There are few film genres that I consistently enjoy. However, Toho’s kaiju films (“kaiju” meaning giant monsters à la Godzilla) have always been my favorites with nary a bad movie among them. Of these monsters, for me Mothra reigns supreme.
For those who don’t know, Mothra is a giant rainbow-winged moth who unlike other kaiju is always on the side of good. Ready to summon and support her are two fairies known as the Elias.
The “Rebirth of Mothra” series (1996-1998) gives us three uplifting films with the most intimate look at the great moth since the original “Mothra” in 1961. While not Academy Award winners, these movies deserve far better than their Rotten Tomatoes scores (48%, 39%, 62% respectively). Like many Godzilla films, environmental issues play a key role in the plot.
After watching these three movies, here’s what I learned:
1) A choreographed song is the best way to summon a kaiju. Mothra makes a damn good entrance. Each time she is called upon, the Elias perform a groovy song that involves arm-dancing and instrumentals that come out of nowhere. It will get stuck in your head.
2) You don’t need to rely on CGI to tell a story. These days, films are more fake than real. But this trilogy, with its models, puppets, and costumes, shows you can make a film—even a fantasy/action film—without oodles of CGI. Though as the series progressed, the filmmakers gradually succumbed to the growing trend of computer animation.
3) Mothra always loses the first fight. I don’t think I’m spoiling the story by telling you this. I wonder why Mothra even tries. Still, she comes back strong in the second fight and always with a “wardrobe change,” becoming Rainbow Mothra or Aqua Mothra or even the kickass Armor Mothra.
4) Moths can be cute. This is coming from someone who loathes moths. Still, Mothra and her diminutive counterpart Fairy Mothra are absolutely darling. But of course, the Japanese can make ANYTHING cute.
5) Seeing Mothra bitten, struck, or stomped on never gets easier. You might as well kick a kitten. Even when Mothra is a slimy larva, it’s still hard to watch. Unfortunately, you know after the first movie that this will happen a lot more.
6) Protecting a small, strange animal can unite foes. Whether it’s Fairy Mothra or Ghogo (a magical tribble/Furby), somehow feuding characters are brought together for the common goal of keeping these animals safe. It’s a remarkable and touching phenomenon.
7) Don’t worry if Ghogo pees on you. The mystical Furby-thing has healing urine and even brings someone back to life. Just make sure it’s a Ghogo.
8) The innocence of children will always prevail over adults’ messy motives. Children are the protagonists in these films, but not because these are necessarily meant for kids. They see things adults cannot, their sense of wonder is intact, and they possess a goodness of heart that years on this Earth can extinguish. While the adults flounder, the children know their goal and see it through.
9) “It doesn’t matter that we don’t agree with each other.” All through the series, the Elias’ evil sister Belvera plots against them and foils their plans, but through this, she remains their sister, and when they join together in the end, Belvera expresses this sentiment. As simple and saccharine as it sounds, the world would be a far better place if only humans lived by this code. Instead, the world grows violently partisan, forgetting that even though we don’t agree with each other, we are all humans in this together.
10) Earth’s only chance now is Mothra. With its magic glitter, the giant moth restores nature to its former glory after King Ghidorah reduces it to blackened earth. Given the environmental disasters going on in the world and the number of people in office doing nothing about it, Mothra is really our only hope.
I heartily recommend seeing these films. You may think you’re watching them ironically, but I guarantee that halfway through the first movie, you’ll see why Mothra is my favorite Kaiju and you won’t be able to stop.
* Via Gojipedia under Fair Use