GODZILLA: THE SERIES
No. of Seasons: 2
No. of Episodes: 40
Production Company: Adelaide Productions
Distributed By: Sony Pictures Television
Original Release: September 12, 1998 – April 22, 2000
Ironically, not the first, and perhaps not even the last, time that the King of Monsters has been brought to an animated format, this particular series is unique in that it is not a spin-off telling its own distinctive series of stories. It is an animated sequel to one film in particular, the first attempt at an American Godzilla film inappropriately named Godzilla, to which many fans have since renamed, both the film and its supposed rendition of the Monster King, as G.I.N.O. or Godzilla In Name Only.
I am one of those fans who stood somewhat on the fence in regards to the film in that while I was initially very disappointed with how it played out, I respected it as a decent monster movie that was unfortunately misnamed. Sincerely, had this film not be labeled as Godzilla, it would have done a far better job in enticing fans, but I am not talking about the film today but in its animated successor which captured more of Godzilla’s spirit than the film could ever hope.
Immediately following the death of Godzilla, Nick implores the military to investigate the nest fully to ensure that no hatchlings or eggs survived. During the investigation Nick happens to stumble, quite literally, where one such egg has survived and witnesses the creature’s hatching, with the youngling actually imprinting on him as its adopted parent.
With the aid of his scientific associates, a absurdly good if a bit immature hacker, and one French spy/bodyguard, Nick inadvertently creates the Humanitarian Environmental/Ecological Analysis Team, or H.E.A.T. as the world swiftly proves that Godzilla and its sole surviving hatchling were but the tip of a utterly massive iceberg.
The opening of the series, much like Adelaide Productions’ previous work, M.I.B.: The Animated Series, the opening has no actual lyrics and consists mostly of intro-only scenes showcasing the scale and prowess of Godzilla. Of course, this scale is massively out of whack from one scene to the next as seen below but to their credit, they really do a good job of showing off just how agile this rendition of the Monster King is.
Save for a spectacular opening two-parter and a trilogy of episodes that paid homage to one of the greatest films in the Godzilla franchise, many of the episodes of Godzilla: The Series are standalone and rarely, if ever, give any kind of acknowledgement to previous events. That’s not to say that the characters don’t grow or develop overall, just that each episode in itself is a lot like a atypical giant monster movie wherein something goes weird at some part of the world, H.E.A.T. goes to investigate it only to be attacked by said cause with Godzilla coming to their aid.
However, contrary to what one might assume, Godzilla does not immediately defeat his foes and has, at times, succeeded only in driving them off or being distracting his quarry long enough for a proper solution to be found. At times, Godzilla has even suffered a defeat by his foes, most of which prove to either be too arrogant or too stupid to realize that they should probably finish him off while he’s down.
While I would certainly say that premiere two-parter episodes “New Family” are the best episodes to sample this series, as they do serve to answer the who’s, the why’s, and how comes, they aren’t really the best that this series has to offer. I’d definitely suggest the trilogy of episodes aptly named “Monster Wars,” which is the homage to the Godzilla film Destroy All Monsters, but unfortunately it is one of the few episodes where one has to watch previous episodes to recognize the monsters that are being utilized against the world.
As such, it comes to a toss-up between two of my favorite episodes in the series. After a few (dozen) coin flips, I’d say that the episode “DeadLoch” is one of the better examples of this series if only because the other episode, “S.C.A.L.E.” is told in a distinctive documentary styled fashion. In this particular episode, H.E.A.T. heads off to Scotland after the head of a local marine institute claims that his facility was being threatened by the Loch Ness Monster, to which Nick, of all people, is surprisingly skeptical about.
I like this episode in particular because it really shows off not only what H.E.A.T. actually stands for but also because this is one of the few instances wherein Godzilla displays near human sentience and compassion.
Though initially ticked off by Nessie attacking his… pack for lack of a better word, Godzilla changes his stance towards the aquatic monster when it comes to light that the sole reason she has been attacking the institute, and by extension Godzilla’s family, is because the head scientist has captured her baby and is planning on selling it off to the highest bidder.
For the first, and not the last, time we see monster cooperation with Godzilla purposefully backing off from fighting Nessie and then helping her free her caged child. It is not often that we see this kind of reaction out of what is otherwise a territorial animal and these moments in particular really makes one wonder just how smart Godzilla actually is.
Overall, the film itself might have been a dud of a bomb, the animated series makes up for it in spades and a half. It may not be the picture perfect example of Godzilla, but it does pay a lot of homage to him and a lot of other similarly monstrous films. However, as I said it is not the only rendition of Godzilla to be made into an animated format but that particular version will have to wait until next week, my dear readers.