edited by Chris N
[supplementary info by this editor will be placed in parantheses, brackets with initials, or presented in blue text, depending upon the size or significance of the supplement in question]
Well, this is one question that most true G-fans don't spend a lot of time worrying about. As far as Godzilla's Revenge goes, many hate it and barely consider it part of the official Toho Showa 'canon'. A few respect and love its childish spirit, others are merely confused.
It is certainly unique in many respects. This is the only time that Minya [Minilla in Japanese], or any of the kaiju for that matter, communicated directly with humans via the spoken word (at least, apparently). Minya shrinks down to human child size. A youth, Ichiro, magically transports to and from Monster Island, without plausible means of transportation [unless you count the psychic plane he conjured up for the trip--CN]. Monster Island appears for the first time in the 'present day' canon, but without explanation. Godzilla's battles outside of his conflict with Gabara seem to be identical repeats of those he has had over the past few years [on Letchi Island and Solgell Island, the latter of which may be the new Monster Island--CN]. A singular, ogre-like kaiju, Gabara, appears for its one and only time. And, oddly enough, Gabara is also the name of Ichiro's youthful human nemesis.
All of these anomalies invite a Godzilla fan to consider Godzilla's Revenge as completely apocryphal. That is, to dismiss the whole thing as fictional or imaginary, even within the fictional and imaginary context of the Showa Godzilla saga. To be fair, it's tempting indeed.
But there are aspects to the movie which suggest that there is inherent fact to sift from fancy.
For one thing, Monster Island actually exists in the Showa Toho Universe (STU) from here on in. The idea of an island reservation for dai kaiju first came up in Destroy All Monsters, released a year earlier in 1968 but with a story set in 1999. Working backwards, it was referred to in Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1974), briefly shown in Godzilla vs. Megalon (1973), depicted in the Zone Fighter, the Meteor Man TV series (1973), and in Godzilla vs. Gigan (1972). Godzilla's Revenge (1969) is the first mention of it in the working chronology, but thereafter, it's a solid part of the continuity [if seen only briefly afterwards, and never again a major focus of any G-film storyline, despite the misleading original American release title for Godzilla vs. Gigan, Cinema Shares' "Godzilla On Monster Island"--CN].
So, does this suggest that Monster Island, either Ogasawara Island or
other atoll [Solgell Island from Son of Godzilla, in the opinion of this editor--CN], is real in Godzilla's Revenge? I think so. At the very
Monster Island would have had to have been established around this
following Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster and Son of Godzilla.
Monster Island couldn't have been Letchi Island from the former film, since the atoll was completely obliterated at the end of that movie.
How would this have been accomplished? Let's look at the inhabitants of Monster Island in Godzilla's Revenge: Godzilla, Minya, Gabara, Rodan [mentioned but not depicted], Gorosaurus, Kamakiras, Spiega [Kumonga in Japanese], Ebirah, Anguirus, Manda, Gorosaurus, the Giant Condor [i.e., 'daikondura'], and Larval Mothra. We should also note that geographical features of this island seem identical to Solgell Island, seen in Son of Godzilla.
Four of these kaiju, Godzilla, Minya, Kamakiras, and Spiega were already together on Solgell Island in the film Son of Godzilla, almost immediately preceding Godzilla's Revenge. Several others, notably Gorosaurus (from Mondo Island), Ebirah, and the Giant Condor (the latter two from Letchi Island) had been rendered hors de combat in battles with Godzilla or King Kong in the immediate preceding years.
Chris N, in his Showa Godzilla timeline, carefully maps out the process where monsters were transported and Solgell Island became the first Monster Island, and I have no need to duplicate his thorough and exemplary work. [See Monster Island Footnote, following.]
On the other hand, other aspects seem inescapably fantasy. Minya's size changing, the apparent verbal communication, his full human-level sentience, the transitions to Monster Island; these seem palpably unreal.
Of course, Jet Jaguar changed size, growing to kaiju scale and reverting back in Godzilla vs. Megalon, and this is acknowledged to be a 'real' episode. Some of the creatures, i.e., 'Terro-Beasts', in Zone Fighter's TV series similarly changed their scale. So, perhaps it's not unreasonable to assume that Minya possesses an otherwise undocumented ability to shrink down to miniature or human size [though, it should perhaps be noted, Jet Jaguar and the Terro-Beasts accomplished this feat via technological means, possibly by accruing mass from an otherdimensional source--CN]. Certainly it's less visually loopy than Godzilla's 'flight' in Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster. If Minya did possess such an ability, it's pretty obvious why it would seldom be displayed. After all, it's hardly a useful power for a gigantic, physically powerful monster to transform itself into a tiny and weak version [size-changing would have many practical uses for a sentai, of course, and Jet Jaguar in the 'Godzilla: Save the Earth' video game from Atari uses size-changing to both a larger and smaller than kaiju size to good effect in combat--CN].
