For Mothra's first three film appearances these twin fairies were played by the Peanuts. In Mothra, they demonstrate telepathic ability, within speaking range with people and over great distances with Mothra. As in all future appearances, they call to Mothra in prayer and song, but they and Mothra are also connected on some deeper level beyond their control.
In Mothra vs. Godzilla they seem also to demonstrate short-range teleportation, and in Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster they translate not only Mothra's chirps but an entire conversation among three monsters. Decades later, in Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. two other Shobijin (portrayed by Masami Nagasawa and Chihiro Ôtsuka) demonstrate telekinesis as well.
In the Heisei series, Mothra's priestesses (played by Keiko Imamura and Sayaka Osawa) identify themselves as the Cosmos (コスモス?); the last survivors of an ancient civilization which had threatened, and eventually been destroyed by, the very life force of the Earth. They had constructed Mothra as their guardian deity, to which the Earth life force had responded with Battra—a "Black Mothra." Kosumosu
In the Rebirth of Mothra trilogy Mothra's priestesses were the Elias; the Elias differ from earlier incarnations in that they are not mind-linked twins but individual persons, are smaller than other Shobijin and are named Lora and Moll.
Belvera, a dark Elias, appears to be an older sister. In addition to accompanying Mothra, the Elias would also send smaller offspring called Fairy Mothras. Mothra would reprise the role of ancient guardian, though with only a passing homage to the Cosmos, in Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack.
When a Japanese cargo ship suddenly ran aground on a deserted and ravaged isle called Infant Island, they discovered that despite the immense radiation from nuclear tests still present, humans were capable of living on the land mass. After being rescued by search parties from Japan, the survivors relay word to the authorities who promptly dispatch a research party to learn more about the discovery. What they find is a civilization able to live on the island despite the radiation due to a native juice.
To find out more, Japan along with at least one other nation sends an expedition to Infant Island. There they find land capable of supporting vegetation and a human civilization present.
Among the inhabitants are two tiny girls who are priestess to the civilization, the Shobijin. They are powerful telepaths and that power along with their ability to sing allows them to communicate with the civilization's god, a giant being named Mothra.
After the Japanese contingent of the expedition thwarted his efforts, the leader of the combined research team, an entrepreneur by the name of Clark Nelson, kidnaps the Shobijin. Seemingly ignorant of what he has done, Nelson tries to exploit the Shobijin despite protests from Japan and his own government. When Mothra arrives in Tokyo in response to the Shobijin's pleas for assistance, Nelson manages to escape and eventually heads back to his own country. However, the Japanese know about his activities and soon a manhunt is on with Nelson being hunted by his fellow comrades as Mothra tracks him and the Shobijin. After Nelson is disposed of by his own people, the girls are set free and return aboard Mothra to their home island.Mothra vs. Godzilla, an immense typhoon struck the island and eventually washed Mothra's egg out to sea. That egg eventually ended up on the shores of Japan with the two Shobijin following right behind it as Mothra flew them there to persuade the Japanese to return the egg. Unfortunately, they were met with little success as the present owners of the egg would not give it back and there human supporters had little power to help them. At first, they took the failure with good grace but it haunted them as well as their fellow inhabitants on Infant Island. It was not therefore surprising that when the humans of the modern world asked them for assistance against the monster known as Godzilla, the Shobijin at first rejected the plea, citing the problems with Mothra's egg as the reason.
However, after hearing their human allies out, the Shobijin communicated the request to Mothra although they feared rightly that it was a suicide mission for their beloved god. They journeyed aboard Mothra to Japan and watched as Godzilla killed their deity in battle. Fortunately, the Shobijin voiced a plan to use Mothra’s offspring in the egg to help stop Godzilla. The plan worked and the Shobijin journeyed back to Infant Island aboard the two giant caterpillars with the eternal gratitude of the population of Japan.
Eventually, the Shobijin returned to Japan willingly and served as the roles of ambassadors, which included appearing on television shows. They were just about to return home after promising to the people that Mothra would return to defend them against Godzilla and other monsters when they encountered a woman who claimed to be a priestess from Venus. After hearing her warning, they delayed their departure and provided what assistance they could to the priestess, which included helping to thwart an assassination attempt on her while in Yokohama. They are present when the “Venus priestess” states that the threat comes in the form of a horrific space monster known as King Ghidorah.
