Godzilla Movie

What defines a Kaiju?

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MemberMothra LarvaeApr-12-2015 5:40 PM



Yes, I (and we) are well aware that Kaiju literally means "strange beast" and can apply to anything monstrous or mysterious.


However, that honestly does not seem to be the case with the overall community. Much like what makes an Anime an Anime (whether it be the style, the cartoon itself, or its origin) is debated amongst fans, we are kind of in the same boat. At least, that's what I've viewed.


We all seem to have very different definitions of what makes a Kaiju a Kaiju. For instance, most of us agree that Godzilla is a kaiju full-and-true. Same goes for Anguirus, Mothra, Rodan, etc.


However, what about the Kaiju from Pacific Rim? Or the monster from Cloverfield? They're giant beasts that wreck towns and all, but some of us do not agree to call them true Kaijus. Simply put, they are just giant monsters in the eyes of some Kaiju fans.


So, the question remains: in your eyes, what makes a Kaiju a Kaiju? Is it their strange appearance? Their country of origin? Their monstrous attitude of not just being an oversized animal?


Personally, I have my own set of "requirements." A monster must own two out of three in my book to be deemed worthy of the title:


1. Strange creature originating from Japan. (The Golden Snitch trait)If the monster is from Japan, it is automatically a Kaiju.

2. Monstrous attitude. (The unique characteristic of wanting to tear down something)

Mothra, for example, is peaceful for the most part. However, if someone messes with the fairies, she goes all-out attack.

3. A unique characteristic that differs greatly from common organisms. (Atomic Breath, two heads, etc.)

Rhedosaurus, although amazing and awesome, is just really a giant lizard (Tuatara?) looking to reclaim its territory. Not much else. Same goes for King Kong; just another ape in the bunch, only 25 ft tall. Zilla, on the other hand, is a mutant lizard that not only differs greatly in appearance, but owns a power breath that no other species possesses; making it unique.


Again, these are just MY viewpoints of how I see a Kaiju.


What do YOU guys think?


What defines a Kaiju in your book?


14 Replies


MemberMothra LarvaeApr-12-2015 6:06 PM

Well the simple fact is that as long as opinoins differ, even what we know of as "definitions" will always be debated and argued over.

As you pointed out, Kaiju literally means "strange beast," and even my girlfriend (who is Japanese) says that it can be applied to anything that is strange to the observer.

So basically it depends on what you, the observer, are witnessing and whether or not you think the term is appropriate. For instance, while she was in Japan on a trip with her family a few years ago, she happened upon an ?sansh?uo, which is a giant salamander that can grow in excess of 3 feet in length, by a riverbed. When she saw it, she recalls calling the little slimy fiend a "Kaiju" before running away.

Something Real

MemberGodzillaApr-12-2015 6:20 PM

NATEZILLA10000 - What a very fun topic! For me, I would have to say that a Kaiju is a creature that embodies a force of nature or massive disaster - a being that alters the world around it through force of presence or destructive potential! Of course, the alterations do not have to be negative; they must simply be grand in scope! :)

G. H. (Gman)

AdminGodzillaApr-12-2015 6:25 PM

To be fair we've sort of left out an important prefix to the word. I think daikaiju might help narrow down things a bit, but not to the point where there's an agreeable definition.

"'Nostalgic' does not equal 'good,' and 'standards' does not equal 'elitism.'" "Being offended is inevitable. Living offended is your choice."


ModeratorGiganApr-12-2015 7:11 PM

Your saying just being defined as monsters, instead of Kaiju. A Kaiju is a monster, so its the same thing.

What defines a Kaiju? I consider a Kaiju a creature that is of great magnitude in strength, and power. A beast that towers above us measly humans, a creature that could mow down a City if it wanted to.

That truly is what i call a Kaiju, a beast of immense height, strength, and durabillity.

Good grief.


MemberMothra LarvaeApr-12-2015 7:22 PM

To me "Kaiju" can mean anything (This exclueds inanimate objects such as chairs, vehicles, books, etc...).  We basically live on a kaiju world if you think about it.  There are so many creatures that are alive that, at times, defy all logic.  Look at the Platypus from Austraila (I know it is a Monotreme, but work with me here).  It's a mammal and it feeds its young milk, yet it lays eggs and looks like a cross between a duck and a bever.

Creatures we once thought extinct could be considered kaiju.  Celocanth and Chambered Nautlius being two prime examples.

Plants and fungus' can be considered kaiju.  Some of the ways they reproduce are quite strange or downright bizzare.  I'm looking at you Inscet-pathogenisisng Fungus.

In Japanese culture there are the Yokai, ghosts and sprits.  They too could be labeled as kaiju just because they defy what we consider normal.  Though generally we would just call them Yokai.

If they existed, Bigfoot, Nessie, Champ, and the Yeti could be called kaiju even though we call them Cyrptos.

The Xenomoprh from the Alien Franchise can be called a kaiju.

One could go as far as saying dinosuars were kaiju.

Daikaiju or "Giant Kaiju" are a larger varitity of monsters.  Godzilla, Mothra, Zilla, Slattern, Knifehead, Gorgo, and Clover (Cloverfeild Monster) are Daikaiju, but they can still be refered to as Kaiju.