Meanwhile, in other movies, we've seen that the kaiju are able to communicate with each other to some degree, most likely on a psychic level. In Ghidrah, the Three-Headed Monster, Godzilla, Rodan, and Mothra appear to have a conversation. In movies from Godzilla vs. Gigan through to Terror of Mechagodzilla, the kaiju appear to coordinate and work together in a manner that suggests communication [particularly between Godzilla and Anguirus in the former film--CN]. So it may be possible that the inventor/babysitter's machine has gifted Ichiro with the means to communicate, on his youthful level, with at least some of the kaiju, which he interprets as verbal speech.
Even the transportation may be either a form of astral projection, or incidents of teleportation [a form of astral or psychic transport, with the airplane serving as a familiar proxy for Ichiro to identify with in his psychic 'flight' to Monster Island, is the theory that this editor currently stands behind--CN]. The evidence of the film itself states pretty clearly that this is a gift of the inventor. It's the purpose and function of the machine.
Or perhaps this is another hitherto unknown, undocumented, and little displayed power of Minya. The ability to temporarily teleport or transport 'playmates' who resonate emotionally with the littlest kaiju is not the sort of skill that would get a lot of play. After all, in the middle of a terrifying battle, the capacity to summon helpless and terrified children is probably not going to help you win.
Of course, if Minya does have this teleportational ability with some degree of capacity, this may well explain the expansion of Solgell into Monster Island. Perhaps benign and sympathetic kaiju such as Anguirus, Rodan, and larval Mothra were drawn by Minya's power. The lonely little kaiju might simply have picked up Gabara, Gorosaurus, Ebirah, and the Giant Condor as part of a general sweep.
Of course, while this is a fun speculation and an interesting reversal, it's not supported by any actual statements within the movie itself. And further, though it's always risky to talk about the improbability of coincidence in films like this, it is nevertheless highly improbable that Minya should have and utilize this unique power at the same time, and with the same boy in the micro-shorts, who happens to receive the gift of a machine which is supposed to do exactly the same thing.
So, unfortunately, we must abandon the notion that teleportation and
telepathic speech are special hidden powers of Minya, and attribute
effects to either outright fantasy, or to the actions of the inventor's
machine. Of course, the dai kaiju are well known to have an instinctual psychic capacity, and just as human youths are known to have a greater natural propensity for psychic abilities than adults, it's possible that young kaiju may share this superior psychic attribute over their fully grown counterparts, and the inventor's machine may have activated latent esper abilities in Ichiro when it was turned on in his vicinity, conferring upon him the ability to achieve a trance-like state where he accesses these psychic abilities even without the machine after using it a few times; ample evidence of this is extant in the film.
The size-changing thing? Well, I think that's a little harder to explain through the machine, as it's certainly not an attributed function of the device, but it has been a function of some temporary kaiju, so I'll still hold out for the possibility of a hitherto unknown power for Minya.
Of course, this is all speculation. It's quite possible that Minya's size changing, the apparent 'speech' between kaiju, and the transportation to the island are all explicitly fantasy or hallucination elements.
Although arguably, whatever these experiences are, they are not total hallucinations. In fact, Godzilla's battles with Ebirah, Spiega, Kamakiras, the Red Bamboo's military planes, and the Giant Condor are not unreal; they happen or have happened in the then-recent past. If they are not occurring here during Godzilla's Revenge, then they have definitely occurred before. So, they may be original battles or rematches of the original battles, but they're bona fide.
It is entirely possible that these battles occur as rematches in Godzilla's Revenge, where Kaiju who have suffered defeat at the hands of Godzilla, go up against him again, with identical results.
At worst, they are accurate, actual memories of recent battles. Perhaps Ichiro has confabulated fantasies based on newspaper accounts. But they seem far too 'move by move' accurate to be confabulations. They're the real thing, down to fine details. Details that only Godzilla (and in some cases, Minya) could have.
The only real explanation is that if they're only happening in Ichiro's mind, then the only way they could be so accurate is if Ichiro is tapping psychically into Godzilla's memories. This reinforces the notion that some genuine form of psychic contact or rapport is going on between Ichiro and Godzilla and Minya (though mostly with the latter).
So, it may well be that Ichiro's experiences and conversations on Monster Island are effectively hallucinations, but that they have roots in genuine psychic contact, and thus reflect, in a distorted but discernible fashion, reality.
Anyway, it's something to consider. It's certainly open to debate or dispute as to how real or unreal Ichiro's experiences are. Even if we dismiss them as unreal, we still have a puzzle.
The puzzle is simple: Monster Island, by virtue of its continuing
appearances in subsequent movies set immediately after this one, must
considered to be real. [Although the attribution of inhabitants may or
not be a fantasy element. Gabara may not be real, and some of the other
kaiju may be real, but not actually be on the island--DV].
Ichiro's experiences may be real, or unreal, or some collaboration.
What about Gabara? Real, like Monster Island? Or potentially unreal, like Ichiro's experiences?
