Godzilla: Monster Planet, the newest Godzilla movie and the first anime film in the series, has a slightly misleading name. Despite the presence of some smaller kaiju on a hellish, futuristic version of Earth, it’s not so much a monsters’ planet as it’s one monster’s planet. The movie is all about Godzilla, the King of the Monsters. However, the beginning of the movie does feature some cameos from other kaiju in Toho Studio’s film history.
But, if you’re a casual Godzilla fan, these cameos might not ring a bell. These aren’t A-list kaiju like Mothra, Anguirus, or King Ghidorah. Instead, the first wave of Earth’s destruction came at the claws of several kaiju who have technically never appeared in a Godzilla movie before, having instead originated in some of Toho’s other monster franchises.
Here are all the monsters you’ll see in Godzilla: Monster Planet, the new anime that’s now streaming on Netflix.
The first monster to attack in “the last summer of the 20th century” appears to be the giant mantis kaiju Kamacuras, who first appeared in 1967’s Son of Godzilla. Typically, Kamacuras is a pretty unremarkable kaiju, as far as these things go, and it only really posed a threat to Godzilla when there were more than one of them.
This cameo is Dogora’s first appearance in the Godzilla franchise, as the jellyfish-like kaiju previously only attacked in the 1964 standalone monster movie Dogora. In that film, Dogora was a mutated “celestial space cell” that fed on jewels and diamonds, using its corrosive tentacles to sustain itself. When the military initially blew up Dogora, they accidentally created several smaller, self-sustaining kaiju, though the beasts were eventually killed due to their weakness to bee venom, of all things.
Hedorah, a.k.a. “The Smog Monster,” made its debut in 1971’s Godzilla vs. Hedorah, which might just be the weirdest film in the entire series. An alien life form that drew power from Earth’s pollution, Hedorah was an especially deadly kaiju, possessing the ability to change from a saucer-like flying form to a hulking sludge-monster. In Godzilla: Monster Planet, mankind apparently was able to defeat Hedorah.
Update: Some fans say you can see Rodan and Anguirus’s corpses in this scene, but I honestly can’t make them out. It’s possible that Operation Hedorah was some sort of chemical operation that killed the other two kaiju.
Godzilla isn’t the only kaiju to get its own series, as Toho also made several Mothra movies in the ‘90s. In 1997’s Rebirth of Mothra II her opponent was Dagahra, a dragon-like kaiju that also had a pollution-based backstory. Some 15,000 years ago, an ancient, advanced civilization known as the Nilai Kanai created the beast in order to clean up the pollution and toxins they were putting into the air and water. Unfortunately for them, though, the waste corrupted Dagahra, and it destroyed them before falling into a slumber until the present day, when Mothra had to defeat it.
Orga is a Godzilla foe, but just barely. In the somewhat redundantly named Godzilla 2000: Millennium, an alien invader called a Millennian attempt to steals Godzilla’s regenerative powers in the hopes of creating a thousand-year empire on Earth. However, the power mutates what had previously been a squid/UFO-looking creature into Orga, a misshapen monster that was no match for the real Godzilla. It was a pretty short fight.
Unlike the other monsters in Godzilla: Monster Planet, Mechagodzilla is an A-list kaiju, and its brief appearance is more than a cameo. A new version of Mechagodzilla, a robotic Godzilla counterpart who has already had three different iterations in the series, was supposed to be humanity’s final chance to defeat Godzilla. Built with the help of the friendly Bilusaludo aliens, Mechagodzilla was destroyed before it got a chance to fight Godzilla, but it will get another chance. The sequel to the anime, roughly translated as Godzilla: The City Mechanized for the Final Battle is due out in Japan this year and will heavily feature the new Mechagodzilla.
Godzilla: Monster Planet is now streaming on Netflix.