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Kaiju-a-go-go: Every Godzilla Monster, from Lamest to Coolest

May 14, 2014  |  9:09am
Kaiju-a-go-go: Every Godzilla Monster, from Lamest to Coolest

In the last 60 years, Godzilla has messed up a lot of giant monsters. That’s pretty much his MO: Enter, wreck stuff, break monsters in half, exit stage left. Sure he’s died once or twice along the way, but that’s fairly insignificant compared to the mountains of giant kaiju corpses he’s left in his wake. Every monster on this list has had his features rearranged by Godzilla at least once unless he’s purely been an ally or blood relative.

Therefore, it should go without saying that in any kind of list ranking the monsters of the Toho Co. Godzilla universe, “Big G” himself is going to be at #1. Instead, this list celebrates all of Godzilla’s many enemies and allies, from the most obscure and ineffectual to his greatest arch-nemeses. It remains to be seen where the monstrous “MUTOS” of the new Godzilla movie will measure up, but there’s no better time to familiarize yourself with the King of the Monsters’ rogues gallery, should any of them reappear in the future.

(Ed. note—List has been updated to include the MUTOS.)

32. Giant condor
Appearances: Ebirah, Horror of the Deep (aka Godzilla vs. The Sea Monster)

31-Godzilla-Kaiju-Giant Condor.jpg

Few are going to argue that this is the lamest Godzilla monster ever. Its description consists of “It’s a big bird, and Godzilla fights it for some reason.” The fight scene is so unintelligible you can’t even really tell what is happening. This is the absolute bottom of the barrel.

31. Giant octopus
Appearances: King Kong vs. Godzilla

30-Godzilla-Kaiju-Giant Octopus.jpg

Like his compatriot, giant condor, “giant octopus” isn’t even worthy of a real name. Likewise, his fight with the giant ape in King Kong vs. Godzilla is largely without context—Kong just happens upon him while the octopus is attacking a village (on land for some reason) and they proceed to do awkward battle. It would seem that the only function of the giant octopus is to make Kong look threatening before he takes on Godzilla later in the picture. Giant octopus is lame as hell.

30. Varan
Appearances: Destroy All Monsters, Godzilla: Final Wars (stock footage)

29-Godzilla-Kaiju-Varan.jpg

Varan is sort of a cool design, I suppose—he’s like a big iguana with fangs and webbed limbs that allow him to glide. However, he really only appears in cameos in the Godzilla films. In Destroy All Monsters he’s one of the denizens of Monster Island that the invading aliens mind-control into attacking earthly cities. Even in the final battle against Ghidorah, he simply stands by and watches from the sidelines. Forgettable.

29. Manda
Appearances: Destroy All Monsters, Godzilla: Final Wars (stock footage)

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For all intents and purposes, Manda is in the exact same boat as Varan, except he has a slightly cooler design. Reflecting traditional Japanese dragons and sea serpents, Manda is sort of like a huge snake with a few tiny legs. He appears in Destroy All Monsters and gets in a bit of cool destruction during the city-smashing scenes, but ends up watching the final battle from the sidelines with Varan.

28. Gabara
Appearances: Godzilla’s Revenge (aka All Monsters Attack)

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Godzilla’s Revenge is probably the worst Japanese Godzilla movie, and Gabara is doubtless the worst monster to serve as the primary antagonist of a Godzilla film. His design is goofy and confusing: He’s like some sort of cat-faced, wart-covered crocodile man? He spends most of his time bullying Godzilla’s annoying latchkey son, Minilla, and then gets his ass kicked by Godzilla at the film’s conclusion. Everything about Gabara is pretty much terrible.

27. Ebirah
Appearances: Ebirah, Horror of the Deep (aka Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster)

26-Godzilla-Kaiju-Ebirah.jpg

Ebirah, unlike Gabara, is not difficult to describe. In fact, he’s probably the easiest kaiju on the list to sum up in a few words: Ebirah is a big lobster. Like, a really large lobster. Far larger than a normal lobster, even. And that’s it! He’s one of the least interesting kaiju in the entire series because he’s basically incapable of doing anything compelling besides standing there in waist-deep water. Ebirah, Horror of the Deep is one of the cheapest-feeling Godzilla flicks, and you definitely get a cheap feeling from Ebirah, whose “big moment” is batting away a rock kicked at him by Godzilla. I imagine “giant lobster” probably sounded better on paper than it did it execution.

