Animation Cel-ebration
September 11, 2023 posted by Michael Lyons

“Godzilla” and “King Kong” Get Animated

King Kong vs. Godzilla. It’s been a match made in Monster Movie heaven. Are you “Team Kong” or “Team Godzilla”? No matter where your loyalty may lie, there’s no denying that it’s fun to look back at both famous monsters’ histories through the years.

Part of that history involves animation. And while their cartoon shows aren’t often immediately thought of during the monstrous career retrospectives of King Kong and Godzilla, looking back on them is a guilty a pleasure as a bowl of sugary cereal.

The King Kong Show, ABC, 1966

Produced by the Rankin/Bass Studio, this was the first animated version of King Kong and featured him in a more docile role. Here, Kong, befriended by a young boy named Bobby Bond, becomes somewhat of a pet/protector to Bobby and the entire Bond family.

King Kong was even given a friendly, “cartoony” look for the show.

The shows follow plots that were very similar to several shows at the time (most notably Hanna-Barbera’s Frankenstein, Jr, which debuted that same year). Each week, Kong would help the Bond family out of a jam they had found themselves in (usually while going up against their enemy, Dr. Who).

The King Kong Show was the first Anime series produced in Japan for an American company (Rankin/Bass’ stop-motion specials had been made in Japan, but this would be the first 2D project).

Best of all, the show had quite the catchy, oh-so-60s theme song: “King Kong, you know the name of King Kong/You know the fame of King Kong/Ten times as big as a man!”

The Godzilla Power Hour, NBC, 1978

Speaking of earworm Saturday morning theme songs, there was this show’s: “Up from the depths, thirty stories high/Breathing fire, his head in the sky/Godzilla!”

In 1978, Hanna-Barbera partnered with Producer Henry G. Saperstein, who owned the rights to Godzilla’s character, for an animated version of the famous film monster.

The Godzilla Power Hour episodes had somewhat similar plots as The King Kong Show. Here, Godzilla had befriended and assists a group of scientists onboard the research ship, the Calico. Godzilla’s look is very much in keeping with his imposing image from the live-action films.
However, to “cute up” Godzilla, Hanna-Barbera added the character of Godzooky. He was Godzilla’s nephew and a wide-eyed, pint-sized version of Godzilla, a little cowardly and a little clumsy.

The character was introduced to endear the formidable Godzilla to a younger audience, but Godzooky isn’t the strangest thing about this version of Godzilla. The different formats of the show are eclectically bizarre.

As the show went on for another two years, The Godzilla Power Hour was extended. New co-stars were added, bringing about title changes such as The Godzilla/Globetrotters Adventure Hour, Godzilla/Dynomutt Hour with The Funky Phantom and even The Godzilla/Hong Kong Phooey Hour!

Godzilla: The Series, Fox, 1998

After Godzilla made a well, monstrous, comeback in the Summer of 1998 with the big-budget behemoth of a live-action film from the creators of Independence Day, came this animated series that served as a sequel of sorts.

Dr. Patrick Tatopoulos (played by Matthew Broderick in the film and voiced by 90210’s Ian Ziering here) leads an ecological team seeking out mutant species. The Dr. comes across an egg that hatches and eventually grows into Godzilla and imprints on the Dr, helping him and the team.

As with the earlier King Kong and Godzilla animated series, the monster is once again transformed into a “good guy” and a crime-solving team member.

This series was executive produced by Dean Devlin and Roland Emmerich, the writers, producers, and directors of the live-action film. It also features actors Malcolm Danare, Kevin Dunn, and Michael Lerner, voicing their characters’ animated versions from the original movie.

So, while it doesn’t boast a catchy theme song, it does have some continuity and DNA from its source material.

Kong: The Animated Series, Fox, 2000

Coming off of the success of Godzilla: The Series came this animated show that brought back Hollywood’s other significant monster again. Much like 98s Godzilla, this served as a sequel, as well…this time to the 1933 original King Kong.

On the show, a doctor clones Kong after he falls from the Empire State Building and brings him back to “Kong Island.” Years later, when an expedition comes to the island and a villainous member of the group, Professor De La Porta, steals stones that control the island’s balance; it’s up to the rest of the expedition (joined of course by Kong) to travel the world and regain the stones.

The series only ran for one season but had enough of a following to spawn two direct-to-video sequels after its cancellation.

Kong: King of the Apes, Netflix, 2016

This well-executed computer-animated series came from the studio 41 Entertainment. In the future (the year 2050), this show once again puts a friendlier, “family pet” spin on the character. As a young ape chased by hunters, Kong is rescued by a young boy Lucas and raised by the young boy’s family.