Later, they are at the Diet Building where they first promised to send Mothra for assistance and then they voice the incredible idea of asking Godzilla and Rodan for help. At first incredulous at the proposal, the humans agree after witnessing first hand King Ghidorah's destructive power over Tokyo. They then head up to Mt. Fuji where Godzilla and Rodan are fighting each other while King Ghidorah is attacking nearby.
When Mothra arrives, they serve as translators as Mothra tries to persuade Godzilla and Rodan to join her in stopping King Ghidorah. This effort is a success and after peace has returned to the land, the Shobijin return to Infant Island aboard Mothra.Ebirah, Horror of the Deep, a group called the Red Bamboo invaded Infant Island and kidnapped some of its inhabitants as slaves. In response, the Shobijin lead the prayers and pleas to Mothra to help rescue the inhabitants. After assisting two Japanese men who were dealing with the same problem, they ventured out once more on Mothra to the island to evacuate their allies as it was about to be destroyed in a nuclear explosion triggered by the Red Bamboo. Mothra roamed the Earth as an advanced civilization crafted a machine that could control the weather. Offended, the Earth created a dark Mothra—Battra—which destroyed everything that endangered the planet. After a fierce battle, Mothra vanquished Battra, and was put to rest in the Northern Sea. In the process, the climate controller was destroyed, and most of the land on Earth remained underwater due to intense flooding. Mothra survived and retreated into the mountains with the Cosmos.
In the year 1993, on Infant Island in the Indonesian Archipelago, the Cosmos appeared to Takuya Fujita, Masako Tezuka, and Kenji Andoh and revealed their tragic past. They also revealed that Mothra was now in a new life cycle, and that the egg of Mothra was on their island. Both Mothra and Battra were revived in response to the reckless destruction of nature at the hands of humankind, largely by the actions of such big businesses as the Marutoma Corporation. Kenji Andoh, an employee of said corporation, suggested that the egg could be better preserved in Japan, and the Cosmos agreed.
As they sailed to Japan, Godzilla emerged from the ocean and attacked the enormous egg. The monster became sidetracked, however, as the recently rejuvenated Battra became locked in combat with Godzilla. As their terrible battle continued, they fell into a fissure in the Earth's crust beneath the ocean, and as they sank in the magma flows, they were presumed dead.
Mothra returned to Infant Island as the Cosmos arrived in Japan. Kenji Andoh absconded with the fairies and handed them over to his CEO, Takeshi Tomokane. Now in captivity, the Cosmos were left with only one option: to call for much-needed assistance. They sang into the distance and plead with Mothra for rescue. Leaving her island home, Mothra rushed to Tokyo, where she began to destroy everything in her predetermined path to rescue her beloved fairies.
In the meantime, Takuya Fujita cunningly kidnapped the Cosmos and attempted to extract one million dollars in ransom from an American company; however, his ex-wife and daughter began to convince him of how wrong this course of actions truly was. As the argument continued, Mothra finally arrived, and the hotel in which the humans stood began to tremble. Takuya finally relented, and the Cosmos were freed. Upon convincing Mothra that they were fine, she began to retreat. Unfortunately, the military was unaware of this change in events, and when their forces were finally in position, an all-out assault commenced.
When the Self-Defense Force was ordered to cease fire, Mothra began to act very lethargic. She slowly made her way to the Diet Building, where she enshrouded herself in silk and began to form a chrysalis. The CEO of the Marutoma Corporation ordered Kenji Andoh to use this opportunity to reacquire the Cosmos, but he resisted and was ultimately terminated. Left alone, the CEO could was left to wallow in his own shame. As the night progressed, the Cosmos sang again, as an adult Mothra emerged from her pupa. The two fairies revealed that Mothra was going to locate and destroy Battra. Godzilla and Battra were both still alive.
Having survived the magma flows, Godzilla emerged at Mt. Fuji as Battra emerged from the ocean floor, metamorphosing instantly into its imago form. Takuya Fujita, Masako Tezuka, their daughter, and the Cosmos drove to Yokohama, where they witnessed an intense war of the monsters. Battra pummeled Mothra into submission, and it appeared as though she would lose this fight; however, Godzilla suddenly appeared, and this new contender distracted Battra's attention. Unfortunately, Godzilla proved to be a much greater challenge, and Battra was thrown to the ground below.
In response to this new, nearly invulnerable hindrance, Mothra rose from the streets and repelled Godzilla as she made her way to Battra. The Cosmos sang once more as Mothra bestowed energy into her old enemy. Reentering battle, Mothra fired her full arsenal at Godzilla, to no avail. Luckily, Battra saved Mothra just in time, and the Cosmos revealed that the two nemeses were now allies. Joining forces, Mothra and Battra subdued Godzilla and lifted him over the sea. Alas, Godzilla killed Battra in the process, and Mothra was forced to drop both monsters into the cold ocean below, upon which she sealed with her energy.
