The Godzilla and Zilla debate, also known as the name change myth, the Godzilla name change or the Zilla name change, is a still ongoing debate/topic amongst Godzilla-fans about whether or not the fictional American Godzilla species/design and all of its incarnations should or have actually been renamed Zilla or if the original names should remain. Currently there are two sides of this argument, and two different ways to interpret the evidence but no definitive or absolute way. Artist Matt Frank (one of the creators of the ongoing Godzilla-comic featuring the IDW Zilla) has stated that future incarnations of the American Godzilla-design will be named Zilla (unless something changes), but former incarnations will go by their original names and character. Frank also confirmed that Godzilla (1998) and Zilla (2004) go by different names or titles. Keith Aiken later also confirmed that no actual name change ever took place.
Keith Aiken debunks the Godzilla-to-Zilla name change myth

Facts and claims

The Final Wars name change myth

In 2004, when Toho's latest and last Godzilla-film/Japanese Godzilla-film Godzilla: Final Wars was released (as the 28th film in the franchise (Japanese), the director of the film, Ryuhei Kitamura stated that the American Godzilla "took the "God" out of Godzilla" so when he created the American Godzilla that should be in his film he changed the creature and made his own interpretation and later, instead of keeping the usual name, he renamed his own creation into Zilla, intending this to (falsely) resemble the 1998 Godzilla. This fact and the appearance of Zilla in Final Wars caused a worldwide misinterpretation of this character as an official name change despite that this never was intended nor officially acknowledged. The belief among some Godzilla-fans that the American Godzilla and its characters have been renamed Zilla by Toho is still ongoing.

The American Godzilla Name Change Myth

The American Godzilla Name Change Myth

Re-releases reject supposed name change

In 2006, the year after the new King Kong remake was released, TriStar released a new DVD version of Godzilla (1998 film) called the "Godzilla - Monster Edition", and two volumes of the animated TV-series, Godzilla: The Series, called "Monster Mayhem" and "Mutant Madness'", was released on DVD aswell. DVD-versions of the 1998 film was also released in other European countries, such as Sweden, in 2006. A UMD version of the 1998 film was also released for the PSP in 2006, and in 2009 and 2013 came two Blu-ray transfers of the film. None of all the releases appear to have been influenced by the supposed name change claimed by some fans to have been real. In addition, both the DVD, UMD and Blu-ray releases of the 1998 feature film maintained the same copyright disclaimers as merchandise and home video and DVD releases did prior to the 2004 film:

GODZILLA and the GODZILLA character and design are marks of Toho Co., Ltd. The GODZILLA character and design are copyrighted works of Toho Co., Ltd. All are used with permission.

Some fans claim that the copyright disclaimers weren't changed because no one bothered to change them, although this claim lacks verification and the reason why the disclaimers hasn't been changed remains unknown. Another explanation has been that Sony (the company who distribute the 1998 film and created it) do not accept a name change, but whether this is true or not is a matter of speculation. Until a proper explanation surface, the re-releases indicate that the creature in the 1998 film is still officially called and registered as "Godzilla" and show no kinship to the Japanese Zilla-character created by Toho.

Merchandise still labeled "Godzilla"

There are merchandise which was released years after the merchandise which pre-dates the 2004 name change myth, such as the Godzilla 1998 Resin 1, which is still being labeled as "Godzilla". The model depicts the 1998 Godzilla and was released in 2007. Another piece of merchandise, the Godzilla 2005 Resin, which was released in 2006 is also labeled as "Godzilla" and uses the American Godzilla design.

Hollywood Walk of Fame Star

The Godzilla character was awarded a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame on November 29, 2004, because of all his film appearances, including the 1998 film appearance. This also confirms that the 1998 creature was still recognized as an incarnation of the Godzilla-character after Godzilla: Final Wars and its Zilla in 2004.

Tatopoulos has not confirmed a name change

During the 2004 Los Angeles premiere of Godzilla: Final Wars, one of the attendees, Patrick Tatopoulos, the creature designer and supervisor for Godzilla, said that he felt honored that his American Godzilla-creature design was featured in an official Toho Godzilla-film.[3] Some fans have interpreted this as Tatopoulos confirming a name change, but this is however not the case. Tatopoulos only said that he was honored to see the design he created (which has been altered in all films and merchandise), the 1998 American Godzilla design. He was not refering to the character Godzilla (1998) itself, but only the distinct design he came up with, which was later altered and used in the 2004 film.

Websites shows no influence of name change

There are famous websites which do not seem to have been influenced by a supposed name change.

