Mothra (モスラ Mosura?) is a 1961 giant-monster movie from Toho Studios, directed by genre regular Ishirō Honda with special effects by legend Eiji Tsuburaya. It is the kaiju eiga debut of screenwriter Shinichi Sekizawa, whose fantastic yet intelligent approach to the genre grew to prominence during the 1960s. The film stars Frankie Sakai, a popular comedian in Japan at the time, and Hiroshi Koizumi, in the first of many academic roles he would adopt in tokusatsu. Jerry Ito (transliterated as "Jelly Ito" in the credits of the U.S. release) delivers a fiendish performance, his only contribution to Toho's kaiju eiga genre. Ito also appeared in 1958's Japanese/US co-production "The Manster" (a.k.a. "The Split"), and in Toho's 1961 end-of-the-world sci-fi feature "Sekai Daisensou" ("The Last War"). The score by Yuji Koseki includes probably the most enduring song in kaiju eiga, "Mosura No Uta" ("Mothra's Song"), performed by The Peanuts. The film did well at the box office but was panned by U.S. critics upon its stateside release as a typical B-grade monster-on-the-loose flick. Its basic plot was recycled in King Kong vs. Godzilla and Mothra vs. Godzilla (1962 and 1964, both also written by Sekizawa), and the daikaiju Mothra would become one of Toho's most popular, appearing in seven more Godzilla films and her own trilogy in the 1990s.


An expedition to an irradiated island brings civilization in contact with a primitive native culture. When one sensationalist entrepreneur tries to exploit the islanders, their ancient deity arises in retaliation. In waters off Infant Island, a presumedly uninhabited site for Rolisican atomic tests, the Daini-Gen'you-Maru is caught and run aground in the turbulence of a typhoon. A rescue party following the storm finds four sailors alive and strangely unafflicted with radiation sickness, which they attribute to the juice provided them by island natives. The story is broken by tenacious reporter Zenichiro (also known as "Bulldog" or "Zen-chan") Fukuda (Sakai) and photographer Michi Hanamura (Kagawa), who infiltrate the hospital examining the survivors.

The Rolisican Embassy responds by co-sponsoring a joint Japanese–Rolisican scientific expediction to Infant Island, led by capitalist Clark Nelson (Ito). Also on the expedition are radiation specialist Dr. Harada (Ken Uehara), linguist/anthropologist Shin'ichi Chūjō (Koizumi), and stowaway reporter Fukuda. Chūjō has studied the cultures of islands in the area and ascertained that one of the key hieroglyphs in their written language, a radiant cross-shaped star, translates as Mothra. There the team discover a vast jungle of mutated flora, a fleeting native tribe, and two minuscule girls (the Peanuts). These "tiny beauties", as Fukuda calls them, wish their island to be spared further atomic testing. Acknowledging this message, the team returns and conceals these events from the public. Nelson, however, returns to the island with a crew of henchmen and abducts the girls, gunning down several natives who try to save them. While Nelson profits off a "Secret Fairies Show" in Tokyo featuring the girls singing, both they and the island natives beseech their god Mothra, a giant egg, for help. Fukuda, Hanamura, and Chūjō communicate with the girls via telepathy; they express conviction that Mothra will come to their aid and warn that "good people are sure to be hurt". Meanwhile, Fukuda's newspaper has accused Nelson of holding the girls against their will; Nelson denies the charge and files a libel suit against the paper. Meanwhile, the island egg hatches to reveal a gigantic caterpillar, which begins swimming the Pacific Ocean toward Japan. The caterpillar destroys a cruise ship and survives a napalm attack on a beeline path for Tokyo. The Rolisican Embassy, however, defends Nelson's property rights over the girls, ignoring any connection to the monster.

Mothra finally arrives on the Japanese mainland, impervious to the barrage of weaponry directed at it, ultimately building a cocoon in the ruins of Tokyo Tower. Public feeling turns against Nelson, and he is ordered to release the girls. He flees incognito to Rolisica, where Mothra, newly hatched in an imago form, immediately resumes her search. Police scour New Kirk City for Nelson as Mothra lays waste to the metropolis. Ultimately Nelson is killed in a shootout with police, and the girls are assigned to Chūjō's care. Church bells begin to ring, and sunlight illuminates the cross atop the steeple with radiant beams, reminding Chūjō and Hanamura of Mothra's unique symbol and of the girls' voices. Chūjō hits upon a novel way to attract Mothra to an airport runway. The girls are returned amid salutations of "sayōnara", and Mothra flies back to Infant Island.

