Mothra (1961)

General Information

Director: Ishiro Honda

Writer: Shinichi Sekizawa

Cast: Furanki Sakai, Hiroshi Koizumi, Kyoko Kagawa, Yumi Ito, Emi Ito, Jeri Ito, Ken Uehara, Akihiko Hirata, Kenji Sahara, Seizaburo Kawazu, Takashi Shimura, Yoshio Kosugi, Yoshifumi Tajima, Ren Yamamoto, Haruya Kato, Ko Mishima, Tetsu Nakamura, Shoichi Hirose, Hiroshi Takagi, Yasuhisa Tsutsumi, Teruko Mita, Koji Iwamoto, Mitsuo Tsuda, Masamitsu Tayama, Toshio Miura, Tadashi Okabe, Akira Wakamatsu, Yutaka Nakayama, Joni Yosefu, Oberu Waiatto, Harorudo Esu Koneui, Robato Danhamu, Akira Yamada, Koji Uno, Wataru Omae, Toshihiko Furuta, Keisuke Matsuyama, Koji Kamimura, Katsumi Tezuka, Takeo Nagashima, Mitsuo Matsumoto, Shinpei Mitsui, Kazuo Hinata, Shigeo Kato, Rinsaku Ogata, Yutaka Oka, Ko Hayami, Hiroyuki Satake, Kazuo Imai, Yoshio Katsube, Hiroshi Akitsu, Akio Kusama, Haruo Nakajima, Ryoji Shimizu, Ryuichi Hosokawa, Junpei Natsuki, Junnosuke Suda, Toku Ihara, Hiroshi Sekita, Akira Kitchoji, Masaaki Tachibana, Toshiko Nakano, Tsurue Ichimanji, Tatsuo Sakai, Nanako Yamada, and Nichigeki Danshingu Chimu

Composer: Yuji Koseki

Release Date: 7/30/1961

MPAA Rating: Not Rated



While exploring Infant Island, an expedition team consisting of capitalist Clark Nelson (Jeri Ito), radiation specialist Dr. Harada (Ken Uehara), and stowaway reporter Senichiro Fukuda (Furanki Sakai) discovers a pair of diminutive, telepathic fairiesmothra (Yumi Ito and Emi Ito). Motivated by monetary gain, Nelson captures the “tiny beauties” and forces them to sing in a Tokyo theater, prompting Mothra—a giant egg/larva/moth perceived as a god by the island natives—to rescue the girls from captivity.

An iconic entry in Toho’s original series of daikaiju films, Mothra will appeal to monster buffs young and old. Especially commendable is Yuji Koseki’s musical arrangement, the enchanting quality of which serves to accentuate the magical, awe-inspiring nature of Mothra and her connection with the Infant Island fairies.



As opposed to her fellow kaiju, Mothra embodies a graceful, delicate manner to counterbalance her destructive tendencies, thereby eliciting sympathy mothrafrom the audience (even while trampling New Kirk City in search of the kidnapped fairies, Mothra operates solely on instinct and without a hint of malice). Though quite unusual for a giant monster, Mothra’s temperament adds an air of realism to the attitudes and beliefs held by the Infant Island natives, who worship and pray to the title creature as if it were a benevolent deity.

Also exceptional is the performance of Furanki Sakai, a comedic actor known for his portrayal of Lord Yabu in Shogun. Despite lacking the attributes commonly possessed by a monster movie protagonist, the Japanese reporter played mothraby Sakai contributes humor to a highly tense situation; but does so without undermining the serious threat posed by Mothra.



By laughing maniacally while relishing his evil deeds, the character of Nelson comes across as a one-dimensional, if not thoroughly cartoonish, villain.



Similar to Rodan, Gojira, and the original version of King Kong, Mothra contains a harrowing statement on the human tendency to exploit and mothratamper with nature, as well as the potential consequences of so doing. Specifically, Nelson abducts and later showcases the fairies of Infant Island simply to profit from their uniqueness, with no concern for the fact that Mothra (implicitly a product of nuclear testing) could devastate entire cities while retrieving said fairies—a fantastic but meaningful commentary on the greed, arrogance, and callousness of man, especially with regard to other lifeforms and the environment as a whole.


Concluding Comments

mothraThe cinematic debut of the second most popular monster in Toho’s classic ensemble, Mothra should be requisite viewing for enthusiasts of the kaiju eiga genre. Worth praising in particular is the lighthearted tone of this film, which, unlike the solemn atmosphere of Gojira and Rodan, will no doubt captivate fans of all ages.


Overall Quality: 8/10


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