With a typhoon moving towards the Japanese mainland, the crew of the Genyo-Maru II are caught between that immediate threat and the danger of Infant Island, irradiated and uninhabitable after it was used as a site for atomic testing, but forced to abandon ship it is those shores which offer them safe haven.
The survivors rescued safely, they tell of a previously unknown native population and an expedition is led by Doctor Harada who examined the shipwrecked sailors, the anthropologist Shinichi Chūjō, an expert on Polynesian language and culture, and Clark Nelson who has financed the mission and zealously controls the flow of information.
Nelson planning to profit from what he can find at Infant Island, he abducts two diminutive natives who become known as the “tiny beauties;” forced to perform in front of audiences, they communicate telepathically that their guardian will come to find them, but Nelson laughs off the warnings of Mosura.
An iconic kaiju whose name is taken from the Japanese word for “moth” with a suffix appended from Gojira (ゴジラ), Mosura (モスラ) is better known to western audiences as the mighty Mothra who first appeared in the 1961 film of the same name directed by Ishirō Honda from a script by Shinichi Sekizawa, the first of many appearances which continue to 2019’s Godzilla: King of the Monsters.
Released on Blu-ray as part of Eureka’s Masters of Cinema range, Mothra is presented in both the original Japanese print of 101 minutes and the recut English release of ninety minutes, the print gloriously showing off the colourful locations and the technical achievement of Honda’s creation as the story moves from the mysterious Infant Island to Tokyo and from there to New Kirk City.
A stand in which bears the architectural hallmarks of New York City and the brunt of Mothra’s assault, the film is well-structured, opening with an initial incident which leads to the revelation of an oddity which triggers an investigation, each escalation following logically from the previous event and even allowing unexpected dance numbers and the musical performances of Emi and Yumi Itō.
Twin sisters who performed together as Kayōkyoku group The Peanuts, they reprised their roles as the tiny beauties in sequels Mothra vs Godzilla and Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster, the only characters who reappear other than Mothra herself, the inseparable trio a rare female presence in the normally male dominated genre, the inevitable destruction of the final act a consequence of the kidnapping rather than direct action.
The new edition of Mothra featuring an interview with Kim Newman, he considers the parallels with King Kong and The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms while Honda biographers Steve Ryfle and Ed Godziszewski discuss not only the director and his considerable career which also included the original Godzilla, The Mysterians and Battle in Outer Space but provide insight into many of the other performers.