An Interview with Wataru Mimura
Conducted by David Milner
Translation by Yohihiko Shibata
Wataru Mimura wrote the screenplays for GODZILLA VS. MECHAGODZILLA (1993) and YAMATO TAKERU (1994). He also wrote the screenplays for GREEN BOY (1989) and LITTLE SINBAD (1991), and co-wrote those for FRITA (1987) and LOVE ALWAYS – ALMOND PINK (1988).
David Milner: How much time did you spend writing the script for GODZILLA VS. MECHAGODZILLA?
Wataru Mimura: Six months.
DM: How many drafts of it did you submit to Toho? (The Toho Company Ltd. produced all of the Godzilla movies. It also produced RODAN (1956), MOTHRA (1961), and many other science fiction films.)
DM: How was the first draft different from the final one?
WM: In the first draft, two pteranodons were going to be discovered on Adonoa Island, and one of them was going to be killed by MechaGodzilla. However, budgetary constraints forced all of that to be changed. (In GODZILLA VS. MECHAGODZILLA, Godzilla and Rodan do battle on Adonoa Island.)
DM: So, MechaGodzilla originally was going to appear on Adonoa Island instead of Godzilla?
WM: MechaGodzilla originally was going to be able to separate into two different vehicles. Only one of them was going to do battle with the pteranodons. One of the pteranodons was going to be killed, and the other was going to fall into the ocean. It was then going to be exposed to radiation and turn into Rodan. (In GODZILLA VS. MECHAGODZILLA, Rodan turns into Fire Rodan after being exposed to the radiation in Godzilla’s breath.)
DM: Did budgetary constraints prompt any of the other changes that were made to the screenplay?
WM: A brief scene set in prehistoric times was deleted from the first draft. I was very fond of it. (Godzilla was a Godzillasaurus before he was mutated by radiation. A pteranodon and a Godzillasaurus were going to be seen doing battle in the scene.)
DM: Was the ending changed at all?
WM: Godzilla originally was going to be resurrected not by Fire Rodan, but instead by fallout from the explosion of the nuclear reactor aboard the Garuda. (In GODZILLA VS. MECHAGODZILLA, the Garuda, an aircraft armed with two maser cannons, is docked onto the back of MechaGodzilla to create Super MechaGodzilla. Godzilla is killed by Super MechaGodzilla, but then is brought back to life by energy from Fire Rodan.) In addition, Godzilla originally was going to grab Baby Godzilla with his teeth and then head out to sea. (Baby Godzilla simply follows Godzilla out to sea in GODZILLA VS. MECHAGODZILLA.)
DM: Why was it decided to have Fire Rodan resurrect Godzilla instead of fallout from the Garuda?
WM: It was more in keeping with the theme of real life against artificial life.
DM: Why was the scene in which Godzilla grabs Baby Godzilla with his teeth deleted?
WM: It was thought that the scene would not be very convincing because Godzilla was so much larger than Baby Godzilla.
DM: You worked on the story outline for GODZILLA VS. MECHAGODZILLA with Shogo Tomiyama and Takao Okawara. Which of the ideas that were incorporated into it were contributed by Mr. Tomiyama? (Mr. Tomiyama produced YAMATO TAKERU. He and executive producer Tomoyuki Tanaka produced GODZILLA VS. BIOLLANTE (1989), GODZILLA VS. GHIDRAH (1991), GODZILLA VS. MOTHRA (1992), GODZILLA VS. MECHAGODZILLA, and GODZILLA VS. SPACE GODZILLA (1994). Mr. Okawara directed GODZILLA VS. MOTHRA, GODZILLA VS. MECHAGODZILLA, and YAMATO TAKERU.)
WM: Mr. Tomiyama asked me to include Baby Godzilla in GODZILLA VS. MECHAGODZILLA because of the great success of GODZILLA VS. MOTHRA. An unusually large number of women went to see it, so Mr. Tomiyama wanted me to include a character that would appeal to them in GODZILLA VS. MECHAGODZILLA. He also wanted Godzilla to defeat MechaGodzilla. That was because Mothra and Battra defeat him in GODZILLA VS. MOTHRA. (GODZILLA VS. MOTHRA was more successful than any of the other Godzilla films that have been produced since 1966.)
DM: Which ideas did Mr. Okawara contribute?
WM: I can’t remember. Mr. Tomiyama, Mr. Okawara, and I wrote the story outline together.
DM: Do you remember if Koichi Kawakita contributed any of the ideas that were incorporated into it? (Mr. Kawakita directed the special effects for the six most recent Godzilla movies. He also directed the special effects for YAMATO TAKERU.)
WM: Mr. Kawakita probably came up with the idea to have Fire Rodan resurrect Godzilla.
