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is a daikaijū, a Japanese movie monster, first appearing in Ishiro Honda's 1954 film Godzilla. Since then, Godzilla has gone on to become a worldwide pop culture icon starring in 28 films produced by Toho Co., Ltd. The monster has appeared in numerous other media incarnations including video games, novels, comic books, television series, and an American remake. An American reboot is currently in the works by Legendary Pictures.
With the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki still fresh in the Japanese consciousness, Godzilla was conceived as a monster created by nuclear explosions and a metaphor for nuclear weapons in general. As the film series expanded, the stories took on less serious undertones portraying Godzilla in the role of a hero, while later movies returned to depicting the character as a destructive monster.
is a combination of two Japanese words: , and , which is fitting because in one planning stage, Godzilla was described as "a cross between a gorilla and a whale", alluding to his size, power and aquatic origin. A popular story is that "Gojira" was actually the nickname of a hulking stagehand at Toho Studio. The story has not been verified, however, because in the fifty years since the film's original release, no one claiming to be the employee has ever stepped forward and no photographs have ever surfaced.
Godzilla's name was written in man'yōgana as , thus the kanji used were for phonetic value and not for meaning. Many Japanese books on Godzilla have referenced this curious fact, including B Media Books Special: Gojira Gahô, published by Take-Shobo in three different editions (1993, 1998, and 1999).
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