Giant Creatures in Our World

Essays on Kaiju and American Popular Culture


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About the Book

Dismissed as camp by critics but revered by fans, the kaiju or “strange creature” film has become an iconic element of both Japanese and American pop culture. From homage to parody to advertising, references to Godzilla—and to a lesser extent Gamera, Rodan, Ultraman and others—abound in entertainment media. Godzilla in particular is so ubiquitous, his name is synonymous with immensity and destruction. In this collection of new essays, contributors examine kaiju representations in a range of contexts and attempt to define this at times ambiguous genre.

About the Author(s)

Camille D.G. Mustachio is an assistant professor of English at Germanna Community College in Fredericksburg, Virginia. She is a specialist in medieval and Renaissance literature with research interests in cultural studies, popular culture, and higher education pedagogy. She lives in Richmond, Virginia.

Jason Barr is an associate professor at Blue Ridge Community College. His work has appeared in African American Review, Explicator, The Journal of Continuing Higher Education, and The Journal of Caribbean Literatures, among others. He lives in Weyers Cave, Virginia.

Bibliographic Details

Edited by Camille D.G. Mustachio and Jason Barr

Format: softcover (6 x 9)
Pages: 212
Bibliographic Info: notes, bibliography, index
Copyright Date: 2017
pISBN: 978-1-4766-6836-9
eISBN: 978-1-4766-2997-1
Imprint: McFarland

Table of Contents

Introduction 1
Kamen Rider vs. ­Spider-Man and Batman: American Superheroes as Kaiju Villains (Se Young Kim) 17
Notes from the Land of Light: Observations on Religious Elements Seen in Ultraman (Justin Mullis) 35
Monsters of the Rift: Kaiju as Ciphers of Unbalance (Jase Short) 59
Archetypes at War: Kaiju as Cult Icons in Pacific Rim (Nicholas Bollinger) 77
“Was it me? Did I kill them?”: The Monsters and the Women in King Kong (1933), Gojira (1954), Monster Zero (1965), Destroy All Monsters (1968) and Gamera III: Revenge of Iris (1999) (Sigmund C. Shen) 92
Soft Power: Narrative of Neutrality in King Kong Escapes and Frankenstein Conquers the World (Fernando Gabriel Pagnoni Berns and Emiliano Aguilar) 109
The Confused Nation: Hitoshi Matsumoto’s Big Man Japan (Kenta McGrath) 123
Japan’s ­Anti-Kaiju Fighting Force: Normalizing Japan’s ­Self-Defense Forces Through Postwar Monster Films (Jeffrey J. Hall) 138
The Ideology of Disaster: Godzilla, Gorillas and Geopolitics in the Global 21st Century (Jamie Macdonald) 161
“We are eating Gamera”: Mystery Science Theater 3000 Consumes the Kaiju (Karen Joan Kohoutek) 178
Collecting Kaiju: How Nostalgia Influences Adult Toy Collecting (Jason Barr) 193
About the Contributors 203
Index 205

Book Reviews & Awards

  • “Rampaging monsters are to be taken seriously, and this collection does just that, examining these cultural giants with the gravity they deserve, but also the fun audiences expect”—Bookgasm
  • “Solid”—
  • “As Godzilla proved in his ’54 debut, rampaging monsters are to be taken seriously. This collection does just that, examining these cultural giants with the gravity they deserve, but also the fun audiences expect.”—Rod Lott, Flick Attack
  • “An inherently fascinating and impressively informative read”—Midwest Book Review
  • “A collection of essays as big and impressive as the monsters and heroes it concerns. This anthology will be required reading for fans who love Kaiju, and for scholars who are curious about how our culture views these giant creatures.”—John Kenneth Muir, author, The Encyclopedia of Superheroes of Film and Television