The Revenant of Tokyo Bay

Mar 21, 16:14 by John Frost
Calling all Godzilla fans: what do you think of this interpretation of the monster?
Mar 21, 21:17 by Elizabeth Barrette
I was surprised and delighted by this article. It crystallized in my mind something I've always felt about Godzilla. Now, I've taken a semester each of Japanese language and culture back in college, and still hadn't quite put it into so many words. I always felt that the American interpretations lose something of the original story's point and flavor; the most recent "Godzilla" was a fun giant-lizard movie but a lousy Godzilla. Once you take away the radioactive breath, it's not *Godzilla* anymore.

The whole point, for me, is that Godzilla arose because people abused the tremendous power of nuclear physics; that power was then incorporated into the nightmarish beast and used against humanity. The Japanese version hints that Godzilla is not so easily done away with forever, and indeed, there are a lot of Godzilla movies. American versions rarely seem to capture that sense of responsibility or perpetuity; they just blame the monster, kill it, and expect it to stay dead.

The idea of Godzilla as revenant made *perfect* sense to me, a malicious force that can't truly be killed because it's not truly alive and which has awesome destructive capacity. Well, so: that's what a nuclear bomb *does*. It stirs up trouble that is not easily laid to rest again, if at all. While I usually prefer pro-science to anti-science fiction, I think the warning in "Gojira" is too apt to ignore. Sometimes it's best to let sleeping ghosts lie.
Mar 22, 07:40 by David Gardner
In some of the later Gojira films, the monster becomes a defender of humanity. Is there any parallel to this in the revenant mythology? Do revenant ghosts ever defend rather than harass?

David
Mar 22, 11:47 by Alaya Johnson
David:
That is an interesting question...I'll have to investigate further. Off the top of my head, I'd say that mostly ghosts return to hurt people--particularly in the traditional tales. I remember in the Ring (the book, not the movies) and this other modern Japanese novel (Strangers), both involved revenants that had come to hurt the protagonists and revenants that had come to save them. So, maybe the answer to your question is that yes, revenant tales have evolved in modern Japan to include the defending scenario, but I'm not sure how common that was before even fifty years ago.

Hope that helps,

Alaya
Mar 22, 17:31 by Dennis Mahon
I have to say that I never considered the revenant aspect of the Godzilla story; I had always assumed that Godzilla was a modern rendition of the sea-monster myth, with the sea-monster striking back against the corrupting influence of modern society (Nature getting revenge against Man for despoiling the environment). I also seem to recall a legend of a dragon living at the bottom of Tokyo Bay, sometimes awakening to inflict disaster on the people of Tokyo (I believe that it was blamed for the Great Tokyo Earthquake of (?)1923).
Mar 22, 18:10 by David Gardner
So, maybe the answer to your question is that yes, revenant tales have evolved in modern Japan to include the defending scenario, but I'm not sure how common that was before even fifty years ago.

Hope that helps


Thanks for the good information. Another question: I've noticed a lot of anime/manga (hope I'm using these terms right; I'm out of my league here) concerning vampires, and I've always been surprised that the Japanese were so taken with the vampire mythology. Is that also part of the revenant-inspired genre?

David
   

Want to Post? Evil spammers have forced us to require login:

Sign In

Email:

Password:

 

NOTE: IRoSF no longer requires a 'username' -- why try to remember anything other than your own email address?

Not a subscriber? Subscribe now!

Problems logging in? Try our Problem Solver