If you have not watched Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters or the current anime film, Godzilla: City on the Edge of Battle, then read no further! The following contains spoilers!
Directed by: Kobun Shizuno, Hiroyuki Seshita
Produced by: Takashi Yoshizawa
Written by: Gen Urobuchi
Production: Polygon Pictures, Toho Animation
Distribution: Toho (Japan), Netflix (Worldwide)
Release date: May 18, 2018 (Japan)
Running time: 100 minutes
It has been more than 60 years since Gojira/Godzilla roared onto the big screen in the 1950’s. Since then, he has become the most iconic and recognizable monsters in film. Appearing in more than thirty films and other media such as comics and television, the green goliath has certainly earned his spot as “King of Monsters.” Toho animation brought the lizard Kaiju back in a planned anime film trilogy. The first film, “Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters”, was released in 2017. The film centers on the last remnants of humanity who were forced to evacuate Earth after Godzilla had decimated the planet and return to their home world after 20,000 years in exile. There, they discover that the Earth had undergone a major change and the one responsible is Godzilla.
Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters brought the popular Kaiju into the present day as a computer animated anime that is beautifully crafted. The plot behind the film may be basic but the storytelling that progresses keeps your interest and has you wanting to know more. Godzilla: City on the Edge of Battle upholds this standard and expands upon it. Haruo and his team discover a new way of combating Godzilla and retaking the Earth. Destroyed 20 millennia ago, the remains of Mecha-Godzilla continued to evolve and create Mecha-Godzilla City. With the newly discovered nanometal, the remaining humans aim to destroy Godzilla once and for all.
As with the first film, the CG animation in City on the Edge of Battle is crisp and the characters are incredibly detailed. The animation also appears to be smoother than in Planet of the Monsters. The storyline also gets deeper as it turns out that not did humanity survive but have adapted to life in the harsh environment of the mutated Earth. This dynamic does change the course of the story as it gives renewed hope for the main characters in their mission to reclaim the home they left behind. Unfortunately, with new hope comes new disdain. When the team learns that they can use the nanometal against Godzilla, their allies, the Bilusaludo, want to use the material to remake the Earth in their image. Haruo is forced to make a choice between exacting his vengeance or saving his comrades. This illustrates a new depth to his character as it keeps Haruo from being seen as a single-minded person hellbent on revenge. Another example is when they encounter humanity’s descendants, the “Houtua” and Haruo tries to keep the peace when members of his team distrust the Houtua after being attacked by one of the twin elders. He has to maintain the safety of his team without endangering innocents. It’s a tough situation for any leader.
Godzilla: City on the Edge of Battle builds slowly to give more insight on Haruo and his team’s situation as they make new discoveries and learn more about the human descendants, leading to another confrontation with Godzilla Earth, the massive 300-meter evolved form of the original Godzilla. While on the subject, the battle is very familiar to when they destroyed a smaller Godzilla in the first anime movie. In fact, the setup is nearly identical – lead beast into a trap with flying machines and gunfire, use powerful weapons to deliver killing blow. No lie, the action in this climatic showdown is intense with blazing gunfire from Mecha-Godzilla City showering Godzilla Earth and the Vultures, new highly maneuverable flying combat units created from nanometal, peppering him with concussive blasts. My issue is that it does mirror the tactic used to combat the smaller Godzilla in the first anime film. This does concern me about the third film planned for next year which could recycle this aesthetic.
But my concerns were alleviated, thanks to the film’s post credits scene. In a flashback scene, Metphies reveals to Haruo the name of the monster that destroyed his home world – Ghidorah. If you’re a Godzilla fan, you know EXACTLY who Ghidorah is.
Overall, Godzilla: City on the Edge of Battle keeps the legacy of the Kaiju King alive. The storyline may be a slow builder, but it does deliver in the end with a compelling plot and intense action sequences. It’s not a flawless film but it is still enjoyable for fans of giant monsters.
Godzilla< City on the Edge of Battle premiered in Japan on May 17, 2018 and Netflix on July 18. The first anime film, "Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters" is currently streaming on Netflix.