Alcatraz in San Francisco has been transformed into a Natural History Museum. Kong is the main attraction until the show’s villain (Richard, Lucas’s twin brother) frames him, and the great ape unwittingly releases destruction on the museum.

After, Richard unleashes an army of dinosaurs on the world and only Kong (now a fugitive after destroying the museum) can stop them.

A favorite of kids and adults when it aired, this series not only boasted a more original plotline but some impressively choreographed action and battle scenes.

So, whether your “Team Kong” or “Team Godzilla,” here are some other monstrous adventures to keep you rooting.


  • Team Kong all the way!

    I’ve seen the entire run of “Kong: the Animated Series” twice through. It’s a very good show, with compelling characters and lots of action. The “cyberlink” that allows Jason to merge corporeally with Kong can also, in the wrong hands, create a wide variety of very cool giant monsters for Kong to battle. Ramon de la Porta is a great villain, but my favourite character would have to be the beautiful shaman Lua, the last survivor of her people and a fearless and resourceful heroine. When one of the bad guys tries to run her down with a Jeep, what does she do? She jumps straight up into the air, executes a perfect backflip, lands in the back seat of the Jeep and puts the driver in a headlock. Problem solved. The world could use more girls like Lua.

    Then there was the 1998 animated feature “The Mighty Kong”, a fairly faithful retelling of the original 1933 movie — except that it’s also a musical, with songs by the Sherman brothers! I’ll be the first to admit that it has its flaws, but it’s something of a guilty pleasure for me. Far more pleasure than guilt.

    I greatly ape-preciate this post! You deserve a round of ape-plause!

    • Remember big chungus? I do.

  • I remember watching the 2014 Godzilla movie when I was younger.

  • There’s also the recently-released Skull Island, also for Netflix.

    Anyway, the animation on The King Kong Show isn’t great, but it had to start somewhere. American series animated in Japan would improve in the coming decades, especially in the late ’80s and into the ’90s.

  • The live action “King Kong Escapes” was produced by Toho and Rankin/Bass, and carried over a few character names from the cartoon show. I suspect it was a matter of Toho wanting to do a sequel to the successful “King Kong vs. Godzilla” and Rankin/Bass currently having the rights to Kong.

  • One thing you missed pointing out in your article: several elements from the King Kong Show, most notably Mechani-Kong and Dr. Who, would end up being used in the Rankin-Bass/Toho production of King Kong Escapes.

    H-B’s Godzilla gets far more bizarre when you learn about the legal hurdles that had to be cleared in order to get the show made. Not only did Toho forbid the use of any of their other monsters, they wouldn’t allow them to use the iconic roar!

    • Ted Cassidy (Lurch from the Addams Family) did the Godzilla roars.

      He also did roars for The Incredible Hulk, which got recycled for Unicron in The Transformers: The Movie in one scene. (Learned that bit from the CerealGeek YouTube channel run by James Eatock.)

      I’ve heard Toho makes licensees pay additional fees for each monster, so frequently adaptations will have Godzilla exclusively fighting new monsters.

      There was a series of Godzilla CGI anime movies on Netflix a few years ago. I thought they were pretty boring, though.

  • Other Godzilla cartoon series on Netflix include Godzilla Singular Point from 2013. This is a 13-part series from Japan that is more a Jet Jaguar show the Godzilla that needs to be seen if you at least know what Godzilla is, if only because nothing you know about Godzilla seems to matter. I can’t describe the show, but if you have time, watch at least part of it.

    There is also a trilogy of animated films on Netflix, Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters (2017); Godzilla: City of the Edge of Battle (2018); and Godzilla: The Planet Eater (2018). This may sound strange, but it was these movies that showed how terrifying is Godzilla. The movie starts with what is left of humanity leaving Earth to get away from Godzilla. Eventually, the people understand there is no where to go, so decide to return to Earth. When they do, they find the ecosystem has changed to conform to Godzilla. There three movies aren’t high art, but I enjoyed them when I didn’t think I would.

  • I’m surprised Rankin-Bass didn’t do a King Kong holiday special (“Rudolph and Frosty Meet King Kong”). Starring “It” from “Mad Monster Party.”

  • Model sheets of Kong in the Rankin Bass series actually had him look less cute, and more of smug, threatening brute force, though he looked quite goofy in one of the concept designs that’s online. I think it was just lost in the Japanese animating process, as I doubt they quite understood what the Americans were going for in terms of design.

  • “but some impressively choreographed action and battle scenes.”

    Thanks – I tried my best on some of them! Ha, I boarded on Kong: King of the Apes’ first season… it was definitely an interesting experience, especially with the scale involved between humans and Kong

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