They presumably work on the same principle as real world Maser devices, of which their name is short for Microwave Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation.
Many fans consider the inspiration for the final version of the Maser Cannon to be the Markalite Cannon from 1957's The Mysterians. The gigantic satellite-like weapon fired a ray/beam from its center, and proved to be very effective. A similar weapon also appeared in 1959's Battle in Outer Space. In 1961, the movie Mothra featured the famous Atomic Heat Ray Gun, a Markalite-like weapon that took the basic design that was featured in the previous films and placed it on wheels. The tank-like form was taken to the next level five years later for War of the Gargantuas, the first film to feature an official Maser Cannon.
Although there are several different types of Masers, most have a similar appearance and all function in about the same way. The Maser is basically a large tank that supports a laser firing system in the form of a large arm ending in a satellite-like head. Usually, the arm lowers down when the tank is moving, and rises to take aim at the intended target. The head then fires a steady beam that resembles a laser beam or stream of lightning. The beam has proven to be very effective against some monsters, the best example being Gaira. Masers were also very effective in driving off such monsters as Anguirus and Godzilla (only in Godzilla vs. Gigan), and a variation of the Maser, called the DAG-MB96 or ULT Laser Cannon (which appeared in Godzilla vs. Destoroyah) even succeeded in killing the monster Destoroyah at the film's climax. However, most of the time, the Masers fell before the might of the monsters. Maser weapons were utilized by Kiryu, as mouth cannons and the chest-mounted Hyper Maser Cannon, in the Millennium series films.
The Type 66 Maser cannons were first utilized in an attempt to kill Gaira. They nearly succeeded until Gaira's "brother" Sanda stepped in and saved him. They were used again in Tokyo, where Gaira and Sanda fought each other before taking their fight out to the harbor, and then the ocean.
Maser Cannons were deployed by the J.S.D.F. when Anguirus was sent from Monster Island by Godzilla to investigate the activities of the M Space Hunter Nebula Aliens. Maser Cannons were lined up on the shore and opened fire on Anguirus, who did not retaliate but turned around and returned to the island to get Godzilla's help.
Later, when Gigan and King Ghidorah were attacking Tokyo, Maser Cannons were deployed to stop them. The cannons seemed to be effective against Gigan, but were destroyed by King Ghidorah's gravity beams.
Maser Cannons were among the many weapons deployed to stop Megalon's rampage. However, Megalon destroyed them and the rest of the attacking vehicles present in the battle.
- Main article: Hyper Laser Cannon.
The Hyper Laser Cannon was created as a weapon during the Cold War. They were deployed when Godzilla attacked Tokyo in 1984, and managed to distract him long enough for the Super X to arrive. They then retreated. The technology used in the Hyper Laser Cannon was later used to create the MBT-92 and other Maser Cannons.
- Main article: MBT-92.
The MBT-92 was developed by the J.S.D.F. using similar technology used in the Hyper Laser Cannon. Several MBT-92s were deployed against Godzilla on the Wakasa plain in an attempt to raise his body temperature so the Anti-Nuclear Energy Bacteria could take effect.
After Godzilla defeated King Ghidorah, he traveled to Sapporo. The J.S.D.F. deployed two MBT-92 Maser Cannons to stop him alongside units of infantry, fighter jets and conventional tanks. The MBT-92s relentlessly fired on Godzilla, and he fell through a building in an attempt to reach the J.S.D.F. units, roaring in pain as the beams from the two MBT-92s rained down on him. Once Godzilla regained his footing, he quickly dispatched the MBT-92s with his Atomic Breath, then continued on his rampage across Japan.
Later, when Godzilla emerged from Mount Fuji, several MBT-92s, MBAW-93s, and a new Maser Cannon-armed aircraft, the ASTOL-MB93, were deployed to stop him from reaching Yokohama. The various Maser weapons were ineffective against Godzilla, who made short work of them with his atomic breath.
After Godzilla initially defeated MechaGodzilla, G-Force deployed several MBT-92s and MBAW-93s along with other conventional forces to try and halt Godzilla's approach to Kyoto. The Masers were still unable to faze Godzilla, who obliterated them with his atomic breath and crushed the other vehicles under his feet.
A new type of Maser Cannon, the DAG-MB96, was developed by the J.S.D.F. and G-Force with new freezer technology. These vehicles were now armed with new ultra-low temperature (ULT) Maser Cannons, also known as cryolasers. The DAG-MB96s were deployed alongside MBT-92s and MBAW-93s and other conventional forces armed with Cadmium shells to engage the juvenile Destoroyahs on the outskirts of Tokyo. Kensaku Ijuin proposed that cold-based weapons would liquefy the Micro-Oxygen in the creatures' bodies and kill them. The combination of freezer weapons and Maser beams seemed effective at first, until the Destoroyahs merged together into a single giant monster. The aggregate Destoroyah destroyed some of the military's forces before transforming into a flying form and flying away.
