Kaiju (怪獣) is a Japanese word that translates roughly to “strange beast” or monster. It is a name commonly given to movies, which center on the struggle between humans and one or more monsters.
Godzilla is one of the oldest and one of the most recognizable Kaiju having appeared in 28 films starting from 1954. Other well-known kaiju include Mothra, Anguirus, Rodan, Gamera, and King Ghidorah.
Even though we are talking about Japanese monster movies it would be wrong not to mention the 1933 classic “King Kong” which was and continues to be an obvious influence upon the Kaiju genre.
Kaiju are often depicted as cannon fodder serving a greater evil. Some are elite warriors which serve as the right-hand man to the greater villain and are destroyed by the heroic forces whilst others have a neutral alignment, only seeking to destroy buildings and other structures.
Kaiju are typically modeled after conventional animals, insects or mythological creatures; however, there are more exotic examples. “Choujin Sentai Jetman” features monsters based on traffic lights, faucets and tomatoes; “Kamen Rider Super-1” includes a whole army of monsters based on household objects such as umbrellas and utility ladders.
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