Mothra (モスラ) is a kaiju, a type of fictional monster who first appeared in the novel The Luminous Fairies and Mothra by Takehiko Fukunaga. Since her film début in the 1961 film Mothra, she has appeared in several Toho tokusatsu films. Generally regarded as female by English-speaking audiences, she is a giant lepidopteran with characteristics both of butterflies and of moths. The name "Mothra" is the suffixation of "-ra" (a common last syllable in kaiju names, viz. Hedo-rah, Ghido-rah, Ebi-rah, Godzi-rah) to "moth"; since the Japanese language does not have dental fricatives, it is approximated "Mosura" in Japanese. In the American dubbing of Mothra vs. Godzilla, Mothra is also referred to as: "The Thing". She is occasionally an ally to Godzilla but more often than not engages in conflict with the King of Monsters due to his anger toward the human race.
About MothraEditSince her first film, Mothra has been depicted in various stages of the lepidopteran life cycle: Mothra's mammoth egg and she is inspired by a moth is decoratively colored in blue and yellow waves. The egg hatches into her larva, a massive brown, segmented caterpillar (resembling a silkworm) with glowing blue—red when angry—eyes. In rare circumstances, twins may emerge from the egg. The caterpillar eventually spins a silken cocoon around itself (the pupa stage), and from this cocoon the imago (adult) Mothra emerges, a gigantic moth-like creature with brightly-colored wings. Mothra's life cycle—particularly the tendency of an imago's death to coincide with its larvae hatching—echoes that of the Phoenix, resembling resurrection and suggesting divinity. Despite having wrought destruction worthy of any Toho daikaiju, she is almost always portrayed as a kind and benevolent creature, causing destruction only when acting as protector to her worshipers on Infant Island or to her egg, or as collateral damage while protecting Earth from a greater threat. She has also fertilized her own eggs.
Mothra has proven a formidable adversary in combat: in larval form she may use her silken spray to wrap and immobilize an opponent, and has a knack for biting and clinging to foes' tails. In imago form her powers vary widely from film to film, including very animalistic scratching and dragging, incorporating several bolt and beam weapons in the Heisei era, and often concluding with a poisonous yellow powder (or "scales") —her last defense.
Mothra is one of the most powerful psychics in the Toho universe. She has had the ability to use this power benevolently, to communicate with humans, or defensively, to destroy her enemies. As suggested earlier, Mothra is assumed to be divine and draws many parallels to the Phoenix, which makes her one of the more powerful kaiju of the Toho universe. Mothra has become one of Godzilla's more challenging opponents, having achieved the greatest success rate in battle save Godzilla himself: She has once rid of Godzilla in imago form, and twice Godzilla has fought her to the death only later to be bested by her newborn larvae. It should be mentioned that Mothra has never beaten Godzilla alone (in her Imago Form). The only close to draw by an insect(s), but still won by Godzilla were the Mothra twin-larvae in Godzilla vs. Mothra in the Showa Era, Imago Mothra and Imago Battra in Godzilla and Mothra: The Battle for Earth in the Heisei series, and the twin-larvae and Kiryu (MechaGodzilla) in the Millennium Series.
Mothra is the only kaiju other than Godzilla, Junior, and Mecha-King Ghidorah to appear in more than one Heisei Godzilla movie as she appears in Godzilla vs. Spacegodzilla when she sends her Cosmos and Fairy Mothras to help out Miki. In the Heisei Era (1984-1995), Mothra gained her own series of films dubbed in America as the Rebirth of Mothra series (Rebirth of Mothra, Rebirth of Mothra II, and Rebirth of Mothra III). In Japan, the series is simply called the "Mothra Series"(Mothra, Mothra 2: Adventure Under the Sea, and Mothra 3: Attack of Grand King Ghidorah). These series are not connected to the Showa, Heisei or Millennium Godzilla movies and are standalone films. The movies start off as the last Mothra puts the last of her energy into a new egg. From this egg hatches Mothra Leo. Mothra Leo is supposedly, and regarded as, male, as opposed to the pure female Mothras before (though the English dubbing is inconsistent, going back and forth between "she/her" to "he/him", even "it", and therefore its gender is left ambiguous). It also has "ever-increasing energy" which allows it to absorb energy from other sources to become stronger. The 10,000 year-old tree in Rebirth of Mothra allowed Mothra Leo to change into its imago form as "Mothra Leo", thought to be the most powerful Mothra of all time. Mothra Leo gains several forms throughout the Rebirth trilogy, such as Rainbow Mothra, Aqua Mothra, Light Speed Mothra, Armor Mothra, and Eternal Mothra.
