Even before Godzilla came ashore in North America with the recut 1954 feature Godzilla (Gojira)/Godzilla: King of the Monsters!, a sequel was unleashed on Japan with Godzilla Raids Again. Gone are the more serious overtones of the first film, the commentary and subtext; the exploration of radiation and its effects on the Japanese, the still raw wound of the two H-Bombs dropped on the country, and the melodrama gets upped a notch.
Consequently, we are given a fun ride that sees some destruction (Tokyo is still rebuilding from Godzilla’s attack, so Osaka is the target this time), and we also get the introduction of a new creature, Anguirus.
At the story’s heart is a pair of pilots working with a fishing company, Tsukioka (Hiroshi Koizumi) and Kobayashi (Minoru Chiaki), who come across another of the Godzilla species (the first one died at the end of the first film as we are reminded by Dr. Yamane (Takashi Shimura) and his research reel, when he shows up in the film).
This Godzilla is having a tussle with Anguirus, and tumbles into the ocean, which sets off their expedition towards Japan. The pilots alternately work to keep an eye on the monsters’ advance as well as worrying about their love lives. Tsukioka is romancing the boss’ daughter, Hidemi (Setsuko Wakayama), and Kobayashi is looking for love.
A plan is developed to use flares to lead Godzilla away from Osaka, but they forgot to account for Anguirus, The two kaiju tumble into town and the fight resumes with the big G finally taking down Anguirus. But he still poses a threat to the rest of the world, and a plan is concocted to trap the monster, and bring down a giant avalanche atop him.
Despite the melodrama the story, much like the first film, is played very straight, and is very enjoyable. I love absorbing the details of the model work, seeing how the director and creative team made the film come together, how they made the effects work, and wonder about Godzilla’s horrible teeth (seriously they are sticking out everywhere in this one).
While the romance angle is important, the story as it moves towards its conclusion, is more about the friendship between Tsukioka and Kobayashi. And that’s the other thing I like about the series so far, the story very much wants to build up the human characters. Sure we want to see Godzilla stomp around model cities, causing destruction and throwing down, but the incorporation of characters you care about it make the film all the more enjoyable.
This was one I hadn’t seen before, in fact, it seems that despite my love for the character of Godzilla, I haven’t seen many of the kaiju’s films at all, so I am looking forward to exploring more of them in the immediate future!