Showa Godzilla's (Lack of) Continuity

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Showa Godzilla's (Lack of) Continuity

Postby Pkmatrix » Thu Jan 22, 2015 11:21 am

I recently read a few fan theories about Showa Godzilla's "continuity" and couldn't help but laugh. Why is it so many fans just assume there's a shared universe/continuity going on in the films prior to RoG? You've got to jump through so many flaming mental loops to make any sort of Showa Continuity make any sort of sense.

IMO, it's much easier to think of Showa Godzilla as an "era" of films, rather than a single "timeline". A timeline makes no sense, but as an era you can bunch all of them together as we've always done without issue. Within that era you've got three or four pretty distinctly separate continuities that have their own characters/plot points/settings/etc. and can be looked at individually.

(I've also developed a similar view toward Heisei Godzilla, which more and more I personally define as as everything from 1984 through 2004.)

Does anyone else agree, or am I talking nonsense?
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Re: Showa Godzilla's (Lack of) Continuity

Postby jellydonut25 » Thu Jan 22, 2015 11:38 am

I don't think it takes too too many mental gymnastics to think of a continuity running from Gojira through Monster Zero, or even a loose continuity running up through DAM.

After that, it gets really dicey and isn't worth it.

As for WHY people try to force continuity, I really have no idea. Continuity doesn't make things better in and of itself (Heisei series, anyone? The continuity there is by and large meaningless)
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Re: Showa Godzilla's (Lack of) Continuity

Postby MekaGojira3k » Thu Jan 22, 2015 11:44 am

Working out timeline garbage for movies/books/tv shows has been something I've done since childhood. It's a weird mental exercise for me. I dunno it's fun, and it's harmless especially since I never try to enforce how I think something fits together on anyone else.
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Re: Showa Godzilla's (Lack of) Continuity

Postby Pkmatrix » Thu Jan 22, 2015 11:52 am

jellydonut25 wrote:I don't think it takes too too many mental gymnastics to think of a continuity running from Gojira through Monster Zero, or even a loose continuity running up through DAM.


I agree, but that's because that part of the Showa era has the strongest sense of continuity. It's a lot easier to find ways to link G'54-GRA-KKvG to MvG-GTTHM-MZ-GvSM than it is to link up all the rest. IMO, there's probably still at least two different continuities within the G-54 to DAM period, but it isn't so hard to link them as it is to, say, link GRA with Megalon.

jellydonut25 wrote:After that, it gets really dicey and isn't worth it.

As for WHY people try to force continuity, I really have no idea. Continuity doesn't make things better in and of itself (Heisei series, anyone? The continuity there is by and large meaningless)


Continuity only makes things better if you either have storylines continued or plot points in previous films being revisited, things Heisei really only started to do in the last three films. People, at least my age (28) and younger, seem to take such heavy intertwining of films in a franchise for granted when, historically, it wasn't universal even in American films. It isn't as silly as the people who try just assume all 30 films are in one single storyline, but still.

Honestly, the franchise as a whole has only really used story continuity only a handful of times: ToMG's continuity with GvMG'74, GvMG'93 using GvKG as a springboard (or GvSG revisiting plot points from GvB), and the two Kiryu films are probably the best examples.

Working out timeline garbage for movies/books/tv shows has been something I've done since childhood. It's a weird mental exercise for me. I dunno it's fun, and it's harmless especially since I never try to enforce how I think something fits together on anyone else.


True! :D
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Re: Showa Godzilla's (Lack of) Continuity

Postby Legion » Sun Jan 25, 2015 9:56 am

jellydonut25 wrote:
As for WHY people try to force continuity, I really have no idea. Continuity doesn't make things better in and of itself


But it's amazing how many people act like it does. I've seen plenty of people say the Heisei films are better than anything else simply because of their continuity with each other.
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Re: Showa Godzilla's (Lack of) Continuity

Postby lhb412 » Sun Jan 25, 2015 12:15 pm

I always felt that Showa continuity amounts to: "continuity doesn't matter unless we mention it specifically." Most cartoons follow the same rules, so it didn't bother me as a kid.

