Shigeru KayamaSep 21, 2023
Godzilla and Godzilla Raids Again
The Original Novellas by Shigeru Kayama
University of Minnesota Press 2023
Godzilla emerged from the sea to devastate Tokyo in the now-classic 1954 film, produced by Tōhō Studios and directed by Ishirō Honda, creating a global sensation and launching one of the world’s most successful movie and media franchises. Awakened and transformed by nuclear weapons testing, Godzilla serves as a terrifying metaphor for humanity’s shortsighted destructiveness: this was the intent of Shigeru Kayama, the science fiction writer who drafted the 1954 original film and its first sequel and, in 1955, published these novellas.
Although the Godzilla films have been analyzed in detail by cultural historians, film scholars, and generations of fans, Kayama’s two Godzilla novellas—both classics of Japanese young-adult science fiction—have never been available in English. Godzilla and Godzilla Raids Again: The Original Novellas by Shigeru Kayama (U Minnesota Press, 2023) finally provides English-speaking fans and critics the original texts with these first-ever English-language translations of Godzilla and Godzilla Raids Again. The novellas reveal valuable insights into Kayama’s vision for the Godzilla story, feature plots that differ from the films, and clearly display the author’s strong antinuclear, proenvironmental convictions.
Kayama’s fiction depicts Godzilla as engaging in guerrilla-style warfare against humanity, which has allowed the destruction of the natural world through its irresponsible, immoral perversion of science. As human activity continues to cause mass extinctions and rapid climatic change, Godzilla provides a fable for the Anthropocene, powerfully reminding us that nature will fight back against humanity’s onslaught in unpredictable and devastating ways.
Shigeru Kayama (1904–1975) was a science fiction writer and scenarist whose early stories about monsters and mutated sea creatures attracted the attention of Tōhō Studios, which asked him to draft the first two Godzilla films.
Jeffrey Angles is professor of Japanese at Western Michigan University. He is the author of Writing the Love of Boys: Origins of Bishonen Culture in Modernist Japanese Literature (Minnesota, 2011) and the award-winning translator of Orikuchi Shinobu’s The Book of the Dead (Minnesota, 2017) and Hiromi Ito’s The Thorn Puller.
Daniel Moran earned his B.A. and M.A. in English from Rutgers University and his Ph.D. in History from Drew University. The author of Creating Flannery O’Connor: Her Critics, Her Publishers, Her Readers and articles on G. K. Chesterton and John Ford, he teaches research and writing at Rutgers and co-hosts the podcast Fifteen-Minute Film Fanatics, found here on the New Books Network and on X.