A special feature! The Board of Directors and faculty of Anime Academy caution against straying too far from our core mission, but I thought this movie was closely enough connected to anime, as well as being of particular interest to anime fans, and Neon Genesis Evangelion fans especially, to warrant this brief presentation. Consider it in the way of a presentation from a guest lecturer.
I recently watched the new Shin Godzilla movie, directed by our own dear Hideaki Anno, and wanted to share a few thoughts for NGE fans. Yes, if you are an NGE fan, you will be in familiar territory.
First, something I had heard commented on when it first came out — a specific musical theme is borrowed virtually straight from NGE, the heavy, drum-driven track, “Spending Time in Preparation”, and its companion piece, “Decisive Battle”. I had heard vaguely of this, but actually hearing it here was a kick which had me literally head-back, laughing with delight. This theme is used and developed several times through Shin Godzilla. (Here on Youtube.)
Shortly after this music makes its appearance, a young man responsible for one section of the anti-Godzilla task force says, as their war room is being put together, “I’m nominally in charge, but we’re a crack team of lone wolves, nerds, troublemakers, outcasts, academic heretics, and general pains-in-the-bureaucracy.” Wow, sound familiar at all?! Remember, you mustn’t run away!
The political intrigue of how Godzilla is to be handled, with the tensions between different departments, and especially the relationship between Japan and the US, is strongly reminiscent of the intrigue and conflict between NERV, SEELE, and the other factions present in NGE.
I did like the aforementioned sweeps of intrigue, and especially the near-tragic figure of the Prime Minister. He is not an incompetent bureaucrat by any means, nor a figure of fun, but a man thrust into a situation bizarre beyond comprehension — and IN CHARGE. (Truthfully, I sometimes find Ikari Gendo a somewhat sympathetic character for similar reasons.) The early part of the movie has him assailed from all quarters by subordinates requesting orders and permission to do such-and-such, hanging on his every word, and him with the knowledge that his simple Yea or Nay can mean the saving or loss of countless lives. Hanging over all is the question of Japan’s Self-Defence Forces actually going full active, and the responsibility for giving THAT unprecedented command. The viewer sorely feels the burden of his terrible responsibility, and it is almost a relief when, about halfway in, he authorizes the use of “all necessary weapons” to fight Godzilla. Political/governmental/bureaucratic tensions remain a continuing theme through the movie.
One line toward the end, as the few alternatives for saving Japan from Godzilla are considered, is quite redolent of NERV at a similar time: “Man is more frightening than Godzilla.” Another line also resonates with NERV’s speculations: “Godzilla is both a threat to mankind, but also poses a revelation of limitless potential.” (of course this is also consistent with the standard interpretation of Godzilla as metaphor for nuclear power.)
Finally, a couple of brief general remarks. If you’re at all a fan of both or either NGE and Godzilla, see this. It’s great fun. It’s a bit of a departure in some ways from standard Godzilla fare, which I understand generated some criticism from G-fans. I’m sure Anno was thunderstruck at getting criticism from the fan base! My only criticism is that it does seem to spend a little too much time with the bureaucratic side of it, as fun and interesting as it is. A Godzilla movie needs a LOT more time with the titular character! I think my favorite iteration remains “Godzilla 2000”, but this one certainly ranks in the upper echelon. Definitely worth a watch.
A few stills from Shin Godzilla
First suspicions that something is up
Godzilla makes landfall
A very young Godzilla, that is
Ah, now THAT looks more familiar
As does this
This too seems familiar
I can almost hear the cicadas
Now, you KNOW this is NOT going to end well