official Toho kaiju, he's only appeared in the Super Godzilla SNES game, and is supposed to be so powerful that regular Godzilla doesn't stand a chance. This artist, KaijuSamurai, has done some slick redesigns of Toho's entire bestiary, along with a cool "Godzilla Neo" timeline--check it out in his gallery!
I mean, the guy even makes Zilla (the official name for the crappy 1998 US Godzilla) pretty cool! I hate to keep bringing up Final Wars, but, well... yeah. This scene. It was very satisfying for longtime Godzilla fans.
King Ghidorah is less of an ordinary villain and more a force of nature, but he stands at the forefront of Godzilla's villains. I'm actually very surprised that Toho never did a standalone movie for this guy--he's pretty impressive all on his own, and it almost always takes multiple monsters to put him away.
Yes, King Kong counts as a kaiju! He even battled Godzilla (and surprisingly kicked his ass) in 1962's King Kong vs. Godzilla! I'm actually tempted to go to this artist's Etsy and get this as an actual print...
Patrick was recently talking about Godzilla vs. Biollante, which is one of my favorite recent(ish) Godzilla movies. Okay, it's not that recent, as the movie came out in 1989, but it's rare to 1- see a female kaiju and 2- see Godzilla get his ass kicked as badly as he does in this movie. Also, Biollante is just downright nightmarish compared to a lot of kaiju.
Let me stop talking about how awesome Godzilla movies are for a second to bring up Cloverfield, J.J. Abrams' 2008 giant monster movie. Abrams' heart was certainly in the right place--he wanted to make a distinctly American monster movie, and that's a good thing! Unfortunately, the actual movie itself was only okay.
A lot of Godzilla's foes are evil, they're destructive, and they're without a doubt the bad guys, but few are as purely sadistic and cruel as Gigan. You've got the original version here with the scythe arms, or the crazy Ryuhei Kitamura redesign that has freakin' chainsaws for hands--take your pick, they're both terrifying!
I've always shown off Feriowind's awesome Metal Gear-related fanart, but it looks like kaiju also get the amazing fanart treatment! While little Godzilla is adorable, I don't know how cute I find two-foot-long grubs, even if they're as friendly as baby Mothra. Turns out, those are actually the Ohmu from Nausicaa--thanks, sir_dewknot!
Okay, so there are definitely bigger Pokémon (Dialga, Steelix, and Wailord immediately come to mind), but this Garchomp sure as hell fits the bill in the looks department!
Okay, I take it back--baby Mothra is adorable.
I've already extolled the virtues of Pacific Rim here, but I don't know if the Gypsy Danger has a snowball's chance in Hell against the King of the Monsters. Aw, what am I saying, they're just gonna team up and fight kaiju head-on at the Rift, right?
Jet Jaguar is a lesser-known Toho kaiju who only appears in one movie--Godzilla vs. Megalon--as an ally. It turns out that Jet Jaguar is the winning design of a contest looking for a new "hero" character. Jet Jaguar's not lost to time, though--he's appeared in quite a few Godzilla video games!
Fearsome as both an ally and an enemy, Final Fantasy's Bahamut is probably the iffiest inclusion on this list, but I don't care. Just think of the Bahamut vs. Alexander battle in Final Fantasy IX--tell me that wasn't a kaiju fight!
I'm sorry, Gamera fans... I do have a pretty blatant Godzilla bias. I can't help it, though--Gamera movies are an hour of people talking, ten minutes of the movie's villain rampaging around, and then five minutes of Gamera showing up and kicking its ass. (This is an exaggeration, of course, but only a slight one.)
NOW THAT'S MORE LIKE IT! Not many movies go for the whole five-way free-for-all, but when it does happen, it's glorious. I didn't really talk about it here, but Anguirus (front right) is one of the original Toho kaiju, and the first monster Godzilla ever fought!
You have no idea how many "humanized" versions of kaiju are on the Internet, but this one is easily one of my favorites. From the left: Anguirus, Godzilla, Rodan, Jet Jaguar, and Mothra!
And that's it for the week--Godzilla is returning to the sea, Gamera is flying off into the sunset, and there are a lot of insurance claims to file! There's no way I could have included everything (and again, I admit I went a little Godzilla-heavy)--who are your favorite kaiju? What are your favorite giant monster movies? Sound off in the comments!
Like I say every time, your work is always welcome here on Fanart Friday, regardless of your experience or skill level. Just PM me a link to your work, and I'll include it in a future installment! For those of you getting your art ready, here are the next three themes for Fanart Friday:
-Next week, on OCTOBER 25th, we start the party a little early with a HALLOWEEN-themed installment! We'll get to see our favorite characters raiding their costume closets! THIS IS THE ONLY THEME I'M TAKING REQUESTS FOR THIS WEEK!
-Then, on NOVEMBER 1st, we don our eyepatches, unsheathe our cutlasses, and take to the high seas with our favorite PIRATES!
-On NOVEMBER 8th, we honor those who served (and those who currently serve) with a MILITARY-themed installment! This long-overdue theme was suggested by CR user dmrscruz09!
Thanks again for coming by to check out Fanart Friday--have a great weekend, and I hope you drop by next time!