Not Rated / Black & White / 82 minutes

Directed by Motoyoshi Oda

Also Known As: Gojira no gyakushû

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Toho quickly began developing a follow-up film after the unexpected success of Gojira and the rising popularity of “atom age” monster films featuring dinosaurs. While this seemed problematic given that Godzilla was killed off in the original, Gojira no Gyakushû (Godzilla Raids Again) was completed and released to Japanese theaters in less than five months after Gojira’s debut.

Godzilla Raids Again centers on two spotter pilots for Osaka’s Kaiyo Fishing Company: Shoichi Tsukioka (Hiroshi Koizumi) and Koji Kobiyashi (Minoru Chiaki). During a routine flight, Kobayashi’s engine stalls, forcing him to land on the desolate (and fictional) Iwato Island. Tsukioka rescues his friend, who is unharmed except for a minor wrist injury. However, the two soon discover they are not alone.

The quiet of Iwato Island is shattered when Godzilla and another creature begin fighting on the cliffs above Tsukioka and Kobayashi. The men watch in horror as the monsters wrestle briefly before falling into the ocean. They quickly return to Osaka and report their encounter to the authorities, leading to a briefing with local military officials and scientists, including Dr. Kyohei Yamane.

Kobayashi identifies the new creature as Anguirus, a carnivorous species of Ankylosaurus. Anguirus has a multitude of brains throughout its body, making it both quick and aggressive. Dr. Yamane states that current military hardware is useless against Godzilla, and the only weapon that could work, along with its creator, are gone.

However, Dr. Yamane theorizes that flares might lead Godzilla away, as Godzilla might be triggered by bright lights or flames due to witnessing hydrogen bomb tests (implying Godzilla has nuclear PTSD). The Japanese Self-Defense Forces (JSDF) prepare to use flares to guide Godzilla away from Osaka. As night falls, Godzilla appears off the coast, and the JSDF’s plan initially works, with Godzilla heading back out to sea.

Disaster strikes when a group of criminals escape police custody during the blackout. A stolen fuel truck crashes, causing a massive fire that draws Godzilla back to shore. Amid JSDF attacks, Godzilla and Anguirus engage in a fierce battle, destroying Osaka Castle in the process.

Who will emerge victorious, and how will humanity deal with the aftermath? To find out, watch Godzilla Raids Again!

As a lifelong fan, I admit that Godzilla Raids Again ranks lower on my list than other Godzilla films. The rushed production shows, especially in the script, which includes a halfhearted love triangle and somewhat dull lead characters. The blue-collar heroes are a nice change, but they pale in comparison to the dynamic characters in later installments.

The newly-designed “Gyakushu Suit” for Godzilla, while lighter and more mobile, has a head design that looks odd from the front. The Anguirus suit, however, is flawless, and Anguirus is one of my favorite Toho kaiju. Unfortunately, Anguirus is defeated too early in the film, a significant misstep that undermines audience anticipation.

Filming the monster scenes at higher speeds, creating a sped-up appearance, was an experimental choice by Eiji Tsuburaya. Additionally, the film attempts to maintain continuity with the original Gojira, featuring Dr. Yamane and leading into King Kong vs. Godzilla.

Despite well-executed destruction scenes and battles, the human story is lackluster. The romance and character arcs lack depth, reducing the non-kaiju portion to filler. Director Motoyoshi Oda’s efficiency resulted in a well-shot but emotionally flat film, and composer Masaru Sato’s score, while fitting, lacks the impact of Akira Ifukube’s memorable themes.

Godzilla Raids Again faced the challenge of following a groundbreaking film, and though it has issues, it remains a classic Godzilla movie. Its introduction of Anguirus and memorable scenes make it worth watching. Despite its flaws, it earns a rating of 3 out of 5.