Atragon (海底軍艦, Kaitei Gunkan, lit. ’The Undersea Warship‘) is a 1963 Japanese science fiction film produced and distributed by Toho. It is based on The Undersea Warship by Shunrō Oshikawa and The Undersea Kingdom by Shigeru Komatsuzaki. The film is directed by Ishirō Honda, with special effects by Eiji Tsuburaya and stars Jun Tazaki, Tadao Takashima, Yōko Fujiyama, Yū Fujiki, and Ken Uehara.
The film was released in Japan on December 22, 1963, and in the United States in 1965 via American International Pictures.
Atragon is loosely based on The Undersea Warship by Shunrō Oshikawa and The Undersea Kingdom by Shigeru Komatsuzaki. Komatsuzaki also served as an uncredited designer for the film, as he had with The Mysterians and Battle in Outer Space.
Screenwriter Sekizawa wrote a scene where Jinguji learned of his daughter’s kidnapping and was prepared to sacrifice her in order to save the world, which triggered an argument between Jinguji and Kosumi. Director Honda choose to cut this because he saw the story as a parable of global problems rather than personal problems. Producer Tanaka also insisted that a monster, Manda, be included in the film.
Honda had no idea whom to cast as the Empress of Mu but met Tetsuko Kobayashi by chance, who was working on a TV show in Toho’s lot. Honda found her to be “hard working and very energetic”. Kobayashi also applied the Empress’ makeup herself.
The film’s production schedule was shorter than usual, with production beginning September 5, 1963, targeted for a December release of that same year. This resulted in effects director Eiji Tsuburaya scaling back some effects. Honda originally wanted to show towns and residual areas for the Mu Empire but did not have enough money in the budget.
Atragon was released in Japan on December 22, 1963. It became the 13th highest grossing domestic film of the year, grossing ¥175 million.
Atragon became a popular feature on TV and at film festivals. In fact, it was so popular that it was re-released in 1968 as the support feature for Honda’s Destroy All Monsters. It was also the 1964 Japanese entry at the Trieste Science Fiction Film Festival.
American International Pictures afforded the film a successful US theatrical release in 1965 with minimal changes and quality dubbing by Titra Studios. The new name Atragon, derived from Toho’s international title Atoragon, is presumably a contraction of “atomic dragon“, a colorful moniker for the titular juggernaut; however, AIP’s dubbed dialogue refers to the Goten-go by the name “Atragon”. This shortening from four to three syllables was the choice of AIP, since several European markets released the film as Atoragon (Italy) and Ataragon (France). While Atragon became Toho’s first tokusatsu eiga (visual effects film) released on home video in 1982, and though the film is exceptionally popular among western tokusatsu fans, Atragon was not released on home video in the United States until Media-Blasters’ DVD in 2005 (although the film was in constant television syndication in the US until the early 1980s). Media Blasters had intended to use the original Titra Studios dubbing, but Toho forced the company to use its international version. This alternate dubbed version syncs up perfectly with the Japanese video, but fans generally consider these international dubs to be inferior.
this is the original TITRA STUDIOS english dub version, color, mono, fullscreen. DVD-R comes packaged as shown in color DVD case, wrapped in plastic!