In Okinawa, Princess Nami Kunigami of the royal family has a vision of a monster destroying a city. In another part of Okinawa Masahiko Shimizu finds an unusual piece of metal in a cave which he brings to Professor Miyajima. His brother Keisuke finds a cave filled with ancient artifacts and cave writings. Archaeologist Saeko Kaneshiro translates the writing. It is a prophecy concerning a monster that will rise up to destroy the world. It also foretells of two other monsters that will save the world. Saeko takes an artifact from the cave to study. It is a small statue. She says it resembles a legendary Okinawan monster called King Shisa or King Caesar.
Godzilla emerges from Mount Fuji and starts running amok. Anguirus, who normally is by Godzilla’s side confronts him and is beaten. Godzilla continues on his rampage. Suddenly another Godzilla appears and begins fighting with the first Godzilla. During the fighting the covering of the first Godzilla is torn away and exposes a mechanical Godzilla underneath. The Mechagodzilla severely wounds the real Godzilla but is damaged in the process. The real Godzilla escapes into the sea to heal from his wounds.
It turns out that Mechagodzilla is made up of the unusual metal that Masahiko found. Professor Miyajima discovers that it is space titanium. Mechagodzilla is a robot from outer space and a super weapon.
Keisuke and Saeko are unaware that they are being followed by two different men. When Keisuke and Saeko take the statue of King Shisa back to the temple they are attacked by one of them. When the man is wounded he transforms into a green ape-like creature. He ends up falling overboard and is killed.
Masahiko, Miyajima and his daughter Ikuko are captured by the ape-like aliens that are hiding deep in the earth. They force Miyajima to fix the damaged Mechagodzilla. They are rescued by Keisuke and the other man who had been following him and Saeko. He turns out to be an agent from Interpol searching for the aliens.
The aliens send the repaired Mechagodzilla out to ravage the countryside. Keisuke and Saeko deliver the sacred statue to the temple of King Shisa. The priestess Nami sings a prayer to King Shisa to wake him up and defend the world from Mechagodzilla. The only thing left to complete the prophecy is the appearance of Godzilla.
“Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla” was released in 1974 and was directed by Jun Fukuda. It was the last Godzilla film he directed. It is the 14th film in the Godzilla franchise and of the Showa period. In the US it was released as “Godzilla vs the Bionic Monster” and after Universal Television, who owned “The Six Million Dollar Man” and “The Bionic Woman”, threatened to sue the producers, the name of the movie was changed to “Godzilla vs the Cosmic Monster”.
Toward the end of the Showa era Godzilla movies were getting a little tired. The stories were geared more for kids and rather plain and Godzilla didn’t show up until later. It was like Godzilla was thrown in at the last minute to have the final show down with whatever the monster of the month happened to be. In addition the Godzilla suit was not the most ferocious one I’ve ever seen. Although some of this is true with “Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla” the one thing it does have is an interesting story.
The monster King Shisa is an actual figure from Okinawan history. Known as the lion-dog it is a guardian god that wards off evil spirits. Although Okinawa and Japan are part of the same island chain there are differences between the two. Originally called Ryukyu, Okinawa was a separate nation and had developed its own culture. Japan annexed the Okinawan islands sometime in the 1800s. This caused lot of issues between the two. In the movie, the added alien factor with green ape-like aliens brought in as an outside force could be considered a metaphor for the Allied occupation of Okinawa requiring Okinawa, represented by King Shisa, and Japan, represented by Godzilla, to work together against a common enemy. This comparison was also noted by a reviewer in IMDb.
The movie may be a little campy and geared toward younger audiences with its evil aliens, explosions, silly monster suits and fancy weapons but there is an undercurrent that reflects the seventies cold war fears. For years Godzilla represented the results of nuclear holocaust, and he still does, but in this film he has a dual purpose. He is a reflection of not only the evils of the forties but the possible evils simmering below the surface in the seventies. Godzilla is a renaissance monster.