Thursday, June 28, 2012
Memoirs from a Godzilla Fan
"Another Godzilla article?" "Is this guy obsessive or something?" These are thoughts that may come to your head as you read this. I'm not going to lie, I don't go one day without mentioning the Big G, whether it be on Twitter, Facebook, or in person. It's not just a side or little hobby, I consider it to be part of my life. So if you want label that as obsessive, then sue me. When one has a great passion like this, it's usually rooted in childhood. It's no different here. But you know, as shocking as it may be, there was a time when I didn't care about the franchise at all. (Don't faint loyal reader!) Below I'm going to talk about my Godzilla fan life and the definition of passion.
You know, I really cannot pin-point an exact date, event, or even first movie that got me started as a fan. My dad is the one that got me into it at a very young age, that I know for sure. It was either 1999 or 2000 that I have my earliest memories of being a fan. I was either 4 or 5 years old when I had asked my dad to get some Godzilla tapes. (Yup, back before DVDs became popular.) I remember him coming home with four tapes. Ghidorah: the Three-Headed Monster, Godzilla vs. Destoroyah, Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II, and Godzilla vs. Biollante. I remember that day, my dad had said that he went to a lot of stores to find these. (Goes to show that even back then Godzilla wasn't exactly 'out there' in the States.) Ghidorah, Destoroyah, and Mechagodzilla II were the defining films I grew up with. What about Biollante you ask? I saw that tape once, it was my least favorite. The others I could keep watching over and over again. I was never into Biollante, it's only now that I see it's a pretty good film. (Hey I was young, all I wanted to see was monsters beating the living daylights out of each other.) So the other three films are what I call 'nostaglic.' I've probably seen them a thousand times growing up. I put in one of those right now, then I'm reminded of my childhood. (Everytime Mothra has the conversation with Godzilla and Rodan I can't help but smile.) I still own the Ghidorah and Destoroyah tapes. My next memory was in Best Buy. Me and my dad had bought this 5 pack DVD set. It featured Godzilla: King of the Monsters, Godzilla's Revenge, Mothra vs. Godzilla, (which was somehow broken by my sister many years ago, I miss having that film, it's only now that I appreciate how great of a movie it truly is) Terror of Mechagodzilla, and Rodan. Godzilla's Revenge is probably the Godzilla film I've seen the most. I mean, it's just so light-toned with lots of monster scenes. Of course, now I realize how awful it is, but it still brings back memories.
When I was a kid they used to air marathons on the Sci Fi channel. I remember one scene from Godzilla vs. Megalon, when Gigan and Megalon did their 'high-five,' it always stood out to me over the years. It was the only scene I had remembered until I saw the film again a year ago. I remember watching Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla for the first time. I remember on the description saying something about a rock monster. Once Anguirus popped up, me and my dad thought "Anguirus is the rock monster?!" I also remember watching DESTROY ALL MONSTERS for the first time, I actually don't think I was impressed with it. It would be a good eight years before I saw it again. I also remember watching King Kong vs. Godzilla and my family rooting for the 'hero' King Kong instead of Godzilla. But a true defining moment was on Christmas morning sometime in the early 2000's. I turned on the TV to see this thing attempting to swallow Godzilla whole! I was glued, what the heck was that? I had never seen Godzilla being defeated in this manner before. Alas, I was young, and it was Chrisatmas morning, so I had turned it off so I could open those gifts. My next memory would come in 2002...
I was at the now-deceased KB Toys in search for, well, toys. I was a very indecisive kid back then, I really didn't know what to get. Until my mom told me they had some Godzilla toys. I remember, they had Godzilla 1954, Gigan, Burning Godzilla, and Mothra. I wanted to pick up Godzilla, but my mom insisted on getting Gigan since he looked kinda unique. I ended up getting both. I still have both those figures, in pretty good condition I have to add. (Unlike most kids at the time, I treated my stuff with the HIGHEST respect.) Another toy-themed memory was getting the Pack of Destruction. Basically it featured miniature versions of Godzilla 1954, Destoroyah, Manda, Mothra, Mothra Larva, Minya, MOGUERA, and Burning Godzilla, I still have all of them minus Mothra Larva. I had seen it and my dad asked if I would be sure to play with it. I said of course or something like that. All those wonderful minis were then mine. (Fun fact is that I didn't know who MOGUERA was at the time, I thought he was a mecha version of Megalon.)
Another defining aspect is the video game Godzilla: Destroy All Monsters Melee. Me and my dad use to play it a lot. I remember seeing the final character's headshot in the character selection screen and eagerly called up my dad, saying 'the final character is this crocodile-looking thing!" (At the time, I didn't know who Orga was.) Also, as more of a sidestep, I was also into Gamera. I still have this VHS tape of Gamera vs. Gyaos. I don't remember when I got the DVDs, but it was definitely a long time ago. Gamera the Invincible, War of the Monsters (Gamera vs. Barugon) Gamera: Attack of Legion, and Gamera: Revenge of Iris. Like with King of the Monsters, I had found Gamera the Invincible incredibly boring. If there was no other monster to battle the title character, then it would be boring. That was how I felt. I do remember enjoying War of the Monsters, and I still like it to this day. I remember watching Revenge of Iris, my mom had to explain to me that those dead bodies that Iris was leaving were just dolls. I remember how everyone was shocked at how Gamera sacrificed his own hand to stop Iris.
