The King Is Dead. Long Live The King of Monsters.

Anyone who knows me, knows I have a love for a LOT of different things. Some wonder how I can keep track of it all, but I’d say if you ask the people who really know me what my favorite things are, they’ll tell you, tacos, coffee, road trips, Dinosaur Jr, cardigan sweaters, and Godzilla.

So it is with a very, very heavy heart that today, we say goodbye to Haruo Nakajima. Better known as Godzilla.

Not just ANY Godzilla either. Nakajima was THE original King of Monsters in the 1954 film. However, perhaps more importantly, he remained to play Godzilla in throughout the Showa era until his retirement from the role, ending with 1972’s Godzilla vs Gigan. These are the Godzilla movies that most of us who grew up with them know and love the best. From starting out as the frightening, then transforming to the goofy, the crazy, the occasionally trippy, the monster, the hero. The King.

Below this, I’ve listed all the kaiju movies he’s done. You’ll notice that he wasn’t JUST Godzilla. He was the original Mothra, Rodan and Mogera as well as a host of others.

Outside of the beloved Kaiju movies, he was also in a few of Akira Kurosawa’s famous samurai film, notably, Seven Samurai.

Nakjima is still considered the best suit actor ever. To the Japanese film industry, he was what Andy Serkis now is to mocap. You knew when he was in that suit because he had certain moves, the way he walked, fought, waved his hands around, reacted to things… So many people are dismissive of Godzilla movies as rubber-monster-camp. To an extent they’re right. Just watch some of the goofier entries. I won’t deny the campiness of those films. What you can’t be dismissive of, is the talent that really brought Godzilla to life for so many of us. I’ve often said that the greatest actors are the ones that make you forget who’s behind the portrayal. With the heavy suits on though, Nakajima instead reminded us who was inside the portrayal.

In an interview, he was asked, “What is Godzilla to you?” and his response nails it;

He’s my partner! He’s my partner. He can’t be a character without me, but I get inside and he’s the boss.
He’s the boss, but I’m his partner. We can’t stand alone. We’re partners because we share the same feelings.

The wonderful thing is, he never stopped being a hero to legions and generations of kaiju fans. Up to this past year, he was still making the rounds. Hitting the convention circuit, always smiling, always happy to meet new and younger fans. He was kind and humble for his station. In this new age of CGI, as wild as it is, you can never replace the fun and heart of those older films.

Just as you can never replace Haruo Nakajima.

Here’s a short video of the last time Nakjima donned the Godzilla mantel. In 1983. The suit he’s wearing here was made for Godzilla’s 25th Anniversary in 1979. However, the wonderful thing is, once he’s going, he IS Godzilla. Those classic, signature moves, the stance… That’s love.

  • 1954 – Godzilla (Godzilla, Newspaper Writer)
  • 1955 – Godzilla Raids Again (Godzilla)
  • 1956 – Rodan (Rodan, Meganulon, JSDF Officer)
  • 1957 – The Mysterians (Mogera, JDSF Officer)
  • 1958 – Varan the Unbelievable (Varan)
  • 1961 – Mothra (Mothra)
  • 1962 – King Kong vs. Godzilla (Godzilla)
  • 1963 – Matango (Matango)
  • 1963 – Atragon
  • 1964 – Mothra vs. Godzilla (Godzilla)
  • 1964 – Dogora, the Space Monster
  • 1964 – Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster (Godzilla)
  • 1965 – Frankenstein vs. Baragon (Baragon)
  • 1965 – Invasion of the Astro-Monster (Godzilla)
  • 1966 – The War of the Gargantuas (Gaira)
  • 1966 – Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster (Godzilla)
  • 1967 – Son of Godzilla (Godzilla; water scenes only)
  • 1967 – King Kong Escapes (King Kong)
  • 1968 – Destroy All Monsters (Godzilla, Military Adviser)
  • 1969 – Latitude Zero (Gryphon, Manbat, Giant Rat, Lion)
  • 1969 – All Monsters Attack (Godzilla)
  • 1970 – Space Amoeba (Gezora, Ganime)
  • 1971 – Godzilla vs. Hedorah (Godzilla)
  • 1972 – Godzilla vs. Gigan (Godzilla, Comic Book Publisher, Defense Forces Officer)

Credit to who ever made this collage. It’s awesome.

