If you’re looking to dig into the sometimes cheesy — yet always entertaining world — of the Toho Studios Godzilla universe, you can’t go wrong with 1961’s Mothra. Often portrayed within the Toho universe as the gentler, universe-healing flipside to Godzilla’s more cheerfully destructive ways, the colorful, gigantic moth’s debut picture features her in a much less magnanimous mood.
When a group of explorers on a scientific expedition breach the sanctum of the recently-irradiated Infant Island, they find two humanoid 12-inch-high twins (Yumi and Emi Ito) whose prodigious singing talents make them of particular interest to the party. Clark Nelson (Jerry Ito), an entrepreneur on the expedition, kidnaps them at gunpoint and puts them on a Tokyo stage, marketing them as tiny fairies.
The twins soon become a sensation, but neither woman is thrilled with spending their time in a strange man’s captivity, locked up in a cage between songs. They begin to beg Mothra to intercede. The tribe they were kidnapped from are soon seen singing and begging a giant egg to hatch, and the egg begins to crack. Cue a kaiju versus human battle to return the tiny twins to Infant Island.
Mothra is both cheesy good fun and, in its own way, it makes a statement about the influence of American capitalism on postwar Japan. If you want to try it out for yourself, it’s available onfor $2.99, and you can even pair it with a “Just the Jokes” audio commentary.