When Godzilla is on television, he is usually the star. But 1973’s Zone Fighter broke the mold by having Godzilla as a supporting character.
Godzilla is no stranger to the small screen, having appeared on a number of different TV shows over the years. And when he does, he is usually the protagonist. But Zone fighter changed this by having Godzilla as a supporting character.
Zone fighter It came at a strange time in Toho’s history. The 1970s had dramatically changed the landscape of kaiju movies. The debut of shows like 1966 Ultra Q Y Ultraman it meant that the kaiju were now on TV every week. This was also the beginning of the Henshin Hero boom, which led to the birth of shows like Kamen rider Y Android Kikaider. This, coupled with the oil crisis and economic downturn, meant that Japanese families ventured less to the movies and stayed to watch television, leading to Toho’s films making less money at the box office.
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Because of this, Toho decided she needed to break into the TV hero market. He tested the waters with Rainbowman Y Let’s go! Godman in 1972 before starting work on a new project. This project was spearheaded by several people who had made many of Toho’s film proposals. This included Ishiro Honda, the director of the first Godzilla movie, and Godzilla vs. Gigan director Jun Fukuda.
After going through various names and concept changes, they settled on Zone fighter and production began. The series hit screens in 1973 and followed the Zone family. While the Zone family looks like normal people, they are actually aliens from a planet called Peaceland. Peaceland was a lovely place until it was invaded and destroyed by an evil race of aliens called the Garoga. However, when the Garogan army sets its sights on Earth, the Zone family is forced to fight to protect Earth from certain destruction.
Hikaru Sakimori is the eldest son and the main character. When the monsters attack, Hikaru transforms into a Zone Fighter. While in his Zone Fighter form, he can use various vehicles and gadgets to defeat evil monsters that stand in his way and also become a giant for a limited time.
The setup is typical Henshin Hero fare, but in the fourth episode, Zone fighter opens new paths. Called “Invasion! Garoga’s Great Army: Godzilla Appears”, this episode features Godzilla’s debut. During a fight against the monsters Spyler and Wargilgar, it appears that the Zone family is doomed. In a last gasp move, the daughter sends a robot for help and, of all things, finds and brings Godzilla into the fight. Godzilla, the so-called “monster of justice”, helps turn the tide and allows the Zone family to destroy the monsters.
Godzilla befriends the Zone family and fights alongside them in various episodes and also helps train Zone Fighter. However, in response, the Gargoan army would take control of Godzilla’s former enemies, King Ghidorah and Gigan, and attempt to use them against the Zone family. And this isn’t just Toho repurposing her monster outfits. These characters are actually those from the Showa era. Godzilla Film (s. Supplementary material published by Toho confirmed that Zone fighter takes place between Godzilla vs. Megalon Y Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla. So if you’ve ever wondered why Gigan didn’t return after escaping from Jet Jaguar at the end of Godzilla vs. Megalon, it’s because he was killed by Zone Fighter in episode 11.
However, despite Godzilla and his friends, Zone fighter was plagued with low ratings, and after episode 26, NTV chose not to purchase any more episodes. This meant that the show was canceled without the plot being resolved. These days, Zone fighter it is mostly forgotten. Those who remember him remember him for the inclusion of Godzilla, rather than his actual story or characters. However, with series like Godzilla: singular point Bringing back many of the franchise’s darkest characters, perhaps we will eventually see the Zone family join Godzilla once again.
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