By Dr. Wilhelmina Lerna
As kaiju attacks have been going on the rise, many have been wondering what exactly a kaiju is. The First Age of Monsters is a subject that has been under taught in schools, seen as just a string of coincidental freak accidents and little more. Now that we are experiencing the Second Age of Monsters, it has become clear that the giant creatures are much more than that. Yet what makes a kaiju different from other animals? How do they come to be? Precious few know the answers to these questions, and kaijuologists like myself have been working for years to improve those answers. This purpose of this short essay is to state, in layman's terms, what a kaiju is, how they come to be, and the different classes of kaiju are.
What Exactly is a Kaiju?
The word "kaiju" is Japanese. Roughly translated, it means "strange beast" or "monster." This term was appropriated because a great deal of kaiju attacks in the First Age of Monsters took place in Japan, and after a while the name stuck. English speaking kaijuologists use the term "kaiju" as both the singular and plural form, so one could say "That's a large kaiju!" or "There's a large group of kaiju!" and still be grammatically correct. As I understand it, this use of the term came about because English speakers thought saying "kaijus" sounded silly.
It is important to realize the difference between kaiju and megafauna. Megafauna are, as the name suggests, large animals, such as elephants and dinosaurs. While kaiju superficially resemble large animals, they are far more than that. While this essay will elaborate on what makes them different shortly, the simple version is this: kaiju are reality warping, supernatural, radioactive organisms of immense strength. They do not age and can heal from most wounds. They can survive on little more than sunlight and even live in a vacuum for a short period of time. They can grow to sizes no normal carbon based life form could ever hope to achieve without exploding under the pressure of earth's gravity. Kaiju are so different, in fact, that biologists have discussed whether they should truly be placed in the animal kingdom, or if they belong in a group all their own.
As I just said, there are several things kaiju can do that normal organisms cannot. While some kaiju have their own unique special abilities, all kaiju have three traits in common that set them a part from anything else animal, mineral, or vegetable. First, all kaiju's bodies are built of a super dense, super strong material nicknamed "super flesh" by my colleagues. This "super flesh" includes most of the carbon-based molecules found in normal cells. It is set apart, however, by the presence of a radioactive carbon-based mineral we have named Yamaneon (named after one of the first kaijuologists). It is the presence of Yamaneon that makes a kaiju's "super flesh" stronger, more durable, and all around more sturdy than that of normal animals.
The unique radiation of this Yamaneon mineral is the source of a kaiju's reality-warping properties, which always manifest in two unique powers (and, in some cases, others as well). The first and, in my opinion, most interesting of these powers is what kaijuologists have coined "the healing factor" or, alternatively, "regeneration." Simply put, kaiju heal faster than normal creatures. How fast the healing factor works is dependent upon the degree of the kaiju's mutation. Some can heal grievous wounds in a matter of days, others in a matter of seconds. They can heal any wound if given the time even wounds to vital organs and nervous tissue, although the latter generally take longer to heal than normal cells.
Of course, while kaiju do warp reality, they are still limited by some of its rules. They cannot regenerate lost tissue without something to make new tissue, which means they have voracious appetites when healing. Kaiju can digest almost any material to reform their bodies, but generally seek either plant matter or flesh because of their instinctual drives. When not wounded or growing, kaiju rarely feel hunger pains, being able to replenish most of their energy using either Yamaneon radiation or, when on the surface, sunlight.
This healing factor is particularly extraordinary because of how stable it is. Unlike cancerous cells, whose speedy division results in the formation of damaged and lethal tissue, kaiju cells divide without error while still being remarkably swift. In fact, their cells almost never degrade, which means kaiju never experience old age and very rarely develop scars (despite their often violent lifestyles). This ability has astounded biologists of every field, with is possible ramifications for human health services already receiving a great deal of study.
Slightly less exciting, yet nonetheless amazing, is the kaiju's "super strength" ability. Kaiju are defined as "supernatural" creatures because of their ability to warp reality (a phrase that is admittedly vague, yet is the only way to truly describe the bizarre subversions and straight mockeries of the laws of nature kaiju perform without having to write down thousands of pages of theoretical physics). This ability is mainly used to greatly lessen the effect gravity has on their bodies. This allows kaiju to not only lift their bodies off the ground without exploding, but perform feats of strength that would be amazing for normal creatures to perform. A Class M4 kaiju can generally lift twice its own weight without even so much as a struggle which is 40,000 80,000 tons! Like the healing factor, this ability becomes exponentially stronger the further a kaiju mutates. A Class M4 can lift more than a Class M3, and so on and so forth.
Finally, the unique healing abilities and durable nature of kaiju allows them to perform biochemical processes that normal animals could not. These have manifesting in a variety of ways. Some kaiju can breathe flame, some shoot energy beams, and some can even create a focused wave of "gravity manipulation energy" similar to those used by the Kaiju Defense Force giant Mecha for propulsion and combat. This makes these already formidable creatures a devastating force when angered, which is all the more reason we should work towards understanding and pacifying them.
