Bombs vs. bombs. Missiles vs. missiles. And now a new superweapon to throw upon us all. As a scientist, no, as a human being, I cannot allow that to happen.—Serizawa after his Oxygen Destroyer wound up revealed to Ogata
The story is written by Shigeru Koyama and Honda's wartime experience as well as seeing the wasteland of Hiroshima caused by the atomic bombing and the Castle Bravo test that occured eariler when this film came out. And thus, the opening scene is a direct reference to the aforementioned Castle Bravo test. As such, Godzilla's rampage in the second act symbolizes the atomic bombings.
The film also has an ensemble cast of characters, Ogata (Akira Takarada), Emiko Yamane (Momoko Koichi), Dr. Yamane (Takashi Shimura), and Dr. Daisuke Serizawa (Akihiko Hirata). The main story of the first film is on the main page.
Despite debuting to poor reception in Japan (subsequently, Japanese film scholars and fans have considered it to be one of the best Japanese films ever made), Gojira (or Godzilla, choose your pick), was praised by American viewers after the original film managed to be viewed outside of Japan and currently on DVD twice, by Classic Media and Criterion Collection. The English version, Godzilla: King of the Monsters is based on the same story, but with Steve Martin (Raymond Burr) in it.
- Ability Over Appearance: During the casting production, Akihiko Hirata (26 at the time) played Serizawa, who was meant to someone in his mid-thirties. However, his commitment for the role earn him recognition from fans.
- Action Girl: Subverted, as Emiko's temporary role as a protagonist is short-handed. She decides to reveal the Oxygen Destroyer to Ogata after Godzilla blew up most of Tokyo. Well, you can't blame her since many people suffered from radiation poisoning from Godzilla
- Space Whale Aesop: For those of you who wonder about the above quote, it's Serizawa's and the director's point of the film. Since Honda's experience in the World War II and haunted by experience of Hiroshima's destruction by the first atomic bomb, Serizawa's line tells us humans can be and are destructive to the point we would use any kind of weapon and most likely to use it in a war. If someone has accidentally make a superweapon of some sort, it's your responsibility to never reveal its existence.
- Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever: Godzilla is exactly 50 meters in the Japanese version. The dub overshot this with him being 400 feet tall, which is 122 meters. The latter is rather inconsistent due to his height being barely taller than a couple of buildings that would be over his height
- Berserk Button: Shine lights to Godzilla's face, he will absolutely kill you. Dr. Yamane even suggests not to use lights on Godzilla during the monster's short rampage.
- Badass Normal: Daisuke Serizawa
- Bittersweet Ending: After the death of Godzilla and Dr. Serizawa, Dr. Yamane laments the possibility of another Godzilla. He was right 3 series later.
- Breath Weapon: Godzilla's atomic breath. The monster hasn't used much of his atomic breath until he crossed the electrical wires.
- Contrived Coincidence: Godzilla seems to know where to go in this film. He lands into Odo Island (where Masaji happens to be), Came to Tokyo twice on separate nights. But since this is an Ishiro Honda film, it's Played for Drama. And he's damn good at it. Until Destroy All Monsters, Fridge Horror kicks in 'cause the monsters are aware of their target's location.
- Curb Stomp Battle: Godzilla vs. the army.
- Dead Line News: a radio crew reporting the attack on Tokyo realize they have no way out. Accepting it, they announce this fact to their listeners and continue reporting until Godzilla destroys the tower from which they're broadcasting. By the way, good job using the flash on the cameras on Godzilla, idiots.
- Death by Irony: Masaji, the fisherman who survived Godzilla's third attack in the ocean, has an Oh Crap when Godzilla comes to Odo Island during a typhoon.
- Did Not Do Research: When explaining Godzilla's origin, Dr. Yamane explains that Godzilla lived 2 million years from the Jurassic Era. The period itself is 199 million. This is also in the dub. The Classic Media DVD commentary further states it was intentional by Shigeru Koyama to tie the monster's origin to man
- Does This Remind You of Anything?: Oh god, the opening scene. The ship that is blown up is a direct reference to the Lucky Dragon that ocurred earlier that year.
- Doomed Hometown / Watching Troy Burn / The Tokyo Fireball: Geeze, talk about 3 fitting tropes in one movie. Tokyo is utterly destroyed by Godzilla while its' survivors literally watch it burn. It actually would make you cringe since it would remind you of what happened to Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Also, see Too Soon below
- Eyepatch of Power: Again, Serizawa.
- Film Noir: While this movie isn't a crime drama, it nevertheless makes use of Noir-style lighting.
- Giant Equals Invincible: Godzilla. The big guy pretty much set the stage for this trope.
- Happily Adopted: Somewhat, given the fact that Godzilla killed Shinkichi's mother and brother. Now he's Emiko's adopted brother, and doesn't mind being their new son. In Godzilla vs. Destoroyah, he really does seemed to get along with his adopted father in his picture with Dr. Yamane.
