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Anime Films ● Review: Godzilla Trilogy

Godzilla 1: Planet of the Monsters

English Title: Godzilla 1: Planet of the Monsters

Japanese Title: ゴジラ怪獣惑星 [lit. Godzilla monster planet]

Screenwriter(s): Urobuchi Gen

Released: 2017

Runtime: 1h 28m

Godzilla 2: City on the Edge of Battle

English Title: Godzilla 2: City on the Edge of Battle

Japanese Title: ゴジラ決戦機動増殖都市 [lit. Godzilla decisive battle mobile proliferation city]

Screenwriter(s): Murai Sadayuki, Yamada Tetsuya, Urobuchi Gen

Released: 2018

Runtime: 1h 40m

Godzilla 3: The Planet Eater

English Title: Godzilla 3: The Planet Eater

Japanese Title: ゴジラ星を喰う者 [lit. Godzilla star eater]

Screenwriter(s): Urobuchi Gen

Released: 2018

Runtime: 1h 30m

Director(s): Shizuno Koubun & Seshita Hiroyuki

Studio: TOHO Animation & Polygon Pictures

Starring: Miyano Mamoru, Sakurai Takahiro, Hanazawa Kana, Ueda Reina, Ozawa, Ari

My Verdict: A somewhat ambitious take in terms of scale and its attempt to be original and true to the franchise. Can be tighter but not bad.

● The premise is that by the end of the 20th century, kaiju, particularly Godzilla, had so ruined Earth that whoever survived had to leave the planet. Two alien races assist humanity, the Exif and Bilusaludo. The former is strongly religious and the latter is strongly technological, having failed in their attempt to deal with Godzilla with their Mechagodzilla. Despite having an intended destination to serve as their new home, Captain Sakaki Haruo convinces the committee to return to Earth.

Captain Sakaki Haruo
Captain Sakaki Haruo

● Due to relativistic-temporal effects, despite having been away for about 20 years, about 20 millennia have passed on Earth. They, of course, find the planet is be very different and Godzilla is still around.

● The premise takes the sci-fi elements further than past films, such as the inclusion of two technologically advanced alien races and the technology-orientated methods used to deal with Godzilla. The Mechagodzilla left behind also plays a role in the plot.

● By setting the story in what is basically a “new” world in the distant future, the writers have made everything “bigger” as well, including the action.

● There are still humans on Earth and so the twins Miana and Maina with their telepathic abilities are included.

● Haruo is essentially the “I hate the big bad kaiju and it’s my life mission to take it down” trope. Whilst he is not particularly interesting, it’s enough for the purposes of the plot.

● Godzilla seen as some sort of deity, whether figuratively or literally, is a common enough theme. The juxtaposition between the other three parties, their traits somewhat simply displayed, is interesting: the “primitive” locals respect nature, the Exif are religious whereas the Bilusaludo are technology-centric. And all three play their part in how they deal with Godzilla.

Metphies (an Exif)
Metphies (an Exif)
Belu-Be (a Bilusaludo)
Belu-Be (a Bilusaludo)

● Although the effort to make the premise and setting original whilst staying true to the franchise is appreciated, the execution of some elements is lacking.

[Potential Spoiler] The minor twist is that the first Godzilla encountered by Haruo is not the original monster. It is not a bad idea for Haruo and his team to deal with a relatively smaller monster before dealing with the big boss since it is, after all, a trilogy. But the way it is executed just feels a little cheap.

● The design of Godzilla resembles the 2014 live-action film, which is fine. It looks more than good enough. It is hardly a spoiler to mention that Ghidorah somehow gets involved. [Potential Spoiler] However, this version of Ghidorah is a bit too abstract. Maybe “abstract” is too strong a term… To be fair, Ghidorah is meant to be alien in nature, but this version perhaps tries too hard.

● The CG may not be to everyone’s tastes. The designs are generally good. The environment, monsters, characters, vehicles, mecha and weapons all look good. However, the actual motion of the humanoid characters can use some improvement. In other words, a little more like traditional anime will work better.

● The music composed by Hattori Takayuki is what one expects as he has worked on Godzilla films in the past. Grand, blaring themes are present, mostly without drawing attention to themselves. The voice acting is also solid. Good sound design and engineering in general.

● Overall, there are some great visuals and action sequences (apart from the motion). All three films, particularly part 2 and part 3, can be a little shorter. They don’t drag on and on but their pacing can be tighter. The characters are simple, perhaps too simple for some. This is fine as the text is plot-driven and there is enough variety in characters to keep it interesting, but they could be more utilized. As a trilogy, it could delve deeper into the themes.

Godzilla 1: Planet of the Monsters

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