The GNP Presents:
King Kong vs. Godzilla
From a Concept by Willis O’Brian and George Worthing Yates
Screenplay by Shinichi Sekizawa
Novelization by Daniel DiManna
“There are more things in Heaven and Earth, Horatio, then are dreamt of in your philosophy…”
William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act 1, Scene 5, 159 – 167
“Everyone… the earth is alive.”
“As it spins at speeds of over 1,670 kilometers an hour, we living here on its surface pay little attention to it. But at any moment, its rotation could come to a halt… and we would suddenly find ourselves in severe distress. How would we be able to survive?”
Then, the Earth stopped.
Into the image of the suddenly halted planet, which now stood still amidst a field of stars, stepped a balding man in a beige suit, red tie and thick glasses. He came to a stop directly in front of the Earth.
“This is a scene…” the man began, “that you would expect to see in a comic book. However unrealistic it may seem, after four million years, there is still much about the earth that we don’t yet know.” At this, the man dramatically lifted his right arm and hand, pointing his index finger straight ahead. “Should we be concerned?!”
A moment later, and the image suddenly changed, replaced by a bland title card announcing the official beginning of the Wonderful World Series television program. With the introduction now concluded, the science/education show could officially begin, and several seconds after the appearance of the title card, the image cut back to the beige-suited man. He now sat behind a desk, a microphone to his left and a stack of script papers under his nose. The beautiful, starry background from the previous segment remained visible behind him.
It didn’t make the proceedings any more interesting.
“Until recently, it was thought that we came from a combination of amino acids…”
As the man continued his endless speech, Ichiro Tako felt sure that his grip on sanity was slowly but surely slipping away.
The thin, middle-aged man sat in his office chair, facing the television that sat on the floor next to his desk. Curiosity had compelled him to swivel his chair 90 degrees and switch on the set a few minutes earlier, hoping that his experience watching an entire, mind-numbing hour of the Wonderful World Series the day before would not be repeated. He had hoped against hope that he had merely caught a particularly dull episode, one that was not indicative of the show’s overall entertainment value.
“This caused life to form at the beginning of time. But why did it begin this way? Please focus on the picture over there…”
Tako began to feel himself slowly sliding down the seat of his chair. He crossed his legs and let out a long sigh. All hope had drained out of him.
This episode was somehow worse.
In all his years in advertising for Japan’s Pacific Pharmaceutical Company, never had he come across a television program that had filled him with such an overwhelming sense of unbridled apathy. The show was as dry as a desert, and far less interesting to look at. Any educational merit lay buried under the most desperately boring presentation imaginable. If the program had taught Tako anything in his brief exposure to its charmless existence, it was surely a lesson in how much indifference a human mind could stand before losing the will to live.
In recent years, the growth of the television industry in Japan had seen many shows of different types come and go, all powered by the sponsorship of the myriad companies that were starting to prosper as the country’s economy continued to grow and flourish. Pacific Pharmaceuticals had certainly been a big part of this, sponsoring a large number of shows over the previous few years. Their products could be seen advertised during the program breaks of nearly a dozen different shows in 1961 alone, making that year the biggest in the company’s history.
However, by the time 1962 had rolled around, the story had changed.
Pacific Pharmaceuticals sponsorship numbers were down significantly from the previous year, with the company’s products advertising with only four shows by the time August had arrived. Most of the programs that had given the company its record numbers only a year earlier had gone off the air, necessitating a far more careful selection of new programs to enter into partnerships with. From that point on, only the best, most interesting shows would make the cut.
How in the hell the Wonderful World Series had slipped through that vetting process was beyond Tako’s imagination. As he continued to stare unblinking at his TV screen, the thought occurred to him that his company’s sponsorship of the show must be the only reason it was still on the air. He was most likely the only fool in Japan who was watching the damned thing that morning, and it certainly wasn’t because he wanted to.
It was this thought that finally prompted the distressed man to break his gaze away from the screen and look down at the back of his left hand. In his absent minded attempted to stave off crushing boredom, he had begun flipping his lucky coin – a 500 yen piece – a few inches into the air every few seconds. The coin now rested heads-side-up below him, but Tako rarely assigned significance to which side was revealed after the final flip. On this day, either side would have resulted in Tako’s decision to deal with the Wonderful World Series problem.
Enough was enough.
“It’s settled…” he said quietly to himself as he swiveled his chair back in front of his desk.
All around Tako sat his advertising staff, all hard at work at their respective desks, all working to crunch numbers, keep track of expenditures… and ensure that he looked good.
Someone in his office wasn’t doing their job. And Tako was sure he knew who it was.
The words had left Tako’s mouth before he realized that they hadn’t been directed at anyone in particular. Seconds later, the voice of one of the number counters responded, sure that his yelling had been aimed at them. “Yes! The current total is… ¥58,600, give or take 5 yen.”
“I don’t need that!” Tako’s response was terse and impatient, an obvious sign to those in the office that he knew he had made a mistake. “Who asked for those numbers, anyhow?” Tako turned his head away from the money counters and towards a row of desks a few meters away from his.
“Obashi? Here. Now!”
