Ah, Godzilla Raids Again. Considered by many the sophomore slump of the franchise. Considered by (at least) one, to be an underrated gem.
Director: Motoyoshia Oda
Runtime: 82 minutes
Japan Theatrical Release: April 24, 1955; Toho
US Theatrical Release: June 2, 1959 as Gigantis, the Fire Monster; Warner Bros.
First off, the film is noteworthy for the introduction of Anguirus – one of the most beloved kaiju in cinema. Always playing the sidekick, revel in his status here as nominal equal to the Big G. Fierce and wily with an impressive suit design, Anguirus holds up.
I will also argue that Godzilla Raids Again has some of the better human elements in the series. Hear me out: those bumbling burglars are hilarious, injecting the film with appreciative levity and charm.
Now before the hoi polloi shout back, yes, I acknowledge the weaknesses of Godzilla Raids Again. The film suffers from an acute loss of nuance and social gravitas displayed in Honda’s Gojira (1954); yes, the kaiju fights are underwhelming compared to future Godzilla rumbles.
Which leaves Godzilla Raids Again in a historical bind, caught between the pathos of the first and campiness of what followed. Should we hold this clear identity crises against it? Many will watch once, but this one will revisit many times.
by Vincent S. Hannam