- Heroic BSOD: Serizawa has one after realizing the full weight that rests on his shoulders. One must wonder how Akihiko Hirata felt when playing the guy. Mentioned in the Bittersweet Ending entry, Yamane laments that Godzilla was the last of his kind. But if nuclear are continued to be conducted, another Godzilla will appear again in the world. Cue Fridge Horror for that part.
- Horror: For those of you who don't know, this is technically a horror film. Unlike most giant moster films and its later sequels (except Godzilla Raids Again) that weren't, this one sets it apart differently. The black and white nature of the film lampshades this, and it is actually meant to scare the shit out of you. Not just the picture format, but the music has its level of creepiness.
- Intrepid Reporter: Though not a main character, Hagiwara tries to get the story as much as he can. Throughout the whole movie, he actually survives the entire film. Probably Born Lucky.
- I Want My Beloved to Be Happy: Daisuke Serizawa, one of the scientists involved in the story, is actually aware that Emiko Yamane is with Ogata the whole time. Even he knows she's inseparable with the man. During the climax, he willingly sacrifices himself so that Emiko and Ogata would be together. (Well, that, and to prevent his knowledge of the Oxygen Destroyer from falling into the wrong hands).
- Last of His Kind: Dr. Yamane believes Godzilla is the last of his kind. Subverted in that he believes another one will appear again, in which, unfortunately, he was right.
- Littlest Cancer Patient: After Godzilla devastates Tokyo, there's a closeup of a little boy with a Geiger counter waved around his face.
- Love Triangle: This is the first monster film (albeit a rather tragic giant monster film) to use such a trope. Serizawa's obviously in love with Emiko, while she herself is in love with Ogata. This is further complicated when Ogata asks Serizawa to use the Oxygen Destroyer rather than Emiko, and thus proving his point that humans want to use any one superweapon to be used, despite a living nuclear weapon practically destroyed their hometown. But Serizawa relents after the destruction of Tokyo, and the love triangle shifted to him going to "I want my beloved to be happy" phase.
- Manly Tears: Both Ogata and Shinkichi cry when Serizawa made his Heroic Sacrifice at the climax of the film.
- Missing Mom: Emiko's mother is not mentioned. We are assumed that Kyohei Yamane is widowed in this film, since Emiko lives with her father.
- No Hugging, No Kissing: Even though Emiko and Ogata is the film's Official Couple (in the eyes of the audience), they don't try to both in this film.
- No Plans, No Prototype, No Backup: Played with. Serizawa clearly has hundreds of research documents and notes for creating the Oxygen Destroyer, but he destroys all of it to prevent the device from ever being used again in the wake of his death and its eventual discovery.
- Nuclear Weapons Taboo: The whole point of this movie is that not only nuclear weapons, but weapons of mass destruction in general. Dr. Yamane stated using said nuclear weapons could bring another Godzilla
- Oh Crap:
- Mass "Oh Crap": In the Odo Island scene, the villagers were scurrying to fight off the monster (apparently, they don't know how huge the thing is). While Dr. Yamane saw the monster, the whole village ran back down after seeing Godzilla.
- While the people on a partyboat are in a celebration, Godzilla appears unscathed, and scares the hell out of everyone in the boat.
- While blasting Godzilla to death (or attempting to), Godzilla melts the electrical wires, of course, it means run like hell!!
- Off-Model: Several close-ups to Godzilla's headshots are used by a hand puppet. Certain scenes where he shoots his atomic breath, his eyes were... weird to say the least. Other times, they sometimes match the suit.
- Only Sane Men: Serizawa and Dr. Yamane are perhaps the only sane men in this film that's actually trying to benefit mankind. Serizawa in his right mind wants to use the Oxygen Destroyer to be used not as a weapon while Yamane just wants to study Godzilla, seeing as Godzilla survived an H-Bomb testing.
- Engineer Exploited For Evil: Though not necessarily "mad", Serizawa reluctantly decided to use the Oxygen Destroy after seeing the destruction Godzilla caused. Though he intends to use the Oxygen Destroyer once, his Heroic Sacrifice is foreshadowed in an earlier scene when he clearly states that he'd burn his notes at the event of his death.
- Save the Villain: Played with. Kyohei Yamane does not want Godzilla to be killed because he survived the H-Bomb testing in the Pacific. Mention above, Yamane wants to study Godzilla because he's a paleontologist. However, he ends up having to agree to kill Godzilla after what he did to Tokyo.
- Scenery Gorn: Tokyo after Godzilla nuked the place. In a chilling way, it looks like the town has been nuked by an atomic bomb.
- Too Dumb to Live: The army. Or anyone that tried to kill Godzilla. Well, they tried, then they got blasted by the thing.
- Tragic Villain: Godzilla himself amazingly fits this trope. Mentioned before, Godzilla is also treated as a victim rather than a Complete Monster due to the aftermath of his horrible experience. No wonder Ishiro Honda felt so strongly that nuclear weapons is mankind's undoing.