U.S. releaseEdit

Lobby card to the 1962 US release of Mothra Mothra was released in the United States in May 1962 on a double-bill with The Three Stooges in Orbit. New York Times film critic A.H. Weiler gave the film a generally positive review, singling out the color and special effects for praise. "There's that color, as pretty as can be, that now and then smites the eye with some genuinely artistic panoramas and décor designs."

Some plot points, also, were favorably mentioned: "Fantastic though the plot may be, there are some genuinely penetrating moments, such as the contrast of the approaching terror and those patient, silvery-voiced little 'dolls,' serenely awaiting rescue. Several of the special effects shots are brilliant, such as the sight of a giant cocoon nestling against a large city's power station tower" (in reality, it was Tokyo Tower, a landmark broadcasting tower).


Zen'ichirou 'Zen-Chan' Fukuda, Nittou Journalist - Frankie Sakai

Michi Hanamura, Nittou Photographer - Kyouko Kagawa

Dr. Shin'ichi Tyuujou - Hiroshi Koizumi

Dr. Harada - Ken Uehara

Clark Nelson - Jerry Itou

The Shoubijin - The Peanuts, Yumi Itou, Emi Itou

Sadakatsu Amano, Nittou Editor - Takashi Shimura

Shinji Tyuujou - Masamitsu Tayama

Nelson's Henchman - Tetsu Nakamura

Danny, Nelson's Henchman - Ousmane Yusef

Nelson's Henchman - Akira Wakamatsu

Nelson's Henchman - Hiroshi Takagi

Nelson's Henchman - Toshio Miura

Dr. Raaff, Captain of Infant Island investigating group- Audie Wyatt

Director General of National Nucleus Center - Akihiko Hirata

Commander of Defence Force A - Hisaya Itou

Commander of Defence Force B - Yoshihumi Tajima

Helicopter pilot A - Kenji Sahara

Helicopter pilot B - Kenzou Echigo

Secretary of Defense - Seizaburou Kawazu

Captain of Daini Genyo Maru - Yoshio Kosugi

Namiki, Shipmate - Ren Yamamoto

Murata, Sailor - Haruya Katou

Honma, Radio Communicator - Yutaka Nakamura

Quartermaster - Kouji Iwamoto

Member of task force - Hiroo Sakurai

Officer Maritime Safety Agency - Sachiyuki Uemura

Villager - Junnosuke Suda

Villager - Akira Kittyouji

Villager - Toshiko Nakano

Detective of Rolisica - Dan Yuma (Robert Dunham)

Ambassador Rolisica - Harold Conway

Father of New Kirk City - Henrico Rossie

Oldman of New Kirk City - E.P. Mcdermott

Captain of Hayakaze - Kou Misima

Medical officer - Tadashi Okabe

Geiger counter Crew - Kouhei Furukawa

Journalist A - Shinpei Mitsui

Journalist B - Masaaki Tachibana

Nittou Journalist - Toshio Miura

Owner of a rest house - Junpei Natsuki

Owner’s Wife - Teruko Mita

Dam watchman A - Syouichi Hirose

Dam watchman B - Shigeo Katou

Dam watchman C - Jun Kuroki

Nanny of the Tyuujous - Tsurue Ichimanji

Theater guide girl - Terumi Oka

Captain of deluxe liner Orion-Maru - Mitsuo Tsuda

Shipmate - Keisuke Matsuyama

Quartermaster - Yū Sekida

Captain of big transport - Yutaka Oka

Aims person - Akira Yamada

Crew of Infant Island investigating group - Mitsuo Matsumoto

Crew of Infant Island investigating group - Yoshio Katsube

Crew of Infant Island investigating group - Hiroyuki Satake

Crew of Infant Island investigating group - Akira Hayami

Crew of Infant Island investigating group - Kazuo Imai

Policeman of tunnel A - Kouji Uno

Policeman of tunnel B - Yukihiko Gondou

Woodcutter - Yasuhisa Tsutsumi

Infant islander - Keiji Sakakida

Infant islander - Nichigeki dancing team

Mothra Larva (Head) - Haruo Nakajima

Mothra Larva (Body) - Katsumi Tezuka/Other

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