The year is 2005. I remember my parents going somewhere for their anniversary and that my grandmother would be watching me and my sister. To keep everyone entertained, my dad had rented this 'new' Godzilla film called Godzilla: Final Wars. The three of us; me, my sister, and my grandma watched it that evening. I actually remember a preview that showed Final Fantasy: Advent Children. I remember my grandma saying how real the animation looked. I don't remember my first full impressions on Final Wars, the one scene I do remember is when Ozaki is punching the Xilien Leader while Godzilla is punching Monster X, the three of us were laughing at that. The very next day I saw it with my parents. I remember that I kept hyping up the final villain to my dad. The surprise transformation from Monster X into Keizer Ghidorah, which my dad would then say "Finally a real fight." I would see Final Wars once more in that house.
After the Final Wars era, my liking for the series diminished. I was still technically a 'fan,' but really, the franchise didn't matter to me. In 2006 I had gotten Godzilla: Save the Earth for my birthday. I played it once, but it would be a few years before I would play it again. Why? Well, I had thought that I couldn't get the monsters to stay unlocked for an example. But really, I just didn't find the game fun. You have to be a fan to really appreciate the games. My dad had gotten it for me because I was always a 'fan,' but I didn't really play it at all. In the years 2007 and 2008, I didn't care at all about the series. I guess you could say movies was something I was more interested in, comic book movies and Super Smash Bros. Brawl. 2008 was a turning point year, it was the year I moved to New Jersey. It wasn't until December of that year that I started getting back into comics. Aside from that, the following year, 2009, is what I call my 'darkest' year for a few personal reasons. In general terms, I didn't have a 'passion' for pretty much anything. It was a disappointing year when I look back on it. After that, 2010 is what I call a 'golden year.' Sometime that year something had clicked. I wanted to get back into Godzilla. It was like a backup program inside my head starting to play. I started to play Save the Earth again after a few years of it laying dormant in the draw. Like my mind knew everything, it told me to play as Gigan, and from then on, Gigan became my favorite Godzilla character. It was at that point that I wanted to start watching the films again. Naturally I started with Godzilla vs. Gigan. I was very happy while watching it, it was like a lost childhood that came back. After Godzilla vs. Gigan, I rented three Godzilla films I had never seen before, Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah, Godzilla and Mothra: Battle for Earth, and Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla. I was on a roll, with the final film in the 'marathon' being Godzilla, Mothra, and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack. But soon it would be my birthday and guess what I would be watching on Netflix Instant? Final Wars, it had been some years. I remember me and everyone else here having a blast. That Christmas I got a two pack DVD set, featuring DESTROY ALL MONSTERS and Gamera: Guardian of the Universe. It would be the first time in forever since I've seen DESTROY ALL MONSTERS, so it was truly a treat. Some scenes, like Gorosaurus' famous kangaroo kick on Ghidorah I have always remembered. At around this time I was training myself by going to the Godzilla Wiki and TOHO Kingdom, attaining knowledge of things I had never knew about the franchise. Enter 2011...
It was later in the year that I joined the TOHO Kingdom forums. The site helped me realize that I wasn't alone in this world in liking this franchise. There were actually people that knew more about the franchise than me. On my birthday, I had received the actual DVD for Godzilla: Final Wars, it was great seeing it on the huge TV downstairs. Man I love that film. It's amazing that I first saw it seven years ago. I continued to check out the films sparingly during the latter part of 2011. Then we enter a turning point in my life as a fan. In my time in the TOHO Kingdom forums, visiting the toy thread and seeing the collections posted there made me want to buy a figure. Plus, when I had taken out my Godzilla and Gigan, they looked a bit lonely. They needed a thrird figure. So I went ahead and bought a $20 Destoroyah figure. It was supposed to be a one-shot thing, but that same day I saw this $60 Mecha King Ghidorah. I wanted that Mecha King Ghidorah. I got that Mecha King Ghidorah. And now to this this day, I am a collector of Godzilla figures. My room is full of them, it's really what you would expect from a Godzilla fan. Also that Christmas I got my first ever Godzilla poster. I had been wanting a life-sized one for awhile to define my room, and I finally got it. It's the poster for Godzilla vs. Megaguirus. It has my favorite Godzilla design on it. And very recently, I finally got my very own Godzilla shirt!
At this point of time, I am at the peak of being a fan. Knowledge flows through my head, the name Godzilla is always right there and ready to be said from me. However, even a fan like myself is still learning new things. Just a few weeks ago I had seen the original Gojira for the first time, it was like seeing a whole new film, since I've only seen the American King of the Monsters version, which was over ten years ago. Godzilla is a part of my life, I'm always Tweeting about it, and could get rather defensive over it. A lot may wonder what I see in this franchise. It's just giant rubber suited monsters crushing miniature sets, right? No. Godzilla is something deeply rooted in my childhood. What is your passion? Music, dancing, Twilight? When something is always somewhere on your mind, something you talk about enthusiastically without having a care to what anyone thinks about it, that's a passion. Godzilla is my passion.