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Mothra vs. Godzilla (モスラ対ゴジラ, Mosura tai Gojira) is a 1964 Japanese kaiju film directed by Ishirō Honda, written by Shinichi Sekizawa, and produced by Tomoyuki Tanaka, with special effects by Eiji Tsuburaya. Produced and distributed by Toho Studios, it is the fourth film in the Godzilla franchise. The film stars Akira Takarada, Yuriko Hoshi, Hiroshi Koizumi, Kenji Sahara, and the Peanuts, with Haruo Nakajima as Godzilla. In the film, humans beseech the aide of the insect-god Mothra to stop Godzilla from destroying Japan.

Mothra vs. Godzilla
Mothra vs Godzilla poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed byIshirō Honda
Produced byTomoyuki Tanaka[1]
Screenplay byShinichi Sekizawa
Music byAkira Ifukube[1]
CinematographyHajime Koizumi[1]
Edited byRyohei Fujii[1]
Distributed byToho
Release date
  • April 20, 1964 (1964-04-20) (Japan)[3]
Running time
88 minutes[1]
Budget¥200 million
Box office¥2.66 billion[a]

Honda explicitly intended for the film to be meant for children in addition to adults, as a way to compete with television's growing popularity in Japan. Notably, this is the final film in the franchise's "Shōwa" period to depict Godzilla solely as an antagonist.[6]

Mothra vs. Godzilla was released theatrically in Japan on April 20, 1964. An edited version titled Godzilla vs. the Thing was released by American International Pictures in the United States on August 26, 1964. Mothra vs. Godzilla would be followed-up by the film Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster, released in the same year on December 20.



News reporter Ichiro Sakai and photographer Junko Nakanishi take pictures of wreckage caused by a typhoon. They uncover a strange, bluish-gray object in the debris, not knowing its significance. Later that day, a giant egg is discovered on the shore. The local villagers salvage it and an entrepreneur of Happy Enterprises, named Kumayama, buys the egg from the local villagers. Instead of letting scientists study the egg, Kumayama wants to make it into a large tourist attraction. Sakai and Nakanishi are informed that the strange object they found is extremely radioactive.

While Sakai, Nakanishi, and Professor Miura are discussing the egg at a hotel, they discover Kumayama checking in. Kumayama meets with Jiro Torahata, the head of Happy Enterprises. They are unexpectedly confronted by tiny twin girls known as the Shobijin and try to capture them. The Shobijin escape and meet with Sakai, Nakanishi and Professor Miura. They explain that the egg belongs to Mothra. If the egg hatches, the larva (though they have no quarrel with humans) will still cause great damage looking for food. The trio agrees to help.

Sakai, Nakanishi and Miura try to reason with Kumayama and Torahata but fail to do so and the Shobijin leave. The three of them return to Kurada Beach, to determine if there is any more radioactive contamination; and, knowing it cannot be Mothra, try to find what the source might be. They soon find it: Godzilla, who had been washed up onto Kurada Beach and buried under mud by the hurricane after his absence since his clash with King Kong, had suddenly emerges and begins to attack Nagoya. Sakai, Junko, and Miura travel to Infant Island to request the Shobijin to send Mothra to defeat Godzilla. The natives of the island and the Shobijin are eventually convinced by the trio. However, the Shobijin warn them that Mothra is already near death by natural causes.

Kumayama barges into Torahata's room and demands to get back the money that Torahata had recently swindled from him. Kumayama is shot by Torahata, then he too is killed when Godzilla arrives and destroys his hotel. Mothra arrives just when Godzilla reaches her egg and engages Godzilla in battle. Briefly, she seems to be winning, even spraying Godzilla with a poisonous powder, though this is ineffective. Despite giving her all, Godzilla hits her with its atomic breath, and Mothra collapses and dies from exhaustion. Fortunately, Godzilla loses interest in the egg and proceeds with its rampage.

The JSDF launches multiple campaigns against Godzilla until two giant larvae hatch from Mothra's egg. They follow Godzilla to Iwa Island, trap it with their silk spray and force Godzilla into the sea. Sakai, Junko, and Miura thank the Mothra larvae and Shobijin as they return to Infant Island.


  • Akira Takarada as Ichiro Sakai (酒井 市朗, Sakai Ichiro), a reporter
  • Yuriko Hoshi as Junko Nakanishi (中西 純子, Nakanishi Junko), a photographer
  • Hiroshi Koizumi as Professor Shunsuke Miura (三浦 俊助 博士, Miura Shunsuke), a scientist
  • Yū Fujiki as Jiro Nakamura (中村 二郎, Nakamura Jiro), another reporter
  • The Peanuts, Emi and Yumi Ito, as the Shobijin (小美人, Shobijin), the fairy guardians of Infant Island
  • Kenji Sahara as Jiro Torahata (虎畑 二郎, Torahata Jiro), a corrupt business tycoon
  • Jun Tazaki as Maruta (丸田, Maruta), Chief Editor
  • Yoshifumi Tajima as Kumayama (熊山, Kumayama), owner of Happy Enterprises
  • Haruo Nakajima as Godzilla



There were several differences in the original screenplay from Shinichi Sekizawa, which he submitted in 1963 on December 31, compared to the finished product. Originally there were to be many more characters, many of them were different from the ones in the finished film. The character for the villain Torahata was not included. Sakai the reporter had two sidekicks and one of them was Dr. Miura but he was only vaguely reminiscent of the final character that was in the movie and there was another scientist who was an amateur biologist who was being mentored by Dr. Miura, but was dropped by Sekizawa.