DM: Did Mr. Tomiyama ask you to base the screenplay for YAMATO TAKERU on KOJIKI? (YAMATO TAKERU, like THE THREE TREASURES (1959), is based on KOJIKI, the mythological story of the creation of Japan.)
WM: Yes. That’s right.
DM: How much time did you spend writing the script?
WM: Two years. However, I started writing it before I started working on the screenplay for GODZILLA VS. MECHAGODZILLA, so I actually spent only one year writing it.
DM: How many drafts of the script did you submit to Toho?
DM: How was the first draft different from the final one?
WM: The first draft was completed before Mr. Okawara was chosen to direct YAMATO TAKERU. He made a large number of changes to the screenplay shortly after he received it.
DM: What specific changes did Mr. Okawara make?
WM: He deleted many of the scenes from KOJIKI. In addition, he changed the design of the Kumaso god. It originally was going to be a giant spider instead of creature made of stone.
DM: Did budgetary constraints prompt any of the changes that were made to the script?
DM: Do you know why Mr. Okawara redesigned the Kumaso god?
WM: Personal preference. It was just as well because it would have been very difficult for the special effects staff to work with a spider puppet.
DM: Were any of the other monsters in YAMATO TAKERU originally going to be different?
WM: I originally envisioned the battle god of outer space as a mass of luminescent particles instead of a huge metallic samurai.
DM: Did Mr. Tanaka contribute any of the ideas that were incorporated into the screenplay for GODZILLA VS. MECHAGODZILLA or the one for YAMATO TAKERU? (He produced virtually all of Toho’s science fiction movies.)
WM: Not directly. Mr. Tomiyama acted as a liaison to Mr. Tanaka.
DM: Who chose you to write the script for GODZILLA VS. MECHAGODZILLA?
WM: Mr. Tomiyama.
DM: Do you know why he chose you?
WM: I’d already submitted the screenplay for YAMATO TAKERU, and I assume that he liked it.
DM: Do you know why Mr. Tomiyama chose you to write the script for YAMATO TAKERU?
WM: Toho always asks several different screenwriters to submit synopses of their proposed films. I wrote one for GODZILLA VS. MOTHRA, and I assume that it is what prompted Mr. Tomiyama to ask me to write the screenplay for YAMATO TAKERU.
DM: Do you know why you were one of the screenwriters asked to write a synopsis for GODZILLA VS. MOTHRA?
WM: I had worked with Koji Hashimoto on a cancelled YOUNG GUY movie in 1991, so people at Toho knew of me. (Among the films in the YOUNG GUY series of comedies are YOUNG GUY IN COLLEGE (1961), BRAVO! YOUNG GUY (1970), and COME BACK YOUNG GUY (1981). Mr. Hashimoto became a producer shortly after directing GODZILLA 1985 (1984).)
DM: Have you written any television scripts?
DM: When Mr. Shibata and I interviewed Yukiko Takayama, she told us that she had attended the Scenario Center. Did you also attend a writing school? (Ms. Takayama wrote the screenplay for TERROR OF MECHAGODZILLA (1975).)
WM: Yes. I went to the Scenario Center, but I did not graduate.
DM: For how long a period of time did you attend the school?
WM: Several months.
DM: What was covered in the classes you took?
WM: Short story writing. We would have to write a new short story every week.
DM: Where did you learn how to write scripts?
WM: I taught myself how to write them.
DM: Have you worked only as a screenwriter?
DM: Which screenwriters most influenced your work?
WM: I was most influenced by Shinichi Sekizawa. He was a very good screenwriter. (Mr. Sekizawa wrote the screenplays for MOTHRA, KING KONG VS. GODZILLA (1962), GHIDRAH – THE THREE-HEADED MONSTER (1964), and many of Toho’s other science fiction movies.)
DM: What do you think of Takeshi Kimura’s work? (Mr. Kimura wrote the scripts for RODAN, WAR OF THE GARGANTUAS (1966), DESTROY ALL MONSTERS (1968), and so on.)
WM: I prefer Mr. Sekizawa’s style to Mr. Kimura’s, but I don’t think that Mr. Kimura’s work is inferior. I am amazed by the number of screenplays Mr. Sekizawa wrote.
DM: How many scripts did he write?
WM: I don’t know how many he wrote, but I do know that he wrote the screenplays for a majority of Toho’s science fiction films.
DM: Did you ever meet Mr. Sekizawa or Mr. Kimura?
DM: You co-wrote the scripts for FRITA, LOVE ALWAYS – ALMOND PINK, and LITTLE SINBAD with other screenwriters. Do you enjoy working with other screenwriters any more or less than you enjoy working by yourself?
WM: I’ve never worked with another screenwriter. The scripts for FRITA and LOVE ALWAYS – ALMOND PINK were rewritten by someone else after I’d submitted them. No one else worked on the screenplay for LITTLE SINBAD, but because the other person who is credited as having worked on it had a very close relationship with the producer of the movie, I had to share my credit.
