The Return of Godzilla

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The Return of Godzilla
Directed by                   Produced by
Koji Hashimoto Tomoyuki Tanaka
Written by                       Music by  
Shuichi Nagahara Reijiro Koroku
Distributed by                       Rating      
Toho Company Ltd.JP
New World PicturesUS
  Budget                           Box Office
¥640,000,000 ¥1,700,000,000
Running Time
103 minutesJP
(1 hour, 43 minutes)
91 minutesUS
(1 hour, 31 minutes)
Designs Used
84Goji, ShodaiShokki

The Return of Godzilla (ゴジラ,   Gojira?, lit. Godzilla) is a 1984 tokusatsu kaiju film produced by Toho Company Ltd., and the sixteenth installment in the Godzilla series, as well as the first in the Heisei series. The film was released to Japanese theaters on December 15, 1984, and to American theaters on August 23, 1985.


This film takes place 30 years after the death of the original Godzilla in 1954. A Japanese fishing vessel is trying to find its way to shore in a horrible storm while near an uninhabited island, when a giant monster appears and attacks the boat. The next morning, reporter Goro Maki finds the vessel intact but deserted as he explores the vessel, he finds all the crew dead except for one young man called Hiroshi Okumura, who has been badly wounded. Suddenly a giant sea louse attacks Goro but is eventually killed when Hiroshi regains consciousness and stabs it with a hatchet, saving Goro's life.

In Tokyo, Okumura realizes by looking at pictures that the monster he saw was Godzilla. However the news of Godzilla's return is kept secret to avoid panic until Godzilla attacks a second time and destroys a Soviet submarine. However, the Russians believe the attack was orchestrated by the Americans, and a diplomatic crisis ensues which threatens to escalate into war. The Japanese intervene and finally announce that Godzilla was behind the attack. The Japanese arrange a meeting with the Russian and American ambassadors and, after some debate over the issue, Prime Minister Mitamura decides nuclear weapons will not be used on Godzilla even if he were to attack the Japanese mainland, an announcement that the Russians can't come to terms with. The JSDF are put on alert and search for Godzilla.

Soon, Godzilla appears on an island off the coast of Japan, determined to feed off a nuclear power plant in the outskirts of Mihama. When Godzilla attacks the facility near Mihama and feeds off the reactor, he is distracted by a flock of birds, and leaves the facility almost as quickly as he arrived. Okumura and his friends realize that Godzilla reacts to the signal the birds produce and Professor Hayashida decides to use this method to lure Godzilla away from Tokyo. Meanwhile, the Russians have their own plans to counter the threat posed by Godzilla, and a Russian control ship disguised as a freighter in Tokyo Harbor prepares to launch a nuclear missile from one of their orbiting satellites should Godzilla attack.

Godzilla is later sighted at Tokyo Bay, forcing mass evacuations out of the city and a state of emergency is declared. The JSDF attacks Godzilla with fighter jets, but their missiles are useless against him. Godzilla then proceeds to the coast, where the waiting army, equipped with tanks, rocket launchers and soldiers armed with assault rifles, proceeds to fire on Godzilla, but they are quickly subdued. Meanwhile, one of the crew-members aboard the damaged Russian vessel activates the missile or tries to deactivate it (depending on the film version), which is set for a countdown, before succumbing to his injuries. Godzilla then proceeds towards Tokyo's business district, wreaking havoc along the way. There, he is confronted by 2 laser-armed trucks and the Super X, a piloted craft constructed in secret to defend Tokyo in case of emergency, in particular a nuclear attack.

Godzilla has a bad reaction to the Cadmium shells that are fired into his mouth by the Super X, and falls down unconscious. Unfortunately, the city is faced with a greater threat when the countdown ends and the Russian missile is launched from the satellite, leaving the Japanese government and people helpless to stop it. However, the Americans intervene and shoot down the missile with one of theirs before it can hit Tokyo. Unfortunately, the atmospheric nuclear blast creates an electrical storm, which revives Godzilla once more.

Godzilla has a final battle with the Super X, eventually damaging the aircraft and forcing it to make an emergency landing where he destroys it by toppling a building on it. Godzilla continues his rampage, until Professor Hayashida is successful with his invention and uses the bird call device to distract him. Godzilla leaves Tokyo and swims across the Japanese sea to volcanic Mt. Mihara, where he notices the signal device which fascinates him. As he walks towards it, he falls into the mouth of a volcano where he is surrounded by bombs, which are detonated by Okumura, thus creating a controlled volcanic eruption that traps Godzilla.

Everyone watches Godzilla as the ground beneath him crumbles and he falls into the lava, his fate unknown.


Staff role on the left, staff member's name on the right.

  • Directed by   Koji Hashimoto
  • Written by   Shuichi Nagahara
  • Produced by   Tomoyuki Tanaka
  • Music by   Reijiro Koroku
  • Cinematography by   Kazutami Hara
  • Edited by   Yoshitami Kuroiwa
  • Production Design by   Akira Sakuragi, Yasuyuki Inoue
  • Assistant Directing by   Teruyoshi Nakano
  • Special Effects by   Shinji Higuchi


Actor's name on the left, character played on the right.

