Archive for the ‘anime’ Category

I love Star Trek. I adore Godzilla. The two of them combined? In anime form? Not as much. I mean, I liked Guyver: Bio-Booster and Yu-Gi-Oh!, so I know that anime can be cool. In the anime world, ANYTHING can happen, and this is both its great appeal and its downfall. Sometimes, it’s just too much – too many plot lines, too much dialogue, too many impossible scenarios. I feel the same way about the CGI saturated climate of American cinema.

With Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters (now available on Netflix – check it out), these elements exist in abundance, but they are contrived much more effectively than they were in previous attempts to “anime-ize” Godzilla. Masaaki Tezuka’s Godzilla X Megaguirus and Godzilla X Mechagodzilla flirted with this a bit at the turn of the century. They were live-action, sure, but the silliness, the excessive dialogue, the exaggerated character emotion, and the over the top-ness definitely put these two films in the category of Japanese animation. But with this new Godzilla, actually going all out and becoming a full blown anime epic, the excessive elements are pulled off way more effectively. This is due to the fact that with hand drawn frames (it’s hybridized with CGI in this movie, but it still LOOKS like a cartoon), the filmmakers are not under any constraints at all. Want a 1,000 foot Godzilla destroying flying motorcycles that just blew up his baby, but it’s too difficult to do with suit-mation and CGI? No problem. Draw it. That’s something I really miss about movies. Everything is computerized now, but I miss stuff like Bambi and The Lion King. Yes, a completely different category from science-fiction, but my point is that if you’re doing a cartoon, the only limit is your imagination. And though I have a few problems with this latest entry into the Goji saga, it puts a smile on my face to think about the imagination behind it.

A bunch of kaiju (Kamacuras, Rodan, others) start attacking mankind, destroying everything in their wake. Then, a ferocious being more massive and destructive than anything in existence – Godzilla – rises from the ocean and begins to decimate both the remaining humans and the other monsters. Two technologically advanced alien races arrive on the planet, promising to destroy the beast in exchange for resettlement on Earth. One of these races, the Exifs, are a highly spiritual people who worship a powerful deity and attempt to convert the Earthlings to their beliefs. They look like a cross between Star Trek’s Vulcans and Middle-Earth’s Elves, which really bummed me out. Their ears and their attitudes are some of the most blatant ripoffs I have ever seen. The other aliens are the Bilsards, and these ones are much cooler. They are even inspired by the Black Hole 3 aliens from the original Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla, saying they hail from a distant galaxy on the third world down from a black hole. Mechagodzilla itself is also seen briefly in Monster Planet, but it is blown away by the big G before it can activate. The three species, human, Exif, and Bilsard, join forces to defeat Godzilla, but, surprise surprise, they fail. Their only solution is to leave Earth and find a new world to populate. In their time, they are gone for 22 years, but by the time they go back to Earth to try and defeat the monsters again, 20,000 years have passed on our blue, kaiju infested marble. The plants and animals of the world are beginning to evolve, and they are taking on the characteristics of Gojira. A man named Haruo, who watched the beast kill his family when he was four years old (which seems to be a recurring theme in many Godzilla movies), is hell-bent on revenge, and he has a high tech plan in mind to rid the planet of the Goliath once and for all. Does he succeed? Get on Netflix and find out.

So, how does the Gorilla-Whale hold up this time around, in anime form? Pretty darned good. He’s not quite as imposing as he was in Shin-Godzilla, but he looks exactly how he should – mean, large, and in charge. Some have said that he looks a bit like an old wrinkled man in the face, but it’s easy to get used to after looking at it for a while. I think it’s actually neat – he looks like a wise (if extremely evil) dragon straight out of Chinese mythology.

His screen time leaves a lot to be desired, though. I think he’s fully visible in this movie even less than he was in the 2014 incarnation. What follows is that the movie seems to not even really be ABOUT Godzilla. It’s more about the struggle of humanity, and it made me realize something. The creature known as Godzilla has always been portrayed as a metaphor for nuclear weapons, but he’s actually a metaphor for much more than that. He is an archetype for any struggle that any one person or society is compelled to overcome. I view his villainous role in this movie as an allegory for my own personal problems – my demons to be defeated – and I’ve never really looked at it that way before, even after twenty years of watching kaiju movies. It took THIS – this anime, this cartoon – to make me realize that. A simple concept, yes, one almost not even worth writing about. But it actually kind of meant a lot to me.

So, the vibe of this movie, as well as the last couple of films, seems to be that the human element is the focus, not the monster element. Has it been well-executed? Are the human plot lines and the dialogue well written? Yes, definitely. But do I like this? No. It’s a monster movie. Show me them scales and teeth. And that’s probably the biggest beef I have with Monster Planet.

7 out of 10

Advertisements