When Mothra returned to her fairies in Japan, it was revealed that Battra was to stop an asteroid from plummeting to Earth in 1999. Now that he was dead, it would be up to Mothra to save the planet from the incoming meteor. The Cosmos lifted into the air and rushed to join Mothra. The majestic moth and her fairies soared into space, ready to meet their destiny.
Two years passed as Mothra flew through the vast emptiness of space, determined to halt the incoming meteor. A new and deadly power was discovered as Mothra pierced through the dark void, and a Fairy Mothra was dispatched to planet Earth, which the Cosmos used to submit two solemn warnings to psychic Miki Saegusa. It would be necessary, they instructed, for her to assist in the defeat of this new monster, and it was imperative that the whole world join together in the destruction of the space creature.
SpaceGodzilla, as it came to be known, appeared on Earth and entrapped Godzilla's offspring in a crystal prison. M.O.G.U.E.R.A., G-Force's replacement for MechaGodzilla, and Godzilla both aided in the defeat of this beast. With SpaceGodzilla defeated, the Cosmos thanked Miki and Fairy Mothra returned to space where they could finish their mission to save planet Earth.
- Main article: Elias.
Mothra's origins are retconned as one of the three Earth Guardians rather than being affiliated with Infant Island. Because of this, the Shobijin do not have a role in the film. However they make a cameo appearance as twin human sisters when Mothra first flies across Japan.Shinichi Chujo to be related to the Shobijin from 1961, arrive to Japan and warn Dr. Shinichi Chujo and the Japanese government that Godzilla continues returning to Japan because they used the original Godzilla's bones in Kiryu's design. If they return the bones to the bottom of the sea, Mothra would gladly take Kiryu's place in defending Japan, but if they do not, Mothra will declare war on humanity. Godzilla began his attack on Tokyo and the Shobijin summon Mothra from Infant Island. When Mothra needed assistance her egg hatched and the Shobijin were surprised then glad to see twin Mothra Larvae rush to their mother's aide.
After the mummified corpse of Gigan was uncovered in Japan, the fairies submitted a grave warning to three humans overlooking the remarkable discovery. The Shobijin teleported the humans to a remote cave, and sternly warned that Gigan must be returned to his burial chamber. Apparently, Mothra had defeated Gigan 10,000 years ago, and that they desired that the two monsters would never fight again. The Shobijin returned their guests to the mummified Gigan, but the fairies' warning was not taken seriously. Gigan was not returned, and when the Xiliens arrived, they soon reawakened Gigan, who subsequently laid waste to the city of Tokyo.
Following a long series of battles between Godzilla and an army of monsters released by the Xiliens, an asteroid named Gorath began to plummet toward the Earth. In response, the Shobijin summoned Mothra to aid Godzilla. Mothra managed to kill Gigan by sacrificing her life as well as imparting some of her power to Shinichi Ozaki, who used the power to defeat the Controller, and even save Godzilla by helping him defeat Kaiser King Ghidorah.
The Shobijin traditionally sing songs to Mothra in their film appearances. This is most likely due to the fact that the actresses who first portrayed the Shobijin, Emi and Yumi Ito, were a popular singing duo in Japan known as the Peanuts. Ever since, the Shobijin have continued to sing in various films featuring Mothra. There are various songs that the Shobijin have sung, including:
- "Mothra Song" (Yuji Koseki version) - Mothra, Mothra vs. Godzilla, Godzilla vs. Mothra, Rebirth of Mothra, Rebirth of Mothra II, Rebirth of Mothra III, Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S.
- "Mothra Song" (Masaru Sato version) - Ebirah, Horror of the Deep
- "Daughters of Infant Island" - Mothra
- "Mahara Mothra" - Mothra vs. Godzilla, Godzilla vs. Mothra
- "Sacred Springs" - Mothra vs. Godzilla, Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster, Godzilla vs. Mothra, Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla
- "Call Happiness" - Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster
- "The Song of Prayer" and "Mothra Leo" - Rebirth of Mothra
- "Haora Mothra" - Rebirth of Mothra III
- The Shobijin are derived from the Airenas, fairies who accompanied Mothra in the book which Mothra was adapted from, The Luminous Fairies and Mothra. The Airenas had the same role in the plot, except there were several of them.