In retrospect, anything can be a kaiju.  The Godzilla franchinse made the term "kaiju" just made us aware of the term in 1954, but its been around for a lot longer than we tend to give it credit.


MemberMothra LarvaeApr-12-2015 11:35 PM

You guys have spome great points! =)


I should add that I'm not necessarily going for a universal definition, here. Just wondering what you guys think of it all. It's a question that I've pondered for a while.


And yes, I'm aware of the Dai- prefix, but I wanted to talk about all forms of Kaiju; not just the really big ones. Dorats and the species Shockirus, for instance, are rather small Kaiju.


Also, bonus question:

Can a Mecha be counted as a Kaiju? They're not really organic, and therefore not really beasts. Can they earn the title as well?


MemberBaragonApr-13-2015 6:36 AM

The American King Kong could certainly be considered a Kaiju, but his Japanese counterpart, by virtue of his immense size, would be a Daikaiju. A "super" Kaiju if you will.


MemberMothra LarvaeApr-13-2015 12:26 PM

Natezilla10000: That's a tricky one.  Since "Kaiju" referes to a living thing, that would make monsters like Mechagodzilla '74, Mechagodzilla '75, Mechagodzilla 2/ Super Mechagodzilla, and Mechni-Kong not true "kaiju" by natural means.  They are imatations of the living creature they are representing, so they would be just called "Mechas."

At the same time, Mecha-King Ghidorah still has living organs inside of him along with with his mechanical componets making him a cyborg.  Kiryu and Gigan also fall under the catagory of Cyborgs.  Gigan was propably made the way he is through extreamly painful experimentations by Nebula Space Hunter M from his orginal form.  Kiryu has a Bio-computer derived from Godzilla's DNA and the skeleton of the orginal Godzilla within him.  If Kiryu were to ever reapper for future moives that continue the Kiryu Saga, he might have actual skin covering parts of his body due to Godzilla's DNA slowly taking over the mechanical body and replacing it with flesh and blood over time.

In conclusion, a  "true Mecha" would not be a Kaiju.  Just like how Gypse Danger is a Mecha (Robot) and not a true Kaiju.  But if the Mecha in question has organic parts in its body, then it is a Cyborg and could techinally be called a "Kaiju" because it an enhanced form of the orginal creature. 


MemberMothra LarvaeApr-13-2015 12:31 PM

Forgot one...

Jet Jaguar would be a "Mecha" since he has no orgainc componets.

How could I forget everyones favorite robot?

Sci-Fi King25

MemberGiganApr-13-2015 1:22 PM

I define all giant monsters as daikaiju. Though the Pacific Rim daikaiju are called the Kaiju in the film, they have a small exception.


Questions to determine a kaiju-


-Does it have strange or unique qualities?

-Does it resemble some sort of animal?

-Is it a new creature, not just a giant animal?





Nice thread idea BTW.

“Banana oil.”- George Takei, Gigantis: The Fire Monster


Community ExecutiveMemberMothra LarvaeApr-13-2015 7:41 PM

Kaiju: Living organism, it is really big.

East call them kaijus if they are not extremly big, and west call them monsters.

What defines a Kaiju:

Size: Must be big enought, lets say building size... So Xenos and Sasquatch are not in that cathegory. 



Intelligence: They might not be the dumbest organism in universe; but if the creature can be put in the same level with humans even if is really big, I'm afraid that to me it is a different specie, an alien, a god but not a kaiju.

Nature: that is not important, they can come from our same world and dimesion or not, thats not relevant.



Natelliza I wonder if you have in mind some questions of ...what is Kaiju and what is not, or if know our oppinions was the mere purpose of the thread  ;)  Because so many things could jump between cathegories, and others that seems covering all are totally out of be cathegorize as a Kiaju .  


The world will spin well past our last breath, but I will always care about you


MemberMothra LarvaeApr-14-2015 12:48 PM

For me, a kaiju, especially a daikaiju, must have powers that cannot be rationally or 'scientifically' explained. It must differ from the 'normal' varieties of the species that it either (1) came from, or (2) most resembles. It's kind of like the relationship between Godzilla (the daikaiju) and the Godzillasaurous. So, I suppose that this means that some kind of mutation is implied, or even required. If the said mutation is the result of human misconduct, then the kaiju or daikaiju as a symbol is enhanced. And even if the mutation is not the result of man's indifference to, and abuse of, the environment, then the kaiju is still a symbol of that order being restored, or being used to set things aright.

So, for me, the symbolism in the concept is as important as the presentation of the 'strange beast' as an actual living being.


MemberMothra LarvaeApr-16-2015 1:38 AM


it's simple, what makes a kaiju is us human's. we see anything diffrent to us we call it a monster,strange beast, freak e.c.t for example, inconsiderate people will might see a man with two noses and shout out MONSTER. our fear of diffrent looking things and things we have never seen befor will kick in and make us think, monster. its new and diffrent to us so we panic.



MemberMothra LarvaeApr-16-2015 1:38 AM


it's simple, what makes a kaiju is us human's. we see anything diffrent to us we call it a monster,strange beast, freak e.c.t for example, inconsiderate people will might see a man with two noses and shout out MONSTER. our fear of diffrent looking things and things we have never seen befor will kick in and make us think, monster. its new and diffrent to us so we panic.


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