  • Ken Tanaka   as   Goro Maki
  • Yasuko Sawaguchi   as   Naoko Okumura
  • Yosuke Natsuki   as   Dr. Hayashida
  • Keiju Kobayashi   as   Prime Minister Mitamura
  • Shin Takuma   as   Hiroshi Okumura
  • Eitaro Ozawa   as   Finance Minister Kanzaki
  • Hiroshi Koizumi   as   Geologist Minami
  • Mizuho Suzuki   as   Foreign Minister Emori
  • Taketoshi Naito   as   Chief Cabinet Secretary Takegami
  • Junkichi Orimoto   as   Director-General of the Defense Agency
  • Kei Sato   as   Chief Editor Gondo
  • Tetsuya Takeda   as   Homeless Man
  • Sho Hashimoto   as   Captain of Super X
  • Nobuo Kaneko   as   Home Affairs Minister Isomura
  • Takenori Emoto   as   Desk Editor Kitagawa
  • Kunio Murai   as   Secretary Henmi
  • Yoshifumi Tajima   as   Environemental Director General Hidaka
  • Shigeo Kato   as   Captain of the Yahata Maru
  • Koji Ishizaka   as   Power Plant Guard
  • Raymond Burr   as   Steve Martin (U.S. version)



Weapons, Vehicles, and Races


Main article: Gallery:The Return of Godzilla.


Main article: The Return of Godzilla (Soundtrack).

Alternate Titles

  • Godzilla (Literal Japanese Title)
  • Godzilla 1985 (United States)
  • Godzilla: The Return of the Monster (Godzilla – Die Rückkehr des Monsters; Germany)

Theatrical Releases

U.S. Release

After acquiring The Return of Godzilla for distribution in North America, New World Pictures changed the title to Godzilla 1985. The company radically re-edited the film. Most significantly, they added around ten minutes of new footage, most of it at the Pentagon, with Raymond Burr reprising his role from Godzilla, King of the Monsters!.

Much of the original version was deleted or altered:

  • Shortened and altered: Godzilla roars and the crew fell whereas we see Steven Martin after Godzilla roars.
  • Shortened: Goro's fight with the mutated sea louse (an admittedly wise decision on New World's part); the louse's voice was also changed.
  • Deleted: Goro calling his editor from an island.
  • Deleted: Professor Hayashida showing Okumura photographs of Godzilla's 1954 attack and later discussing the mutant sea lice with an aide at the police hospital.
  • Shortened: The scene where Naoko learns her brother is alive; Goro snaps pictures of them reunited, which angers Naoko because she realizes he only helped her in order to get the scoop.
  • Shortened: The meeting between the Japanese prime minister and the Russian and American ambassadors. Also deleted was a scene after the meeting in which the prime minister explains to his aides how he was able to reach a consensus with both sides. Furthermore, this scene appears before Godzilla's attack on the nuclear power plant in the American version, whereas in the Japanese version it appears afterwords.
  • Deleted: Hayashada and Naoko making a wave generator.
  • Altered: Godzilla's first attack on the nuclear power plant.
  • Added: Part of Christopher Young's score from Def Con 4 in several scenes (including Godzilla's attack on the Soviet submarine, the scene where the SDF armored division arrives in Tokyo Bay, and Okumura's near-death experience during the helicopter extraction in Tokyo).
  • Deleted: A shot of an American nuclear missile satellite in space (probably done in order to make America appear less aggressive).
  • Altered: Almost all of Godzilla's rampage through Tokyo. Scenes of a crowd fleeing Godzilla that appeared later in the Japanese print were moved to an earlier point in the movie (and corresponding footage of them gathering around Godzilla after he is knocked out by the Super X was removed), the Super X fight was re-arranged (in the Japanese version, Godzilla fires his atomic ray at the Super X after being hit with cadmium missiles, not before), and various other scenes of destruction were either placed in a different order or deleted completely. Some fans were particularly upset by the removal of a shot showing Godzilla reflected in the windows of a large skyscraper during the scene in which he attacks the Bullet Train.
  • Deleted: All shots which employed a life-size replica of Godzilla's foot (mostly seen near the end); only one shot of the big foot crushing parked cars during the nuclear power plant scene was kept.

The most controversial change was the scene where the Russian submarine officer Colonel Kashirin valiantly attempts to stop the launch of a nuclear weapon. New World edited the scene and added a brief shot of Kashirin pressing the launch button so that Kashirin actually launches the nuclear weapon. This and a few other changes pertaining to the Americans and Soviets were likely due to Cold War tensions at the time, in order to portray the United States in a more benevolent light and portray the Soviets as villainous.

In addition, the theatrical release, and most home video versions, was accompanied by Marv Newland's short cartoon, Bambi Meets Godzilla.

The American version, even with the added Raymond Burr footage, only runs 87 minutes; 16 minutes shorter than the Japanese print.

It is interesting to note that Raymond Burr's character is never referred to by his full name, only as "Martin" or "Mr. Martin", for the entirety of the U.S. version, though the end credits list him as "Steven Martin". This was to avoid association with comedian Steve Martin, who had begun to become quite popular around the time this film was released in America.

