This weekend, moviegoers everywhere are preparing for a Barbenheimer double feature. The two cinematic juggernauts—Greta Gerwig’s Barbie and Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer—are highly anticipated flicks in their own right. But their juxtaposition has achieved meme status, boosting the popularity of both debuts.
It’s not the first time this has happened, though. Submitted for your approval, Godziham-kun: the opening weekend duo that turned irony into a marketable mascot.
What is a Godziham?
The concept of “Barbenheimer” has propagated primarily through memes and Photoshopped images. But Godziham-kun is very, very real. Or at least, he’s very very real merchandise.
This darling kaiju rodent is a mashup of popular children’s character Hamtaro and popular giant monster Godzilla. Specifically, it’s a rendering of the former in a cozy, but mildly threatening, kigurumi of the latter. First spotted in 2001, Godziham-kun comes in many varieties. There’s the standard green Godziham, as well as color variants. In later years, we’ve also spotted Mechagodziham and Mothra mashup Mosuham.
But why did this happen? Because people saw an opportunity.
If you want the Barbenheimer experience, you have to make it happen for yourself. But if you wanted the Godziham experience, one ticket got you there.
In 2001, two movies shared a premiere weekend. Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack and Hamtaro: Adventures in Ham-Ham Land were coming out side by side. Much like this weekend’s big debuts, someone had the idea to turn these two drastically different flicks into a double feature. The difference? This was an official move. Moviegoers could pick themselves up a Godziham double feature ticket and enjoy both flicks in one sitting.
Better still, they got goods to go with it! Each double feature ticket came with a Godziham-kun keychain. The promotion went so well for both films that they did it again in 2002 and 2003. But alas, all good things must come to an end… at least temporarily.
In 2021, a 20th anniversary re-screening of the Godzilla/Hamtaro double feature came to cinemas in Japan. Along with it came the return of Godziham-kun goods, bigger and better than ever! Since then, the cute character has seen a renaissance. Kaiju comic artist Matt Frank lent his pen to the 2021 return, drawing both a cute and a realistic Godziham. We’ve also seen more lines of merch, including citypop Godziham!
While the Barbenheimer movement may not have gotten the same official push as Godziham, they prove that our taste in wild double features hasn’t changed much over the last few decades. And who knows? If Universal and Mattel put their heads together, maybe we can get the merch line we deserve. Just show them the success of this cute little hamster for reference.