Godzilla’s first anime movie is here written by the creator of Madoka Magica and produced by the studio behind Knights of Sidonia and Ajin: Demi-Fiend
Godzilla: Planet of The Monsters
Directors: Kōbun Shizuno, Hiroyuki Seshita
Producer: Takashi Yoshizawa
Screenplay: Gen Urobuchi
Animation & Production: Toho Animation/Polygon Pictures
Nov 17, 2017 (Japan)/ Jan 17, 2018 (Worldwide)
SubVersion Available: Yes
Dub Version Available: Yes
What You Need To Know:
Godzilla: Planet of The Monsters is the latest installment of the popular giant monster franchise. It is also the first time in its history that a Godzilla movie is produced in an anime format. Animated versions of Godzilla were produced before, most notably two from America – one by Hannah Barbera in the late 70’s, and the animated sequel to the Roland Emmerich film in 1998.
Gen Urobuchi, the man behind the successful Madoka Magica series, as well as the puppet theatre, hit Thunderbolt Fantasy, wrote the screenplay for Planet of The Monsters. Animation is co-produced by Polygon Pictures, who worked on other anime projects like Knights of Sidonia and Ajin: Demi-Fiend. Planet of The Monsters is a first in a trilogy of Godzilla anime films.
What You’ll Find Out:
The movie begins with a very long prologue. Earth was in a constant state of conflict between the human race and the various Kaiju or giant monsters that keep popping up here and there. The turning point came when Godzilla came along and is shown to be unstoppable, even when the humans have advanced technological support from two alien races – the Exif and the Bilusaludo. As a result, the three races are forced to leave Earth to find a new home somewhere in the cosmos.
Fast forward to our main story, taking place 20 years later. Tensions rose within the survivors as they have yet to find a habitable planet and with supplies and rations being extremely low. In a last ditch effort for their survival, the three races travel back to Earth, where 20,000 years have passed on that planet. Despite the huge time skip, Godzilla is apparently still alive. But Haruo Sakazaki, a human who witnessed Godzilla’s rampage when he left Earth 20 years earlier, has a plan to destroy the King of The Monsters once and for all…..
What Just Happened?
I have been a Godzilla fan for many years now, with 2004’s Final Wars being my most favorite Godzilla film, as it shows him being a virtually unstoppable force. So when I heard that this trilogy of anime films will be written by the man behind Thunderbolt Fantasy, and developed by the team behind Knights of Sidonia, there’s pretty much hype on this one. To be honest, I was left with a bit of a mixed taste by the end of the film. But I’m not really that surprised, either.
Urobochi’s writing results in the film being like something taken from the 90’s upscaled to modern times. There has been a number of Godzilla stories where the humans interact with aliens for good or bad. So there is nothing new in this alliance of the three races. And like other Godzilla films, a conspiracy is brewing from behind the scenes that will likely be explored in the sequels. Nevertheless, Godzilla is the prime antagonist, which places the alliance as the good guys.
One of the biggest issues with the Godzilla franchise is that much of the human characters are pretty much forgettable, save two – Miki Saegusa, played by Megumi Odaka in the Godzilla films from 1984-1995; and Captain Douglas Gordon, played by Don Frye in Final Wars. Like every other film, Planet of The Monsters features a number of human and alien characters that, the audience really wouldn’t care for. This is most especially with the film’s protagonist Sakazaki, who I can best describe as being its version of Captain Ahab from Moby-Dick. Sakazaki is so obsessed in killing Godzilla that he would take extreme measures to do so, even if it means nearly endangering his comrades. While we have seen protagonists who do questionable and even immoral acts, like Code Geass’s Lelouch aka Zero, they still retain enough charm to be likable by the audience. Sakazaki lacks such charm.
Another issue I have is that in nearly every movie, Godzilla tends to get bigger in size, used as a marketing ploy. Next thing you know Godzilla would be so gigantic he could swallow all of Earth if he wants to. It’s ridiculous. I’d rather see Godzilla just cause mindless mayhem than see him get bigger. It’s what makes him a nearly unstoppable force. While there is a story element that explains Godzilla’s enormous size in Planet of The Monsters, it still leaves me with a sour taste. While you do get to hear the iconic roar, it’s not as often and the famous Godzilla theme is totally absent. This is the third film in which the Godzilla theme is never played and the last movie to have done so was Final Wars – that’s a staggering 18 years back.
Godzilla obviously is the one that truly carries the film around and he does deliver. His design is more akin to the 2014 film version, only a bit more aggressive. You can’t help but cheer for him when he starts squashing Sakazaki and his troops, even though he’s technically the bad guy here. So it’s a given that Godzilla is bound to lose to Sakazaki, until the twist that leads to the second film. There are also some Easter Eggs found for die-hard Godzilla fans.
So the only reason one should watch Planet of The Monsters is because of Godzilla himself, and he does show why he is deemed the King of The Monsters. Everything else is subpar, but that is to be expected in virtually every Godzilla film. It’s a B-Monster Movie after all, just that in anime format. Not the best Godzilla out there, but it leaves room to check back the sequels which out of curiosity, will leave you to look forward to it at least.
Godzilla: Planet of The Monsters is now available for viewing on Netflix
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