This is your Minya.
This is your Minya on Gabera.
In our last review we mentioned that people in the 1960's were taking a lot of drugs, and that some movies with rather, ah, hallucinatory qualities resulted. Further evidence of this is 1969's Godzilla's Revenge, in which all of the monster action takes place in the dreams of (who else?) a young Japanese boy.
When most folks watch Godzilla's Revenge, they find a moment when they realize that it is going to be a very trippy movie. For you, that moment might be when the young protagonist Ichiro first enters his fantasy world, which initially resembles a deserted airplane. Or maybe it will be when Minya, son of Godzilla, first speaks to Ichiro in a human tongue. Or perhaps it will be upon discovering that this will be another movie starring a Japanese boy wearing shorts so small that they can only be seen with powerful optical equipment.
"So I just hold that thing up in the air
and I suddenly become Ultraman? ....Riiiiiight."
But we're getting ahead of ourselves. Ichiro (Tomonori Yazaki) is a latchkey kid with a very active fantasy life. Because he is the smallest kid around, the bigger kids (especially a boy named Gabera) bully him, and he goes running home to an empty house, because his mother works nights. Fortunately, his neighbor is a kindly inventor/toymaker, who allows Ichiro to hang around the workshop and think up great names for his new toys. The toymaker is kind of scary-looking, enough so that one of our fellow viewers felt the need to observe that she doesn't know for sure what Japanese child molesters look like, but if she had to pick one out of a crowd, this would be the guy. To the film's credit, this particular avenue of plot development is left unexplored.
When Ichiro is left unsupervised he pulls out his make-believe radio and calls Monster Island. But then the radio, at least in Ichiro's disturbed little mind, actually transports Ichiro to the island via a mysteriously deserted airplane. Once on the island Ichiro watches stock footage of Godzilla fighting a Gimantis (courtesy Son of Godzilla) before the young lad falls down a hole. A vine is dropped down the hole, and Ichiro climbs out to find that his benefactor is Minya! And he talks! The first thing he says to Ichiro is, "Please put some pants on!"
Gabera prepares to break Minya
of his smoking habit.
No, that's not really what he says, but Ichiro is yet another in the long line of micro-short shorts-wearing Asian kids that infest Japanese monster movies like trench coats infest an X-Files episode. Minya has somehow shrunk down to human size, the better to be Ichiro's friend. The rest of the movie is split between more Godzilla stock footage from Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster and Son of Godzilla, Minya acting as Ichiro's own personal Tony Robbins, and Ichiro's infrequent forays into his drab real life. The only drama comes when bank robbers (helpfully mentioned by other characters about 14,000 times before they actually appear) kidnap Ichiro.
The only new monster footage in the movie comes in the form of scenes of the little Minya and Ichiro, and some footage featuring a new monster called Gabera (just like the bully from Ichiro's "real" life). There are two Minya costumes: one is a regular full-body costume, and the other is an elaborate shoulders-up puppet, which has the frightening ability to wiggle its brow, shift its eyes, and move its mouth. It's difficult to explain just why this is frightening, but for some reason the animated Minya face just looks... wrong. Wrong in a Carol Channing sort of way.
"So you say this raygun can shrink
any article of clothing? Cooooool!"
At any rate, the film's main message seems to be "Stand up to bullies even when they're so big you couldn't possibly win, because that's the only way to make your parents proud." In doing so, Minya takes a mighty beating at the hands of Gabera, who is not only much larger than Godzilla's son, but also has the ability to fry the little guy's brain with bolts of electricity. Godzilla watches calmly as his offspring suffers at the hands of Gabera before the little feller lucks into a method of defeating his tormentor. Ichiro, of course, takes this to mean that no problem is insurmountable so long as you attack it with wild abandon, and applies that lesson to his encounter with the bank robbers. The robbers, being a highly stupid bunch of criminals, are no match for little Ichiro and his diminutive drawers.
If Godzilla ever got his revenge in this film, we missed it. Maybe after the end credits ran Godzilla put Minya over his knee and scolded him for hanging out with a mammal. Or maybe Godzilla's revenge was against Toho, and took the form of a refusal to appear in most of this film, hence the stock footage. Or maybe at this point, they had just run out of titles for Godzilla films. Who can fathom the mysteries of giant monster cinema?