The Godzilla Chronology Project
Most likely if you're here you're already familiar with my primary project regarding Marvel Comics Chronology. But my second favorite universe is the Godzilla-verse, or more broadly all of Toho's daikaiju (giant monster) films. The Tohoverse is not as tightly integrated as the Marvel universe, but it is pretty unique in having such a large array of films, many of which start off unrelated but later get intergrated, sometimes in surprising ways. So it was probably inevitable that i create a website for these films similar to what i'm doing for Marvel comics.
My partner Min and i (fnord12) generally watch a good chunk of Toho films every year when we take an annual staycation together. So now we've started taking screengrabs and making notes while we watch the films, and we put up these reviews. I write the main review and then Min will come along and add additional commentary. Hello! Min's superhero name is Too Many Projects Girl, so you won't always see a lot of direct commentary from her Shh! You're not supposed to tell people that! especially in the later entries, but even the main reviews are influenced by things we both say while we're watching the movie, so this is definitely a joint project. Unlike the comics project, where Min, who was originally going to read the comics along with me, fell behind, I said shh! so you'll still see her making the occasional comment on Silver Age comics as a normal commentator instead of integrated into the review.
This project is less about the specific chronological order of the movies, so we basically just review them in release order and you won't see, for example, the movies that take place in the future getting pushed to the end of the list, but we'll mention stuff like that in the reviews. Toho chronology does include a wrinkle that Marvel's doesn't (at least at time of writing!): Toho has gone through at least three reboots of their chronology. The first Godzilla movie is always canon, but in 1984 they created a direct sequel to that one and moved on from there in what is known as the "Heisei" era, ignoring their earlier "Showa" movies. Then they restarted again in 1999, beginning what is known as the "Millennium" era. And the reason i said that they rebooted "at least" three times is that most of the Millennium films all take off from the original Godzilla film, ignoring even each other (the one exception is Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S., which is a sequel to Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla). Then Toho, in a film that was meant to retire their Godzilla efforts (and so far it's been true), released Godzilla: Final Wars, which sort-of acknowledges the continuity of every prior film!
We've tried to capture all of the above eras with the organizational chart that we've got on the front page of this site. The site is color-coded based on the three eras, and we've also branched off the non-mainline films, some of which aren't even technically daikaiju films but which end up being related to the Tohoverse thanks to Final Wars or some other factor.
Someone will come along and say this if i don't mention it: the names of the Showa and Heisei eras are based on the names of Japan's emperors. The (posthumously renamed) Emperor Showa actually died in 1989, so that's when the Heisei era begins in real life. But it's general convention when talking about Godzilla films to refer to the entire Godzilla continuity after the first reboot as the Heisei era, and that begins with The Return of Godzilla, which came out in 1984 (and was called Godzilla 1985 for the American release). So on this site, the cut-off between the Showa and Heisei era is 1984. The Millenium era is a little easier to figure out, except for the minor detail that the first movie from that era actually came out in 1999. And the original 1954 Godzilla in in continuity for all three eras, so that occupies a special place on the site (and allows us to use a single org chart format).
This is a fun way of looking at the whole Tohoverse, with different branches to represent the different continuities (color coded by era) and all stemming from the one that started it all, the original Godzilla.
Movies that don't feature Godzilla himself also have a dashed border around them. You can also just click on the names of the eras and get a straight listing of that era's listings, if that's easier. The legend also allows you to pop the org chart into its own window.
The org chart is unfortunately a little unwieldy. You should be able to move the org chart around by click-dragging it, kind of like Google Maps. There is also code to direct mobile users to a different version that should work better there. It seems to work ok on an Android, but less so on an iPad. Popping the org chart to its own window works better for iPad.
Note that it's debateable which movies are "mainline" Godzilla films vs. sideline films and which films are sequels to other films. Don't let it bother you, and i'm probably not going to make a change at this point if you suggest something else. It would be nice to have a couple different visualizations for the Tohoverse, including something like a mind map. But the org chart is a fun way of looking at it.
Unlike my Marvel project, the Godzilla project is ultimately more limited in scope, so we've got all the films we eventually intend to cover already shown on the org chart. And at this point everything we intend to cover is already completed (until/unless Toho puts out another film, and then we'll see).
The decision around what to include in this project is as follows. First, every Toho-produced Godzilla film is of course include included. Next, any Toho film that features a character or concept that later appears in a Godzilla film will be included. Finally, and this is a little weird, there was a video game for the 8-bit Nintendo system called Godzilla: Monster of Monsters that included a lot of elements from other Toho films, including some characters and concepts that otherwise are not normally associated with the Godzilla franchise. And since i played that game as a kid and have enjoyed the archaeology of seeking out where all those concepts came from, anything in that game will also be included here. So that's while you'll see some odder films like Dogora and Mantango included.