Toho Kingdom

The famous Godzilla-fan site Toho Kingdom has pages about Godzilla[4], Baby Godzilla[5], Godzilla [animated][6], Cyber-Godzilla[7], and Zilla[8], and all pages shows no influence of the name change myth but all incarnations' original names persist and will continue to do so if they havent been changed.

Sci-Fi Japan

The website Sci-Fi Japan (former Monster Zero News) evidently has not been influenced by the evident name change myth and still refers to the 1998 Godzilla as "Godzilla" or the "American Godzilla".[9][10] There are currently no known articles about Zilla on Sci-Fi Japan with the exception of the Godzilla: Rulers of Earth article, which also refers to Zilla as "the American Godzilla".[11]

Video game controversy

Kaiju Combat

Another rumour is that the American Godzilla will make an appearance in the upcoming video game Kaiju Combat under the name "Zilla", but so far there are no verifiable sources for this claim and niether that the creature will appear in the game. Simon Strange (one of the developers of the game) has expressed interest in having Godzilla-monsters in the game, which has led to the idea that the American Godzilla may appear in the game.

Trademark registration

The American Godzilla and the Japanese Zilla creature both also have separate and different official and registered trademark monster icons, indicating less credibility to the well known and well spread name change myth.[12][13] Admittedly, they have similar icons but with obvious differences.

In 1998, the character Godzilla has been given several monster icons labeled "Godzilla" because the 1998 creature was portraying the Godzilla-character. In 2004, the new character Zilla created by Toho was given its own monster icon, and in November 14, 2006, Toho Co., Ltd. filed a US federal trademark registration for "Zilla", and the trademark "Zilla" was registered December 2, 2008.[14][15][16] The trademark however has a renewal deadline of December 2, 2014.[17] While some fans claim that this is evidence that the American Godzilla species and its characters were renamed "Zilla", this is actually just a monster icon for a different monster/character. The Zilla-monster icon does not represent the 1998 creature, but only Zilla (2004) and possibly Zilla (2013).

Artist Matt Frank gives updates on name change

Artist Matt Frank (the creator of the upcoming Godzilla: Rulers of Earth comic) left a messege on his deviantArt account going like this:

''So I've been skimming the last several pages and have noted that several fellow Deviants are carrying on some sort of extreme flame-war and have noted several instances of deliberate trolling. I'm stepping in now to kindly ask that everyone ease up and not sit there and bait each other over and over again. Healthy debate is fine but aggressively insulting one-another is NOT going to dominate my Deviantart comment threads.

If I have to step in again, I will start banning people.

And for the record, Toho makes zero distinction between "Zilla" and "Godzilla 1998" with the exception of title alone. The film itself is recognized as "Godzilla," as is the animated series. "Zilla Jr." is a fan-created name to emulate "Godzilla Junior." Ever since 2004, Toho's official stance has been that any future incarnations of the character be referred to hereafter as "Zilla."

Also, for the record, the animated series Zilla is not within our net of licenses, nor do I think we would be able to obtain it.''


Artist Matt Frank and name change statements from Toho
Frank states here that "Toho makes zero distinction" between the creatures, suggesting they consider the creatures to be of the same kind of monster (but they're not the exact same monster), but he also states "with the exception of title", suggesting both creatures don't share the same name, and while one of them is registered under the title "Godzilla" the other is named "Zilla".

Interview with Ryuhei Kitamura and Shogo Tomiyama

Here's the quoted full interview by Penny Blood with director Ryuhei Kitamura and producer Shogo Tomiyama where they state that they "renamed" the American Godzilla into Zilla because according to them it "took the 'God' out of Godzilla":

''PENNY BLOOD: Welcome to the USA.


PENNY BLOOD: Why don’t we ever see Godzilla eating people?

[Ryuhei Kitamura laughs.]

PENNY BLOOD: I mean, in the original Godzilla movie, the monster’s natural supply of food has been diminished by nuclear testing in the Pacific. He leaves the depths of the ocean to head towards Japan in search of livestock to eat, right? Yet, we never see him eating anything! Did you ever consider letting Godzilla eat people?

RYUHEI KITAMURA: When I first met the producers they were gathering all kinds of ideas and hadn’t yet decided what kind of Godzilla movie they wanted to make. I gave them three or four ideas of my own, and in one of them my Godzilla was eating people. I had a scene where he grabs a train, tips it up, and empties the passengers out into his mouth. Shogo didn’t respond to my suggestions. (LAUGHS) I don’t think he liked that idea very much.