The most noticeable difference was that rather than Mothra’s egg being washed ashore and becoming a target of a greedy entrepreneur for exploitation it is Godzilla's unconscious body that is found in the aftermath of the hurricane. This was changed because it would have been strange and difficult for someone to use Godzilla’s radioactive body to make money. So, Sekizawa changed it to Mothra’s egg. Godzilla was also going to take a bigger role in the film, with Mothra only arriving just in time for the climax in her adult form to fight Godzilla. Her larva form was not in the early draft at all. Rolisica, the fictional country that was featured in Mothra (1961), was present in this early screenplay as well. The Rolisican government was also going to be the ones to deploy the Frontier Missiles against Godzilla, as opposed to the US forces as it occurred in the International version of Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964).[1][7]

Before production began, Honda discussed with his cast that with the competition television has been posing for the movies, "[Toho] is targeting kids, not just adults, so we have to make something that all ages will find interesting."[8]

Creature designEdit

A new Godzilla costume was created for the film was made by sculptor Teizo Toshimitsu with input from suit actor Haruo Nakajima.[9] This led to a lighter costume which allowed for more fluid movement.[9]


The film cost about 200 million yen to make, approximately twice the amount the original Godzilla cost.[7]


Mothra vs. Godzilla was released in Japan by Toho on April 20, 1964, some time prior to the Golden Week.[3] The film would later be re-released in the country in 1980.[3] The Japanese version of the film was released with English subtitles by Classic Media in 2007.[1]

In the United States, American International Pictures released the film as Godzilla vs. the Thing on August 26, 1964, where it premiered in Los Angeles.[7] The American version of the film contains footage shot by Toho specifically for the American release.[1] The American version of the film received only a few minor adjustments: shortening the twin fairies' song on Infant Island and a scene where Sakai, Junko Miura and Makamura wave goodbye to the Mothras swimming home.[10] Removed scenes include Kumayama hanging out leaflets to attract visitors to the giant egg incubator and where Torahata shoots Kumayama in a hotel room.[10] New scenes were also added including a sequence where U.S. military officials help Japan against Godzilla.[10]

The American release of the film was double-billed with Voyage to the End of the Universe.[1] It was released in 2002 by Sony Wonder Video. This release was dubbed in English.[11][better source needed]


In a contemporary review from the Monthly Film Bulletin, the review noted that "In spite of some clumsy model shots, Godzilla's fight with the giant moth and its caterpillar progeny is one of Toho's better efforts"[12] The review praised the monsters design in the film and opined that the "ineffectual attempts to bring him to a halt are cleverly and spectacularly staged. Unfortunately, nothing else quite matches the special effects", noting a plot that was "ridiculous" and acting that was "lamentable, and the two miniature twins' habit of repeating every line of dialogue simultaneously is intensely irksome."[12] Variety commented that the film was a "Japanese sci-fi long on special effects but lacks appeal for general trade", and that "inspite of the slick production, the story and acting don't offer enough to attract large general audiences."[13] The review commented that "virtually all-Japanese cast, with unfamiliar faces and broad emoting typical of such Japanese pics, also detracts from general appeal."[13] The review commented on the film crew, stating that Honda's direction and the script "keep story moving at lively pace, building up to tense climatic scenes"[13] and that "Eiji Tsuburaya, labored mightily to cook up monsters and their battles, the tiny twins and the military assaults against Godzilla."[13]

From a retrospective review in 1998, Steve Ryfle, author of Japan's Favorite Mon-star: The Unauthorized Biography of "The Big G" praised the film as it stood "indisputably as the greatest of all the Godzilla sequels, with a fast-paced story and likable characters, the most impressive Godzilla design ever, two of the Big G's most spectacular battles, and an abundance of special-effects "money shots" that evoke the thrills of the 1954 original."[7][14] In his 2017 book cowritten with Ed Godziszewski and covering Ishiro Honda's filmography, the two gave their impression that "[t]he final twenty-plus minutes hint at the genre's impending tilt toward young boys. It's a near nonstop barrage of military hardware and monster action", and adding that "Honda seemed to know that kids were now rooting for Godzilla, and so the film never gets too scary."[8]


  1. ^ 1964 release grossed ¥330,000,000.[4] 1980 re-release grossed ¥2,330,000,000.[5]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Galbraith IV 2008, p. 210.
  2. ^ Galbraith IV 2008, p. 83.
  3. ^ a b c Ryfle & Godziszewski 2017, p. 211.
  4. ^ "「ゴジラ・エビラ・モスラ 南海の大決闘」 GODZILLA VERSUS THE SEA MONSTER". G本情報 - ゴジラ王国. Retrieved July 1, 2018.
  5. ^ "Mothra vs. Godzilla". Toho Kingdom. Retrieved July 1, 2018.
  6. ^ Ryfle & Godziszewski 2017, p. 206.
  7. ^ a b c d Ryfle 1998, p. 103.
  8. ^ a b Ryfle & Godziszewski 2017, p. 208.
  9. ^ a b Ryfle 1998, p. 107.
  10. ^ a b c Ryfle 1998, p. 110.
  11. ^ "Mothra vs Godzilla DVD". Retrieved 15 December 2016.
  12. ^ a b "Godzilla Tai Mothra (Godzilla vs. The Thing), Japan, 1964". Monthly Film Bulletin. Vol. 32 no. 372. British Film Institute. 1965. p. 167.
  13. ^ a b c d Willis 1985, p. 181: "Review is of American version viewed on September 17, 1964"
  14. ^ Ryfle 1998, p. 104.

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