AKA: Godzilla Resurgence
Directed By: Hideaki Anno & Shinji Higuchi
Screenplay By: Hideaki Anno
American Distribution By: Funimation
I’ll admit, when I heard that Japan was going to bring Godzilla back to the silver screen, I was happy. When I learned that it would feature the collaboration of both Hideaki Anno and Shinji Higuchi, I’m fairly certain I made the likes of the foaming guy from Avatar: The Last Airbender look pale by comparison. For those of you who are unfamiliar with these two gentlemen, allow me to elucidate.
Hideaki Anno is an animator, film director, and actor most noted for his award winning anime series, Nadia: The Secret of Blue Water and, most especially, the Neon Genesis Evangelion anime and film series. This is the man who all but rejuvenated the mecha-themed anime in the 90’s and whose most noted anime is still sitting at the top of its genre.
Shinji Higuchi is a storyboard artist, most commonly for anime, most notably of the recent Kill la Kill series, but is recognized more as one of Japan’s top special effects supervisors for his work in the Gamera film trilogy and the live action adaptations to Attack on Titan, the former of which brought a golden ending to the 90’s era of kaiju films in Japan and whose subsequent success helped spur the creation of the Millennium Era of Godzilla films. Well that and the flop that shall not be named but the point still stands, not one but two great directors of film and special effects were coming together to make a Godzilla film. I honestly thought it couldn’t get any better.
Then I had to go and find out that Shirō Sagisu, a music producer and composer whose career spans over thirty-five years, was going to be involved whilst a few key compositions from Akira Ifukube, who all but composed nearly every Godzilla film from the first one in 1954 to Godzilla’s “retirement” film Godzilla vs Destroyer in 1995. As to Shirō Sagisu, his claim to fame lies in such anime as Neon Genesis Evangelion, Bleach, and, most recently, the Attack on Titan live action adaptations.
However, the question remains, did Shin Godzilla, so named by Toho whom didn’t want anyone to confuse this film as a sequel for the Legendary Godzilla film, live up to the hype that it built in me? I want to say yes, I well and truly do but fact of the matter is I can’t.
Instead, I’ll type it out as such: YES!
Whilst I will refrain from spoilers to the actual plot, as several wikis and other sources across the net already have, I will say that this film is a product of its era to the letter. Whereas the first film was inspired, and subsequently alluding to, the threat of the nuclear bomb, Shin Godzilla takes a lot of inspiration from the more recent events that transpired in 2011. Specifically, the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami which swiftly led to the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, the largest nuclear disaster since Chernobyl in 1986 and shares with it the rank of Level 7 on the International Nuclear Event Scale.
There is also something of a political satire in the film… Alright, a lot of satire aimed towards the Japanese government that is otherwise not really shown in these types of film. The film shows the amount of links there are in the chain of politics and how much time can be wasted by following them to such finite degrees. In the film, it takes the government two hours to decide what to do with the appearance of Godzilla and it is all but implied outright later that had they acted swifter, and with more assuredness, the threat would have been vanquished with far fewer consequences.
Godzilla himself… or rather “itself” is by far the most distinct interpretation by far. Though never stated with absolute certainty, it is assumed that Godzilla is a form of ancient microbial animal that had been exposed to nuclear waste and either entirely by that exposure, or by the machinations of one who held no love of nuclear energies or the Japanese government, became capable of rapid mutation/evolution. When Godzilla first appears, it is… to put it frankly the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever seen, appearing to be one part aquatic fish and three parts drowned dinosaur before it rapidly mutates/evolves into a more upright posture and disappearing into the ocean only to reappear in a far larger, and far more powerful, form.
Aesthetically speaking… I admit that I like where they went with this design but I could never call it my absolute favorite though it is definitely at the top when looked at under the “evil” Godzilla category instead of the “chaotic neutral/good” variants over the years. This is not a creature merely mutated by accident nor is it some manner of living destruction wrought by nature. This Godzilla is a malformed monstrosity whose likeness is the stuff of nuclear horrors, malignant agonies, and unrestrained destruction.
Godzilla is undeniably powerful in this incarnation as far as raw firepower is concerned and I mean that in the most literal sense of that word. His traditional nuclear heat ray is the most powerful I’ve seen yet and the way that it utilizes it is nothing short of absolutely terrifying. Thankfully, this incarnation of Godzilla is not without its own share of weaknesses and it is used with great effect to stop the monster just in the nick of time.
For while this creature is capable of asexual reproduction it is not done in the same vein as Zilla, but in a far more… frankly disturbing fashion. No joke, the film ends with the reveal of what was mere moments from happening had Godzilla not been stopped when it was and I can tell you all here and now, ladies and gentlemen, that I have never, not once, ever felt such a chill as I did watching a Godzilla film before…