Kaijū Menagerie

Varan (バラン Baran) Varan

Varan the Unbelievable, 1958

– spiky exterior
– flying squirrel-style membrane-wings

– flight
– cowering underwater
– attempting to mind his own business
– not taking part in mass beatings of King Ghidorah


The first time I saw Varan was in Destroy All Monsters (1968). He shows up very briefly and doesn’t actually do anything in the film. I’m not really sure why he’s even there, other than to fill up a bit of space on the screen.


In his own film, Varan the Unbelievable, he has, obviously, a lot more screen time. Yet still, he does very little. He spends the opening act attempting to mind his own business, hanging out in a small village and being worshiped by a cult. Until a group of scientists show up and, being scientists, poke him and prod him until he explodes with rage.


After Varan, understandably, retaliates, the army is sent in to destroy him. For fuck’s sake! Just leave him alone, Japan! In an attempt to escape, Varan flies (he looks hysterical when he flies) away from his home and winds up in Tokyo. Nice work, army… you are entirely responsible for your own destruction.


Poor Varan. I feel bad for him. Not only is he needlessly persecuted by twattish scientists, but he’s also pretty boring as a monster. Varan the Unremarkable, am I right?! Hahaha! Ahem. Sorry. To be honest, I generally forget he exists in-between screenings of Destroy All Monsters and I certainly have no plans to return to Varan the Unbelievable any time soon. There’s just nothing memorable about Varan. In design, he’s similar to Anguirus. The way he hangs out in the ocean is reminiscent of his more famous green predecessor. His awkward flight abilities only seem like a feeble attempt to make him more interesting.


He’s not entirely unlikeable though. There’s something about his goofy little grinning face that makes him oddly appealing. Varan the Unbelievable, while one of Toho’s weakest kaijū efforts, is an enjoyable film and, though he does very little, the brief moments of destruction he causes are fun enough. Varan is far from the cream of the kaijū crop, but there’s worse giant monsters out there.