26. Kamacuras
Appearances: Son of Godzilla, Godzilla: Final Wars

25-Godzilla-Kaiju-Kamacuras.jpg

More rock-kicking action! Just like with Ebirah, Kamacuras is essentially just another earthly animal that happens to be giant-sized, this time a praying mantis. There are actually a few of them in Son of Godzilla, but Godzilla takes them all out with no difficulty. Really, the only memorable Kamacuras moment is the aforementioned rock, which one of the mantis monsters throws back at Godzilla, hitting his son Minilla flush in the face in a hilarious moment. Kamacuras also shows up briefly in Godzilla: Final Wars as one of the plethora of monsters wrecked by Godzilla in an extended montage. This time, he ends up impaled to death on an electrical tower. Things rarely work out for Kamacuras.

25. Zilla
Appearances: Godzilla (American 1998 remake), Godzilla: Final Wars

24-Godzilla-Kaiju-Zilla.jpg

Zilla is one of the most difficult monsters to rank, because it mostly depends how egregious you find Roland Emmerich’s 1998 Godzilla with Matthew Broderick. Personally, I hate that film, but I have to at least admit that Zilla isn’t that bad a monster. He never should have anchored his own film or been referred to as “Godzilla,” but Toho managed to differentiate the two by referring to this monster simply as “Zilla.” They clearly showed their contempt for the 1998 film when a horrendous-looking CGI Zilla briefly appeared in Godzilla: Final Wars, only to get vaporized by big G in a fight lasting all of 30 seconds. It’s a truly pathetic showing.

24. Minilla (aka Baby Godzilla/Godzilla Junior)
Appearances: Son of Godzilla, Godzilla’s Revenge, Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II, Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla, Godzilla vs. Destoroyah

23-Godzilla-Kaiju-Minilla.jpg

Another difficult monster to rank, Godzilla’s offspring spends most of his appearances simply being annoying, but it’s mildly interesting to witness his developments in the Heisei series. In movies such as Godzilla’s Revenge, his dopiness makes you want to punch the TV, but in later entries like Godzilla vs. Destoroyah he actually becomes integral to the plot. After Godzilla’s legitimate death in the latter film, it is heavily implied that the great monster’s essence has been passed into Junior, which will complete his transformation into a new, fully powered Godzilla. But ultimately, Minilla only gets ranked this high because he has a cool dad.

23. Baragon
Appearances: Destroy All Monsters and Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack

22-Godzilla-Kaiju-Baragon.jpg

Baragon apparently has a fan base of sorts in Japan for various appearances in non-Godzilla kaiju flicks, but as far as the Godzilla films are concerned he’s a perpetual afterthought. In Destroy All Monsters he appears but simply stands around during the final battle, looking on. In Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack it finally seemed like Baragon was getting featured prominently, but he couldn’t even make it into the absurdly long title. The ceratopsian-like monster looks pretty cool in that flick and is supposed to be one of the three main heroes, but ultimately he’s stomped by Godzilla and brushed aside in terms of starpower by Mothra and Ghidorah. Baragon is like the Pete Best of kaiju.

22. Gorosaurus
Appearances: Destroy All Monsters

21-Godzilla-Kaiju-Gorosaurus.jpg

I could totally understand ranking this guy lower. In terms of design, there’s nothing to him, he’s basically just a big Allosaur-like dinosaur with nothing particularly interesting going on. He’s ranked this high because he actually contributes fairly significantly in his one major appearance in Destroy All Monsters. Unlike say, Baragon, he participates in the fight against Ghidorah and is the only monster that is able to bring Ghidorah down out of the air. Illogically, his signature move is a jumping kick, because why not? That’s what dinosaurs do, right? Jump-kick stuff like Bruce Lee?

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