Japan’s most recognizable nonhuman before Hello Kitty rises from the sea as a result of an A-bomb blast, and we’re off and running with Godzilla (1954), Ishiro Honda’s first contribution to the Latex Terror genre. The battle to defeat this post-Hiroshima monstrosity is complicated by a love triangle between sweet young thing Emiko (Momoko Kochi), dashing dude Ogata (Akira Takarada), and scientist Dr. Serizawa (Akihiko Hirata), who honest-to-God wears black rubber gloves and an eyepatch with his white lab coat. (The 1956 American release tied it all together for non-Japanese audiences with narration by American journalist Steve Martin [Raymond Burr], who, when not dictating copy to his bureau over the phone, spends a lot of time staring blankly and lighting his pipe.) Some of the shots, especially moments when the camera lingers on solemn-faced children in danger’s path, have a quiet sadness that hint at the reality of post-nuclear Japan’s ravagement. Unfortunately, the title creature’s first appearance looks sodden instead of awe-inspiringly kitschy, as if he were made out of Rice Krispie treats and dryer lint. Still, there’s something poetic in Godzilla’s undercranked trek through a smoldering Tokyo, as skinny silhouettes dance in backlit panic in their apartment windows as Godzilla’s meat loaf-y, pop-eyed head leers overhead.