Michaeline: Kaiju vs. Dragons

Japanese movie poster from 1954 Godzilla with Tokyo on fire

Hydrogen bombs, giant monsters, love triangles . . . Godzilla has got conflict out the wazoo. (Image via Wikimedia Commons)

Dragon: 1. Archaic: a huge serpent 2. :a mythical animal usually represented as a monstrous winged and scaly serpent or saurian with a crested head and enormous claws 3: a violent, combative, or very strict person 4. capitalized: DRACO 5. :something or someone formidable or baneful. –Merriam-Webster, 2019 07 13

Kaiju is a Japanese word meaning “strange creature”. In English, it has come to mean “monster” or “giant monster”, referring to creatures of a large size seen in movies from Asia. –Simple English Wikipedia, 2019 07 13

Tor recently had a Dragon Week, and asked on Twitter, “Which is the deadlier dragon?” The choices were Smaug (dragon from The Hobbit; voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch in the movie) or Godzilla (a spitting lizard boi from the 1954 eponymous film).

And, Twitter (predictably) lost its mind, arguing that Godzilla was not a dragon.

Words do count, people. Godzilla has atomic breath, and destroyed a lot of innocent people while on a rampage. Smaug has fire breath, invaded a dwarf kingdom, and sits on a hoard of stolen treasure.

The two creatures fulfill different literary niches, but they are both born from war. Godzilla was an ancient dinosaur awakened by underwater hydrogen bomb testing, according to Wikipedia. Yeah, he’s going to take down a city, but people can sympathize with this monster, because 1950s Japan remembered exactly what it felt like to have their nation bombed. Godzilla’s wrath is rather righteous. I think many people in 1950s Japan were also relieved to have the war finished; the enemy became their savior in a way during the war. And even though Godzilla is destroyed by the end of the first film, the characters worry that continued nuclear testing will result in more Godzilla-like creatures awakening. People feel some responsibility for awakening Godzilla in the first place.

Smaug, on the other hand, is only centuries-old, and is a sentient being, capable of being flattered and negotiating. His greed is what makes him dangerous, and his cunning only compounds the problem. He is not nuanced in his evil – he’s not the fault of the dwarves that he drives from their homeland; he’s an infliction and an invader. There’s not a lot of sympathy for Smaug, who is a thief and a murderer . . . and worse yet, knows EXACTLY what he’s doing to other sentient creatures.

twitter screenshot; KJ Mulder: define dragon. Caleb has mcfreakin had it: Big boi lizard who spits Tor Books: three upward arrows.

Merriam-Webster, eat your heart out! (Image from Twitter, accessed 2019 07 13)

Godzilla is killed by a super-weapon, whose creator also dies (to keep the weapon out of the hands of war-like men).

Smaug is killed by an archer who has information about Smaug’s “Achilles heel” – a small patch of his belly not covered in scales.

So, define “dragon”. Perhaps @AirheadedAviatR had it best as “Big boi lizard who spits” At any rate, Tor declared that Godzilla had the most votes, and I’m inclined to think that Godzilla was the deadliest. Killing a greedy invader is a very old story. But killing an enraged monster of our own making is a story for now.

That said, the kaiju story I am waiting for is The Mutant Boars of Fukushima. But I’m afraid I’m going to write the damn thing myself.

7 thoughts on “Michaeline: Kaiju vs. Dragons

  1. Please! Now I’m eagerly awaiting The Mutant Boars of Fukushima. Will they search for mutant truffles? Only Michaeline can tell us.

    Fun monster roundup! I enjoyed the cross-cultural discussion.

    • (-: I don’t want to do it; I think it’s going to involve a whole lot of anger. Mother Nature does all of us the dirty every once in a while, but human error? Did you know that most, if not all, of Japan’s nuclear power plants are near a coast? Someone once told me that if something goes on, you only have to evacuate half the radius, because the other half is ocean, where nobody lives. BUT THE OTHER HALF IS OCEAN! WHERE A LOT OF THE FOOD SUPPLY LIVES! Side of a mountain would be slightly better, except for the awful possibility of landslides. IDK.

      I don’t really blame the Fukushima power plants for their “low” walls . . . they were quite high for a “normal” tsunami, but there was nothing normal about that earthquake, and quite honestly, there comes a point where you stop planning for .000000001 percent chance of happening.

      So, anyway, there are wild (some news headlines say radioactive) boars running around the evacuated farms and towns surrounding the nuclear power plant.

      I don’t think nuclear power is such a terrible evil if it is managed properly, so that’s another barrier in my way. But the idea of Boarmen and Boarwomen getting their revenge on humans and nature is quite attractive.

  2. killing an enraged monster of our own making is a story for now.

    Spot on observation, Michaeline.

    I can’t say I have ever given this topic even a moment of thought nor had any idea about Godzilla’s backstory.

    I now feel so well-informed.

    Also amused at the not-at-all-unexpected fact that Twitter lost it’s mind over the debate.

    • Twitter is hilarious. I recently opened an account on my phone, and spend far too much time on it. There are a lot of creatives on my feed, and one person gets an idea, and before you know it, overactive imagination (and the input of dozens of cultures) blow it up.

      I’m late with the Smaug vs. Godzilla. Today, Twitter (especially black creative Twitter?) is losing its mind about aliens, invading Area 51, and what would you do with an alien if you rescued one? OTOH, what would the alien do to you? One of my favorites is a vid of some ASMR babe making lip-smacking noises, while captioned something like, “How I talk to Alien Bae after I come back from Area 51.” I wish I could find it; it was hilarious. The lip-smacking really did sound like an alien language!

  3. This kind of comparison can be really enlightening as to character, though. Who would win a smack-down: your current female villain, or Caroline Bingley from Pride and Prejudice? Caroline would be toast. My Villain can out-fashion, out-wit, and out-sharp-tongue her from here to Friday, as well as out-lady her. But my heroine is nowhere near as chill as Caroline’s nemesis (Miss Elizabeth Bennet), so there’s an imbalance there. I think Eliza would defeat Nixie as handily as Olivia will.

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