The benefits of being a kaiju don't come without drawbacks, however. The more advanced a kaiju's mutation is, the harder it is for the creature to breed. While not entirely sterile, most kaiju will never be able to produce live offspring - a godsend for the rest of us, as these massive creatures would overrun the world if they could reproduce as often as normal animals. Plant kaiju are an exception to this, however, having very little troubles with reproduction.
How Are Kaiju Made?
Yamaneon, as I said before, is a radioactive mineral. It is a long a complex chain of different atomic elements, made mostly of Carbon, Calcium, and Uranium. This mineral is seemingly naturally occurring, although there are some hypotheses that it may be extraterrestrial in origin. Regardless, Yamaneon, like the kaiju it creates, exhibits reality-warping effects. Yamaneon crystals tend to form in massive deposits that a technically too top heavy to stand, yet nonetheless do. Some deposits have even been known to float in mid air. This is the same gravity-manipulating effect kaiju exhibit on a daily basis.
In addition to manipulating gravity (a property that has made Yamaneon an important component of the military's gravity manipulation canons), Yamaneon radiation can mutate organic matter be it animal, plant, fungi, or any other multi-cellular organism in very specific ways. Short-term exposure to Yamaneon radiation is harmless and will produce no ill effects. Long-term exposure, on the other hand, will result in a process kaijuologists have named Atomic Fossilization. It takes at least a decade of constant exposure for this process to begin, and millions of years for it to finish.
Atomic Fossilization causes the chemical processes within an organism to begin forming Yamaneon molecules alongside normal carbon based molecules. The longer an organism is exposed to Yamaneon radiation, the more Yamaneon its body will produce. Slowly over time the organism will develop the three essential traits of a kaiju ("super flesh," the healing factor, and "super strength," as described above). Early in the process within the first five or so years of constant exposure cells will be completely stabilized, preventing old age from claiming the soon-to-be kaiju before the Atomic Fossilization can complete. Should the creature in question be removed from the Yamaneon's radiation before the process of Atomic Fossilization can begin, its cells will slowly undo the effects of the Yamaneon radiation, meaning the organism will eventually experience old age and die, never becoming a kaiju. If the exposure is allowed to continue for at least ten years, the organism will maintain its status as a kaiju even if cut off although it will not continue to develop beyond its current class. In other words, if a Class M1 kaiju is removed from a ready source of Yamaneon radiation, it will remain a Class M1 kaiju. Only with constant exposure will it be able to reach the higher classes.
As a kaiju continues the process of Atomic Fossilization, its body will grow in size to accommodate the vast amount of energy generated by the Yamaneon its body is producing. As a general rule, the larger a kaiju is, the older it is or, at least, the more time it has spent exposed to Yamaneon radiation.
The First Age of Monsters proved that there are ways to take shortcuts in the Atomic Fossilization process. While Yamaneon radiation is generally very constant and stable, Yamaneon crystals can release huge (and potentially deadly) bursts of radiation when exposed to a sudden burst of energy. This can be something as commonplace as the geothermal energy released by sudden geologic activity, or as horrific as an atomic bomb blast. This is why so many kaiju appeared in the wake of the atomic and hydrogen bomb tests during the Cold War many of those same tests had unknowingly been performed near underground Yamaneon deposits, creating a surge of Yamaneon radiation that sped up the Atomic Fossilization process in all creatures in the surrounding area. While most did not survive the sudden surge of radioactivity, many did, becoming the various kaiju that menaced mankind in the First Age of Monsters. There was also a great deal of extreme geologic activity at the time, which accounted for some of the other kaiju as well. There is likewise a great deal of extreme geologic activity right now, accounting for the sudden surge in kaiju activity.
So we have established the process by which kaiju are made. What now remains to be answered is where these giant creatures are coming from. Obviously people would have noticed by now if a group of immortal dinosaurs were loitering out in the open, slowly growing larger and more powerful in the ensuing years. These monoliths of flesh had to hide somewhere. But where can a creature the size of a skyscraper possibly hide?
The answer is underground. It was recently discovered that there is a huge tunnel system within the earth's crust made by the gravity altering effects of Yamaneon. This system stretches across each tectonic plate, forming a massive labyrinth of subterranean tunnels and caverns. When the tunnels first came about is a mystery, but they have been in existence since at least the Devonian period. While the shift of tectonic plates has altered them throughout the hundreds of millions of years they've existed, the system has nonetheless remained in tact in some form or another.
A wide variety of subterranean ecosystems exist in the various caverns of this system, kept alive by the life sustaining radiation of the Yamaneon crystals. Thousands of species of unique, Yamaneon-rich flora exist in the tunnel system, almost all of which are massive compared to the flora on the surface world. These, of course, support the kaiju that also inhabit these tunnels. On the rare occasions where kaiju die, generally in combat with each other, their rotting bodies eventually transform into Yamaneon crystals themselves, replenishing the tunnels' supply.
