Godzilla Raids Again – Film Review

Director: Motoyoshi Oda

Writers: Takeo Murata and Shigeaki Hidaka

Starring: Hiroshi Koizumi, Setsuko Wakayama, Minoru Chiaki, Takashi Shimura

Rating: ★★★★ 

After the massive success of the 1954 Godzilla Toho quickly put a sequel into production, and Godzilla Raids Again was released just six months later in April 1955. As the original’s director, Ishirō Honda was unavailable, Motoyoshi Oda was hired as director. Considering that a sequel wasn’t originally planned, and the incredibly quick production time, it’s impressive how great the film turned out. 

Unlike the first film Godzilla appears very early on, although he then disappears for a large portion of the film. Two pilots working for a fishing company end up on an island, after one of them have engine troubles, and discover a new Godzilla fighting a different monster that looks likes a dinosaur. Quickly they make their escape and Japan starts to worry that Godzilla is heading to Osaka, repeating the destruction of Tokyo.

This second Godzilla is of the same species as the one from the first film, but isn’t the same one, and it’s fighting an Ankylosaurus named Anguirus. The new monster doesn’t get that much screentime, but still leaves an impression. It’s also revealed that Godzilla is attracted to lights, which the characters believe is due to him remembering the atomic bombs being dropped. They use flares to keep them away from the city, but some convicts crash a car while trying to escape, in a surprisingly tense scene, which causes an explosion and attracts the fighting kaiju into the city.

Tonally this film is completely different to the first one. Gone is the moral ambiguity in the characters actions while trying to destroy Godzilla, as well as the focus on the destruction the kaiju causes. Instead, there’s a much lighter tone that focuses on the spectacle of what’s happening. Straight away this is felt by the playful score from Masaru Sato, which isn’t anywhere near as foreboding as Akira Ifukube’s score from the original. Sato would go on to score other films in the series, as well as films by Akira Kurosawa, such as Throne of Blood and Yojimbo.

Early in the film, there’s a scene where the two pilots first identify the creature that was fighting Godzilla on the island, and then there is a discussion on how would be best to tackle it. This scene is the closest the film gets to mimicking the style of the original. It features Takashi Shimura reprising his role as Dr. Kyohei Yamane, as he describes the destruction caused by the original Godzilla in Tokyo and how the only person who knew how to create the Oxygen Destroyer is dead. They also silently watch footage from the original film, showing the destruction of Tokyo, which is the most sombre Raids Again gets.

The effects on this entry are a step-up from the first film. The fight between Godzilla and Anguirus is brilliant. A lot of the action is sped-up, which was apparently due to a mistake by the cameraman on set, but it makes it look great, adding an almost supernatural feel to it all. The costumes are a lot more mobile. As they battle through the city, destroying everything that’s in their way, including Osaka Castle, it’s exciting and entertaining to watch. 

When the film was originally released in America in 1959, it was retitled Gigantis, the Fire Monster to avoid any confusion as Godzilla died at the end of the first film. While it didn’t have new scenes shot like for Godzilla: King of the Monsters, it was still heavily edited, featuring a loosely translated dub as well as spliced in footage from other films, the original Godzilla, and news reels. 

Godzilla Raids Again set the standard for the franchise going forward. It mostly departs from the style of the original, but also introduces the idea of Godzilla fighting other monsters which has been a staple of the series ever since, as well as being a really fun film in its own right.

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About ashleymanningwriter

Young Adult Fiction writer. Horror and fantasy blended together.
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1 Response to Godzilla Raids Again – Film Review

  1. Tony Briley says:

    Great review! Thank you for another oldie.


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