Kong count #29 – Marine Kong

While the Kong moniker is usually applied to monsters of a simian variety, it’s not always the case, most famously when discussing Japan’s first proper monster TV hero, Kaiju Marine Kong.

marine-kong

The 26-episode Nisan Productions show from 1960 wins this title of “first” because Toho froze Agon into legal suspended animation, and Gekko Kamen was a superhero show that happened to have a giant monster arc. Marine Kong was all about the monster (well, robot), and has the name “Marine Kong” to signify its aquatic origins (they were originally planning on naming it Daikaiju Gebora, but with the kaiju characters for “sea beast”, but they went with the more common “strange beast” kanji in the end product…the former title would have made it one of the earliest ends-in-“-ra” monsters, though).

marine-kong-1

The end product is a mishmash of different ideas from popular media of the time: aside from the “Kong” name, you have a monster rising from the ocean to go on a rampage (Godzilla), only it’s actually a robot controlled by a crime syndicate (Gekko Kamen), but then it gets hijacked by a scientist, who hands over the controls to a little boy (Tetsujin 28). That said, it still deserves due credit for paving the way for shows like Space Giants and Ultra Q, and the monster design (Gamera-esque glowing eyes and whatnot) was cutting edge of what would become the monster boom; the fact that it looks like it would be more at home among the cast of Daigoro vs Goliath than with Rodan and Varan means that it was ahead of its time by pandering to kids.

Shockingly, the monster has not gotten much love in its native Japan: there’s no DVD release, and the VHS release was incomplete (it wasn’t even in stores, it was an order-by-mail release). There was a manga concurrent to the show by Hajime Sakurai, which is long out of print, and a handful of figurines targeting the collector’s market, but overall, it’s fairly forgotten. Maybe it needed a giant gorilla?

marine-kong-manga

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