Godzilla — Japan’s iconic kaiju monster — has risen once again.
The creature made its animated film debut in November, and an official store opened in Tokyo in late October. The latest charge forward can be attributed to Toho Co.’s Godzilla strategy council, which meets once a month to discuss Godzilla’s next moves.
The council meetings, held at the film company’s head office in Hibiya, Tokyo, are presided over by the CGO — Chief Godzilla officer — Keiji Ota.
“What can we do to make Godzilla loved by people all over the world?” the 52-year-old executive asked. “This council is meant to gather all sorts of information on Godzilla and map out mid- to long-term strategies.”
Since the first film in 1954, a series of works have been released under the Godzilla franchise.
The series came to halt for a time after “Godzilla Final Wars” in 2004, but a Hollywood release marked a turning point in 2014.
“That movie was a big hit, with box office revenue of over 50 billion yen (more than $440 million) worldwide, making us realize once again that Godzilla is a world-class character,” Ota said.
The success prompted Toho to launch its Godzilla council in October that year. Since then, it has put various ideas into action.
For example, the council put a huge Godzilla head on the Shinjuku Toho building in Tokyo and supervised movies such as “Shin Godzilla,” which became a megahit last year, and “GODZILLA: Planet of the Monsters,” an anime adaptation currently in Japanese theaters. A Godzilla apparel brand was also launched.
“We will release at least one movie every year until 2020. We won’t have any more blank years,” Ota said. “We hope to promote Godzilla as a ‘representative’ of Japan at the time of the Tokyo Games.”
The latest film, codirected by Kobun Shizuno and Hiroyuki Seshita, is the first animated film in the Godzilla series.
“Animation visuals can now achieve quality on par with special-effects films, thanks to progress in computer graphics technology,” Ota said.
The film is the first chapter of a trilogy in which human beings have ventured into space following their defeat on Earth by kaiju monsters. However, they eventually return to the planet to face off against Godzilla.
While “Shin Godzilla” depicted how the Japanese government responded to an emergency triggered by Godzilla, “GODZILLA: Planet of the Monsters” features a large-scale battle involving human beings and aliens. The work also depicts how Godzilla has evolved over a 20-year period when humans were in space, during which 20,000 years passed on Earth.
Two sequels are slated for release next year, and two Hollywood films are scheduled for 2019 and 2020, including “Godzilla: King of Monsters.”
Godzilla Store Tokyo opened on Oct. 30 in the Shinjuku Marui Annex shopping building in Shinjuku Ward in Tokyo, a popular destination for foreign visitors. It is the first permanent official Godzilla shop and marks the monster’s first venture aimed at tourists. More than 500 items line the shelves, including figurines of the monsters that have appeared in past films, postcards, mugs, T-shirts, bags and smartphone cases. Many of the items are exclusive to the shop.
“We are visited by young and old, about 15 percent of whom are non-Japanese,” said manager Tasuku Fujiwara. Toho plans to open more Godzilla shops both in Japan and in other countries.