El Gusano Gigante
1998 was an interesting year for the Godzilla franchise.
On one hand there was a big-budget American variation of the famous character, which disappointed in almost every aspect of its execution; almost as if it was the living embodiment of everything that's STILL wrong with modern-day Hollywood. While at the same time doing something that diehard Godzilla fans did not want to see from the project - making light (to say the least) of The King of the Monsters.
On the other hand, the American "Godzilla"
also brought forth a new found appreciation for the Japanese original, from critics and the general public alike. This would ultimately lead to a great number of better things, including high-end DVDs, merchandising, and a new cycle of Japanese-made films (the so-called Millennium Series, 1999-2004), beginning with "Godzilla 2000"
Even the 2011 comic books from IDW Publishing, and Legendary Pictures current attempt at a more serious US-produced Godzilla film, are both direct results from the '98 fiasco and backlash.
In the middle ground of all this however, was "Godzilla The Animated Series"
, which was a direct spin-off of the 1998 movie, but unlike said film, was overseen by writers and artist who 'got' what Godzilla was about. And thankfully the series and its version of the title monster shared more in common with its imaginative Japanese counterpart, minus some minor misstep here and there.
The cartoon also introduced viewers to many new giant monster adversaries to the ever growing Godzilla franchise. And although way too many of these creatures were basically oversized mutant animals with blander names (Giant Squids, Giant Bat, Giant Turtle, Giant Water Beetle, Fire Monster), one character who seem to have won the hearts of Godzilla fans (fickle and forgiving alike), was non other than El Gusano Gigante
Yes, I know the irony that when translated to English, its the very bland The Giant Worm
, but thankfully the Spanish version IS the character's official moniker, no matter what language we're using to discuss...well, minus Spanish itself of course...I think...?
First appearing in episode three, "D.O.A."
, El Gusano was an earthworm that fed off of a rare poisonous plant, deep within Central American. And as a result, mutated and grew to an enormous size, with an equally devastating appetite, and devouring entire crops. Godzilla defeated El Gusano by bathing the gluttonous beast in its green flames, shrinking it to a shrived, human-sized version of itself, which made a speedy getaway soon after.
Plump and big again, El Gusano returned in the "Monster Wars"
trilogy (episodes 12-14), among the mind-controlled monster army summoned by the Leviathan Aliens
, in their attempt to conquer the Earth. El Gusano survived this ordeal, and later became an inmate of the series' own version of Monster Island.
You can read more about the aforementioned episodes at the official episode guide from Sci-Fi Japan
What I personally love about El Gusano is that the show's staff didn't do standard 'worm monster' in the design, but instead a sort of outrageous demonic caterpillar with dinosaur-like armor, and a wonderfully humorous grinning face. I'm still not fully sure if El Gusano has much of a personality beyond said smile, but it feels more developed as a character than most of the other guest monsters from the series, and that may be one of the reasons it succeeded amongst Godzilla fans.
Though I'd still love to read your opinions on the illustrations' namesake (which needless to say, was very fun to do).
There was a Worm Monster
planned for the unreleased / canceled toy-line based on "Godzilla The Animated Series"
, but the designs so radically different from the original El Gusano, that its quite easy to mistake it for an otherwise unrelated worm. You can read more about this here, also from Sci-Fi Japan: [link]