Gojira shingyura pointo [Godzilla Singular Point] (2021)

Remember when everyone made fun of the American Godzilla because she was a big, mutated Iguana?

Somehow, one begins to miss a Godzilla that was that close to the original.  After all, there is one thing that is clear about Toho’s Godzilla efforts in the new Reiwa era: they have very little to do with what came before.

In fact, Godzilla Singular Point shares one important similarity with the 1998 film.  Those who’ve followed the series know that the Millenium films, eschewed any need to connect their timelines with the existing Godzilla timeline — or with each other.  However, while they could choose which previous films actually took place within the world of each particular film, they all accepted the 1954 film as canon.  To date, only these two films and Shin Godzilla reject even the 1954 film (I’m not sure whether the series of anime films starting with Godzilla: Monster Planet accept the 1954 Gojira or not, although I believe they do).

Mind you, the Reiwa era has been a decidedly strange one, in which the entire concept of Godzilla varied from film to film.  We have seen some eccentric notions before, as in GMK, where Godzilla is the vengeful ghosts of the Japanese dead in World War II, or in Godzilla 1985, where he is some sort of unstoppable force of nature.  But, to date, each new project seems to give us a strange new concept of Godzilla which is incompatible with that in any of the other films.

Well, except possibly that children’s puppet show.  But I’ve haven’t seen any of those with subtitles yet.

Although I will warn you that they look absolutely terrible, in a “Kukla, Fran and Ollie meet Rodan” sort of way.

Now, when I first heard of a Godzilla anime series, I’ll admit that my first thought was that it would be based on the trilogy of anime films they’d just made.  But it came as no surprise to me when even a cursory look at the plot description revealed it to be something very different.  After all, the shape of the Reiwa era was already pretty clear:

Anything goes, as long as he is big, green, lizard-like, and looks vaguely like the original.

Now if you had any doubts about what you were getting yourself into, they were dispelled when we first meet Mei Kamino, a grad student researching hypothetical creatures which might exist in other worlds or universes radically different from ours.  After all, in true Anime fashion, she looks like she is about nine, and is little girl cute.

The other major (human) Character is a young engineer, Yun Arikawa, who works at the Otaki Factory, where his rather crazy old man boss, Goro Otaki, is hard at work building his robot Jet Jaguar.  If you’re up to speed here, then you’ve probably guessed that Yun, as a young hero, has a mop of white hair.

Pretty standard, really.

And, also standard, we have a huge cast of minor characters who can be quite hard to keep up with, particularly as some of the minor characters look a bit alike, and their connections and relationships are quite complex.

A mysterious creature shows up in Tokyo, a creature which is almost identical to a Pteranodon, except that it doesn’t have any digestive or reproductive systems.  Soon there are lots of them, and the Otaki Factory gang is hard at work trying to upgrade Jet Jaguar enough to fight the beasts.

Meanwhile, Mei’s research leads her to a strange form of matter called Archetype, which can’t exist in our universe, not unless the information for creating it came from somewhere else.  It has something to do with the invasion of Kaiju, and with the clouds of red dust (and the red seas) which have come with them.  A mysterious scientist named Professor Ashihara dealt with the first incursion of the archetype into the world (which left behind the skeleton of the original Godzilla) and built a mysterious computer designed to calculate the complex forking paths of the future, and of the various singular points where the archetype interacts with our world.

Jun, Mei and the others are helped by a friendly A.I. named Pelops 2, who normally appears on Mei’s phone as a cute little bear thing.  Pelops 2 is perhaps the single most important character in the film.

Perhaps even more so than Godzilla.

As in Shin Godzilla, we have Godzilla appear as the result of a series of mutations, starting with a seaborne monster (based somewhat on Titanosaurus from Terror of Mechagodzilla).

The other familiar Godzilla monsters are referred to in logos, toys and other items scattered about throughout the film, although only Anguirus and Manda appear in a mostly familiar form, and the giant spiders which show up later on are called Kumonga, even though they don’t look much like him.  Godzilla’s body crawls with little critters much like the mutant Sea Lice in Godzilla 1985, and a blobby version of a creature takes on the shape of Hedorah .  There is a moment when a harmless flock of mutated Moths bearing Mothra’s distinctive coloration flies past.  However, they didn’t flock together to form a giant Mothra as I expected.  It is also true that the various stages Godzilla goes through are based on various Toho monsters.

Sort of.

Mostly.

The weapon used to destroy Godzilla in the end looks very familiar (although it works on a very different principle).

There’s even a brand new monster, Salunga, although the artists claim he is based on Gabara, from Godzilla’s Revenge.

Not that I think there’s much of a resemblance.

And I need to point out that if you expect Godzilla to wade in and start destroying things right away, it is some time before he finally appears.

Apparently, a lot of math geeks just love all the exotic math concepts thrown about in this story.  The director, Atsushi Takahashi, wanted to take a more scientifically grounded approach to Godzilla, and to find some sort of plausible explanation for the existence of Kaiju in the real world.

And we all know that the physics of Kaiju Eiga are pretty much impossible.

As a result, he brought in Tô Enjo to write the series, as he had a PhD in physics and started his career as a researcher.

The end result is rather strange and quite dense — and it is quite late in the series before Godzilla finally assumes a shape we would recognize.  Nor does he ever really show much personality or become a character in any real sense as we never get any indication that he is more than just, well, a force of anti-nature.  I’m not sure if this is a deliberate choice or merely a result of his lack of screen time.  Certainly Salunga has a bit of personality.

Although not much.

Perhaps the biggest downside is that it is on Netflix here in the U.S., which means you can’t buy the series on DVD or see it anywhere else.

Although I’ll admit that it is a touch ominous that it ends with an after-the-credits sequence which suggests that there will be a second season.  I mean, seriously, the story as it stands is complete.  The Earth is saved, Archetype is gone, and the Catastrophe never happened.

Just be brave and let it go.  Even if you do think you’ll make money.

Look, this is a well-made and passionate project, which was trying very hard to offer us something new when it came to Godzilla.  I’m not sure quite what to think of it all, but it certainly is a new take on the Big G, and almost completely unexpected.  It spends more time on the red dust, Archetype, the Orthagonal Diagonalizer and the physics and math underlying them than it does on Godzilla, but it should keep the geekier fans happy.

I’m not so sure what the average person coming into all this will think, but at least it offers lots of monster mayhem, and a number of impressive Kaiju fights with Jet Jaguar (who looks far better than his Showa era equivalent) fighting with a giant spear.

So there’s a lot to like here.

Just don’t expect much Godzilla.

Or, considering how different he is from your father’s Godilla, maybe we should just say:

Don’t expect Godzilla…

(Amazon doesn’t have a video, but these toys are available — paid link):

 

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