Along with the Japanese home video release of Shin Godzilla came news of the title for the next film in the franchise (the Polygon Pictures anime release due out this year): Godzilla – 怪獣惑星, (“Godzilla – Kaiju Wakusei”) or “Godzilla – Monster Planet”. Immediately comments sections lit up with comparisons to a 1994 Sanrio theme park ride (yes, Godzilla did meet Hello Kitty) 怪獣プラネットゴジラ (“Kaijuu Planet Godzilla”), whose official English name is “Monster Planet of Godzilla“. Some would call this confusing, but I, for one, am sighing in relief, and that goes to show just how difficult naming conventions get with this franchise.
So, right off the bat, we can assuage our fears about this anime film just being named “Godzilla”, and that’s already a win. Andy and I make a game out of how obtuse we can be when it comes to that being the title:
Andy: I’m watching Godzilla tonight.
Me: Which one?
Andy: The movie.
Me: Which one?
Andy: The one just called “Godzilla”.
Me: Which one?
Andy: The reboot.
Me: Which one?
Andy: The American one.
Me: Which one?
This is usually caused by Josh’s bemusement at how anyone can keep straight Destroy All Planets, Destroy All Monsters, All Monsters Attack, Giant Monsters All-out Attack, Attack of the Monsters, Attack of the Super Monsters, etc. Alternate titles can simplify or confuse things as well. To help you out with your own “Who’s on First” routine, here’s a handy guide.
There are arguably four films titled Godzilla: 1954, 1984, 1998, and 2014. That’s the English title for the 1954 film (we’ll get back to the Americanization), the 1998 film, and the 2014 film, while in Japan those four films are known as ゴジラ (“Godzilla”), ゴジラ (“Godzilla”), the redundantゴジラ GODZILLA, and GODZILLA ゴジラ (though I assume nobody actually says “Godzilla Godzilla”, many of the US posters use this as well ). The 1984 film is officially named Return of Godzilla in English (the official Blu Ray also uses “Godzilla 1984″, after the Americanization Godzilla 1985, though as Matt Frank noted, that title is mostly used by “weeaboo garbage children”), and should not be confused with the novel Godzilla Returns, or Godzilla Raids Again, even though the Japanese title (ゴジラの逆襲) might make you think that based on the translation of 大魔神逆襲 to “Return of Daimajin” (that whole series has some real title confusion, btw). The comic adaptation of the 1984 film still uses the Godzilla title, rather than Return of Godzilla, except when it was reprinted as Terror of Godzilla, which is coincidentally an alternate title for the prior film Terror of Mechagodzilla. Godzilla is also the title of a Hanna Barbera cartoon that was part of “The Godzilla Power Hour”, the title of multiple video games (in 1983, 1993, and 2015, the last of which is also known as “Godzilla Vs“), and the title of IDW’s second ongoing Godzilla comic, later retitled Godzilla: History’s Greatest Monster. Oh, and don’t confuse the Godzilla comic with The Godzilla Comic.
The first Godzilla movie was originally heavily altered when it came to the US, and released as Godzilla, King of the Monsters! in 1956. This is also sort of the title of the upcoming 2019 movie Godzilla: King of the Monsters, as well as the Marvel comic series from 1977, the Dark Horse comic series from 1995, and Scott Ciencin’s first Godzilla novel. The Americanized movie was released in Japan as 怪獣王ゴジラ (“Kaiju-oh Godzilla”), which is also the title of a Gameboy game and Hiroshi Kawamoto’s manga series. Then there was the 1977 Italian colorized version of the 1956 Americanization, titled Godzilla: Il Re dei Monstri, which is also sometimes used for the non-colorized version as well, and gets super confusing when you remember that the Italian title for Godzilla Raids Again is just Il Re dei Monstri. It’s sort of like how we have an SNK game titled King of the Monsters that’s about kaiju but unrelated to Godzilla.
But there’s plenty more potential for confusion:
- An intuitive translation for the Japanese title of Godzilla Raids Again would be “Godzilla’s Revenge”, but that title is weirdly actually used for the US cut of All Monsters Attack.
- It’s easy to mix up Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964) with Godzilla vs. Mothra (1992), especially when Mothra vs. Godzilla was re-released stateside as “Godzilla vs. Mothra” numerous times. You could refer to them as Godzilla vs. The Thing and Godzilla and Mothra: Battle for Earth, respectively, but those titles are dumb (needless to say, no relation to the movie The Thing). While we’re at it, there’s no “Return of” on the Japanese titles of the Return of Mothra trilogy, so Mothra (1961) and Mothra (1996) have certainly been mixed up in the past.
- Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla is how you romanize ゴジラ対メカゴジラ. You’d think that would go to ゴジラvsメカゴジラ, but that gets labeled Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla II, despite it not being a sequel to Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla and not having Mechagodzilla II in it (there is a Mechagodzilla II in Terror of Mechagodzilla, though, which is the sequel to the prior movie). You might want to translate that first film as “Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla” instead, but that title is already taken by ゴジラXメカゴジラ, which never actually refers to the enemy monster as Mechagodzilla at all.
- Destroy All Monsters is the 1968 movie. Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters is a fighting game for SNES. Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters Melee is a fighting game for Gamecube and X-Box. The Japanese title of the movie, 怪獣総進撃 (“Kaiju Soshingeki”) is also the title of the first episode of Return of Ultraman.
- All Kaiju Daishingeki (All Monsters Attack) is the 1969 movie, Godzilla: Kaiju no Daishingeki is a Game Gear game.
- Godzilla on Monster Island is the US title for Godzilla vs. Gigan, a children’s picture book, and a slot machine game. Not to be confused with show Godzilla Island, anime Godzilland, book Godzilla: Journey to Monster Island, or the game Godzilla: Heart-pounding Monster Island.
- A lot of the fandom refers to Giant Monsters All-out Attack as “GMK”, since Godzilla, Mothra, and King Ghidorah are the headliners. However, when Ghidorah the Three-Headed Monster was re-released in 1971, its title also included “Godzilla Mothra King Ghidorah“, so “GMK” could really mean either film.
- Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah is the 1991 film, King Ghidorah vs. Godzilla is the abbreviated re-release of Invasion of Astro Monster.
- The Monster X from Godzilla Final Wars is not the same one from Gamera vs. Monster X, and neither is the same as the one in Monster X Strikes Back: Attack the G8 Summit.
- War of the Monsters (the game) is unrelated to the Gamera movie War of the Monsters (another title for Gamera vs. Barugon), which is unrelated to the game Godzilla 2: War of the Monsters, Godzilla the Series‘ arc “Monster Wars”, or the board game Godzilla: Kaiju World Wars.
- The novel Godzilla 2000 is unrelated to the movie Godzilla 2000 – Millennium, otherwise known as Godzilla 2000. Neither work came out in the year 2000, but Godzilla x Megaguirus did.
I feel like I should remark that Godzilla vs. The Space Monster, Godzilla vs. The Cosmic Monster, Godzilla vs Space Godzilla, A Space Godzilla, and Star Godzilla are different things as well, and somehow cleverly tie this all back to the Monster Planet thing. But anyway, you should now feel adequately armed to go confuse people outside the fandom!