is a kaiju, a type of fictional monster who first appeared in the serialized novel The Luminous Fairies and Mothra by Takehiko Fukunaga, Shinichiro Nakamura, and Yoshie Hotta. Since her film début in the 1961 film Mothra, she has appeared in several Toho tokusatsu films.
Generally regarded as female by English-speaking audiences, she is a giant lepidopteran with characteristics both of butterflies and of moths. She closely resembles an Inachis io, or a European Peacock Butterfly. The name "Mothra" is the suffixation of "-ra" (a common last syllable in kaiju names, viz. Hedo-ra, Ghido-ra, Ebi-ra, Goji-ra(Godzilla)) to "moth"; since the Japanese language does not have dental fricative, it is approximated "Mosura" in Japanese. In the American dubbing of Mothra vs. Godzilla, Mothra is also referred to as: "The Thing". She is occasionally an ally to Godzilla but more often than not engaged in conflict due to his anger toward the human race. Mothra holds the most victories against the "King of Monsters."
Since her first film, Mothra has been depicted in various stages of the lepidopteran life cycle: Mothra's mammoth egg is decoratively colored in blue and yellow waves. The egg hatches into her larva, a massive brown, segmented caterpillar (resembling a silkworm) with glowing blue—red when angry—eyes. In rare circumstances, twins may emerge from the egg. The caterpillar eventually spins a silken cocoon around itself (the pupa stage), and from this cocoon the imago (adult) Mothra emerges, a gigantic moth-like creature with brightly-colored wings. Mothra's life cycle—particularly the tendency of an imago's death to coincide with its larvae hatching—echoes that of the Phoenix, resembling resurrection and suggesting divinity. Despite having wrought destruction worthy of any Toho daikaiju, she is almost always portrayed as a kind and benevolent creature, causing destruction only when acting as protector to her worshipers on Infant Island or to her egg, or as collateral damage while protecting Earth from a greater threat. She has also fertilized her own eggs.
Mothra has proven a formidable adversary in combat: in larval form she may use her silken spray to wrap and immobilize an opponent, and has a knack for biting and clinging to foes' tails. In imago form her powers vary widely from film to film, including very animalistic scratching and dragging, incorporating several bolt and beam weapons in the Heisei era, and often concluding with a poisonous yellow powder (or "scales") —her last defense.
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