In anticipation of the “All Manga Attack” panel at this year’s G-Fest, Amanda sat down with our well-worn copy of The Godzilla Comic (an officially-licensed 1990 manga anthology), and translated a couple of the most bizarre stories. We’re presenting them here since the anthology is long out of print (a few used copies are still available, so if you’re interested in these shorts you really should track it down), and highly unlikely to ever get picked up for English-language distribution. Still, if IDW, Viz, or another company does decide to do an official English translation, please toss these and support the official release!
These are all presented in their original right-to-left reading format, which may take some getting used to for those unaccustomed to Japanese comics. Enjoy!
Chapter 7: Godzilla Monster Warrior by Hurricane Ryu
Hurricane Ryu is best known to kaiju fandom as the suit actor for Heisei King Ghidorah, Battra, Kumasogami, Baby Godzilla/Godzilla Jr, Guilala, Mikadroid‘s Shinra, Den Ace, and more. However, a decade prior to his stuntwork debut, he made a name for himself as a mangaka. Even his first serial, Space Punch, is a sci-fi martial arts hentai comedy (so be cautious when looking it up) that lifts liberally from pop culture such as Star Wars and Toho science fiction films, spoofing to the extent that would likely result in immediate legal action for a modern commercial comic. And again, it is hentai, so caveat emptor. (Thanks to Aaltomies for pointing it out!)
Hurricane got on board with Toho at the time of the Heisei Godzilla revival, and performed well enough to start getting major suit acting roles in 1991. However, the year prior to that, he took part in the first The Gozilla Comic anthology, for the single most infamously bizarre Godzilla story ever told. Ever since we posted the A Space Godzilla translation, Godzilla Monster Warrior (or at least “that manga where Godzilla is like a barbarian or something”) has been the overwhelmingly most requested thing for us to do next, and it’s easy to understand why: this image alone has set fandom abuzz for decades:
Yeah, it’s THAT one. This comic is full of Easter eggs, but I think they should be pretty obvious to kaiju fans, so I won’t do annotations or anything.
Fun fact: Hurricane Ryu went to college with the great Toshiki Hirano, who also did a Godzilla comic in 1990: the Godzilla vs. Biollante adapation.
Chapter 9: Tiny Godzilla by Akio Jissoji and Reijirō Katō (NSFW)
Ultraman fans should know Akio Jissoji for directing several essential episodes of Ultraman and Ultraseven, as well as other contributions to the franchise. However, he also directed several artsy erotic films, and this Godzilla manga truly reflects the opus of someone who worked on the original Ultra Q through the lens of softcore philosophical sexploitation. (Although, as Minoru Kawasaki comments, even Ultraman could be interpreted fetishistically.) Amanda’s description: “It reads half like a fetish fic, half like a literary masterpiece.”
The artist on the piece, Reijirō Katō, is best known for the delinquent brawler manga Kinniku Banchō, but also has some other experience with tokusatsu, including a manga for Phantom Monster Terra Incognita, the theatrical booklet for Nuigulumar Z, costume design for Earth Defense Girl P9, and several cameos in Minoru Kawasaki’s movies and Ultraman spinoffs.
- Matsuo Bashō: most famous haiku poet of the Edo period
- “The Narrow Road to the Interior”: Oku no Hosomichi, haibun (combines prose and haiku) by Bashō, very very famous and influential, basically a travel diary. People still retrace his steps and read the poems at the various locations. Hiraizumi was one of the places he passed through. He actually wrote a haiku there too: “Ah, summer grasses!/All that remains/Of the warriors’ dreams.”
- Oden: type of soup, usually eaten in the winter, can have various things boiled in it
- Karashi: type of mustard usually served as seasoning with oden
- Onryō: type of yūrei, ghost that returns to seek vengeance,usually female. Historically thought to cause natural disasters and pestilence.
- Planet Q78: a nod to Ultraman’s home, M78.
- Oto-hime: reference to legend of the goddess Toyotama-hime, better known as Oto-hime. Daughter of the sea god. Married a mortal and had his child, he spies on her and sees her turn into a sea dragon.
- The Legend of Urashima Taro, which Oto-hime appears in: Urashima saves a turtle from some children torturing it. It turns into Oto-hime and she takes him with her to her palace at the bottom of the sea. He stays there 3 days, then decides that he wants to return home. Oto-hime gives him a box and tells him never to open it. When he gets back home, everything is different and he realizes that 300 years have passed. He opens the box. It contained his old age, and he turns into an old man.
- Kasutori shōchu: slang for moonshine shōchu that circulated in Japan in the chaos after the end of WWII, often poor quality with side effects. The same word is used for shōchu made by distilling the sake lees left over after fermenting sake, which is still made today and was traditionally offered to the gods to pray for a good harvest.
Chapter 11: Warning from G by Shinobu Kaze
Shinobu Kaze is known for trippy psychedelic comic shorts in Heavy Metal and Epic Illustrated and for violent, hot-blooded martial arts manga, making him a great fit at Go Nagai’s Dynamic Productions. The intersection of these qualities results in what I personally feel may quite possibly be the strangest Godzilla story ever told: Warning from G.
This one is… well, it’s something else.
- Koppō: an empty-handed grappling martial art characterized by vicious strikes to bone.
- Ootomo no Komaro: Aristocrat and military man from the Nara Period, credited with passing down the art of koppō. Plotted to overthrow Empress Kouken and assassinate the chief councilor of state. Was eventually betrayed and tortured to death gruesomely.
- Seishi Horibe: founded and popularized the modern Japanese school of koppō.
- Jushin Thunder Liger: This is referring to the real-life professional wrestler, not the Go Nagai superhero character from which the wrestler modeled himself.
- Ōnisaburō Deguchi: considered one of two spiritual leaders of the Ōtomo religious movement, wrote an 81 volume work of his alleged travels into the spiritual world called Reikai Monogatari, taught Morihei Ueshiba, the founder of aikido. Was flamboyant and utterly insane, although apparently very personable. b.1871- d.1948.
Many thanks to Amanda for the translation and notes!
I did my best to clean up some of the pages, but the copy we have is really yellowed and it’s sometimes difficult to separate the shades of gray that are part of the artwork from the ones that are just stains on the paper. Fingers crossed for an official English release someday, for the most pristine art, not to mention the two dozen other chapters that we didn’t get to here!