Who’s your favorite Japanese monster? Mine is Mothra, hands down. What a wonderful idea–a monster who is a moth. For those of us in the Western tradition, it may seem an odd concept, but Mothra is apparently a great example of a kaiju, meaning “strange beast,” an archetypal Japanese horror figure. You can look up “kaiju” on that scholarly compendium of everything, Wikipedia, but in my quest to understand the concept, this was my favorite site: http://kaiju.boomcoach.com/gallery/biology.html. It explains all about kaiju biology, so then when you ask yourself, “What’s up with a giant moth, anyhow?” you have a place to go for answers. It’s just one page in a site titled “Alan’s Kaiju Page,” a treasure trove of information, including this page devoted completely to Mothra herself: http://kaiju.boomcoach.com/gallery/mothra.html. As a bonus, there’s a lovely photo on there of Mothra’s minions, the fairy twins. Here’s another web site that gives the whole history of the idea behind Mothra and all the Mothra movies, especially the ones where Mothra goes heroically toe to toe. . .hmm. . .moths have no toes. . .head to head with Godzilla: http://www.filmsquish.com/guts/?q=node/3473
Speaking of the fairy minions, I love them almost as much as I love the giant moth herself (itself? her/his/its gender is a bit confused, although she/he/it does lay a giant egg). These characters are her two teeny-tiny acolytes or priestesses. I was fascinated to learn that these itty-bitty women were played by the real-life itty-bitty twins Emi Itō (伊藤エミ, Itō Emi) and Yumi Itō (伊藤ユミ, Itō Yumi), the members of a singing duo named The Peanuts. Sadly, one of the Peanuts died this year (RIP Emi, July 15, 2012). Of course they weren’t as itty-bitty in real life as their movie selves, but still. Pretty itty-bitty. Theirs are the itty-bitty shrill voices we hear going, “Moth-a-raaaa! Moth-a-raaaaa!!’, my favorite moment in the 1961 film.
Others have written about ’50s-style creature-features, especially those out of Japan, and how they derive from our nuclear-era nightmares. This site is a good first guide to creature-feature fears: http://www.horrorfilmhistory.com/index.php?pageID=1950sa. Of course, Japan has more warrant than any other country to exhibit nuclear paranoia.
However, my favorite comment on Godzilla vs. Mothra comes not from these earnest sources but from the trollish comments following the trailer posted on YouTube. Someone named “newlytrollin” asks a very practical question: “Fuck Mothra, what Mothra gonna do? Eat Godzilla’s sweaters?” http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4bhoWfC1L9k. The response is good, too: “Hey, dude, those are really expensive sweaters!” (from MexiGojira). Godzilla’s outer wear is really BIG.
YouTube is a great resource for this stuff. You can even watch the entire movie on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/movie?v=kR2q7IX3S8k&feature=mv_sr. What could be better than that?