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"Kaijin" redirects here. For other uses, see Kaijin (disambiguation).
File:Gojira 1954 poster 3.jpg

Daikaiju (giant monster) Godzilla from 1954 Godzilla film, one of the first Japanese movies to feature a giant monster.

File:Jujin Yuki Otoko poster.jpg

Kaijin (humanoid monster) Half human from 1955 Half Human film

Kaiju (怪獣 kaijū?) is a Japanese word that means "strange beast," but often translated in English as "monster". Specifically, it is used to refer to a genre of tokusatsu entertainment.

Related terms include kaiju eiga (怪獣映画 kaijū eiga?, monster movie), a film featuring kaiju, kaijin (怪人?, referring to roughly humanoid monsters) and daikaiju (大怪獣 daikaijū?, giant monster), specifically meaning the larger variety of monsters.

The most famous kaiju is Godzilla. Other well-known kaiju include Mothra, Anguirus, Rodan, Gamera and King Ghidorah. The term ultra-kaiju is short-hand for monsters in the Ultra Series.


Kaiju are typically modeled after conventional animals, insects or mythological creatures; however, there are more exotic examples. Choujin Sentai Jetman features monsters based on traffic lights, faucets and tomatoes;[1] Kamen Rider Super-1 includes a whole army of monsters based on household objects such as umbrellas and utility ladders.[2]

While the term kaiju is used in the West to describe monsters from tokusatsu and Japanese folklore, monsters like vampires, werewolves, Frankenstein's Monster, mummies and zombies would fall into this category. In fact Frankenstein's Monster was once a daikaiju in the film Frankenstein Conquers the World, which was created by Toho.

Kaiju are sometimes depicted as cannon fodder serving a greater evil. Some kaiju are elite warriors which serve as the right-hand man to the greater villain and are destroyed by the heroic forces. Others have a neutral alignment, only seeking to destroy buildings and other structures. During the early eras of tokusatsu, "heroic" monsters were seen in Daikaiju Eiga films, and it was not until later when television tokusatsu productions began using kaiju which aided the hero, saved civilians, or demonstrated some kind of complex personality. These kaiju adopted many classic monster traits, appearing as the "Misunderstood Creature". Some kaiju hung out with the heroes and provided comedy relief, in contrast to the darker approach to these characters from more mature franchises, like Kamen Rider. Godzilla, arguably the most well known of the Daikaiju, has played the roles of hero, villain, and force of nature in the course of his existence, one of the few kaiju of any type to be depicted in multiple roles and having those around him react in different ways, depending on how the creature itself was being presented in the films.

Examples of kaiju

Kaiju film creators

  • Kadokawa Pictures
  • Toho Company Ltd.
  • Shochiku

Major kaiju films

  • Gamera (film)
  • Godzilla (1954 film)
  • Godzilla (1998 film)
  • Mothra (film)
  • Rodan (film)
  • Garuda (film)
  • G (2008 film)

See also

  • Gojira
  • List of kaiju
  • Gomora
  • Red King
  • Metron
  • Kanegon
  • Garamon
  • Dada
  • Golza
  • King Joe
  • Keroberos from Cardcaptor Sakura sometimes calls Sakura 'Kaiju' when he's mad at her. When Sakura is angry her brother says she stomps around like a monster.


  1. "Most of the Monsters of Jetman". Archived from the original on 2003-07-07. 
  2. "Kamen Rider Super-1". 

External links

zh:怪兽 ca:Kaiju it:Kaiju nl:Kaiju pl:Kaijū pt:Kaiju ru:Кайдзю sv:Kaiju