Sgathaich: Godzilla – The Fire Bird

No this isn’t some lost Godzilla film that somehow everyone including Tohu forgot about, or a poorly retitled version of Godzilla vs Mechagodzilla 2. This is the first episode of the Hanna-Barbera Godzilla series which I have mentioned in my articles about Tokusatsu and was my introduction to the series of giant atomic monsters.

So first up is a small explanation on the premise of the series. The series stars your usual Hanna-Barbera Scooby Doo esc group of people with unusual creature, I wouldn’t call it a Scooby Doo clone (though there’s many many examples of Hanna-Barbera copying their own success with Scooby Doo by making some blatant clones of it,( I mean even one that was also a scaredy cat dog and chasing ghosts… that blatant) In this case it’s the crew of the Calico a science research vessel. The crew are Captain Carl Majors, Dr. Quinn Darien, her nephew (cause for some reason can’t have it be her son… for some reason even though that would make more sense why he’s around)  Pete Darien, her assistant Brock Borden and mandatory goofy animal thing Godzooky who is .. Godzilla’s son or something. They can through use of a device or Godzooky calling him summon Godzilla who in this version is a VERY large green dinosaur thing that can breathe fire (not atomic fire) and fire lasers out of its eyes. Obviously not the metaphor of the destructive power of the nuke or the reminder man is not above the power of nature here.

The episode opens on an island in Alaska where two volcanologists are suddenly endangered by an unexpected eruption. As they try to flee, they fail to notice a large fire pterodactyl thing temporarily pop up out of the volcano. It’s worth noting that Rodan would not gain fire powers till around 2 decades after this so to say it’s a stand in for him is wrong.

Our introduction to Godzilla is very anti-climactic. For one there’s no explanation for it or Godzooky it’s just one of those shows that starts with the team already fully formed and no origin ever given. Godzilla first appears when summoned to pick up the Calico so they are saved from a tidal wave caused by the volcanic eruption.

After picking up the distress signal and saving the scientists the team except Daniel and Godzooky go into the volcano to find out the cause since a completely dormant volcano suddenly going active is a genuine concern and mystery to find out… note no protective gear used cause what? were they going to animate special outfits just for half of one episode, ha. But standard kid show hijinks ensue. Godzooky follows them, Daniel chases in a helicopter (which amazingly he can fly just fine) and they then find the Fire bird and the rest of the episode is Godzilla fighting it till the fight goes underwater and Godzilla seals it in a cave underwater. (where I assume it drowns, they don’t say it can survive underwater but I just assume unlike Godzilla it is not amphibious).

The first episode is honestly not that bad. The monster is displayed as a decent threat with the mystery to its reveal giving a reason why the leads would investigate. Sure you have your standard reused animations but it’s the first episode and you won’t really notice that till much later. The fight is not bad, just pales in comparison to what we will later see in later Godzilla cartoons (not this one, this is about as good as it gets trust me). I would say the main problem is as mentioned earlier we get no explanation for such fanciful creatures like Godzilla and Godzooky, let alone the ship and its crew.

The series is available to watch on YouTube officially (at least I assume it was officially) or you can hunt it down on DVD. Just a warning, except for 1 episode, season 2 just gave up on being inventive with monster concepts.

Rating:  spear spear spear 

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