We have not even scratched the surface of exploring this tunnel system, but we are beginning to now, and there have been some recorded instances in the past where others stumbled in it as well. A few of these took place during the First Age of Monsters, and some even far before. The existence of these ecosystems may even explain why our ancestors believed monsters lived beneath the earth!
While generally subterranean, the tunnel system has quite a few paths that lead to the surface. There is a large one on Typhon Island and the nearby Echidna Island chain, as well as a few far smaller ones in Nevada and Arizona. One was found in Mexico in the First Age of Monsters, only to be destroyed with dynamite when some of its kaiju residents emerged to wreak havoc on the human population. I am sure that in time we will find many more of these openings at the root of most, if not all, kaiju incidents, past and present. They are also the most likely reason kaiju exist in the first place. It is probable that these openings, or other openings like them, allowed normal animals to enter the Yamaneon tunnel in the first place. Said animals would either get trapped in the caverns or, finding a lush ecosystem within, never found a reason to leave, allowing them to accumulate the years of exposure needed to begin the Atomic Fossilization process. This has happened since at least the Devonian period, with more and more creatures evolving in monsters within the caverns as time went by.
The Kaiju Class System
As Atomic Fossilization is an ongoing process, some kaiju are far stronger and thus larger threats than others. My colleagues have developed a rough class system for kaiju accordingly. Remember that this is a rough estimate, as some kaiju develop differently than others. As a general rule, the larger a kaiju is, the older and more powerful it is but this is not always the case, as some large kaiju have "super strength" and healing factors on par with smaller, weaker kaiju, while some of the smaller ones are stronger and have better healing factors than their size might indicate, and so on and so forth. The class system is thus an estimation i.e. a good guess rather than a definite set of rules.
Class M1: It generally takes 30 100 years of constant exposure to Yamaneon radiation for a creature to become this level of kaiju. These kaiju generally weigh between 2 to 3 tons. A hypothetical theropod dinosaur of this kaiju level would stand roughly 8 to 10 feet tall and 18 to 22 feet long (assuming it was this height or smaller to begin with if it were larger any larger it would probably not experience any changes in size until reaching Class M2 or M3). It would be slightly stronger than it would be naturally and heal only slightly faster, but would also be able to survive wounds to vital organs and heal nerve cells (albeit at an incredibly slow pace).
Class M2: 1,000 10,000 years of Yamaneon radiation exposure (again, these are all rough estimates). These kaiju generally weigh between 10 to 12 tons. Our hypothetical theropod kaiju would stand 18 to 20 feet tall and 40 to 50 feet long (again, if the creature in question already had these dimensions, it would stay roughly the same size although by this point it would have gained a few tons, if speculation about theropod weight is correct). It would be able to lift roughly twice the weight it could have if it were not a kaiju, heal wounds twice as fast as normal, be more likely to survive wounds to its vital organs, and heal nerve cells faster than a Class M1 (but still very slowly).
Class M3: 100,000 1 million years of Yamaneon radiation exposure. These kaiju generally weigh between 1,000 and 8,000 tons, having put on a substantial amount of weight thanks to the now generous amount of Yamaneon in their system. Our hypothetical theropod would stand 50 to 80 feet tall and 120 to 180 feet long. Able to lift objects equal to their own (immense) weight with ease, these kaiju can also heal grievous wounds within a matter of hours, can recover from any wound given time, and heal nerve cells ¼ as fast as non-kaiju organisms can heal normal cells.
Class M4: 10 million 100 million years of Yamaneon radiation exposure. These kaiju generally weigh between 20,000 and 40,000 tons. Our hypothetical theropod kaiju would stand between 30 and 50 meters tall and 80 to 120 meters long. These kaiju can lift objects twice their own weight with ease and heal grievous wounds within a matter of seconds. Their nerve cells heal half as fast as non-kaiju organisms can heal normal cells.
Class M5: 100 million + years (a very rough estimate we do not actually have a good guess how long it takes a kaiju to reach this stage, and some have suggested that it only occurs in extreme circumstances, as a result of a sudden surge of Yamaneon radiation). These kaiju weigh roughly 5,000 to 10,000 tons, if not more. Our hypothetical theropod kaiju would stand between 80 and 100 meters tall and 180 to 220 meters long. These kaiju can lift objects four times their own weight, if not more so, with ease. They can heal most wounds in a matter of seconds, and heal nerve cells at the rate non-kaiju organisms heal normal cells.
There is speculation that kaiju can exceed Class M5 i.e. kaiju of Class M6 and above but this is purely conjecture, and as of yet no Class M6 kaiju has ever been discovered.
Kaiju are the result of a naturally occurring and, frankly, miraculous process of partial fossilization caused by the radioatice, reality-warping mineral called Yamaneon. These supernatural creatures literally bend the laws of physics to suit their own needs, and are capable of feats normal flora and fauna could never hope to achieve naturally. They are immortal, thinking, feeling, and walking engines of destruction. They are to be feared and respected, and will doubtlessly be a source of fascination for years to come.