DM: Which of your scripts are your favorites?
WM: GODZILLA VS. MECHAGODZILLA and YAMATO TAKERU.
DM: Why is that?
WM: I enjoyed working on them. I also enjoyed working on the screenplay for LITTLE SINBAD.
DM: Are you pleased with the way GODZILLA VS. MECHAGODZILLA turned out?
DM: Are you pleased with the way YAMATO TAKERU turned out?
DM: Do you enjoy working on science fiction films any more or less than you enjoy working on other kinds of movies?
WM: I most enjoy working on science fiction and fantasy films.
DM: Which of Toho’s older science fiction movies are your favorites?
DM: Is that because there are more fantasy elements in it than there are in the other science fiction films Toho produced during the 1950s and 1960s?
WM: That’s right.
DM: What do you think of the Gamera movies?
WM: I prefer the Majin films. (MAJIN – MONSTER OF TERROR (1966), THE RETURN OF THE GIANT MAJIN (1966), and MAJIN COUNTERATTACK (1966), like all nine of the Gamera movies, were produced by the Daiei Company Ltd.)
DM: What do you think of Kazuki Omori’s scripts? (Mr. Omori wrote the screenplays for GODZILLA VS. BIOLLANTE, GODZILLA VS. GHIDRAH, and GODZILLA VS. MOTHRA. He directed GODZILLA VS. BIOLLANTE and GODZILLA VS. GHIDRAH, but chose not to direct GODZILLA VS. MOTHRA.)
WM: Mr. Omori is a craftsman.
DM: Have you ever worked with Mr. Omori?
WM: We worked together on two projects that were canceled. One was a film about a sailor and his Australian wife. It was going to be set in Australia. The other was a movie about a man who travels to Africa in a hot air balloon.
DM: What were the films going to be called?
WM: The first one was going to be called TARACHINE, and the second was going to be called KILIMANJARO.
DM: When were they going to be made?
WM: Shortly before GODZILLA VS. MOTHRA went into production.
DM: Why weren’t they made?
WM: The sponsors changed their minds.
DM: Mr. Omori bases some of his characters on those in American movies. How do you feel about this? (There is a character similar to THE TERMINATOR (1984) in GODZILLA VS. GHIDRAH and one similar to Indiana Jones in GODZILLA VS. MOTHRA.)
WM: That doesn’t bother me. I think Mr. Omori is just paying homage to the films.
DM: How did you like JURASSIC PARK (1993)?
WM: The special effects are superb, but the story is too serious. It serves only to frighten the audience.
DM: What do you think of GODZILLA VS. SPACE GODZILLA?
WM: The tone of the movie is very different from that of GODZILLA VS. MECHAGODZILLA. A completely different approach was taken.
DM: What do you think of Hiroshi Kashiwabara’s script?
WM: It is very different from my screenplay for GODZILLA VS. MECHAGODZILLA. I was pleased to see that G-Force was brought back. I also was pleased to see Takaaki Aso again. (G-Force is the military organization run by the United Nations Godzilla Countermeasures Center (UNGCC). G-Force commanding officer Aso is played by Akira Nakao.)
DM: Are you working on any scripts at the moment?
WM: I’m working on the one for YAMATO TAKERU II. The first draft is almost finished.
DM: When is the film going to be produced?
WM: I don’t know.
DM: Will both Yamato Takeru and Oto Tachibana return? (Yamato Takeru, the heir to the Yamato throne, is played by Masahiro Takashima. In GODZILLA VS. MECHAGODZILLA, Mr. Takashima plays Kazuma Aoki, a technician employed by the UNGCC who saves the crew of MechaGodzilla from Godzilla during their final battle with him. Oto Tachibana, Yamato Takeru’s consort, is played by Yasuko Sawaguchi. In GODZILLA 1985, Ms. Sawaguchi plays Naoko Okumura, a woman who takes part in conducting research which leads to the discovery that Godzilla can be lured with a sound simulating the chirping of birds.)
DM: I’ve heard that there will be only new monsters in the sequel. Is this true?
DM: Do you know what you will be working on after YAMATO TAKERU II?
WM: Not yet.
DM: Would you like to work on another Godzilla movie?
DM: What do you think the next few Godzilla films should be like?
WM: A different approach must be taken.
DM: How do you feel about TriStar Pictures producing a Godzilla movie in the United States?
WM: I’m looking forward to seeing it. I think it will inspire the people who work on Toho’s Godzilla films.
The Films of Watarua Mimura
Wataru Mimura Interview © 1998, 2006 David Milner. Used with permission of the author.
Format © 2006 Daikaiju Publishing.