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April-June 1998


Far away, in the South Pacific islands of French Polynesia, atomic testing brings a huge monster to life. The monster makes its way to Tahiti, then to Jamaica, and finally to New York, where it goes on a 300-mile-an-hour rampage, destroying skyscrapers, Wall Street, Central Park, the Brooklyn Bridge, and everything else in its path.

This is the plot of the new Hollywood movie, Godzilla. Released in Canada and the United States in May of this year, the movie (rated PG-13) has become a smash hit. But many kids probably do not know that Godzilla actually came to New York for the first time in 1968. It was in the ninth movie of the Godzilla series, all of which were produced in Japan. The title of the ninth movie is Kaiju Soshingeki (released in English as Destroy All Monsters). In this movie, which was set at the end of the twentieth century, Godzilla and 10 other monsters terrorize various parts of the world, including New York.

Japan prides itself on its excellent special-effects films, and Godzilla is one of the biggest stars of these films. The first film in the Godzilla series came out 44 years ago, in 1954, with Ishiro Honda as the director and Eiji Tsuburaya as the special-effects director. As of 1995, some 22 Godzilla films had been produced.

In the first Godzilla movie, the monster, which has been sleeping in the South Pacific, is brought to life by a hydrogen bomb experiment. After coming to life, Godzilla heads north. The monster eventually reaches Tokyo, where it destroys the famous Ginza shopping district and the Japanese parliament building. Even tanks and fighter planes are no match for Godzilla. The first Godzilla movie attracted 9.61 million viewers in Japan, and went on to become a big hit in New York when it was shown there in 1956.

On July 11, 1998, the new Hollywood version of Godzilla hit Japan. The latest Godzilla movie, featuring a redesigned monster, opened at about 400 theaters--or 1 out of every 5 movie theaters in Japan. This is the biggest screen release in Japanese history. Godzilla has invaded Japan once again!