Note that i said "Toho-produced Godzilla film". That therefore excludes any American Godzilla films. That's not necessarily a statement on the quality of those films; i just don't consider them to be part of the Tohoverse. There are also some Toho tokusatsu ("special effects") movies that do not meet the above criteria (e.g. H-Man, Latitude Zero) and are therefore not included. We also won't be covering any cartoons or comics or anything else besides the films, with one exception: we'll be taking a special look at a few episodes of the Zone Fighter tv show which had some important developments for Godzilla and some of his villains.
Another difference here from the Marvel project is that we're only tracking the daikaiju characters. So even when the same human characters appear in multiple films, we're not listing them in the Characters Appearing section (which has been renamed to Monsters Appearing, naturally).
All our reviews will end with SuperMegaMonkey's version of the Godzilla drinking game, first seen here. Determining whether a particular scene qualifies as a hit on the drinking game chart can become a matter of great debate and dispute between Min and myself. In case we are unable to come to an accord, the rule is that tie goes to the runner and it counts.
Quality, images, and acknowledgements
Note that we have a lot of content to cover and it's always my MO to do things quickly and sloppily rather than slowly and with great care. So be ready to expect the usual typos and other weirdness you've come to love from SuperMegaMonkey, although having Min give the reviews a read through when she adds her comments may help a little. *rolls eyes* We also play a drinking game when we watch these movies and shout at the TV as much as we listen to it, so we may be missing some of the finer points. In truth we probably get a lot of stuff wrong and don't really care. Let us know but don't be a pedant! This is all in good fun!
A special note here about the screenshots: we're taking all of those ourselves, and our films are of various quality and format. It's also sometimes difficult to get a great shot of something when trying to capture a scene in motion, so sometimes they come out a little blurry. And screengrabs can sometimes be very dark, and whatever else. You get what you get!
Toho also seems to be very aggressive about enforcing their views on copyright; i've tried to put small clips from films on YouTubes and had them flagged as violations immediately. So no film clips here, and if Toho ever finds this site they may force us to take it all down. We don't have the resources to fight that even though i'm sure what we're doing here is in no way meant to be a substitute for watching their films and should fall under fair use. Obviously every image on this site is the copyright of Toho and we're not claiming any ownership or making any money off anything.
When you click on the monster icons and go to the monster search page, those icons are from a few different sources. Most are the official Toho trademark icons. A few i suspect were actually created by fans; i pulled them off of Google Image Search where they seem to be floating around, so i am not sure who to credit but thanks to whoever made them. And then a fair number i had to make myself; you can identify these by finding the ones without the trademark (TM) icons. I know that the images i used for Dagahra and Maguma came from the NES Godzilla Creepypasta. If you know who made any of the other images let me know and i will credit them (or take it down if they prefer).
Finally, a word on our comments policy. Actually, it's the same as for other areas of the site, so see The Rules at the Marvel timeline site. The short version is be helpful, be (more or less) relevant, and be nice.
Testing that comments work! And welcome to anyone that has found their way here.
Posted by: fnord12 | March 11, 2015 2:16 PM
Actually, we're hoping to complete all the entries before "releasing" the site.
Posted by: fnord12 | April 12, 2015 10:00 PM
Alright, we are considering the site officially "released". Welcome again.
Posted by: fnord12 | August 14, 2015 2:03 PM
Oh wow I'm excited to start following this! Love Godzilla, already mentioned that. I only read the few paragraphs of several reviews before commenting. I'll read in depth when I'm less tired.
Y'know I've started following a neat podcast over a place called Kaijusaurus. There's two Scottish Godzilla fans, I was shocked too, one long time and one newish, and they're watching each movie and discussing them. Only just started and put out Raids Again yesterday. It's super cool hearing from a new fan since so much of Godzilla has been ironed into my head since year 4 or so.
Posted by: david banes | August 14, 2015 9:12 PM
David, thanks for all your comments and i'm glad you are enjoying the site. I've actually known that you were a Godzilla fan from some of your comments on the comics blog, and there were a couple of times where i almost pointed you over here before we were finished, but decided against it since we wanted to wrap everything else up before we opened it up. So i'm glad you found it.
I will check out the Kaijusaurus podcasts. Thanks.
Posted by: fnord12 | August 15, 2015 1:43 AM
And what is up with the icons on the top right? I'm sure those aren't the usual Toho icons. At a glance the King Ceasar one made me think of Monster X.
