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Sunday, July 20, 2014

It's Gojira - Not Godzilla!

Plucked from the headlines of Kotaku, an awesome website of all things Japanese, even though I'm not involved… comes news that Japanese actor Ken Watanabe, 54, who had a nice role in the latest Hollywood Godzilla movie refused to say 'Godzilla' in English.

Good for him!

Let there be some honesty left in this (that) business!

For the uninitiated, Godzilla is the English way of saying the true name of the King of the Monsters.

As a Japanese creation, his name was first pronounced - and has always been pronounced as Gojira, written in the Japanese katakana alphabet as ゴジラ and pronounced 'go-ghee-ra', which the 'ghee' sound pronounced like the French 'Gigi.' Man, I hate offering correct pronunciations.

I didn't know this Gojira stuff until I began writing this blog.

Apparently I had never seen the original Japanese movie before.

The original Japanese version of Gojira, which was first released in 1954 in Japan, was a mystery to me until last year, when I saw it with the original Japanese language, with accompanying English subtitles.

Where the hell was Raymond Burr?

Apparently he was only in the Western release - not in the original Gojira version.

According to Wikipedia: "In 1956, Jewell Enterprises re-edited, and eliminated many scenes from the film for American audiences. They combined the original Japanese footage of Godzilla with new American-made footage of Raymond Burr as an American reporter covering the monster's activities who would explain the action for an English-speaking audience with minimal dubbing."

You could have knocked me down with a feather.

Gojira was a dark movie - filled with pathos and human agony. It was brilliant. Thanks to my friend Rob, I have a DVD of it now, that came with the American version, too. The only complaint I have is that it says both movies were made in the 1960s, two years apart.

Anyhow, my point is that in this… the 60th anniversary of the release of the King of The Monsters, why should there not be a nod to its Japanese creators?

Again, why not a nod from a Japanese person?
Photo By スポニチ Ken Watanabe poses with a figure of Godzilla on his shoulder in Santa Monica, California.
Photo By Sports Nippon
Apparently Watanabe, who plays a Japanese scientist in the movie, was asked to pronounce Gojira's name the English way.

"I was told by the director to pronounce it closer to English," Watanabe is quoted by Sponichi as saying. "But that was completely detestable, and I refused."

2014 Godzilla director Gareth Edwards might have wanted Watanabe to not make the name sound so Japanese, but in the end… it seems like in the end, Edwards was satisfied with what he got.

Watanabe appears impressed with the Godzilla franchise, saying (in Japanese) that the "character that is loved across borders regardless of nationality".

At the premier of the 2014 Godzilla, fans applauded Watanabe for his pronunciation of Gojira - keeping it real… I mean, keeping it real Japanese.

To actor Watanabe Ken (surname first) - thank-you for being honest with yourself and treating Gojira with honor - even if some of those Japanese movies in the 1970s didn't. Ha!

Andrew Joseph

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