The city of Washington, DC has taken occasional issue with production companies shooting large-scale action and science-fiction movies in the National Mall. As one government official explained, in regards to a planned shoot for the third Transformers film, “The National Mall is not an area in which Americans come to see high-tech action movies being made.”
What? That’s one of the reasons we have national monuments! This is not a defense of Transformers 3: We Won’t Get It Right Until Bumblebee, but a reminder that one of the core purposes of great landmarks across the globe is so they can be destroyed by aliens, robots, and giant monsters on the big screen.
Giant monsters in particular love wrecking landmarks, or at least getting good spectacle use out of them (such as Kong and the Empire State Building). Watching a titanic creature devastate a familiar cultural object provides a sinister thrill for viewers; it makes the monster that much more intimidating. Your human-sized buildings, no matter their age or importance to national psyche, mean nothing to these beasts.
The Japanese breed of giant monsters, kaijus, have devastated bridges, skyscrapers, dams, baseball stadiums, and almost anything else built in contemporary Japan. But one landmark has a special place in kaiju disrespect for infrastructure and culture: the feudal castle. The first castle Godzilla destroyed was in the second movie of the series, Godzilla Raids Again. This worked so well that the next two movies also had castle destructions that have turned into some of the most famous Godzilla moments.
Most folks outside of Japan are unfamiliar with the history of these castles, let alone know them by name. In my love of cross-disciplinary exercises, I’ve put together a history guide to those first three castles to fall under the force of the Big G, either solo or while beating up another monster. This is one of my personal loves about Godzilla: using the monster as a springboard to other subjects I might not have gotten around to otherwise. Like origami.