Posted by: david banes | August 18, 2015 1:07 AM
The ones in the top left come from the current official icon sheet - see here for example. Since that doesn't cover all the monsters, if you click on that corner and go to the character listing page, some of the other icons i've picked up around the internet and some of i've made myself (as mentioned on this page).
Posted by: fnord12 | August 18, 2015 7:38 AM
Oh right, man Matt Frank has his fingers every where. Left. I meant left.
Posted by: david banes | August 18, 2015 11:58 AM
So I keep talking about this IDW Godzilla comics and I think I should give a run down since I don't think the folks here have read them.
Godzilla Kingdom of the Monsters: First series, 2011, lasted 12 issues...Garbage. It has some neat ideas, it goes into the dark satire days of monsters being disasters. Good lord the satire was done by a 13 year old. There's some neat ideas, like evil anti-Peanuts who control Battra or showing Rodan blowing poison gas back to Earth. Skip this. Just skip it unleash you're a completist and like punishment.
And if you're already checking these out or have zero interest in Godzilla comics then sorry for the clutter. I think even Kingdom of Monster is...no...nooo I dunno...everything else is a step up over Marvel Godzilla. Some dozens of times moreso.
Posted by: david banes | August 19, 2015 8:34 PM
The 1980 film "Gamera-Super Monster" also had a Godzilla cameo...sort of...
Posted by: Mark Drummond | August 21, 2015 8:21 PM
@David, thanks for the review of the Godzilla comics. I did try the first issue of Kingdom of the Monsters and found it pretty bad, and i didn't try any more after that. But Rulers of the Earth sounds right up our alley and we've ordered the first trade.
@Mark, looks like it was a scene of Gamera knocking over a Godzilla billboard? Who knew Gamera was such a jerk!
Posted by: fnord12 | August 22, 2015 10:07 AM
Oh cool, glad you're trying the first volume. There's sadly no scientists explaining dino science with kid's books but as the series goes on a few weird little plotholes pop up...just like the movies in that regard. One point Godzilla disappears for a long time deep in the sea then shows up in an iceberg. Now I didn't have a problem with that but other people while I'm like 'uh nod to King Kong vs. Godzilla I guess?'
Posted by: david banes | August 29, 2015 4:22 PM
So,uh, any luck with that Rulers of the Earth volume? Just got the sixth and final volume in the mail and got the third issue of Godzilla in Hell. Pretty happy camper at the start of the new term.
Posted by: david banes | September 30, 2015 11:51 PM
We did read the first trade. It was definitely the best Godzilla comic that i've read. Loved the use of all the monsters. I didn't realize that it was part of an already ongoing continuity, though, so it was a little surprising at first when the humans recognized some of the monsters and not others. Min liked it a lot less than me, though. And i'm still of the opinion that Godzilla works best in movie form. I may still get the next trade.
Posted by: fnord12 | October 1, 2015 9:16 PM
Oh I'm glad,and surprised, you enjoyed it. Yes I should have mentioned Rulers is part of an ongoing, or was, main spine book so to speak.
Kingdom Of Monsters: The first and horrible. Just horrible. Godzilla, Rodan, Angurius, Millenium King Ghidorah, Kumonga, Battra larvae and Heisei Mecha Godzilla appear and not a lot of monster fighting until the end. It's trying to be dark but it has the maturity level of a 14 year old doing grim dark. Commander Woods appears here but he was more of a stoic guy.
Volume 2 for Rulers brings back some favorites but the pacing is a little weird. The team was told 5 issues, then 8 issues, then 12 then 16 then 26 so their endings kept not working out. If 2 is good I hope 3 is even better since that's where it picks up.
There is something to be said about Godzilla monster in comics: suddenly a lot easier to have a mass pitch battle without all those wires fumbling into each other.
Posted by: davidbanes | October 1, 2015 11:02 PM
Did the Green Slime show up in the Godzilla Nintendo game?
Posted by: Mark Drummond | November 28, 2015 4:44 PM
No, and it looks like it wasn't actually a Toho movie. Looks like it was made through Toei. But it does look like something i'll need to watch.
Posted by: fnord12 | November 28, 2015 6:55 PM
Maybe you've addressed this elsewhere, but is Shin Godzilla on the horizon? It's Toho. It's Godzilla. It's here.
Posted by: JP | December 4, 2016 3:00 AM
I talked about it a little bit in the Final Wars comments, but essentially we will cover it although not necessarily right away. We'll want to digest it a bit first.
Posted by: fnord12 | December 4, 2016 11:27 AM
Were you joking when you mentioned a planet of the apes chronology project or are you actually considering doing it.
Posted by: Baby | May 21, 2017 12:41 PM
Just a joke! :-)
Posted by: fnord12 | May 29, 2017 6:16 PM
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