Ishirō Honda, “Mothra” ; Film History Series

Promotional Poster for Ishirō Honda’s “Mothra”, Columbia Pictures, 1962

A kaiju is a Japanese film genre that features giant monsters, usually attacking major cities and engaging the military and other monsters in battle. It is a subgenre of tokusatsu entertainment, which deals with science fiction, fantasy, or horror.

Tokusatsu has its origins in early Japanes theater, specifically in kabuki with its action and fight scenes, and in bunraku, which utilized some of the earliest forms of special effects, specifically puppetry. Modern tokusatsu, however, did not begin to take shape until the early 1950s with the conceptual and creative birth of Godzilla, one of the most famous kaiju monsters of all time.

Mothra is a kaiju that first appeared in Toho Company’s 1961 film “Mothra”, developing into a recurring character in the Godzilla franchise. She is typically portrayed as a colossal sentient caterpillar or imago moth, accompanied by two miniature humanoids speaking on her behalf.

Unlike other Toho monsters, Mothra is a largely heroic character, having been variously portrayed as a protector of her own island culture, Japan, and the Earth. She became one of Toho’s most poputlar monsters, second only to Godzilla in its total number of film appearances.

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