Gojira Rises

How many of you remember where Godzilla came from?

I cannot imagine what life was like in Japan following Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  The archipelago nation had been at war for the better part of ten years.  Through their arrogance and sentiments of superiority as a race, they chose to fight on despite being faced with an American force that possessed greater numbers and resources.

I will go on record by stating that I support my country’s decision to end the world war by dropping atomic bombs.  In so doing, they actually saved over a million lives.  I’m not one of those latter-day apologists.

But, that doesn’t mean that I am without feeling for the utter devastation wrought by those actions.

Gojira (or as it was pronounced in the west — Godzilla) sprang from the fallout from nuclear detonations.

After the war, America and other nations used the Pacific Ocean as a nuclear testing ground.  One famous site was Bikini Atoll.  French engineer, Louis Réard, and fashion designer, Jacques Heim, changed the course of history by introducing the bikini to the world in Paris in 1946.

Nuclear fallout?

Japanese filmmakers conceived a monster who rose from the sea as a result of the forces that mankind had unleashed without fully understanding the consequences.  “Gojira” is a combination of the Japanese words “gorira” (gorilla) and “kujira” (whale).

Gojira was first portrayed in film in 1954.  He was 50 to 100 meters tall, and he devastated Japan.  He breathed fire.  Despite popular belief, he did not fly.

Throughout the many, many Japanese movies made featuring this colossal star, the monster was either destroyed, subdued or dispatched in the end.  He would then rise again in the next film.

Curiously over time, Godzilla went from villain to hero.  In later films, he would appear in time to save Japan from other perils, including Mothra, Gigan and even King Kong.

Like all boys of my age, I was terrified and thrilled by Godzilla.  I would race home after school to catch the start of the flic during Godzilla Week on The 4:30 Movie.

Unfortunately, last week’s devastating earthquake and tsunami, following by the ongoing crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant strongly resembled the first 15 minutes of those movies I so enjoyed as a boy.

The situation at the nuclear plant is terrifying and without a glimmer of hope at this time.  As described by this graphic, there are multiple problems involving four of the plants six reactors:

From McClatchy News

Once again, forces have arisen from the sea to threaten Japan.  This time they are very real.  It’s not an actor wearing a rubber suit.

If only a hero would enter the scene right now.

Sometimes toward the end of Godzilla films, a scientist would figure out a gimmick to defeat the evil.  I remember one scene in which an egghead in a white coat disrupted a meeting of generals and other know-it-alls by running his fingernails across a blackboard.  From there, they used annoying sound waves to defeat the invader.

This time, gimmicks won’t work.

We can only hope that the scientists come up with a workable plan.

— The Major


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