TokuNet Podcast #31 – Shin Godzilla
Team TokuNet gets together to provide an audio and written review of the much anticipated film, Shin Godzilla.
Recorded: September 26th, 2016
With a week away from the U.S. release of Toho’s Shin Godzilla/Godzilla: Resurgence, the podcast crew sits down to discuss the King of Monsters’ return to Japanese screens. The team talks about their initial reactions to the news of the film’s production, the film’s interpretation of the iconic monster, and its underlying message among other topics.
Special thanks to FUNimation for providing The Tokusatsu Network with a screener copy of the film. Shin Godzilla will be released in select theaters on October 11-18, 2016.
- K.D. Komiyama – @killadelfo
- Paula Gaetos – @paulagaetos
- Michael Nixon – @michaelnixon
- Nick Bush – @RoboBreakfast
Accompanying the podcast is a written round-table review of the film by a few other members of Team TokuNet. Part One of the review can be found below with part two to be released later in the week.
Yasin Bulhan: To start things off, in general terms, what did everyone think of Shin Godzilla?
David White: I loved it. Thought it was a perfect re-imagining.
Brian Dagley: I’m actually not sure how to answer this. It certainly wasn’t what I was expecting, but at the end of the day, I can safely say that I really enjoyed what it was. The portrayal of the government was somehow just as interesting as Godzilla himself.
Robin Caine: I enjoyed the film. It was a really grounded Godzilla movie in that much of the film involved the discussion of many in a room and the drama behind their decisions. The government touch upon many aspects and approaches to retaliating against the giant creature throughout the movie. I cannot say that it is a refreshing reboot but I do feel there was more freedom in telling the story. I invited my friends over, shout out to: Jeff, Virgel, HJ, Mike and my brother Sam who weren’t afraid to pause the movie in order to observe Godzilla’s grotesque appearance.
Yasin: Even though I tried my best to avoid plot details for the film leading up to the release date, which is really hard to do when you work for a news site like TokuNet, I knew that there would be some type of commentary on the government in this movie. And yet, I was still pleasantly surprised at how it was handled in the film. I really enjoyed Shin Godzilla not just as a fun Kaiju film, but as a film with a message that it tries to convey through its characters and situations. Which, depending on which era of the Godzilla franchise you look at, that isn’t always the case.
Jorge Salas: When I finished the movie I couldn’t be sure if I enjoyed it or not. I guess that means there’s more merit to it, that it’s not simply a bad movie. I think I enjoyed it, just not in the manner I enjoy other movies. I was more aware of the editing throughout the movie and that made production details stand out. One of the early remarks on the movie from its release in Japan was that it featured so much political discourse. I honestly wasn’t looking forward to the movie for this reason, but the editing was fantastic and kept me hooked. I can also say Funimation’s trailer feels a lot more accurate to the tone of the movie than TOHO’s.
David: I was able to avoid all spoilers so I went into this completely blind. I am not a huge Godzilla fan so I invited over two of my friends, shout out to Derek and Rashard, who are. We loved the movie. I am huge into anything political and this movie had that in spades. I’ve said elsewhere that this movie is to the Fukushima meltdown as the original was to the dropping of the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. And while the source of radiation is different in the film in comparison to the meltdown, the government response is similar. (Also we all jumped out of our seats during the atomic breath scene)
Brian: I was getting those vibes too. I followed the Fukushima incident closely when it happened, and a lot of it rang very similar to me. I also have to say that the first Atomic Breath launch gave me chills.
Robin: I agree with David and Brian. I’ve been following the Fukushima meltdown as well and I have to say, everyone’s reaction to the meltdown in real life was similar to the red liquid appearing in the seas: trivial
Jorge: It was pretty clear the movie was using 3/11 for inspiration, yeah. I almost felt that Godzilla himself wasn’t the focus, rather it was the panic that ensued. The original Godzilla was panned for being exploitative and I knew why people would think that, but this was the first time I understood those feelings on an emotional level. Seeing those boats rush through the water early on as Godzilla’s moving into a city brought back very vivid memories of the destruction I saw live on the news from the Fukushima incident. My biggest takeaway from the movie was “Wow, I think I understand the feeling the original movie tried to incite,” and that was fantastic. I mean, totally scary, but fantastic.
Yasin: A parallel could be drawn between that scene and a Hollywood scene where a street is filled with smoke and you see people walking through covered in ash. It is an effective way to evoke a certain type of emotion out of your audience if done right. But there are so many ways that it can be done cheaply and in poor taste. From my perspective, Shin Godzilla seemed to handle it pretty well, though my point of view definitely differs from someone who was in Japan at the time of the meltdown.
What did you guys think of the theme of the movie? A lot of the government scenes delved into how going through bureaucratic red tape can get in the way of issuing an efficient and effective response to a crisis.
Jorge: It was mostly effective, but there were times I thought it was a little overdone. At times it was Anno shoving those themes down our throats in a not so obvious manner when earlier on it was done in a more graceful manner. Overall, I like the idea. One of my problems with Godzilla movies is finding the human characters boring. Going into this knowing there were a ton of scenes of people standing around and talking didn’t inspire much confidence, but I found it more entertaining and engaging than almost any other set of human characters in Godzilla’s past.
Robin: I feel that Anno shoving the themes down our throat is a real treat. There were certain scenes in the movie where other characters talked directly to the camera in disbelief of what is up for discussion. I felt really immersed and actually a part of that theme.
David: As someone who works in politics, yeah all of that rang true for me. An early scene had attack helicopters ready to kill Godzilla when it was in its first form but they were stopped by the government in fear of maybe hurting two civilians. When the government had to be reshuffled due to Godzilla taking the PM out, what that reminded me most of was the assassination of JFK, and the panic that came after that when President Johnson had to quickly take up the mantle of President, during a time of unrest due to the Cold War and Vietnam. Speaking of which, my friend Derek pointed out that this movie was very Japanese centric in its politics. Going as far as to paint the Americans as too powerful and too ready for a bombing.
Jorge: I noticed the way they talked about Americans as well, it’s always interesting to see how other countries perceive us during this kind of situation. (disaster, not, y’know, monster attacks) The potential use of a bomb was a powerful moment for me. You saw how much it pained the new PM, a much older figure, to even contemplate using such a powerful weapon. For Japan as a whole, it’s terrible to realize the only thing that can save you is the same thing that caused untold destruction once before.
Brian: Knowing what I knew about the political theme of the film, I was a little bit worried. Let’s be honest, I’m here to watch Godzilla come up and wreck house. While that was certainly present in great amounts throughout the film, I feel the core of the movie was centered around the messages regarding politics. As Yas just pointed out, early actions in the film would have been drastically different if the appropriate people were able to make important decisions. Instead, the government had to continuously hold meetings and press announcements back and forth. That, coupled with the decision to not attack Godzilla in a weaker state due to the two unevacuated citizens is ultimately what lead to so much getting destroyed later on down the line. Sacrifices needed to be made, but a part of you sort of admires the fact that they tried so hard to save every last person.
Robin: I loved the political side of the film and I normally do not say that for films. The mental and physical exhaustion the characters go through show that sometimes you just can’t reach a decision. It’s not easy. At the beginning of the film, they mentioned that they had two hours to kill Godzilla when it first appeared but they were fools not to take it. Although a lot of people will ask why they didn’t kill it early on, well…that’s how the government works. It’s not about where it’s “right or wrong” but “what are we giving up to win?”