Welcome, curious kaiju fan, to the home of PROJECT: KAYAMA.
If you’re reading these words right now, then there’s a good chance you’re a big fan of a certain Japanese movie monster. After more than 66 years of destruction and entertainment, Godzilla – the King of the Monsters himself – is hardly in need of an introduction. If you’re a fan, the same likely goes for most (if not all) of the hard-working creators who gave the monster life so many decades ago. Ishiro Honda. Tomoyuki Tanaka. Eiji Tsuburaya. Akira Ifukube. Haruo Nakajima. These men are considered the “founding fathers” of Godzilla, separate minds that would ultimately unite to create one of storytelling’s biggest and most-recognizable icons.
But there’s one more creative genius that deserves a spot on this great list. A man about whom very little has been written in English, but whose contributions to the legacy and origins of Godzilla are truly monumental.
His name was Shigeru Kayama. And it was from his mind that the story of the original Godzilla (1954) sprung.
In the 1950s, Kayama was one of Japan’s preeminent science-fiction authors, and it was his talents that Toho producer Tomoyuki Tanaka sought out after deciding to pursue the creation of a giant monster film. After agreeing to take the job, Kayama produced a detailed outline that would ultimately form the structure of the finished film.
As many G-fans know, much was changed from Kayama’s original concept. By the time Godzilla went before cameras, the monster itself had evolved from a vague, reptilian beast with flappy ears and a hunger for cattle into an allegorical destroyer whose lack of clear motivation was its greatest terrifying strength. Dr. Yamane, originally conceived as a mysterious, cloak-wearing weirdo living in a gothic mansion, had transformed into the distinguished and kindly Takashi Shimura. And the relationship between heroine Emiko, sailor Ogata, and scientist Serizawa had evolved into a love triangle with massive implications for the story at large.
Despite the changes that Ishiro Honda and writer Takeo Murata would make to the tale, the basic structure and flow of the plot remained the same. It was Kayama who envisioned Japanese fishing ships sinking amidst radioactive fire, an island where a giant beast-god is worshipped by fearful villagers, the deadly fire that spews forth from Godzilla’s mighty maw, and a terrifying new super weapon whose use against the monster leads to the heroic suicide of a war-scarred scientist.
Upon its release, Godzilla became a smash hit. But a little over a week before Japanese audiences got their first cinematic look at the monster, the story was already available to the public in the form of a full novelization.
First published via Iwatani on October 25, 1954, Kaiju Gojira (Monster Godzilla) was penned by Shigeru Kayama, but retained little of his original vision for the story. This adaptation of the original Godzilla drew from two different sources: Honda and Murata’s initial script for the film, and Toshi Tatsuno’s serialized radio-drama adaptation of the same script. While closer to the finished film than Kayama’s initial outline, this version does feature a number of interesting diversions, including a number of new scenes/subplots, a greater emphasis on the character of Shinkichi, some elements of Godzilla’s hunger-driven motivations, and a downplayed role for Ogata.
Despite being published nearly seven decades ago, this fascinating, “alternate version’ of the first Godzilla film has been elusive in the west. Never published in English or fully translated, it has become something of a “holy grail” for many fans; a mysterious, almost legendary piece of the Monster King’s history.
And that, dear readers, is where we come in.
The site you are reading these words on is the culmination of a long-gestating dream project that, at long last, is finally ready to be shared with the fandom. After years of obsession, months of hard work, and a little bit of legitimate good luck, we are finally able (and incredibly proud) to present Shigeru Kayama’s 1954 novelization of the original Godzilla, fully translated into English for the first time!
The story behind how this project came to be is a bit too long to include in this already lengthy introduction, but rest assured, it will be told elsewhere. Until then, a brief explanation about what you’re about to read – and how you are going to read it – is in order.
PROJECT: KAYAMA is a 100% free labor of love on the part of two obsessive kaiju fans (writer/creator of the GODZILLA NOVELIZATION PROJECT Daniel DiManna and writer/artist/creator of the RARRAKU universe Robert Monsarrat). After a long creative process that involved extensive translating, editing, research, and producing quality artwork, we have created the first English-language presentation of Kayama’s Godzilla novelization. To add icing to the proverbial cake, this translated novel will be fully illustrated with the artwork of Robert Monsarrat, and will be available to read completely free online. No money is being earned from this venture, and absolutely no copyright infringement is intended or implied. This is simply a fan-produced project, and a hopeful source of entertainment for English-speaking Godzilla fans. (A full breakdown of the legal stuff is available to read on this page, as is our promise to remove our translation from the internet should an official release of the book ever be announced.)
This website is an archive for not only the book itself, but biographical information on Shigeru Kayama, behind-the-scenes material on the creative process behind the project, a full gallery of Robert’s stunning artwork for the book, and more.
As of November 3rd, 2020 (the 66th anniversary of Godzilla’s theatrical release in 1954), PROJECT: KAYAMA is live for all Godzilla fans to download and read for free! (Follow this link to find out how to start reading.)
Thank you to every fan who took the time to read this long introduction. We hope you’re excited, and we couldn’t be more thrilled to be sharing this incredible piece of Godzilla’s history with all of you. We hope you enjoy what you read!
Cheers (and long live the Monster King!),
–Daniel and Robert