First appearing in a 1954 film by Ishiro Honda, Godzilla (Gojira) has now appeared in 32 films produced by the domestic film production company Toho Co., Ltd., and Hollywood has also produced four blockbuster hits. Various video games, novels, comic books, and television shows have also been produced.
Several theories imply why the character initially became a domestic icon. It is suggested that the Japanese name Gojira is derived from two Japanese words: gorira, meaning “gorilla,” and kujira, meaning “whale.” The monster, or kaiju, is depicted as a destructive monster from the sea, born and mutated under the influence of radiation. The first film was released less than a decade after the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, which has led to the suggestion that Godzilla was a metaphor for nuclear weapons attacking Japan. Another theory points to the implication that the kaiju is a metaphor for the destructive nature of war.
The kaiju has been portrayed using various different special effects, from actors wearing a latex costume to animatronics, stop-motion, and CGI. The innovations in special effects technology used to portray Godzilla is a prominent reason why the icon has a loyal following of figurine collectors.