SHOGO TOMIYAMA: Godzilla doesn’t want to destroy human bodies. He wants to destroy human civilization. It’s true that originally Godzilla did come to Japan to eat livestock, but Toho Pictures soon realized that they’d have to reconsider how Godzilla existed if they were going to expand the film into a series. The company needed to decide whether Godzilla was a living breathing creature, or something else. The decision was made to make Godzilla something else. He was much more than just a large creature that went around eating livestock.

PENNY BLOOD: So you’re saying he’s God-like?

SHOGO TOMIYAMA: Closer to that, yes. Godzilla is closer to being a God. He’s not just a living animal or a monster.

PENNY BLOOD: That’s why the Japanese refer to Godzilla as a “kaiju” instead of a monster? He’s more of a mystical creature. Then would you consider Godzilla to be a good or bad God?

SHOGO TOMIYAMA: The fact is that humans cannot control or judge the Gods. They have their own will. They have their own way. In Japan there are many Gods. There is a God of Destruction. He totally destroys everything and then there is a rebirth. Something new and fresh can begin. Godzilla is closer to being that kind of God.

PENNY BLOOD: You were quoted as saying, “that you renamed Hollywood’s 1998 version of the monster ‘Zilla’ because they took the God out of Godzilla.” When I read that quote, I interpreted it to be a slam against Hollywood’s Godzilla (1998.) I’m getting the impression now that your statement was referring to the “spiritual interpretation” of Godzilla in Japan verses Hollywood’s “monster interpretation.” It really wasn’t meant as a putdown. Is that correct?

SHOGO TOMIYAMA: Yes, because Hollywood’s Godzilla is just a normal monster He’s not a God. Hollywood treated Godzilla as a live monster or live animal. They shot him down with missiles and all that.

PENNY BLOOD: Quite a few fans hate that version of Godzilla. What did you think of the Hollywood movie? Were you disappointed with Hollywood’s interpretation of your star performer in Godzilla’98?

SHOGO TOMIYAMA: No. There was always very good communication between Tokyo and Hollywood. We knew exactly how they were going to do it, and we knew what Godzilla was going to look like. So, as a movie there’s no complaining.

RYUHEI KITAMURA: I liked the film. I like most of that director’s films.

[Roland Emmerich was the director of Godzilla (1998.)]

PENNY BLOOD: This new film is part of the ‘Millennium Series,’ but you made the decision not to continue the storyline of the last movie, Tokyo SOS. Godzilla Final Wars has a totally drop that story in favor of a different storyline.

RYUHEI KITAMURA: That’s because I didn’t like the more recent Godzilla movies. I think Toho understood where I was coming from, too. The audiences for Godzilla movies were decreasing every year. Last year’s Tokyo SOS was the worst. So, Shogo knew he was missing something, and decided to bring me in. We had a first meeting and I just spoke my mind. I was really honest and told him what I thought about the Godzilla movies. I hadn’t been to the theaters in ten years. I’d seen the more recent Godzilla films on TV and didn’t like them. I mean, the last three or four Godzilla movies have been shown in the theaters together with kid’s animation. Why would anyone want to go see a Godzilla movie if it’s being shown alongside a little mouse cartoon? It seemed like the company was only making Godzilla movies for kids and the diehard Godzilla fans, not for the general audience.

PENNY BLOOD: The first Godzilla was kind of scary.

RYUHEI KITAMURA: Yeah, but they weren’t making films like that anymore.

PENNY BLOOD: So what was your new approach to Godzilla?

RYUHEI KITAMURA: I told the producers, “I don’t like the way Godzilla movies look. They’re too bright. There’s too much light on Godzilla. He looks like a man-in-a-suit. The set looks like miniatures. If you’re going to film miniatures, they have to look real.

PENNY BLOOD: So, how did you shoot it?

RYUHEI KITAMURA: More power and more speed. This film is going to be like an Ultimate Championship Fight. I wanted to make the monsters fight like that. Punching, weaving, and using the elbows.

SHOGO TOMIYAMA: Ryuhei had a point. He wanted Godzilla to move faster but remain big and intimidating at the same time.

PENNY BLOOD: (To RYUHEI KITAMURA) I know that the Godzilla fans are very particular about every minor detail concerning the look and character of Godzilla. Did the studio present you with a list of character traits that you had to stick with, or were you able to pretty much do what you wanted in this film?

RYUHEI KITAMURA: Pretty much whatever I wanted. The only thing they said was, “Please, not too much blood. Please don’t have Godzilla eating people.” It’s true that a lot of children watch these movies, but I kept asking the producers, “What about the Lord of the Rings? There’s lots of violence and blood in that movie, and kids love it!” I asked them that everyday but they just kept saying, “Lots of children are going to see the film, so you can’t be too violent.”