The temptation is to dismiss Gabara as an unreal fantasy figment. But I'm going to play the devil's advocate here. Why shouldn't Gabara be real?
At first, the fact that Gabara has the same name as Ichiro's real life bully, seems to be a tip-off that he's simply a fantasy analogue, i.e., the real life bully projected large as a monster bully. But then again, Godzilla, Angurius, Rodan, etc. didn't name themselves. These names were given to them by terrified humans. Gabara is named by a vulnerable bullied child, who perceives a monster bullying Minya in the same manner he is victimized. It's not surprising that the kid would give the kaiju bully the same name as the terror of his own life.
Gabara's appearance seems based on no known animal, and appears to be a peculiar mixture of reptilian and mammalian characteristics. Like reptiles, Gabara is heavily scaled, with large chest plates. However, mammalian traits include no tail [at least in regards to higher primates], a tuft of hair, and pointed ears. There is a muzzle and teeth which could be either reptilian or mammalian. That's certainly a mixed bag of mammal and reptile features.
On the other hand, Gigan, Megalon, King Seesar, Titanosaurus, King Ghidorah, and Hedorah are all bizarre in their own fashions, some of which exceed Gabara's anomalies. On this basis, perhaps monsters that live in glass houses should not throw stones.
There are precedents that support Gabara. Titanosaurus has similar
plates. Several kaiju have horns, including Baragon. Other
reptilian kaiju sport mammalian features, despite reptilian natures.
Godzilla in his early adventures has small but discernible ears.
also has quite visible ears. King Seesar exhibits an even more bizarre
combination of mammalian and reptilian traits. Even Gabara's electrical
powers are not unique. Electrical powers are exhibited by King Ghidorah and Megalon, and
least initially by King Kong in his first Toho adventure.
In short, there is nothing about Gabara that would preclude his being a real, actual kaiju.
Except, of course, that Gabara is never seen subsequently. To be fair, however, Gabara has shown himself to be an unprepossessing kaiju. A coward and a bully, Gabara is certainly not a favourite of Godzilla, and would probably be inclined to stay out of the way of other aggressive, full-grown kaiju. In the subsequent movies and TV series taking place in the Showa continuity, Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster through Terror of Mechagodzilla, Monster Island is only glimpsed or referred to occasionally. The monsters that leave it, primarily Godzilla and Anguirus, are traveling abroad to defend humanity. Gabara hardly cares about humanity and certainly never looks for a real fight. So his lack of presence is explainable.
Gabara does not appear in Destroy All Monsters, in which all the active, extant kaiju are used by the alien Kilaaks to attack humanity. But there are other kaiju missing from Destroy All Monsters, so it's possible that Gabara has been destroyed by that time, or like other missing monsters, is simply AWOL, either escaped, in hiding, or in hibernation from which he cannot be roused.
The deciding factor on Gabara, however, is probably the corroborating evidence: every other dai kaiju depicted as being on the island in Godzilla's Revenge is a real creature. Godzilla's battles with Ebirah, Spiega, Kamakiras, and the Giant Condor (and even the Red Bamboo's military planes), whether actually occurring again, or simply psychically plundered memories, are real. Even the geography and flora and fauna of Monster Island corresponds directly with the real Solgell Island. In short, if the other aiju, kaiju battles, and island terrain are real, then it seems arbitrary to simply dismiss a single kaiju, Gabara, as unreal.
There may be unreal aspects to the film, but all of these relate directly to Ichiro in the form of his projection or teleportation, his seemingly verbal communication with Minya, and his bringing Minya down to his own size. All of these aspects seem to be inherently and obviously incredible. Gabara, in contrast, neither relates directly to Ichiro, nor is he obviously implausible.
There is one final piece of evidence which may argue for the existence
Gabara as a real monster in Showa continuity.
Gabara appears as a character in the 1993 video game, Godzilla: King of Monsters. This game features a mixture of both Showa and Heisei monsters. Among the specifically Showa monsters making appearances are Kamakiras (of Solgell Island), Spiega/Kumonga (also of Solgell Island), Gezora (Selga Island), Ganimes (Selga Island), Varan, Titanosaurus, Megalon, Hedorah, Manda, Gigan, and Jet Jaguar. From the Heisei Era, we have Mecha-King Ghidorah, Super Mechagodzilla, and Biollante, as well as the Super X and Super X-2 war machines.
There doesn't seem to be a plot, it just appears to be a rampaging monsterfest. The inclusion of Heisei characters, and the lack of specific dating or contextual clues, make it difficult to place in Showa continuity, but I'll discuss this further in the Monster Island footnote essay elsewhere on this site. In any event, Gabara's inclusion in this game is hardly definitive of anything, but it does nudge the scales slightly towards Gabara's inclusion as a 'real' kaiju.
In the end, of course, the reconciliation of the anomalies in Godzilla's Revenge is a personal matter. For what it's worth, I think that Gabara is a real kaiju in Godzilla's Showa Era universe.
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