After 12 years in storage (or on Monster Island) a Japanese Godzilla is roaring again. Toho film studios has revived the world's favorite atomic-breathed monster in "Shin Godzilla," which is set for nationwide release today.

However, a lot has changed since the big guy last tromped through Japan in Ryuhei Kitamura's widely panned box-office flop, "Godzilla: Final Wars" (2004). For one thing, Gareth Edwards' 2014 "Godzilla," a Hollywood-produced CGI hit that earned $529 million worldwide and paid homage to the Japanese franchise (though without the series' classic practical effects), revived fan interest in Toho's signature character. Japan, where the film made a solid ¥3.2 billion, was no exception.

In addition to that, the series' 60th anniversary in 2014 prompted retro screenings and reappraisals that centered on the work of the men who had started it all: Ishiro Honda, director of the 1954 "Godzilla" film, special effects wizard Eiji Tsuburaya and long-time series producer Tomoyuki Tanaka.