The behind the scenes continuity is what makes the Showa era, not any kind of story continuity.
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Re: Showa Godzilla's (Lack of) Continuity

Postby klen7 » Sun Jan 25, 2015 12:35 pm

Legion wrote:the Heisei films are better than anything else simply because of their continuity
Is that a popular opinion, this is the first I've heard of it. I've heard it as a pro, but never as a con that other series don't have the same level of continuity
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Re: Showa Godzilla's (Lack of) Continuity

Postby walshiam » Sun Jan 25, 2015 3:33 pm

I never considered continuity a necessity unless it disrupted understanding the flow of events in the current film.
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Re: Showa Godzilla's (Lack of) Continuity

Postby lhb412 » Sun Jan 25, 2015 6:15 pm

^Exactly. I think a film only needs to be consistent in itself.
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Re: Showa Godzilla's (Lack of) Continuity

Postby Jorzilla » Sun Jan 25, 2015 6:17 pm

Frankly if you ignore the movies after Destroy all Monsters, the original Godzilla series probably has better continuity than the Heisei because: 1) There's no time travel, and 2) the series didn't start with 2 excellent ways of removing Godzilla that were ignored in later films (sonic birds and ANEB).

Here's my proposal, as seen here: viewtopic.php?f=6&t=20413

Jorzilla wrote:I've been thinking about this a lot lately, especially after showing Megalon and Gigan to a group of friends at my house. Why do we group Showa films together so tightly? For example: Godzilla vs. Hedorah is completely different than the original Godzilla movie, but they are still in the same "series." I actually think it could be argued that there are four (going on five) groups of Godzilla movies instead of three going on four. They are as follows:

Golden Age Godzilla Films: Gojira (1954) - Destroy All Monsters (1968): 14 years, 9 films.

Hero Godzilla Films: Godzilla's Revenge (1969) - Terror of Mechagodzilla (1975): 6 years, 6 films.

Heisei: No difference. 11 years, 7 films.

Millennium: No difference. 5 years, 6 films.

Godzilla's Revenge is the splitter between the series, it was the movie that signaled: This franchise is now kid-centric. Godzilla's motivations and personality completely change after this moment, even in Destroy All Monsters he was fighting the Japanese Military.

So, what are the benefits of the split?

- No continuity issues. It's always confusing to whether or not Gigan takes place prior to, or before Destroy all Monsters (at least it's not clear). If you consider Destroy All Monsters to be the crowning cap of the first series, problem solved (expect for how the heck Godzilla found himself stuck inside of an island).
- Complete distinction between the different main filmmakers involved (except for Honda and Fukuda).
- Distinction between the tones of the series. Godzilla's Revenge herald in the pure Kids Movie, Hero Era.
- Each series 'feels' distinct between each Showa series, Heisei and Millennium.


I know that this wont be adopted by the larger community because the Showa, Heisei, Millennium series has become so ingrained. Showa film's are still grouped together due to their close proximity in release dates. However, when discussing Godzilla films going forward I will probably use this distinction in non-online, fan-centric discussion. For example, when watching these films with friends.
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Re: Showa Godzilla's (Lack of) Continuity

Postby Zack Metoyer » Sun Jan 25, 2015 8:48 pm

Personally, I never noticed any real continuity issues, except for the occassional loss of a Rodan or a Mothra. If you go by what the films say, it's easy to imagine the Showa series takes place in chronological order, with the exception of DAM as the final film, being set in 1999. I hear a lot of people complain because Monster Island exists in the 70's films, however, this is irrelevant because Monster Island and Monsterland are two different locations. In fact, Monster Island was introduced first in Son of Godzilla, although this is only explicit in the Japanese version (both in the film's title and spoken dialogue). It's not like the people writing the films were unaware of the films made before, nor were they deliberately resetting the timeline like in the Millennium series.
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Re: Showa Godzilla's (Lack of) Continuity

Postby Hybrid Gojira » Sun Jan 25, 2015 11:27 pm

Legion wrote:
jellydonut25 wrote:
As for WHY people try to force continuity, I really have no idea. Continuity doesn't make things better in and of itself


But it's amazing how many people act like it does. I've seen plenty of people say the Heisei films are better than anything else simply because of their continuity with each other.


