The Japanese word “kaiju” means “strange creature,” but it is more commonly defined as “giant monster.” Undoubtedly the most popular creation known as a kaiju is Godzilla, but there have been a host of other giant monsters created throughout the years by numerous studios. Such creatures include Gamara, Gappa, King Kong, and the creatures recently showcased in Del Toro’s Pacific Rim.
Ishiro Honda’s Godzilla made its debut in 1954. The production company responsible for this and the many sequels that have followed is Toho Co., Ltd. Headquartered in Tokyo, Japan, the company is known for its kaiju films, tokusatsi (special effects) movies, anime, television shows (such as “Chouseshin”), and the movies of acclaimed director Akira Kurosawa.
There have been several “eras” of Godzilla series. The first of these series is known as the Showa era, and it chronicles movies made between 1930 and 1979. During this era, Godzilla would evolve from an antagonist creature spawned by atomic weapons to more of a heroic monster, one battling a variety of menaces, either created by humanity or spawned in space and used by evil alien creatures.
The following list chronicles some of the monsters that appeared during the Showa era. This list is by no means complete. It chronicles a good cross-section of creatures from that era, both good and evil.