Mothra (1961)

Mothra is a movie based on a fantasy novel “Glowing fairies and Mothra” co-authored by Shinichiro Nakamura, Takehiko Fukunaga, and Yoshie Hotta. Name of the main protagonist Zenichiro Fukuda are combined names of these three co-authors (Chinese character Yoshi is also pronounced Zen in Japanese). The co-authors reportedly never received much loyalties from this movie.

If the original Godzilla was the ’50s classic kaijyu movie, this is that of the ’60s, spawning many movies that follows featuring Mothra.

This movie was created on the following year Japan signed the “Treaty of mutual cooperation and security between Japan and U.S.” of 1960 and reflects the politically charged atmosphere against US at the time in Japan. For instance, country Rorisika is a combined name of Russia, and America (in the original novel, the name was even more obvious Russirica, but was changed for the world wide release of the movie), and New Kirk city is an obvious synonym for New York city. US and Russia by the way were the only countries in the world performing hydrogen bomb experiments at the time, and No. 2 Genyomaru’s, encounter with the test was also a hidden criticism against these experiments.

In the original novel, the location where Mothra spews the cocoon is the parliament building, but this was viewed as a political statement against the said treaty, and was changed to Tokyo tower. The movie features a real life twins The Peanuts (Emi and Yumi Eto) who were popular singers in Japan at the time. The Mothra song they sang were written by Tomoyuki Tanaka, Ishiro Honda, and Shinichi Sekizawa first in Japanese, and Indonesian student residing in Japan at the time translated it into his language. The original manuscript of this handwritten song is now displayed in Yuji Koseki (who was the composer for this song) museum in Fukushima city Japan.

The plot and special effects are tour de force. One of Mothra’s lava costumes had 8 men in it with Godzilla suit actor Haruo Nakajima taking the lead. Mothra is the first kaijyu that’s not just out for destruction, but is a protector of the environment. When the Mothra lava spews silk, it really looks real. The silk was made from rubber contact cement thinned down with solvent and shot out of Mothra’s mouth using air brush. Actor Hiroshi Koizumi reprises his role as Shinichi Chujyo in 2003 movie Godzilla vs Mecha Godzilla Tokyo SOS after 42 years this movie was made.

Still after half a century, this is one of the best kaijyu movie ever created.