The first English translations of the original novellas about the iconic kaijū Godzilla
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. This book 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.
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Note on Japanese Names
Godzilla: Godzilla in Tokyo
A Strange Bright Light from the Ocean Floor
The Kaiju of Ōdo Island
The Eerie Island of Ōdo
The Mysterious Trilobite
The Underground Laboratory
We Mustn’t Kill
The Tokyo Godzilla Society
Godzilla Attacks the Metropolitan Center
The Oxygen Destroyer
Prayer for Peace
Godzilla Raids Again: Godzilla in Osaka
Flight over the Ocean
Crowds of Evacuees
The Escaped Prisoners
Godzilla Makes Landfall
The Hokkaido Branch
The Far North
Celebrating the Big Catch
Godzilla Appears in the Northern Seas
Kobayashi’s Plane Meets Its End
Nature’s Victory Song
Afterword: Translating an Icon
Glossary of Names, Places, and Ideas
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. The film Half Human by Tōhō Studios was also based on one of his stories, and he contributed to the screenplay for the Tōhō film The Mysterians.
Jeffrey Angles is professor of Japanese at Western Michigan University. He is author of Writing the Love of Boys (Minnesota, 2011) and award-winning translator of Orikuchi Shinobu’s The Book of the Dead (Minnesota, 2017) and Hiromi Ito’s The Thorn Puller.
"At long last, the pathbreaking novellas by Shigeru Kayama that launched the Godzilla franchise are finally available in English. It was well worth the wait: Jeffrey Angles’s lively translation captures all the action, emotion, and political edge of the original Japanese texts. This engaging volume will be a revelation for Godzilla fans, a rich resource for students of Japan, and a rewarding read for anyone who enjoys classic tales of science fiction and adventure."—William M. Tsutsui, chancellor of Ottawa University and author of Godzilla on My Mind: Fifty Years of the King of Monsters
"The contributions of Japan’s speculative fiction writer Shigeru Kayama to the Godzilla film franchise have long been overlooked in the West. Jeffrey Angles’s translation of Kayama’s Godzilla and Godzilla Raids Again novellas, along with Angles’s own afterword with a biographical sketch of the writer, correct this longstanding oversight. An invaluable addition to the history of Japanese science fiction cinema and literature."—Steve Ryfle, coauthor of Ishirō Honda: A Life in Film, from Godzilla to Kurosawa
"Angles’s contributions will be immeasurably useful to those interested in Shigeru Kayama and the beginnings of a pop culture icon. In an age where the vast majority of fandom clamors aggressively for overpriced plastic, Godzilla and Godzilla Raids Again is a treasure not to be missed."—Our Culture Magazine
"Fun novellas, a deeper understanding of the creature and the themes the original movie was trying to explore, and a glimpse into Japan of the 1950s."—The Irresponsible Reader
"Angles' Afterword, 'Translating an Icon', is useful and welcome supplementary material, both in giving a history of the different Godzilla-adaptations, as well as also offering some interesting observations about translating the novellas."—The Complete Review
"Translated by Jeffrey Angles, Godzilla and Godzilla Raids Again is a truly fascinating and historic release."—FilmJuice
"There's undoubtedly a mythological heft to Godzilla, and to Angles' new translation of Shigeru Kayama's text. It's a wonderful new book with an extremely insightful afterword filled with information that's been largely unavailable in the West."—Movieweb