The Godzilla Many Americans Have Never Seen - Ryusei Ningen Zon (Zone Fighter)
Written By: Ken Hulsey
Most American Godzilla fans are familiar with all of the monsters 28 films, television commercials, comic books, action figures and etc. What may be a mystery, to great many of them, is the monsters numerous appearances in Japanese TV shows. Granted, in many of these, it isn't actually "Godzilla", but the monster's suit reused to represent another monster, most notably as Gomess, in the second episode of "Ultra Q" and as Jirass in the "Ultraman" episode, "The Mysterious Dinosaur Base".
In the case of Jirass, the monster is nothing more than a used "Godzilla" suit from "Mothra vs Godzilla" with a neck sail added. As you probably already know, Ultraman yanks the sail off, and then it was Godzilla from then on.
Despite all of these attempts to reuse the monster as other monsters, Toho would call on Big G to help boost the ratings of their 1973 television show, "Ryusei Ningen Zon" (Zone Fighter), which the studio had created as direct competition for the popular "Ultraman" and "Kamen Rider" series.
Godzilla was not alone as far a cameos on "Ryusei Ningen Zon" were concerned. Toho would also dust off both King Ghidorah and Gigan for numerous appearances as well. In one episode. Godzilla actually kills Gigan while Ghidorah flies away. To be honest Ghidorah is the only monster to survive a tangle with the Godzilla/Zone Fighter duo. All other the monsters featured on the show met their makers.
On the show Godzilla is such a close friend to Zone Fighter that he actually builds him a custom cave to live in close by so in an emergency he could call upon the monster for help. You know kinda like how Dr. Quinn Darien and Carl Majors could push that red button and Godzilla would pop out of the sea to fight off whatever Godzooky pissed off.
Here is a quick synopsis:
The Zone Family is forced to find shelter on Earth after their home planet, Peaceland, is destroyed by the Garoga Army. Posing as the Sakimori Family, the Zone's had hoped to begin a new life, instead they would become Earth's defenders against the Garoga Army.
The Zone Fighters are able to transform to giant size to battle the giant beasts enslaved by the Garoga.
Godzilla is soon called upon to aid in the protection of Earth. Together Zone Fighter and Godzilla would prove to be more than a match for Garoga's beasts. Garoga would call upon two of Godzilla's nemesis, King Ghidora and Gigan, to aid in the destruction of Earth. Even these two monsters would prove to be no match for Earth's new dynamic duo. Zone Fighter would send King Ghidora packing while Godzilla would kill Gigan.
The series would last for 26 episodes before an energy crisis in Japan would force the cancellation of several television projects.
Though Toho considers the series as part of Godzilla's official time-line, and the series managed to boast decent ratings, the studio has never opted to relaunch it.
To many outside of Japan the show is a mystery. Many don't even know of it's existence. With any luck, someday, the series may get a DVD release here in the states, but I wouldn't hold my breath.
Episode List (Air Dates):
1. Destroy The Terro-Beast Missile (4-2-1973)
2. Beat Destro-King (4-9-1973)
3. Defeat Garoga's Subterranean Base (4-16-1973)
4. Onslaught! The Garoga Army: Enter Godzilla! (4-23-1973)
5. Blast King Ghidora At Point Blank! (4-30-1973)
6. King Ghidora Strikes Back! (5-7-1973)
7. Zone Family's Critical Moment (5-14-1973)
8. Smash The Terrifying Invader! (5-21-1973)
9. Search For The Secret Of Red Spider (5-28-1973)
10. Zone Fighter Annihilated! (6-4-1973)
11. In The Twinkling Of An Eye: The Roar Of Godzilla! (6-11-1973) (Godzilla & Gigan)
12. Terrorbeast HQ - Invade The Earth! (6-18-1973)
13. Absolute Terror: Birthday Of Horror! (6-25-1973)
14. Insane With Anger! The Garoga Boy's Squad (7-2-1973)
15. Submersion! Godzilla, Save Tokyo! (7-9-1973)
16. Counterstrike Of Terror! Garoga-Robot! (7-16-1973)
17. Go! Fighter Emergency Take Off! (7-23-1973)
18. Directive: Destroy The Japanese Laboratory! (7-30-1973)
19. Order: Crush The Earth With Comet K! (8-6-1973)
20. Desperate Struggle! Can You Hear Fighter's Song? (8-13-1973)
21. Invincible! Godzilla's Violent Charge! (8-20-1973)
22. Counterstrike! Strike Down Super-Jikiro! (8-27-1973)
23. Secret Of Bakugon - The Great Terro-Beast! (9-3-1973)
24. Smash The Pin-Spitter Needlar! (8-10-1973)
25. Bloodbath! Zone & Godzilla vs The United Terro-Beast Army! (8-17-1973)
26. Pulverize Operation: Garoga Gamma-X! (8-24-1973)
Ryusei Ningen Zon (1973)
Aka: Meteor Human Zon, Zone Fighter & Zone, the Meteor Man
Created By: Tomoyuki Tanaka
Directed By: Jun Fukuda & Ishirô Honda
Written By: Koji Amemiya, Jun Fukuda, Juro Shimamoto, Susumu Takeuchi, Tomoyuki Tanaka & Shozo Uehara
Kazuya Aoyama as Hikari Sakamori / Zone Fighter
Kazumi Kitahara as Hotaru Sakamori / Zone Angel
Shôji Nakayama as Yoichi Sakimori / Zone Father
Shiro Amagusa as Raita Sakamori / Zone Great
Momoru Kusumi as Zone Fighter (Giant Form)
Toru Kawai as Godzilla
Kiyoshi Kobayashi as Narrator
Munemaru Kouda as Gold Garoga (Voice)
Sachiko Kozuki as Tsukiko Sakamori
Hideaki Ohara as Takeru Jo
Takashi Sato as Akira Sakamori / Zone Junior