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Why Godzilla Became ‘Sexy’ And ‘Sensual’ In His Most Controversial Redesign

Out of the many issues that fans and critics alike had with 1998’s “Godzilla,” the look and characterization of the titular monster received the worst backlash. In place of the indestructible, city-destroying behemoth that captured the hearts and minds of audiences all over the world was a creation that resembled an iguana and was easily bested by military forces.

Viewers in Japan were especially distressed by the new look. After camping outside the theater in great anticipation for the film, then-16-year-old fan Masato Mukohata told the Los Angeles Times, “We’ve been building up our expectations since rumors first surfaced of an American Godzilla in 1994. My dreams were crushed.” Similar sentiments were carried by those who worked on Toho’s long-running series of Godzilla films. Suit actors Hauro Nakajima and Kenpachiro Satsuma expressed dismay at the monster’s new look, with Satsuma saying in a 1998 G-Con interview, “Honestly speaking, I am a bit disappointed.”

With TriStar’s planned “Godzilla” trilogy in the can, Toho took action once the American studio’s license expired. Producer Shōgo Tomiyama rebranded the monster as “Zilla,” claiming that Hollywood took the God-like qualities out of the character. Zilla would join the extensive monster roster of 2004’s “Godzilla: Final Wars” where the creature goes on a rampage throughout Sydney, Australia. It eventually faces the real Godzilla, who dispatches the inferior creation in only a few seconds using his atomic breath. Perhaps if more time was put into making Zilla scary and not sexy, he might have had a shot. 

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