The Toho Big Five are not (as far as I am aware) a major crime syndicate, or at least not who I am in the process of posting about! No, The Toho Big Five are a group of Giant Movie Monsters (sometimes referred to as Kaiju) who have appeared in movies in all three periods of the Godzilla Franchise. Produced by Japanese film Company Toho, the big five can trace their roots all the way back to 1954 with the release of the original Godzilla.
As the franchise grew to include monsters to fight Godzilla; many monsters have been added into the mix. Some Monsters have appeared in more movies than just one; with honorary inductees including Anguirus and Gigan. The three Era’s are Showa, Heisei, and Millennium, and whilst creatures such as both Anguirus and Gigan have appeared in Showa and Millennium periods, the Toho Big Five have made appearances in all three eras. Now while some of these appearances may have only been for one film in said periods, being featured in three eras is still a major accomplishment!
So, who are these fine Monsters? Well, all of them have appeared in Godzilla films. Some of them have been villains and all of them have been portrayed as a Hero at some point in their career. Three of them have had solo appearances in film’s, a couple of them even predating their first appearance with Godzilla, and one of them even had a trilogy of spin-off films. They other four have all tangled with Godzilla at some point in their career; a couple of them have defeated him, and one of them even came close to killing him! Some of them have also aligned themselves in combat with Godzilla. But the question still stands; who are The Toho Big Five? Well, let’s find out.
5. Godzilla – First Appearance: Godzilla (1954) – I will start with probably the most obvious one. Yes, Godzilla is one of the Toho Big Five, but in all seriousness, why wouldn’t he be? He is the main plot element of every film in the Godzilla series and has as such has appeared in all three Era’s, with currently, over 30+ films (not including American adaptations of already existing films) to his name over a period of roughly 64 years since his first appearance. Now, onto the rest!
4. King Ghidorah – First Appearance: Ghidorah, The Three-Headed Monster (1964). Whilst it may sound like a solo outing for them, Ghidorah The Three-Headed Monster was actually the fifth film in the Godzilla franchise, and featured a debut appearance in the series for Rodan too. King Ghidorah is a Three Headed Golden Dragon who can both fly, plus shoot an electric death ray from all three heads. His origin stories have changed in the three separate periods. Originally he was a tyrant from space who had destroyed ancient cultures, plus had been used in plans by invading alien forces. In the Heisei period he was created by Time Travellers, and then in the Millennium years was more a mythological creation, at one point. Whatever his origin, it didn’t matter, as he was always one thing to Godzilla; his Arch Nemesis! He has remained one of the most popular and most used monster’s in the series, and has always been a constant thorn in the life of the King of the Monsters.
3. Mothra – First Appearance: Mothra (1961) – Originally debuting in her own solo film, Mothra would go on to not just appear in the Godzilla franchise, but also have a spin off trilogy of her own in the Rebirth of Mothra series. Mothra has quite the distinction for her appearances in the Godzilla series, as she is to date the monster with the most victories of Godzilla. Be it sparring in lengthy duels with him, or even in light contests, Mothra has defeated him on at least four occasions. Despite this however, Mothra has also aided the King of the Monsters in combat on three occasions too. Whilst maybe not killing him on those occasions, it is still the kind of fight record that will impress and deter other opponents!
2. Rodan – First Appearance: Rodan (1956) – Rodan also originally debuted in a solo film too before making their way to face Godzilla. Out of all the other monsters on this list, Rodan is the only one not to have their name featured in the title of a Godzilla film, despite being one of the Big Five! Whilst that may be a little sad, it doesn’t detract from Rodan’s quality. Rodan has on past occasions really held his own in combat no matter who he is fighting. On two occasions Rodan has been quite the thorn in Godzilla’s side. Rodan has too though been an Ally to Godzilla, having fought close by in the final battle against King Ghidorah in Destroy All Monsters, as well as transferring his power into Godzilla, both saving his life, and making him more powerful in Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla II. Whilst maybe not appearing in as many film’s as the others, and also potentially being a little weaker in power compared to the others, this does not necessarily mean he is weak; and his history in the franchise has meant that Rodan has remained rather iconic to the series.
1. Mechagodzilla – First Appearance: Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla (1974) – Mechagodzilla is built and designed for one purpose, and one purpose alone, to defeat The King of the Monsters. Built as his robotic doppelganger and carrying an entire arsenal of weaponry, he has been considered by many to be Godzilla’s main rival, and has on several occasions come closing to Killing him too! Originally built by a race of aliens in an attempt to take over earth, Mechagodzilla’s origin has taken on other forms in subsequent films as more of a state of the art weapons program designed and built as Japan’s best defence against the continued tyranny of Godzilla. Whilst his origin has changed on several occasions, his base design has stayed relatively the same, that of being a doppelganger, and Arch Rival; to Godzilla himself!