Death at 87 of Akira Takarada, the hero of the first Godzilla film

The star of the most famous of the Japanese monster films had reappeared in several other parts of the cinematographic saga.

He embodied the brave young sailor who was the first to stand up to the most famous of Japanese monsters. Japanese actor Akira Takarada, known for playing in 1954 in the first film Godzilla , died Monday in Tokyo at the age of 87.

Takarada, who appeared at the premiere of his latest film earlier this month, died in hospital after contracting pneumonia, Japanese media reported on Friday. “We are saddened to learn of Akira Takarada’s passing. May his memory continue to inspire the lives of many Godzilla fans.”said on Twitter the production company Toho, which notably manages the Godzilla franchise.

Akira Takarada (left), then 20, with the rest of the cast of the first Godzilla. Everett Collection/Bridgeman Images

The best enemy of monsters

Akira Takarada rose to stardom quickly after playing the lead role of a heroic captain in the first Godzilla. The film deeply marked the public by its assimilation of the gigantic monster – a kai-ju – to a devastating force of nature, and by its motif playing on the fear of nuclear power in post-war Japan, only nine years after the American bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Popular in Japan, Akira Takarada later reappeared in other films in the series of Godzilla, of which Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964), where the actor had returned to the top of the bill – at least behind the two colossal monsters. He had also appeared in more recent films of the saga – the Godzilla vs Mothra from 1992 or even Godzilla: Final Wars, in 2004 – albeit in more modest roles. Apart from the films of kaiju, Akira Takarada had also played a small role in last whima 1961 film by Japanese cinema master Yasujiro Ozu.


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