For nearly 40 years, Japan has been haunted by an enigma wrapped in a mystery. Beginning first in 1954 and now once again in the present day, we find ourselves cast in the shadow of an entity beyond description. A creature that has defied explanation, classification, and every natural law scientists like myself have dedicated our lives to.
I was only nine years old at the time of Godzilla’s first attack 38 years ago. My family and I lived far from the destruction, and watched from the safety of Osaka as Tokyo burned on our television screen. It was an event that seared itself into my young mind, but it also spurred questions that I would find myself returning to over and over again as the decades progressed. As a lover of dinosaurs – a passion I continue to pursue today as a professor of paleontology – the notion of a prehistoric beast somehow surviving into the present age thrilled me as much then as it does now. As tragic as the events of 1954 – and later 1984 and beyond – were and continue to be, it’s important to remember that large-scale scientific tragedies are a golden opportunity for learning, advancement, and monumental discoveries. Discoveries that can help shed light on the shadows that plague mankind. Discoveries that can transform fear into knowledge, and uncertainty into empowerment.
I’m proud to say that the book you’re currently reading is exactly that kind of empowerment.
Earlier this year, novelist Kenichiro Terasawa came to me with a list of questions. The very same questions, in fact, that my younger self had formulated in the years following Godzilla’s first attack. Questions about the beast’s origins, his roots in paleontological fact, and – most intriguing of all – the plausibility of thought-extinct creatures rising again in the modern world.
But that’s not all Terasawa brought me. He also brought a story, a hypothesis he’d concocted based on eye-witness accounts and – I would later learn – photographic evidence. The story of an island, a brave troupe of warriors, and the creature that reportedly emerged from the depths of prehistory to act as their savior.
It was a story I’d heard before in passing. As an expert in dinosaurs and other prehistoric animals, I’d always been intrigued by the idea of biological holdovers from bygone ages. What’s more, I was always on the lookout for evidence of such holdovers, and was able to reassure Terasawa that his idea might not be as crazy as it might sound to other scientists in the field.
Over the years, I’d accumulated multiple accounts of purported prehistoric creature sightings that convinced me such a phenomenon might be possible. Famously, the rotting carcass of a plesiosaur was purportedly recovered by fishermen off the coast of New Zealand in 1977. Multiple South Pacific island cultures have claimed to witness mysterious creatures in the deep jungles and off the coasts of their lands (Godzilla himself is believed to have inspired the myth of the Odo Island sea god that gave the real-life monster its name), and legends of great winged beasts soaring over atolls in the Bering Sea could suggest that breeding populations of ancient pterosaurs might still exist.
So, when Terasawa asked me if it were possible that a large theropod dinosaur might’ve been living on a South Pacific isle circa 1944, my answer was an unexpected (at least for him) but definite yes. Given the right circumstances, evolutionary advantages, and other factors like habitat size, breeding population, and available food, I fully believed that a dinosaur roughly the dimensions of a tyrannosaurus could easily still cling to a fragile but plausible existence in the remote areas of our world.
And it was then that Terasawa spoke of the rest of his theory. Not only was he determined to prove the existence of this living dinosaur, but he was prepared to take the idea a step further: to suggest that this dinosaur – whose habitat on the long-forgotten island of Lagos would’ve been directly in the path of the 1954 Bikini Atoll hydrogen bomb test – had been baptized in the fires of hell and had risen from its own ashes as the creature we today know as Godzilla.
It was a theory that stunned the mind. But as outlandish as it might’ve seemed upon first hearing it, the scenario made sense. In fact, it explained a great deal of the mysteries surrounding Godzilla. As a scientist, it was a theory I could throw my support behind. And Terasawa – a hard-working young man with a desire to share this great truth with the world – has done a truly fantastic job in laying out that theory for readers.
What mankind doesn’t understand, it fears, and we as a nation have lived in fear – and ignorance – for far too long. I hope that this book finds the audience it deserves, and helps to dispel that fear for every generation that has lived in the shadow of Godzilla’s wrath.
-Professor Hironori Masaki, 1992
9/18/92: This section checks out. Masaki is a good man. I knew he wouldn’t fail me.
There are so few of us who know the truth. So few of us who’ve seen the past with our own eyes, understood its effects on the present, and now bear knowledge of the future. Masaki-san is one of those few. When he agreed to write this forward, he did so with a promise to conceal what he knew. What we both knew. He could’ve warned of future events just as easily as I could’ve. As I still could, if I so choose. Or perhaps “choice” is nothing but an illusion, a lie concocted to fool me into thinking I could stand against destiny and hope to change it.
This is unimportant. What matters is that Masaki-san came through with the perfect introduction. Everything checks out. Everything fits.
Truly the ideal introduction to a book doomed to die in obscurity.
Continue to Introduction (COMING SOON)