Godzilla Raids Again (ゴジラの逆襲 Gojira no Gyakushū?), also known in the United States as Gigantis, the Fire Monster, is a 1955, black and white, Japanese tokusatsu kaiju film directed by Motoyoshi Oda, written by Shigeaki Hidaka and Takeo Murata and produced by Toho. It was a sequel to the previous year's successful Godzilla and was the second film in the Godzilla franchise. It is the first film to feature Anguirus. It is the first film in the series (and in kaiju eiga) to feature a battle between two monsters. Raids Again features newcomer director Motoyoshi Oda but retained the special effects talent of Eiji Tsuburaya. The film never bore the onscreen title Godzilla Raids Again, which appears to have been invented by Toho before the U.S. releasers decided to change the name. The 1959 U.S. release was titled Gigantis the Fire Monster, and Godzilla's name is changed in this version of the film. The two versions of the film vary considerably.
Pilots Shoichi Tsukioka and Koji Kobayashi are hunting for schools of fish for a tuna cannery company in Osaka. Kobayashi's plane malfunctions and is forced to land near Iwato Island, an uninhabited strip of rocks formed by volcanic eruptions. Tsukioka then looks for Kobayashi and finds him safe, with only a wrist sprain. While talking, the two men hear strange sounds and find two giant monsters fighting. Tsukioka immediately recognizes one of the monsters to be a new Godzilla. The two monsters then fall off a cliff, into the ocean.
Tsukioka and Kobayashi report to the authorities in Osaka, and find out that the other monster Godzilla was fighting is Anguirus. A group of scientists with the two pilots research Anguirus in a book written by a Polish scientist. Godzilla and Anguirus lived around the same time millions of years ago. Anguirus hated Godzilla, which explains the intense rivalry between the two monsters.
Dr. Kyohei Yamane, who experienced the first Godzilla's attack in 1954, was also present at the meeting, and shows a film of the first Godzilla attacking Tokyo. Yamane states that there is no way to kill this Godzilla, and that Dr. Daisuke Serizawa, the inventor of the Oxygen Destroyer, had died and burned the formula.
Yamane, though, suggests that the military should use flares on Godzilla to attract the monster away from the shore. Godzilla becomes angry when he sees lights because the hydrogen bomb's bright explosion had awakened and mutated him. One day, Godzilla appears on shore of Osaka. Jets are sent to shoot flares from their planes to lead Godzilla away from the shore. Godzilla sees the flames, and starts to walk away. Meanwhile, a prison truck transports dangerous criminals to another part of the country. All of the criminals, using body language, decided that this would be a great opportunity to escape from prison. The prisoners beat up the two policemen guarding the back door of the truck, and run away. A few of them use a gasoline truck. The truck crashes into an industrial building and starts a massive fire.
The fire attracts Godzilla to the shore of Osaka again. A few minutes later, Anguirus swims to shore and attacks Godzilla. The two monsters fight an intense battle, while destroying several buildings, including the tuna cannery that Tsukioka and Kobayashi work for. Godzilla bites Anguirus's neck, and throws him on a moat near Osaka Castle. Godzilla then fires his atomic breath and burns Anguirus to death. While this saves Japan from Anguirus it also lights a large amount of structures on fire. Tsukioka and Kobayashi are transferred to a Hokkaido plant. During a company party, the two are notified that Godzilla destroyed one of the company fishing boats. The military, and Tsukioka begin a massive search for Godzilla. Tsukioka spots Godzilla swimming to the shore of a small icy island. He notifies the cannery, and Kobayashi takes off in his plane to switch shifts with Tsukioka.
Kobayashi dives his plane towards Godzilla to distract him from walking back into the ocean. Tsukioka then transferred to the air force, travels on a jet with an old college friend. They drop bombs on Godzilla but are unsuccessful. Godzilla then wades towards shore. Kobayashi dies when he swoops down towards Godzilla, but Godzilla counterattacks with his ray, knocking Kobayashi off course and crashlanding on an icy mountain.
Tsukioka grieves but then notices that the military can shoot missiles at the mountain, and bury Godzilla in an avalanche. The jets fire the missiles, and bury Godzilla in snow to his waist. The jets return to base to reload, and Tsukioka is authorized to fly in his own jet. The jets return to the icy island, and shoot missiles at the mountain, burying Godzilla to his neck. Tsukioka then shoots his missiles and defeats Godzilla by burying the monster completely.
The film sold approximately 8,340,000 tickets in Japan. It is the third most-attended Godzilla film in Japan, even though the film was poorly received by fans and critics, and Godzilla would not re-appear until 1962 in King Kong vs. Godzilla.
Lobby card for the 1959 U.S. release of Godzilla Raids Again.
Instead of merely re-dubbing the film, Henry Rybnick and Edward Barrison planned on a radically altered version to be called The Volcano Monsters which was planned for a 1957 release. All scenes with Japanese actors would be cut, saving just special effects scenes, and these would be altered to reduce the apparent size of the monsters to a more dinosaur like scale. In addition, all scenes with Godzilla breathing fire were to be cut. A totally new script was written by SF screenwriter Ib Melchior, to be shot with
American actors. New special effects footage was to be shot as well, and to that end Toho sent the suits for Godzilla and Anguirus to the United States. Ultimately, the modified film was never produced, and the monster suits disappeared.
Instead, in 1959 Warner Brothers theatrically released a heavily edited version of Godzilla Raids Again, under the title Gigantis the Fire Monster. For a long time, this change in name was thought to be because Warner did not have the rights to "Godzilla". However, Edward L. Schreibman, the producer of the American version, has said that he changed Godzilla's name to "Gigantis" to give the audience the impression that they were seeing a new monster. He has since regretted that decision.
George Takei, better known as Lt. Hikaru Sulu in the original Star Trek series, was one of the many voice actors employed for this film. The only other kaiju film he performed voice work for was in the movie, Rodan.
Various Edits and Changes: The opening credits where a story of the atomic bomb and "mechanical monsters" was created. Stock footage from educational films and earlier U.S. films such as Unknown Island which featured dinosaurs were inserted before the scenes from the first Godzilla movie are shown.
One infamous dubbed line in the U.S. release used the apparently nonsense phrase "banana oil". George Takei has noted on Late Night with Conan O'Brien that the nonsensical phrase was conjured to synchronize with the mouth movement of the original Japanese word, "bakayarou", loosely meaning "idiot" or "bonehead"
Godzilla's roar was altered to sound like Anguirus' roar.
Tragic hero Kobayashi, played by Minoru Chiaki in his only science fiction role, was dubbed as a bumbling oaf.
Godzilla was re-named Gigantis.
An entire subplot, which had Kobayashi looking for his future wife through a matchmaker and the revelation that he had chosen a female coworker was all but removed. All that remains of this subplot is the final conclusion where said female coworker discovers a picture of herself in Kobayashi's wallet. The whole thing being reduced to nothing more than a secret crush.
Masaru Sato's music score was replaced with stock music.