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UPDATE: Godzilla 2014: The Beast Revealed?

godzilla bannerLONG LIVE THE KING….OF MONSTERS!!!!

This article was originally published on 9.11.2013. Interesting update at the bottom of the article following the cut.

Earlier today, someone posted this image of the titular King of Monsters from Legendary Pictures upcoming Godzilla film, directed by Gareth Edwards (backtracking through articles, the source seems Continue reading

Nerd-base Podcast 7 – Hobbity Euphemisms And Tearful Cinema

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We’ve had two “Lost Episodes”…now, just one..BEHOLD!! EPISODE 7 IS HERE!!! (episode 9 is likely far off if it ever comes, haha) This episode, Chris sits down with new(er) Nerd-Base contributor, old friend, and regular member of the Digital Press Podcast and Video Game History Museum, Frankie Viturello! Continue reading

GOJIRA!!! Legendary Pictures Announces Principal Photography and Release Date!

godzilla bannerLegendary Pictures made their first big announcement today about their upcoming “American” reboot of Godzilla!!

I am a HUGE G-Fan and of all the movies being released, this will likely be the one you’ll see me following/posting updates for most often.

Here’s the release statement regarding casting, beginning of principal photography, and the RELEASE DATE of the upcoming film (also a quick word from director Gareth Edwards: Continue reading

Review: Total Confusion 2013 (Gaming Con)

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Part of the CCG and board game room

Total Confusion is my favorite gaming con. It is pretty much a 4-day pure gaming convention made up of a good number of board games, RPGs, LARPs, card games, and table top model strategies. There is also a small vendor area, some panels, a video game room, a video showing area, and some performances. There is even a listing of old-school RPGs for geezers like me. I try to hit this con every year. This year’s con (27 years and going) ran from February 21-24, 2013 in Mansfield, MA; I attended on Saturday.

Some of the RPG tables

Some of the RPG tables

If you pre-reg you can usually get into the games you want. I never have the forethought to do this but one can still always find interesting things to try. Actually, one of my great enjoyments is Continue reading

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Star Wars: The Clone Wars – Don't knock it til you've tried it!

 

If you’re a Star Wars fan, you’ve been in heated discussions not only about the movies, original or prequel, but of aspect of all the other medium as well.
Many I’ve spoken to have dismissed the “Clone Wars” tv series as a kids show to be put on the backburner indefinitely, no doubt, in large part, to the fact that it’s based in the environment of the almost universally reviled prequel films.

I say now, as I’ve said for some time, don’t do that to yourself.

The “Clone Wars” is a treat. It’s a well made and planned out series that caters to the fans. It has a linear story format that, at times, seems above the age for which it seems targeted. Characters die. I don’t mean just faceless clones and robots, I mean real storyline characters that you grow an attachment to are killed off in this series. It’s relatively violent, more than you’d expect. Not simply lightsaber battles either. It’s well acted as well. Oddly, the computer generated characters seem to have more life than they did in the actual movies.

“Sorry I am, young Skywalker. Directing, one of Lucas’ strong points, is not.”

There’s quite a bit of fan service to be had as well. Nods and appearances to locales and characters you might not expect are given aplenty. There is a two part episode in season three that is a tribute to King Kong and Godzilla respectively. There is, as well, a tribute episode to the “Seven Samurai” that was rather well done, giving a wonderful nod to what is generally well known as the samurai films of Akira Kurosawa that Lucas claims formed the base of Star Wars itself.

BEHOLD!!! The Zillo Beast!! (Yes, that’s what it was actually called, just in case anyone didn’t know it was a Godzilla nod already…and LOOK AT THOSE TANKS!)

I could go on about how much I enjoy this series, but instead, I think you should check it out and form your own opinion. Don’t just dismiss something without giving it due chance. If you’re a Star Wars fan, you owe it to yourself to discover some good that has come out of the prequels.

Oh…and did I mention, Darth Maul is BACK!! Watch the trailer and be excited!

-Chris