Godzilla is one of the most famous monsters in the world. Generally it is often regarded as a symbol of something destructive, strong and, sometimes, heroic. I think of Godzilla as a metaphor that reflects aspects of the times.
The original movie, “Godzilla,” was released in November 1954, nine years after the end of World War II. So far, 28 Godzilla movies have been produced.
There have been many discussions about what Godzilla symbolizes, even now. In the discussions, the original movie is often said to represent a symbol of devastating nuclear weapons and the spirits of the Japanese war dead revisiting the country. Others say Godzilla is the United States, the reflection of the anxieties of postwar Japan and the clash between humanity and nature. These interpretations sound correct.
Godzilla’s role is a kind of scapegoat that symbolizes fear, hatred and anger every time public anxiety is aroused.
In America recently, the noted Japanese baseball player Matsui Hideki was dubbed “Godzilla,” meaning that Godzilla can be considered a hero in either country.
I think the different images of Godzilla derive from different states of mind. Those who associate Godzilla with a destroyer that inflicted huge damage on Hiroshima and Nagasaki view Godzilla as Japan’s enemy. Conversely some Americans may view the monster as a “hero of justice” that punished a rogue nation that had made a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor.
For me, Godzilla conveys ambivalent images of human weakness and strength. I guess Godzilla is a significant metaphor that reflects positive and negative aspects of individual and collective psychology and, of course, the times. This is why Godzilla survives as everybody’s “hero.”
The opinions expressed in this letter to the editor are the writer’s own and do not necessarily reflect the policies of The Japan Times.