The closing narration, spoken by Raymond Burr, is as follows:

Nature has a way sometimes of reminding man of just how small he is. She occasionally throws up the terrible offspring of our pride and carelessness to remind us of how puny we really are in the face of a tornado, an earthquake or a Godzilla. The reckless ambitions of man are often dwarfed by their dangerous consequences. For now, Godzilla, that strangely innocent and tragic monster, has gone to earth. Whether he returns or not or is never again seen by human eyes, the things he has taught us remain.

Box Office

The Return of Godzilla was a reasonable success in Japan, with attendance figures at approximately 3,200,000 and the box office gross being approximately $11 million. In terms of total attendance, it was the most popular Godzilla film since 1966's Ebirah, Horror of the Deep.

The American release of the film, Godzilla 1985, however, failed to ignite the North American box office. Opening on August 23, 1985, in 235 North American theaters, the film grossed $509,502 in its opening weekend, on its way to a lackluster $4,116,395 total gross.[1]

New World's budget for Godzilla 1985 consisted of $500,000 to lease the film from Toho, $200,000 for filming the new scenes and other revisions, and $2,500,000 for prints and advertising, adding up to a grand total of approximately $3,200,000. Taking this in consideration, Godzilla 1985, though not a hit, proved to be profitable for New World, and the profit would increase with home video and television revenue.


The New World version of the film was almost universally lambasted by North American critics, receiving only a 13% on Rotten Tomatoes based on 8 reviews. Roger Ebert, who gave the film a mere one star in the Chicago Sun-Times, wrote: "The filmmakers must have known that the original Godzilla had many loyal fans all over the world who treasured the absurd dialogue, the bad lip-synchronizing, the unbelievable special effects, the phony profundity. So they have deliberately gone after the same inept feeling in Godzilla 1985. Examples: Dialogue: Is so consistently bad that the entire screenplay could be submitted as an example. My favorite moment occurs when the hero and heroine are clutching each other on a top floor of a skyscraper being torn apart by Godzilla and the professor leaps into the shot, says "What has happened here?" and leaps out again without waiting for an answer. Lip-synchronizing: Especially in the opening shots, there seems to be a subtle effort to exaggerate the bad coordination between what we see and what we hear. All lip-sync is a little off, of course, but this movie seems to be going for condescending laughs from knowledgeable film-goers. Special effects: When Godzilla marches on Tokyo, the buildings are the usual fake miniature models, made out of paint and cardboard. The tip off is when he rips a wall off a high-rise, and nothing falls out. That's because there is nothing inside."[2]

Vincent Canby of the New York Times, who had given a positive review to Godzilla vs. Megalon nine years earlier, was similarly unimpressed:

"Though special-effects experts in Japan and around the world have vastly improved their craft in the last 30 years, you wouldn't know it from this film. Godzilla, who is supposed to be about 240 feet tall, still looks like a wind-up toy, one that moves like an arthritic toddler with a fondness for walking through teeny-tiny skyscrapers instead of mud puddles. Godzilla 1985 was shot in color but its sensibility is that of the black-and-white Godzilla films of the 1950s. What small story there is contains a chaste romance and lots of references to the lessons to be learned from "this strangely innocent but tragic creature." The point seems to be that Godzilla, being a "living nuclear bomb," something that cannot be destroyed, must rise up from time to time to remind us of the precariousness of our existence. One can learn the same lesson almost any day on almost any New York street corner."[3]

One of the few positive reviews came from Joel Siegel of Good Morning America, who is quoted on New World's newspaper ads as saying, "Hysterical fun...the best Godzilla in thirty years!"

Video Releases

Toho (2002)

  • Released: 2002
  • Region: Region 2
  • Language: Japanese

Universe (2006)

  • Released: 2006
  • Region: Region 3

Toho (2009)

  • Blu-ray
  • Released: 2009
  • Language: Japanese




  • The Return of Godzilla was the last Godzilla film to be produced and released during Japan's Showa period (昭和時代 Shōwa jidai), which lasted from 1926 to 1989; the reign of Japanese Emperor Hirohito.
    • Thus, this is the first Godzilla film to be made in a different political era compared to Toho's era of films at the time.
  • The screenplay for The Return of Godzilla was first written 1980, but as an entirely different film. Godzilla was to fight a shape-shifting kaiju named Bagan, and the Super X played a much smaller role.
  • Teroyushi Nakano, who had worked on the special effects for Godzilla's adventures since 1971, provides his final contribution to the series in The Return of Godzilla. Reportedly, Nakano considered the effects for this film to be his best work in the genre.
  • This film, along with Godzilla vs. Biollante, were the only Godzilla films made in the 1980's.
  • As of 2015, The Return of Godzilla remains to be the only Godzilla film to not get a Region 1 DVD/Blu-Ray release due to rights issues.


This is a list of references for The Return of Godzilla. These citations are used to identify the reliable sources on which this article is based. These references appear inside articles in the form of superscript numbers, which look like this: [1]


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