I can't imagine someone would see continuity in the Godzilla series as a distinguishing factor for which series is considered "best." I've always felt the Showa series had the right amount of continuity to keep it moving forward and enough references to previous films to tie the universe together. The movies are mostly self-contained, anyway.
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Re: Showa Godzilla's (Lack of) Continuity

Postby jellydonut25 » Mon Jan 26, 2015 1:06 pm

People DO act that way about the Heisei series though. I've seen the argument made MULTIPLE times. Is it a "popular" opinion? I don't know, but I've rubbed up against enough people thinking that way.
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Re: Showa Godzilla's (Lack of) Continuity

Postby MekaGojira3k » Mon Jan 26, 2015 1:13 pm

I mean, I could get people enjoying something because it seems more connected. I mean, that was something I thought was neat about it when I was a kid, but I don't think it allows it to trump anything else. Especially when the continuity isn't even that big a part and everything else is so flawed.
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Re: Showa Godzilla's (Lack of) Continuity

Postby jellydonut25 » Mon Jan 26, 2015 1:18 pm

a sizable number of people would argue your point that the continuity isn't a big part...I'm not one of them, but I've been taken to task when I've brought that up as well.
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Re: Showa Godzilla's (Lack of) Continuity

Postby Benjamin Haines » Mon Jan 26, 2015 6:45 pm

Ever since I was a kid, I've always viewed the Showa Godzilla series the same as Speed Racer, Batman, The Tick, or any other action-packed animated series, even Godzilla: The Series. All episodes take place in the same universe as each other, and in chronological order unless otherwise specified, but in general they feature standalone stories except when it's convenient to the plot for them to reference events of a prior episode. Every episode is just a tale of the happenings in the star character's world and that allows them to tell whatever kind of story they want.

The notion that the filmmakers in the Showa Era consciously wiped the slate clean with every movie is a peculiar bit of revisionist fan theory that I've seen mentioned a couple times before on this board. I don't buy into it at all. It just seems like a silly attempt to retroactively stretch the Millennium Series perspective back in time onto the Showa Series.
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Re: Showa Godzilla's (Lack of) Continuity

Postby Pkmatrix » Mon Jan 26, 2015 7:17 pm

Benjamin Haines wrote:The notion that the filmmakers in the Showa Era consciously wiped the slate clean with every movie is a peculiar bit of revisionist fan theory that I've seen mentioned a couple times before on this board. I don't buy into it at all. It just seems like a silly attempt to retroactively stretch the Millennium Series perspective back in time onto the Showa Series.


See, I don't think that either - I'm just aware that, unlike all the fans today that sometimes obsess over it, continuity simply wasn't on anybody's mind. It wasn't an issue. There were no active efforts to wipe the slate clean because film was a fleeting and temporary thing, I imagine most filmmakers didn't think the audience would remember much about the previous movie anyway. Why would they? Until the '80s, movies were a one-time-only deal unless they turned up on TV. Who cared? Atop that, it's 21st Century American fans trying to apply a contemporary American concept of plot continuity to mid-20th Century Japanese films - that their ideas of what continuity means might be different from the original creators' seems not to enter anybody's minds.

It's...I don't know, interesting I guess?

In general, I think your way of looking at it is probably about the best.
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Re: Showa Godzilla's (Lack of) Continuity

Postby Benjamin Haines » Mon Jan 26, 2015 9:23 pm

Pkmatrix wrote:
Benjamin Haines wrote:The notion that the filmmakers in the Showa Era consciously wiped the slate clean with every movie is a peculiar bit of revisionist fan theory that I've seen mentioned a couple times before on this board. I don't buy into it at all. It just seems like a silly attempt to retroactively stretch the Millennium Series perspective back in time onto the Showa Series.


See, I don't think that either - I'm just aware that, unlike all the fans today that sometimes obsess over it, continuity simply wasn't on anybody's mind. It wasn't an issue. There were no active efforts to wipe the slate clean because film was a fleeting and temporary thing, I imagine most filmmakers didn't think the audience would remember much about the previous movie anyway. Why would they? Until the '80s, movies were a one-time-only deal unless they turned up on TV. Who cared?


I think this probably would have been the case if the Showa Godzilla series simply never showed any effort to establish continuity and it was just G fans connecting dots that were never meant to connect.*

But right from the beginning, the filmmakers made it clear that they were not only counting on audiences to remember Godzilla and the specific events of his films, they were also willing to give audiences a reminder of what happened before. King Kong vs. Godzilla is the strongest example of this. Godzilla had only appeared in two movies before, the last of which opened seven years earlier. Honda, Sekizawa, and Tanaka really didn't have to establish continuity with Godzilla Raids Again if audiences weren't going to notice or care about it, especially since Godzilla having been entombed in ice has no bearing on the rest of the movie once he's free. Plus, Godzilla's appearance is radically altered from before, and KKvsG is a totally different kind of film in tone and style, presenting Godzilla in a colorful, widescreen world for the first time. There simply wasn't any pressing need to establish that the movie had any kind narrative connection to the previous film from 1955, and yet the filmmakers made sure that Godzilla's introduction in the story did exactly that. Clearly somebody cared about continuity.

Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster is another good example. It takes the series in a new stylistic direction different from any of the six Godzilla movies that preceded it, with Tanaka hiring Jun Fukuda to direct in the hope of drawing a younger adult demographic. Godzilla happens into the story by chance with no mention made of his battle with King Ghidorah at the end of the prior film. Even then, the movie features the fourth big-screen outing for Mothra and the audience is expected to just be familiar with Infant Island and not be taken aback by the fact that Mothra's two priestesses are only a foot tall (a point which is treated with a lot of fanfare in Mothra's first two films).

Certainly in the days before home video, movies didn't get a whole lot of replay exposure after their initial theatrical runs, but I really don't think that the industry professionals at Toho or any other studio expected audiences to just forget all about what they were currently seeing in theaters by the time the next flick opened. I imagine just the opposite was what drove them to make their movies as memorable as possible: the goal of leaving a really good impression on audiences.
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Re: Showa Godzilla's (Lack of) Continuity

Postby lhb412 » Tue Jan 27, 2015 1:15 am

^I think that's a different type of continuity. It expects the audience to remember popular characters and concepts, but not to actually follow a continuing plot-line through multiple films.
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Re: Showa Godzilla's (Lack of) Continuity

Postby Legion » Tue Jan 27, 2015 10:44 am

Pkmatrix wrote:Atop that, it's 21st Century American fans trying to apply a contemporary American concept of plot continuity to mid-20th Century Japanese films - that their ideas of what continuity means might be different from the original creators' seems not to enter anybody's minds.


And it doesn't matter how much you try to explain this to them. They do it anyway, even if their ways of going about it make no damn sense or if they have to ignore what's right there on film to make their "tight continuity" work.

ihb412 wrote:I think that's a different type of continuity. It expects the audience to remember popular characters and concepts, but not to actually follow a continuing plot-line through multiple films.


Exactly. You could watch any Showa-era film and still follow it fine, as long as you have a basic understanding of the characters. And if two films are strongly connected (like GvsMG and ToMG or G54 and GRA) the second film will quickly explain what happened and move on. You really NEED to see the entirety of the Heisei series to get what's going on at times, because there's more than enough that carries over from film to film. But a lot of that is also lazy and/or unnecessary at the same time. A lot of people do praise the Heisei series for it's continuity, but I really don't think much of it is very useful or intelligent continuity. The only benefit is that you follow the same Godzilla for seven films and build up some emotional baggage for him, making his death a hell of a lot stronger. That's why the Millennium series doesn't work for me. I don't give a crap about any of those Godzillas.
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Re: Showa Godzilla's (Lack of) Continuity

Postby Benjamin Haines » Wed Jan 28, 2015 2:24 pm

lhb412 wrote:^I think that's a different type of continuity. It expects the audience to remember popular characters and concepts, but not to actually follow a continuing plot-line through multiple films.


Right, that's the kind of continuity that your average episodic TV series employs. Viewers are expected to have at least a passing familiarity with recurring characters for the fact that they've appeared in prior episodes, and even if they don't they still won't have a hard time jumping in with any particular episode, while the specific plot events of prior episodes aren't important to the story at hand except on certain occasions. (You were referring to what I said about Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster, right?)
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Re: Showa Godzilla's (Lack of) Continuity

Postby lhb412 » Wed Jan 28, 2015 3:29 pm

Yup.
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Re: Showa Godzilla's (Lack of) Continuity

Postby jellydonut25 » Fri Jan 30, 2015 4:49 pm

Too often I think we (myself included) forget about the lack of home video when 90% of the Showa era films were made. "continuity" wasn't really a tight thing with people pouring over its details in the 60s and 70s.

Many of the minor continuity gaffes in the Showa era probably went largely (or entirely) unnoticed.
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Re: Showa Godzilla's (Lack of) Continuity

Postby MekaGojira3k » Tue Feb 03, 2015 12:55 pm

It kind of reminds me of the Bond films (the first 20), in that there's a continuity but its really loose. The continuity is really in the MI-6 characters, and organizations.
I still don't see how trying to understand the chronology of these films is such an atrocious act.
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Re: Showa Godzilla's (Lack of) Continuity

Postby walshiam » Tue Feb 03, 2015 2:50 pm

It's not atrocious, just pointless since each story is balanced on their own.
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