Later, the DAG-MB96s and other Maser Cannons were deployed during Godzilla and Destoroyah's final battle near Haneda Airport. When Destoroyah tried to fly away, the Maser Cannons and the Super X3 fired their cryolasers at the beast's wings, causing him to plummet to the superheated ground below and disintegrate. When Godzilla began to melt down, they unleashed their entire payload of freezing and Cadmium weapons in an attempt to freeze him while he melted and minimize the damage. This tactic proved successful in preventing Godzilla from burning into the Earth's core, while the deadly excess radiation was absorbed by the fallen Godzilla Junior, reviving him as an adult Godzilla.
In one episode, a stationary Maser Cannon was employed by Zaguresu to prevent Godzilla and the other monsters from reaching Godzilla Junior. The weapon was also guarded by Megalon and Battra. When Godzilla attempted to rescue his son, the Maser Cannon fired on him, sending him into full-on retreat from the weapon's painful beam. Rodan arrived, and carried Godzilla to safety, where they then formulated a plan. A combined effort by Godzilla, Rodan, Mothra and M.O.G.U.E.R.A. succeeded in distracting the enemy monsters, and Godzilla deactivated the Maser Cannon by firing his Atomic Breath at it.
In 1966, Maser Cannons were developed using the same technology as the Atomic Heat Ray Gun in order to fight Gaira. Following this success, the Anti-Megalosaurus Force (AMF) mass-produced the vehicles for use in case of other kaiju attacks on Japanese soil.
In 1999, when Godzilla attacked Tateyama, the AMF deployed their newest Maser Cannon model, the Type 90, to stop him. The Masers' power, already reduced by the rain, was ineffective against Godzilla, who wiped out a large portion of the AMF's forces. Following this failure, the AMF began construction of a new anti-Godzilla weapon, Kiryu, which featured an oral-mounted Maser Cannon.
When Godzilla came ashore in Tokyo, several Type 90 Maser Cannons were deployed to stop him while Kiryu was being repaired. When the AMF realized they could not repair Kiryu's Absolute Zero Cannon, it was replaced by the chest-mounted Triple Hyper Maser Cannon.
Maser Cannons were deployed by the Earth Defense Force alongside the Gotengo to battle Godzilla in Antarctica in the 1960's. The Maser Cannons proved ineffective, as they were all destroyed early in the battle.
When the Gotengo was recommissioned as the New Gotengo decades later, it was outfitted with a Maser Cannon on the tip of its drill, along with an Absolute Zero Cannon.
Part of Castle Bravo's defense system, the Maser Cannons are called Maser Turrets, which were later revealed by director Michael Dougherty as a reference to the Maser Cannons. When Godzilla starts approaching the outpost, the Maser Turrets are manned by Chief Warrant Officer Jackson Barnes and several G-Team soldiers with the intent on shooting Godzilla if he becomes too close. Ishiro Serizawa orders the G-Team to stand down and disarm the Maser Turrets at the suggestion of Mark Russell, who believes that Monarch would lose in a fight with Godzilla at this stage.
- War of the Gargantuas
- Godzilla vs. Gigan
- Godzilla vs. Megalon
- The Return of Godzilla
- Godzilla vs. Biollante
- Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah
- Godzilla vs. Mothra
- Godzilla vs. MechaGodzilla 2
- Godzilla vs. Destoroyah
- Godzilla Against MechaGodzilla
- Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S.
- Godzilla: Final Wars
- Godzilla: King of the Monsters
- The original Maser that appeared in War of the Gargantuas had a head that always remained parallel to the ground beneath it. This was due to the fact that the light bulb used to light the Maser prop could only function parallel to the floor of the set.
- In George Lucas' Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones, during the climactic battle between the clone and droid armies on the planet Geonosis, the clones unleash a laser tank against the escaping Trade Federation starships that bears a striking resemblance to Toho's Maser Cannon. Both rest on tanks and fire a blue beam from a satellite-like head. While it is unknown whether or not Lucas used the Maser Cannon for inspiration, it is extremely likely given the similarities. (This is not without precedent; Lucas had referenced Japanese cinema previously in the Star Wars series. The characters of C-3PO and R2-D2 were based on the always bickering peasants in Akira Kurosawa's masterpiece The Hidden Fortress. Also, the Rancor, a giant alien monster that had made an appearance in Star Wars Episode VI: Return of the Jedi, was based on Godzilla himself, and was originally planned to be realized via suitmation.)
- Star Wars references the Godzilla series again in the animated series Star Wars: The Clone Wars, which features the RX-200 Falchion-class assault tanks in the Episodes The Zillo Beast and The Zillo Beast Strikes Back, which feature a Kaiju-sized monster as well as a large number of other Godzilla references.
- In episode 70 of Sgt. Frog series, Maser cannons make a cameo.
- The Transformer Signal Flare's alternate mode is based off a Maser cannon.