Obashi sat at his desk, his mouth stuffed full of the noodles he had been eating for the past several minutes. The bowl sat on his desk, covering his paperwork. The startled man looked up and met Tako’s gaze across the office. He shook his head, flinging the noodles still hanging from his mouth from side to side as he attempted to slurp them down. With a slightly muffled voice, he said, “Not now, boss… I’m still finishing lunch.” At this, Tako finally lost his patience. “Keep that up and your lunch won’t be all that’s finished!”
Obashi froze. A few moments later, and he had laid his chopsticks back in his bowl and risen from his chair to rush to his boss’ desk.
Tako looked up at the now flustered man. “Tell me…” he began calmly. “You’ve been working for me at Pacific Pharmaceuticals for some time now. Why in the world did we contribute money to a TV science show?” Obashi’s face suddenly seemed to light up. “Ah, you mean the Wonderful World Series?”
Tako blinked several times. Clearly Obashi hadn’t bothered to actually sit through an episode of the show.
“What’s so wonderful about this program… huh?!” Tako shook his right hand wildly at the TV as he spoke. He then leaned over the large book on his desk, gesturing towards it with his left hand. “Look at this… this series draws only 5% of the nation’s viewers! This book is more interesting! That’s the point I’m trying to make!”
As Tako had continued talking, the phone on his desk had begun to ring. Obashi’s gaze began to dart back and forth the between Tako and the ignored phone.
“What were you hoping for with this show?” Tako continued his lecture. “This advertising staff works by my rules!”
Still distracted, Obashi nodded his head. “Right.”
“Do you understand?!”
“Then you owe me an apolo-”
In that moment, Tako suddenly found himself holding his phone in both of his outstretched hands. Obashi had answered it, reflexively hoping to end its ringing, and had handed it to his boss. Obashi’s face was now one of both concern and relief as he met his boss’ confused gaze.
“Sorry, but… the phone…”
Tako was now more flustered than he had been before. Without thinking, he lifted the phone to his ear and began to speak. “Hello? Hello!?” No response. He began to pound the speaker with his index finger, and only when he looked down at the phone did he finally realize that he had been holding it upside down since Obashi had handed it to him. “What’s the matter with you?” The rhetorical question had been directed at Obashi, who remained silently by the desk as Tako flipped the phone to its correct orientation, fearful of his boss’ reaction if he were to walk away and return to his waiting lunch.
“Hello?” Tako now finally heard a voice on the other end of the line. “Yes? This is the advertising department.” Tako paused briefly. “What? Apologize?! Give you and apology? Who are you?! I’m not apologizing for…” As Obashi continued to watch, he saw the color suddenly drain out of Tako’s gaunt face until it seemed that even his thin mustache had turned white.
Tako was now in a clear state of panic. There was only one man that could instill such fear in Obashi’s fearless – if often idiosyncratic – leader, and that was the president of Pacific Pharmaceuticals. He watched as Tako’s shaking hands moved the phone away from his head and held the receiver straight out in front of him, as if it were a sacred object. The boss’ voice was now cearly audible from the phone’s speaker as he hollered, “How dare you speak like that to me! Your advertising staff exists because of me! Do you understand?!” Tako was now frantically repeating, “Yes! Yes, of course! Yes!” and bowing his head before the screaming phone. Obashi had taken several steps back from the desk, his eyes darting around the office as he looked for something else to focus on until Tako’s humiliation had finally ceased.
Although he wasn’t completely sure, Obashi felt certain that the angry call had been about the very thing Tako had been lecturing him about: the low ratings of the Wonderful World Series. The low numbers were unfortunate; Obashi rather enjoyed the show, but he knew better than to admit as much to Tako. In the end, ratings were ratings, and Pacific Pharmaceuticals couldn’t afford to see another sponsored program get the axe. But what could be done? The company had practically no control over what content its sponsored programs aired, and if it was true that no one in Japan was watching the show, it seemed inevitable that it would soon get canceled, and likely sooner rather than later.
However, Obashi couldn’t shake the feeling that, once his boss finally hung up the phone, the situation would somehow take a dramatic turn. It was obvious that Tako had no intention of adding another failed television show to the already mounting list of 1962’s casualties. If any possible solution – no matter how remote, unlikely, or perhaps even crazy – existed that might save its flagging ratings, Tako would most assuredly start looking for it.
Or rather, he’d order his staff to start looking for it.
Obashi sighed. He suddenly saw many late nights in his future.
Still doing anything to avert his eyes from his boss’ continuing degradation, Obashi finally focused on Tako’s TV, which was still playing the latest episode of the Wonderful World Series. It was the “Current Scientific Events” segment of the show, in which the hosts discussed the exciting scientific discoveries and explorations that were taking place around the world at that very moment. Obashi leaned in close to focus on what the host was saying as he walked across the set, stopping beside what appeared to be a picture of a submarine attached to the star-covered wall.
“Presently in the northern seas, the nuclear sub known as Seahawk is performing an extensive study on an unusual phenomenon occurring in that area.”
Obashi smiled. Unusual phenomenon, he thought to himself. This should be interesting!
Chapter 2 Coming Soon.