March Madness, Toho Style


Greetings, Friends and Fiends!

Ye Olde Dragon here, bringing you remembrances of Toho Movies past.

You might remember that back in December, I posted a list of all the Toho Tokusatsu (special effects films) released that month in past years.
Well, after the drought of January and February, here are four films that saw March releases from Toho.

On March 15, 1975, Toho released the final entry of the Showa Era Godzilla movie series. MEKAGOJIRA NO GYAKUSHU would also be the last Godzilla film directed by Ishiro Honda. Known in the US as TERROR OF MECHAGODZILLA (and alternately as TERROR OF GODZILLA), the film was highlighted by the single film appearance (Except for stock footage) of Titanosaurus and (what would turn out to be) the final performance of veteran Toho actor Akihiko Hirata in a Godzilla film. Hirata was set to appear nine years later in 1984’s relaunch of the Godzilla franchise, but sadly he passed away from cancer just before production started on GOJIRA (1984).


On March 17, 1973, Toho released Jun Fukuda‘s GOJIRA TAI MEGARO, released in the US as GODZILLA VS. MEGALON. This film introduced the fan favorite character, the robot hero called Jet Jaguar, who could change his size from that of human stature to a size better suited for fighting Kaiju. It was also the second (and final) Showa era appearance of Gigan, the alien cyborg monster.

Personal Note: This movie holds a very special place in my heart, or at least the US version of it. This was the first Godzilla movie that I saw in a theater, and I saw it with my Dad who had introduced me to Godzilla movies a year earlier. I still have the four-page comic book (if you can call it that) that they handed out at the theater.


Way back, on March 21, 1962, Toho released Ishiro Honda’s YOSEI GORASU, known in the US as GORATH. This science-fiction/thriller told the story of a giant asteroid speeding towards Earth. When it is deemed impossible to destroy the asteroid, a daring plan to accelerate Earth’s orbit by means of giant rocket engine propulsion is put into effect. The major difference between the original version and the US version, is that the US version removed all footage of Magma. Magma was a giant walrus, released from icebergs due to the intensity of the rocket engines, and quite possibly the most reviled Kaiju in Toho’s bestiary.


Finally, on March 21, 1974, Jun Fukuda’s GOJIRA TAI MEKAGOJIRA was released. Known in the US as GODZILLA VS. THE COSMIC MONSTER (originally called GODZILLA VS. THE BIONIC MONSTER, but was changed after Universal Studios threatened litigation against the US distributor for inferred copyright infringement of its SIX MILLION DOLLAR MAN franchise), this was the first appearance of what would prove to be one of Godzilla’s most durable foes, Mechagodzilla. Godzilla would face his robot counterpart in all three areas of the franchise. This film also saw the single Showa era appearance of King Caesar, inspired by the Shisa – the half dog – half lion Guardian of Okinawan mythology. He would appear 30 years later in GODZILLA FINAL WARS (2004).


Next Time – April’s Two Releases



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