Character Analysis: 5
Godzilla's first ally, and Toho's third kaiju, Rodan
has always been one of the more recognized characters in the long
running Godzilla franchise. Able to stand as an equal to Godzilla
in the mid-1960's, the creature was considered one of Toho's "major
four" along with King Ghidorah and Mothra.
Despite the character's popularity, though, the creature
was more or less cast aside during the 1970's. This move ended up
being fairly detrimental to the character's appeal, as by the time
the series was rebooted in the following decade Mechagodzilla had
surpassed him as a fan favorite. An event that likely led to his
role in the Heisei series as more of a pushover, as he was dispatched
by both of the title characters in Godzilla
vs. Mechagodzilla II (1993) without a great deal of trouble.
The beast's stint on Godzilla
Island (1997), though, was a surprising return to glory
for the character, as he took on a starring role alongside Godzilla
and Mothra against a variety of opponents. However, by 2004, for
Final Wars, the character once again found itself greatly
outclassed, as Godzilla easily defeated him along with Anguirus
and King Caesar.
In his prime, though, Rodan was a force to be reckoned
with in the Showa series. Although his powers are fairly mundane
compared to some of the lavish abilities introduced from the monsters
of the 1970's, the airborne kaiju was more than able to hold his
own using his keen intellect and extraordinary endurance.
Now before diving into the meat of the article, it
always pays to look underneath the skin to see if anything out of
the ordinary might present itself. For Rodan, though, nothing below
his tough exterior really stands out. We can see that his chest
spikes are supported by his ribcage, although that's not really
unusual. One thing that is rather odd about the character, although
not directly related to its interior, is the change of its wings.
For whatever reason, the character's wingspan increased to 150 meters
of Astro-Monster (1965). This represents a 30 meter growth
over the wingspan in the previous film, yet how did this happen?
The common theory is that Rodan was still growing; in fact, it's
about the only theory one can credit this with, seeing as how, by
all accounts, it seems to be the same creature from the previous
movie. The bizarre aspect of this, though, is that the creature's
weight remained the same despite the wing growth. The cutaway view
does show that the wing muscles are located, primarly, closest to
the body, so it possible that this extra growth was largely made
up of light bone and thin layers of skin, although one would expect
even something like that to account for a slight shift in weight.
Regardless, it's definitely one of the more peculiar aspects of
Although best remembered for the sonic booms he left in his wake,
Rodan is, sadly, a fairly slow flyer compared to many of his brethren.
In the Showa series, the winged monster was able to fly at speeds
of mach 1.5, an impressive feat at the time as the monster was easily
able to outrun the slower jets in his feature film. As technology
improved, though, that trait became much less impressive, to the
point where today there are numerous attack jets that could outpace
Rodan. Not surprisingly, as the Showa series continued onward, Toho
began to ramp up the flight speeds of their new characters, allowing
Mothra and King Ghidorah to each fly at mach 3, twice as fast as
Rodan. This trend continued, with Jet Jaguar being able to fly at
mach 3.5 and Mechagodzilla at mach 5, until Rodan was left near
the bottom of the flight speed tier. In fact, about one of the only
kaiju Toho created in the Showa series that could be outrun by the
winged monster would be Hedorah, who flew at mach 1.
Surprisingly, given its appearance, Rodan's most remarkable
trait was its ability to withstand a variety of attacks with hardly
any adverse effect. Beyond the normal physical blows that most of
the monsters tend to be able to endure, Rodan was also able to shrug
off a number of projectiles as well.
The first of these was Godzilla's atomic ray, which
Rodan withstood at point blank range. The oral weapon had next to
no effect on the aerial monster, who simply shook his head when
struck by the beam three times.
The second of these projectiles was King Ghidorah's gravity beams.
the Three-Headed Monster (1964), Rodan did everything in
his power to avoid the three-headed dragon's projectile weapon,
effectively using the surrounding terrain to avoid the beams. For
of Astro-Monster (1965), though, the creature was less fortunate,
as the battleground offered no such protection. Rodan, however,
proved more than capable of withstanding the blows. In fact, Ghidorah
racked the beams across the monster's wings numerous times, yet
Rodan was able to stay airborne during the entire attack. This is
an amazing feat, considering that these very same beams were able
to effortlessly toss around the 10,000 ton Mothra Larva.
Although much slower than many of the monsters that came after him,
Rodan was different from many of his aerial "kin" with
respects to his rather immense strength. The most notable example
of this was the monster's fondness for carrying Godzilla, either
as a means of fighting the monster or trying to develop a new strategy
to beat a common foe. As expected, this did hamper the creature's
flight capabilities considerably, yet Rodan was able to carry its
load for not only a great distance, but also to an incredible altitude.
An easy aspect of the character to overlook, Rodan proved, again
and again, to be a rather effective strategist, at least by kaiju
standards. It was Rodan, for example, who devised the plan to lift
Mothra in order to wrap up King Ghidorah's heads, while, as previously
mentioned, the winged beast was also able to utilize the terrain
in order to avoid being struck by the space demon's projectiles
the Three-Headed Monster (1964).
The creature, primarily while fighting off King Ghidorah, also
developed some rather radical and surprising tactics. A prime example
of this is after King Ghidorah begins to pursue the airborne monster,
closing the gap between the two, before Rodan suddenly does a 180
degree turn and slams directly into the space demon, sending the
two plummeting to the Earth.
In closing, it's easy to focus on the creature's speed, due to how
effectively this was displayed in his introductory film, Rodan
(1956); however, Rodan's strongest traits actually are found in
other areas, as the creature proved to be a formidable kaiju against
its rivals despite a seeming lack of powers.