Jet Jaguar is the Greatest Toho Character EVER... Wait, Come Back!
By Daniel XIII
Let me get this right out of the way, I possess an opinion so unpopular among Godzilla fans I’m surprised that I haven’t been dragged to the town square and branded with a giant “G” on my cheek like some sort of kaiju lovin’ Hester Prynne (well I don’t “love” the kaiju quite like big H “loved” that priest, but you catch my drift). So, what is the heinous, unfathomable, dare I say traitorous, preference that your ol’ pal The Ouija Board Kid Daniel XIII harbors? Why it’s none other than the fact that I think Jet Jaguar is the single best character to ever have come from those mad geniuses at Toho (which was kinda given away by the title of this thing, but maybe you can pretend you didn’t read it or something).
And, there go 90% of Cool Ass Cinema’s readers…
Well, to the 5 of you that are either too drunk to click the little “X” that will close this blasphemous text or those that are staring at the soft glow of your monitor like slack jawed gawkers at the site of a particularly gnarly car wreck, let’s talk a little bit about why I think Double J is such a cool cat.
Simply put, Jet Jaguar encapsulates everything that films about giant creatures destroying cities (or dusty fields with one or two trees) should be, at least to me; colorful, surreal and filled with a child’s unrestricted design aesthetic. I simply don’t understand folks that aren’t immediately drawn to a premise like; giant cockroach/beetle released by a long lost undersea kingdom fights a giant lizard and a robot with a mile-wide shit eatin’ grin with the help of his cybernetic space bird friend with a buzz saw belly. C’mon, how does that not put a smile on your face? I know, I know…it’s not the grim, depressing tale of an H-bomb surrogate, orphan resultin’, slaverin’ super beast that the series started as (and for the record, I dig that iteration of Godzilla as well), but sometimes things just cry out to be smacked in the gob with the whiffle ball bat of ridiculous. And at the swirling, phantasmagoric, day-glow heart of the maelstrom of preposterous stands a primary hued sentinel of awesome with his shark-fin head raised high in pure defiance of logic, reason or (most importantly) adult sensibilities.
What child hasn’t dreamed of having someone in their lives that would provide to them a sense of over-whelming security? A true-blue, unwavering protector that could smash the monsters under the bed, hold them high on their shoulders, and make them feel like nothing in this cold world could ever cause them harm. Well, let me tell ya Jack, that is some “universal theme” material right there, and Godzilla vs. Megalon, the film in which Jet Jaguar appeared, hints pretty strongly that it’s young protagonist Rokuro doesn’t have the most stable of home lives. He appears to be under the guardianship of his uncle Goro (who may or may not be having a relationship with a cool race car driving dude named Hiroshi…although I can never tell if that was the producers intent or if that is just how things are viewed from an adult perspective, although this film contains very little in the way of a female presence save for those bizarre dancers in Seatopia, and some girly mag pin-ups tacked to the interior of a truck). Anyway, Goro creates a friend for Rokuro in the form of the super robot Jet Jaguar, and Jet Jaguar is everything that I postulated above; he appears nigh indestructible, he’s always available, and he’s always happy to be around Rokuro (due to that aforementioned sculpted rictus), things that parents cannot always be, but what most children would ideally love to experience. He also has a groovy-ass theme song that commands punching.
And while the screenwriters gave ol’ Jet the qualities of the super-father figure, his aesthetic design is pure childhood wonder as well, and the reason he hits those notes perfectly is that he was actually conceived by a child. As part of a competition to generate a new hero to capitalize on some of that sweet, sweet Ultraman cash, Toho decided to let the fan-base (i.e. some young kids) conceptualize their new hero. From the fiery ashes of that heated battle came the award winning creation of an elementary school student/design god/hit with the ladies (implied, but c’mon you know to this day he uses the ol’ “Want to see my magically growing robot?” line which has to be a real chick magnet) entitled Red Arone (though I’ve seen that spelled Red Alone as well…either way that name doesn’t really possess the Rock n’ Roll tanginess of what they eventually rechristened the ‘bot); a robot that was seemingly the result of putting Ultraman, Mazinger and a few Crayola crayons in a blender (though judging by the name perhaps only the red crayon was used originally…or maybe that “R” and “L” switcheroo happened here as well and the character’s name was actually Led Arone, which would make him metal as all hell…wait, what was I talking about again? Oh yeah, the kid creating Jet Jaguar…).
So with all of that taken into consideration, it’s easy to see why Jet Jaguar struck a chord not only with a young creep like myself, but with my entire coffin club o’ fiends n’ ghouls. And I’d wager, deep down in that coal-black, cynical lump of sarcastic spite you call a heart you dig Jet and his pals too, and hopefully someday you’ll be able to proclaim that admiration without fear of rebuttal from your fellow Godzilla fanatics! Or maybe you actually do hate him, either way you read this whole thing so I WIN! Now, someday if you’re lucky I’ll tell you why the Smog Monster is freakin’ killer as well!
The self proclaimed Ouija Board Kid, Daniel XIII is the result of an arcane ritual involving a bowl of Count Chocula, stag films, and a stack of Son of Satan comics. Ol' XIII is a staff writer for both The Retroist and Photon City News, as well as the sexy and talented author of bat-shit crazy horror novella THE HOUSE OF THIRTEEN DOORS.