PENNY BLOOD: A lot of the filmmakers involved with Godzilla worked their way up through the ranks at Toho Pictures. Here you are, a new guy coming in from the outside, and you end up directing the biggest Godzilla film the studio had ever done. Did you feel any resentment from the older filmmakers?

RYUHEI KITAMURA: No, not at all. The Special Effects Director, Eiichi Asada, knows everything about Godzilla. My favorite Godzilla is 1974’s Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla. Eiichi Asada was the Assistant Director on that film. He knows everything and has more experience with Godzilla then me. He was an excellent guy to work with and we got along fine.

PENNY BLOOD: How do you direct a man-in-a-rubber-suit?

RYUHEI KITAMURA: That’s the Special Effects Director’s job. We do it with a second unit. We’re in the same studio. He’s shooting the man-in-a-rubber-suit and the miniature stuff. I’m directing the actors and live action stuff. Eiichi Asada was such a great guy. We were talking about the movie from the beginning. He’s seen my films and knows my tastes. I made storyboards for the shooting and just gave them to him. So, everything I wanted to do is in the storyboards. He just looks at it from the technical side. He has lots of experience in special effects, so sometimes he’ll also suggest new ideas.

PENNY BLOOD: How did you build the film? Did you start with the story, the monsters, or the action sequences?

RYUHEI KITAMURA: The producers gave me an eight-page synopsis. Basically, the storyline was already there. It said, “Aliens attack earth using eight monsters.” So I asked “Why eight? What’s the record?” They told me, eleven. “Then we should go for a new record instead of eight!” So we decided to go with more than eleven monsters.

PENNY BLOOD: What’s the final count, then?

RYUHEI KITAMURA: That’s a secret.

[AUTHOR NOTE: We’ll keep it a secret too. It’s more fun that way.]

PENNY BLOOD: How did you decide which kaiju would be in the film? Why didn’t you put Mechagodzilla in the film, for instance?

RYUHEI KITAMURA: It depends on what kind of story you want. Mechagodzilla just didn’t fit into the story I wanted to tell.

PENNY BLOOD: Did you consider a rematch between Godzilla and King Kong?

SHOGO TOMIYAMA: The rights for Kong weren’t available.

PENNY BLOOD: Did you increase the size of the kaiju to fight Godzilla?

RYUHEI KITAMURA: All the kaiju are about 100 meters.

PENNY BLOOD: So you kept all the creatures about the same size?


PENNY BLOOD: Did you play with that scale during production? How seriously did you calculate the scale of the monsters when you’re filming and building the miniatures?

RYUHEI KITAMURA: No, we filmed whatever looked good. That kind of exacting detail makes a movie boring. That’s the type of thing only Godzilla freaks think about.

PENNY BLOOD: (To RYUHEI KITAMURA) I heard there’s a rumor circulating that Quentin Tarantino and Robert Rodriguez will be producing your new movie. Is there any truth to that rumor?

RYUHEI KITAMURA: No. I don’t know where that rumor started from.

PENNY BLOOD: (To RYUHEI KITAMURA) Will we ever see a sequel to your cult zombie flick, Verses?

RYUHEI KITAMURA: They’re keeping me busy, but yes, I want to do it eventually. I’m sure I’ll do it in the near future, but I don’t know when.

PENNY BLOOD: (To RYUHEI KITAMURA) Do you plan on staying with monster movies and fantasy films?


PENNY BLOOD: I heard that there were some famous non-Japanese directors that wanted to do a Godzilla film. Is there any truth to those rumors?

SHOGO TOMIYAMA: There have never been any direct talks with any of these directors. We are aware that some well-known filmmakers have expressed interests in directing a film. These young filmmakers grew up with Godzilla movies. I’m sure there are many directors that would like to do a kaiju movie.

PENNY BLOOD: You’ve said Toho is going to retire Godzilla after this film for ten years. What would happen if another studio came along and they wanted to produce their own version of Godzilla? Could that still be an option?

SHOGO TOMIYAMA: If a better story comes along that tops Godzilla Final Wars, and some other studio besides Toho wanted to consider producing the film? Then we might consider it.

PENNY BLOOD: Hey, I’ve got a great idea for a Godzilla movie!

SHOGO TOMIYAMA: (LAUGHS) There are as many ideas for Godzilla movies as there are fans!

PENNY BLOOD: One last question, who would you consider Godzilla’s most dangerous adversary?

[Shogo Tomiyama thinks for a moment…]

SHOGO TOMIYAMA: Right now? I’d say, Pikachu. Hopefully, Godzilla’s new film will finally win the hearts of children back from his most dangerous advisory ever: Pokémon."''




External links

See also

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