In this series Mothra battled three opponents: Death Ghidorah, a flora-destroying horned beast with three heads; Dagahra, a toxic dragon-like sea creature; and finally Cretaceous King Ghidorah/Grand King Ghidorah, who comes back to Earth to feed of the life force of Japan's children.
In Godzilla Final Wars, Mothra once protected the world in ancient times from the space monster Gigan (this scenario echoes from the Heisei series of Godzilla films where Mothra was portrayed as an ancient defender of the earth and battle Battra, there are also similar cave-drawings of these two events). After being summoned by her Shobijin to help the Earth in a 21st century assault, Mothra flew over Tokyo to aid Godzilla in a battle against Monster X. The Xilien wouldn't let that happen, though, and they sent an improved Gigan to stop Mothra. Mothra is quickly dispatched by Gigan. Mothra quickly recovers and attacks Gigan and Monster X. Gigan resumes his battle with Mothra, using its laser vision beam, turning Mothra to a wall of fire. At a final effort, a burning Mothra flies towards Gigan, and both kaiju are destroyed in a kamakaze attack by the lepidopteran deity. Mothra does survive and returns to Infant Island at the ending credits. This is the first time imago Mothra returns home directly after a battle involving Godzilla in some way shape or form, excluding her brief appearances in Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster.
Unlike the majority of other Toho daikaiju, which are usually performed by stunt actors in a large costume, Mothra has always been operated mechanically as a wire controlled marionette, remote controlled robotic prop, or a combination of the two. Her characteristic chirp was created by speeding up the roar of Anguirus from Godzilla Raids Again. Mothra is known for her habit of dying somehow in many of the movies she has appeared in.
Mothra's larval form destroying the Tokyo Tower- (Mothra, 1961) Toho had intended to follow 1989's Godzilla vs. Biollante with a revival of Mothra in her own spin-off film, Mothra vs. Bagan, for 1990 release. However, following the unimpressive box office performance of Biollante, Toho discarded the project in favor of another Godzilla film, Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah (1991). A 1992 survey revealed that Mothra was Toho's most popular daikaiju among women, an observation which inspired Toho to again revise its plans, abandoning a proposed sequel to King Ghidorah in favor of a Godzilla/Mothra feature. Following the end of the Heisei Godzilla series, Toho produced a trilogy of Mothra films, known in the U.S. as Rebirth of Mothra (1996–1998). Mothra thus became the first Toho daikaiju to lead its own film(s) after its incorporation into the Godzilla franchise.
As a larva, Mothra's sprays her opponents with a stream of silk as a ranged attack (to entrap or disorient an enemy). She also uses her mandibles for a close combat bite. (Mothra has a habit of biting opponents' tails, although it is rarely effective and, predictably, is usually self-defeating.) As an adult, her wings can (and generally do) create gales which tear apart buildings and send other kaiju flying. Her great bulk of a body is commonly used to her advantage in battle to slam into opponents (both in larva and adult form), and her surprising levels of strength can help her to drag and even lift monsters like Godzilla. Her final strategy is to emit "scales", a yellow poisonous powder that can hopefully asphyxiate an enemy. She only uses that attack when she knows she is going to die, though, because the extreme loss of scales will cause her to lose her flight.
The Heisei version of Mothra had some differences. She could now fire a beam of energy from her antennae, and fire arcs of lightning from her wings, or keep it in her body to release to another through touch. The powder now had a different effect; It would act as a 3-D mirror to trap energy blasts, making them rebound over whatever was inside the cloud of powder over and over again. This proved very effective in turning Godzilla's own atomic breath against him. Godzilla's Nuclear Pulse wasn't reflected by her mirror and she was thrown back, possibly because her mirror can't reflect energy attacks if it is able to pass around her mirror.
In the Mothra Trilogy, Mothra displayed a wide use of energy-projection abilities; ranging from triple prismatic beams from her forehead, to energized takles, to her sun strike buster, a very potent attack that comes from the sky like a sacred lightning bolt. Leo Mothra, her offspring and successor, shared her energy powers and also possessed the ability to gain alternate forms as a means of adapting to his opponent's fighting styles.
In GMK Mothra was able to shoot poison darts from her abdomen but she lacked both her hurricane force winds and her poison powder. In both Tokyo SOS and Final Wars, Mothra's powder was able to redirect both energy and physical projectiles back to their original senders.
- Yukiteru Amano
- Tsubaki Kasugano