Godzilla Island is one of those things you’ll have to see to believe. In all my years of being a Godzilla fan, I had only vaguely heard about it. It wasn’t until recently when I managed to acquire the whole series. No, it’s not commercially available outside of Japan, and probably never will be. But there are other ways to get it. So, what is Godzilla Island you ask? It my friend was a 256(!) episode series from 1997 to 1998. It featured almost all of the monsters from Monster Island. The catch? The kaiju were portrayed through the usage of toys. There were still some humans, but otherwise the monsters and their fight scenes were done using…figures! Picture the best stop-motion video using figures on YouTube and then you have a pretty good idea of what this thing is about. Godzilla Island has a lot of heart, the most heart I’ve ever seen put into a project. Only hardcore fans like myself can get into it, and trust me…it’s such an awesome watch when you’ve been a fan all these years.
Now understand, Godzilla Island has not been subbed by anyone, so my set is in Japanese. Thankfully it’s pretty easy to to understand what’s happening. This was aimed at young kids, so there’s nothing too complex. This is divided into twenty-two ‘stories,’ which are basically arcs. There are two ‘seasons’ I’ll call them. The first follows the arrival of an alien girl named Torema. She befriends the G-Guard Commander Jiro. Besides her, another alien lady arrives, an Xilien. Yup, the Xiliens from MONSTER ZERO and later Final Wars makes a return. The first season is vastly superior to the second one. The only ‘negative’ I have is that stock footage from the movies was used sometimes. It was thankfully dropped later on. It was however admittedly funny when it did pop up.
The main characters for the first season include Commander Jiro, Torema, and Zaguresu. There’s also this little robot named Lucas and the ‘main antagonist’ so to speak, the Xilien Emperor. The Commander is a solid character, who pretty much sits around on his chair watching the events for the majority of the time. Thankfully he gets in on the action at some points when piloting Mechagodzilla. The lovely Torema is easily the best and coolest character in the whole thing. She has a genuine care for the monsters, something you rarely see in these movies. As an added bonus she has the ability to communicate with them. The antagonist is Zaguresu, a female Xilien. She’s so over-the-top and evil, just a fantastic character to watch on screen. Unfortunately her ‘replacement’ Landes just didn’t have that ‘evil’ vibe she had.
The second season saw the departure of Torema and Zaguresu. Their replacements were Misato, (the Commander’s daughter, you wouldn’t know that unless you had looked the show up online) and Landes. Misato is very similar to Torema to the point where you have to wonder why the latter was replaced to begin with. Misato is a solid character nonetheless, one the viewer can’t help but like. Then there’s another character, her friend Nao. She doesn’t serve much purpose other than being annoying comic relief. Really her only key scenes are when she piloted M.O.G.U.E.R.A. Then there’s Landes, Zaguresu’s replacement. She isn’t bad, but pales in comparison to the former. Whereas Landes’ actress really looked like she trying to be evil, it came naturally to Zaguresu’s.
We can’t forget the Giant Dark Emperor! This guy is the mastermind behind the scenes. If it wasn’t for his ridiculous design I might have been able to take him a little more seriously. He basically a giant head with fire surrounding him. Just picture OZ from The Wizard of OZ. He’s obviously pure evil, but it’s just so laughable. He doesn’t exactly fight…which is a little disappointing since throughout the series he’s just a talking head that electrocutes his Xilien minions when they don’t please him. I’m sure kids found him pretty menacing, but for older viewers like myself, he’s one of the most laughable characters ever seen.
Despite Godzilla being more of an antagonist in the Heisei era, this series was more along the lines of Showa. Godzilla himself was a hero and teamed up with his monster comrades. This is definitely one of my favorite Godzilla portrayals ever. If TOHO were to make another movie, I would want them to use a portrayal like this. All of the regulars are here, including Rodan, Mothra, Anguirus, Baragon, and many more. All of the roars are present, TOHO loves its monsters. It’s also very cool to see Rodan taking a proactive role, he actually saves Godzilla on more than one occasion by flying him away.
There are quite a few antagonist monsters. King Ghidorah is there early on. Destoroyah’s debut episode is easily one of the best, it showcased just how powerful he was in comparison with the other monsters. Interestingly, he was paired with Megalon throughout the series, being ‘thugs’ for Zaguresu. Battra is also there throughout. There was a whole story with him tricking a Mothra Larva that he was its parent. Some pretty deep stuff there! Hedorah got a nice arc to himself, taking out Mothra. But don’t worry, she was replaced by the more powerful Mothra Leo. (Cross promotion for Rebirth of Mothra II.) SpaceGodzilla had a cool story to himself. Even after he was vanquished, he lived on as a ghost where he actually controlled Godzilla and got him to take out all the monsters!
The final boss is Hyper Mecha King Ghidorah. Sound awesome? That’s cause he is. It’s basically a fully robotized version of the three-headed dragon. Now either TOHO or kids at the time loved Gigan, cause he gets the props. He actually beats Godzilla. It would take some training from King Caesar before G was ready to take on Gigan again. Also the cyborg seems to be a wildcard, neither good nor evil, rather a samurai of honor, even helping Godzilla take out Destoroyah and Megalon. Kamacuras appears in a story. He had a pretty interesting role, then kinda vanished. Also, the show introduced a couple of original monsters. Perhaps the most notable is this Cactus thing named Goroin. There’s absolutely no need for new creations, but it’s admittedly funny to watch that little thing subdue the monsters.
There is nothing remotely dark about this show, everything is light and you’ll be laughing a lot. Monster Island has Jet Jaguars for every situation, whether it be the Fire Fighter or Medic one. One must also love the fact that there’s a spa just for the monsters. There are some pretty cool concepts throughout. Ever want to see the original Mechagodzilla battle his 90’s counterpart? You’ll find that here. Torema and Zaguresu make a return later on. It was definitely great to see them back in action. The monster fights never get old, there’s something really appealing watching two action figures battle it out. Who doesn’t find it awesome when Destoroyah knocks around the other monsters like they’re toys? (Heh heh, see what I did there?)
Overall, there’s nothing quite like Godzilla Island out there. From the extremely catchy theme song, (just from hearing it once you’ll find yourself randomly shouting Godzillaaaaa, Mosuraaaaa) to just about everything, there’s a lot to enjoy if you’re a hardcore fan. The second season wasn’t quite as good as the first, but it’s still overall a fun package. The monsters are a blast to watch, and they’re all there. There’s so much heart, TOHO can even make a series revolving around moving action figures awesome. Godzilla Island is a must see for any longtime G fan.
Daniel is the guy for everything Godzilla related at Unleash the Fanboy. Besides the Big G himself, his favorite monster is Rodan and you can follow him on Twitter: @Destroyer_199