Kaiju is a general term for giant monsters who uncannily resemble
people in rubber suits. (People who hate 'Giant Monster' films because
they find it impossible to suspend disbelief for the sake of fun have always confused me.)
The most famous modern kaiju come from Japan : Godzilla, Rodan, Mothra,
and Ghidora, and their monstrous brethren Gamera, Gyas, and
Vira. However, Great Britain has its own claimant with the well-written
film Gorgo. The United States has also produced its own variant on kaiju films,
but almost always with the use of puppetry and stop-motion animation (now being replaced with
C.G.I.). These films includes such kaiju luminaries
as King Kong, The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms, and the Gwangi
from *The Valley of the Gwangi* (as well as lots and lots of cheaply-made macro-lensed insects and reptiles and the embarrassingly-awful Jurassinine 1998 attempt to Americanize Godzilla).
Excellent kaiju websites include Barry's Temple of Godzilla and Matso's Godzilla Shrine, which includes a section on Gamera.
But special note belongs to Ghidora, the powerful kaiju who has taken on Godzilla and Rodan and Mothra simultaneously and been beaten, bruised, and humbled, but never destroyed and always able to return at a later time. Godzilla combines the land-bound draconic wyrm (whose breath is poison), the Greek giant (who has serpents for legs), and the appearance of the European dragon yet the mythic niche of the Asian dragon (living force of nature); in contrast, Ghidora combines the Greek harpie (spitting lightning from the skies), the Greek hydra (beaten but never destroyed by Heracles as one of his labors), and the sleek appearance of the Asian dragon yet the mythic niche of the European dragon (symbol of the corruption by power), invoking powerful imagery from Myth, Legend, Folklore.
Jet Jaguar's place in the mythos of Godzilla is an example of the relationship between giant monsters and giant robots. One good example of a giant robot series is the Japanese television series known as Johnny Sokko and his Flying Robot. Johnny's obedient robot is not unlike a pet golem, its connection with the element of earth emphasized by its spinx-like face.
Although its hero is not a giant robot servant but a giant sentient robot, one of the better examples of the mighty giant robot is the Japanese television series Ultra-Man, the only television series I know of which can boast Godzilla as a guest star playing someone other than Godzilla! This television series has undergone a number of varied incarnations, although I have always preferred the appearance and storylines of the first version of *Ultra-Man*.
One of the few good mecha television series to come from the United States would have to be The Transformers. I remember my delighted surprise when I discovered the emotional realistism of the characters in this series, particularly in light of the insipid and emotionally one-dimensional animated programs on when *The Transformers* first appeared. Here was a series in which the fantastical characters suffered, sulked, sometimes lost, and even died. These sentient giant robots were definitely "more than meets the eye", not because they were techno-were-creatures who could transform into certain mechanical or technological devices, but because of the intricate mythology which had been woven through the on-going storyline of their adventures.
People who enjoy role-playing games and wargames might enjoy Trash Tokyo, a marvelous game of giant monster (and giant robot but not mecha) combat.
Remember the Mighty-Morphin' Power Rangers? The original Japanese television series which supplied some of the footage incorporated into that series is known as Kyoryuu Sentai Zyuranger; their storyline is incredibly fascinating and gives a distinctively Japanese perspective on the mythology which has grown up around U.S.American Judaeo-Christian beliefs.
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