(aka The Monsters’ Desperate Battle–Daigoro vs. Goliath)
This is perhaps the most obscure Kaiju Eiga film Toho made.
I said “perhaps” because that puts it in company with a handful of films that most American audiences haven’t seen — like Orochi the Eight-Headed Dragon or The Three Treasures — and a few more whose “eiga” status is more debatable, like Princess from the Moon, The Prophecies of Nostradamus, and Jû jin yuki otoko [Half Human].
As is often the case, there is a reason you haven’t seen this one. Simply put, it isn’t very good.
What we’re talking about is a co-production between Toho and Tsuburaya Productions. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Tsuburaya, it was started by the guy who did the effects on all those early Godzilla films. It made a lot of children’s Tokusatsu television series and is best known for the endless series of Ultraman spinoffs which continue to this day.
Daigoro is a giant monster. But not just any giant monster: after the military killed his mother when she was busy wiping some city or other off the face of the Earth, they found her infant and he’s been raised on a special nature reserve.
He’s still just an infant, though, but he’s also hungry. Very hungry. Unfortunately, it costs a lot to feed him, he wants more all the time and the budget is running low.
Now you have to wonder about the wisdom of not feeding a giant monster as much as he wants. The real question is, if he gets too hungry, what is he going to eat instead?
However, there are lots of little kids who love Daigoro and are busy raising money to buy him food.
Then a shooting star falls out of the sky and a new monster appears from the sea: a bigger, more powerful beast with a horn that shoots electricity.
So, the inevitable happens, the two Kaiju fight, the kids cheer Daigoro on, and a small group of silly adults try to help. Most of Goliath’s rampage takes place offscreen (where, among other things we’re told that he set fire to a refinery) and for some reason the Japanese Defense Force leaves defending Japan entirely in the hands of children and goofballs.
Now it is hard not to think of Gamera and how he went from a destructive Godzilla copy to the friend of the children within a ridiculously few films, or of Tsubaraya’s Ultraman which had a young kid more or less officially semi-officially attached to the Science Patrol, or Daiei’s Invasion of the Neptune Men, where the usual crowd of children in these things just happens to be hanging around all those important leaders and scientists busy saving Japan. And we did have that curious children’s version of Godzilla, Godzilla’s Revenge, where a little boy dreams of being on Monster Island and Godzilla and Minya teach him how to deal with bullies.
But none of them went quite this far.
In fact, it seems rather strange, in a film which fails to show us either titular monster engaged in the sort of mass destruction we expect from these films, that we get a remarkably short sequence of Daigoro’s mom stomping on Tokyo.
Daigoro himself is a rather comic and friendly looking creature with a huge potbelly and big cat whiskers in a face like a happy hippo. Supposedly, he was originally going to fight Godzilla before Toho pulled the plug on that idea and they invented a new beast for him to take on. I have a hard time picturing Daigoro surviving a match with the Big G, let alone defeating him. It does make sense giving him an opponent only a little bigger than he if, even if Goliath is a lot smaller and less threatening than your usual Kaiju.
I suppose that’s why the soldiers, tanks and jets never showed up.
It is hard not to connect Daigoro with Minya in the earlier Toho film, Son of Godzilla, as both are baby monsters and have a a very rounded, baby-like appearance. Mind you, Daigoro is far more awkward looking.
This also leaves me curious about Daigoro’s name, as it is that of the Samurai child in the Lone Wolf and Cub manga and movies. Is this a deliberate reference? Apparently the name means “Fifth Child” and may have been chosen for the Cub as a reference to the Buddhist Five-Fold Way. Neither of which really seems to fit here.
We should also note that both monsters are originals and neither one was recycled from Ultraman or any of other Tsurbaraya shows. Not did Tsubaraya reuse them later on.
Which is actually rather odd when you are talking about a company that had no qualms reusing (and redecorating) old Godzilla suits for their shows!
Perhaps the most curious detail here is the large structure in Daigoro’s nature reserve which is clearly labelled “WC.” This may go over the heads of the American audience as I think this is more of a British English phrase (although the phrase “Water Closet” may be more familiar). If we had any doubts about what it is, the film’s Epilogue, as part of its series of “happily ever afters” shows Diagoro using it and flushing. It seems an odd way to make sure we know he’s well fed.
And it must be a healthy diet, if it’s keeping him regular.
I’m not sure how well this one works for its intended audience — little children. We watched it with my nephews, age Eight and age Ten, who wandered in and out of it, only to rush back when the monsters fought at the end. But then, it is subtitled, which does make it harder to watch. It is also intriguing, as a sign of the cultural differences, that one of the heroes gets far too worked up when he’s had a few and, after giving up drinking to feed Daigoro, gets his happy ending with a huge drink that leaves him glowing!
Although, in our day and age, we might get more worked up over his silly wife who spends his carefully saved booze money on a new coat!
It should come as no great surprise that Toho never released this one in the U.S. However, there are copies floating around with fan subs and it is readily available on Youtube. Not that Toho seems too perturbed about it.
Let’s face it: it was a silly era for Toho’s Godzilla films. It was a silly era for all Kaiju Eiga films. And this was one of the silliest.
Toho would try to put an end to that silliness in Terror of Mechagodzilla before the decade was half-over.
But by then it was far too late.