Having fun going through the millennium series again, this was a really exciting time for me. I'm sure I'll get to it all in a bit, though. Gonna try and do Always 2 but who knows if that's gonna work. Don't expect it, but we'll see.
EDIT: This is going up a day late, but I ran out of time to finish this yesterday before I had to leave for the thing. Movie was a little less than "just okay," but I'll get to that later.
24. Godzilla X Megaguiras • ゴジラ X メガギラス (2000)
The aughts are officially here, and the Godzilla on this side of the new millennium is mostly the same as on the other side, by which I mean the other turn of the century Godzilla from 1999. Both use the same suit and same breath effects, though how exactly they're related, well... read on.
Godzilla 2000 was pushed as a kind of event movie, but in practice the only real event was that classic Godzilla had returned. Now that we know he's back, the expectation is that things will be business as usual, and we can expect more Godzilla to come at a regular interval of every year. This put things into a cycle, and you can always expect there to be news, you can set your watch to Godzilla, as it were. We all took for granted that there would always be a Godzilla, and for the next five years this would indeed be the case. This film is part of a trio where Toho experimented with different directors and would then decide which direction they liked best. This is their "alternate universe" idea, which means that these films are created independently, completely by their directors left up to their own devices. Yep, you guessed it, that means at least two more years of no Junior. Now because of all this alternate universe stuff, the timelines, which in the past used to be "the loose Showa canon," "the strict Heisei canon," and the Rebirth of Mothra trilogy, has now been complicated by each film having its own little thing going on. Or does it? G2k and GxM were made independently of each other, and press material from the release of GxM has it that the two occupy different universes, but in practice this isn't necessarily true. See, G2k isn't "a new timeline," it simply makes no references to any other movie, not even the original. One could, conceivably, say that this is Junior, even, and there would be no continuity police to stop you, it just wouldn't make much sense. GxM, on the other hand, begins the movie by doing a little world building and establishing its timeline. Now, before this little experiment I had forgotten a certain detail of G2k, that Godzilla heads towards Tokai at one point, but in the GxM universe, Godzilla had already been there and it's the whole reason Japan abandoned nuclear energy. So... are they not compatible? Maybe not after all, but that of course begs the question, where the hell does Godzilla 2000 belong?
So last time it was just the old guard, Takao Okawara, but now we've got someone new and, yes, another ascended fan, which by 2000 has ceased to be surprising. Masaaki Tezuka really loves Godzilla, it just oozes out of his films. The guy is happy to have the job and doesn't want to shake the boat, so in his mind it's best not to make something too ambitious or too outside the box, don't go Hedorah on them when they just want another Monster Zero. Because Toho ends up going with Tezuka for future films, well... two of them, GxM establishes what the new normal for Godzilla will be, and that is in no small part determined by the new series composer (again, on three of them anwyas) Michiru Oshima, who is fucking awesome. In addition to the "new normal" that this specific crew gives us, Godzilla X Megaguiras also establishes a few other running traits that we'll see again. First of all, "vs." is replaced with "X," which is to mean something like "cross." This change seems especially striking to English speaking audiences, but the truth is it isn't new. When the Heisei sequels began, the titles swapped the Japanese kanji "対" or "tai" meaning "against," for the English abbreviation "vs." which the English titles of previous films already used. This is probably, and I'm just saying what I think here I'm not Japanese cultural professor (as you'll see when we talk about the next film), related to the increasing "coolness" of English in Japanese pop culture. As in, holy shit Japanese pop culture started using Engrish a lot in the 90's. The new "vs." segment of the title became such a signifier of the times that Japanese fans refer to the series as the "vs." series. Really. It only makes sense if there's going to be another change of direction for Godzilla to change it again, and "X" sounds really cool and futuristic, so there we go. The titles of the films are not uniform, however, and after GxM only half of the 4 remaining films would even use it, and the English title of GMMG nixed it, and the DVD covers give GxM and GxMG really weird and stupid names that I hate that don't use the movies' proper title. Other things that were a running theme throughout the millennium films are a scene of a CGI Godzilla swimming which is apparently mandatory, and a post-credits scene where something cool and awesome is revealed. G2k has a CGI swimming scene but no post-credit one. GxM has both, and the post-credit scene reveals Godzilla's survival of the Dimension Tide.
The Dimension Tide is the new super weapon for this movie, accompanied by the Griffon warship which I always thought was a reference to the original script for ZILLA where, well we called him "Neo Godzilla" on Rodan's Roost back when that was a thing, fought a chimeric monster called the Gryphon. It's probably not, but that's what I figured, anwyas. The Dimension Tide is a miniaturized black hole, so right off the bat you know what kind of movie this is. High concept crazy awesome stuff like we're used to from the Heisei films and other assorted things The Mysterians and Atragon. The idea itself is enough to get across the mood of the film, and it's the right mood to have. On the sliding scale of realism in sci-fi, Godzilla films are on the side of "being awesome is more important than being feasible," something a weaponized black hole fired from a satellite does nicely. Godzilla X Megaguiras, when it came out, was just another in what we all assumed would be the continuing adventures of Godzilla, not a record breaker or maker, but a quality piece of awesome you could rely on if you just wanted to, you know, watch a god damned Godzilla movie. And from time to time that's all you can really ask from the series, because if you have a series made up of nothing but heartwrenching grimdark y so srs shit all the time then it becomes boring and pretentious unwatchable crap. It may be difficult to understand for some people, but remember that Godzilla vs. Megalon was the Godzilla movie for 1973, they didn't make more than one, so if you've ever gotten any sort of enjoyment from Megalon's fun camp or outlandish set pieces, then you have to realize that the Godzilla movie for 1973 needed to be campy. When GxM came out this wasn't a problem... yet.
Megaguiras is the "queen bee" of the Meganulon from the original Rodan movie. Meganulons are mutant versions of the real animal Meganeura that lived during the late Carboniferous period 305 million years ago, or, as the professor in the film states, 350 million years ago in the early Carboniferous period. Which is wrong. I'm going to bet that somebody just remembered the numbers wrong or something, but as for the character he's legitimately a moron. Aside from getting the date wrong, he refers to the nymph and adult stages by different names, both of which are the names of the monsters, not the real animal. Furthermore, where the hell does he get of calling an animal and unstoppable aggressive monster as if it's some kind of kaiju? This is a supposed paleontologist we're talking about, not someone talking about Godzilla, who is very different from normal animals. Sure, Megaguiras is kind of a bitch, but that's because she's actually a, you know, monster. He does mention something interesting, though, that Megaguiras, the queen Meganeura, was discovered in South China recently. That would mean that the name Megaguiras is actually supposed to be a genus name for a type of fossil dragonfly from that same time. Which would also mean, if it's a different genus, that it was originally assumed to be... you know, not a Meganeura, because that makes sense because since when do dragonflies have a caste system? Outlandishness aside, what this demonstrates is that the kaiju Megaguiras has been used, although in a mutant form, to learn more about extinct animals, which is pretty interesting because we don't see that often. Last time was Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah, where the discovery of Godzillasaurus turned theory into an observable animal. Paleontology and kaijuology working together in a world of monsters. Sounds almost romantic, don't you think?
25. "GMK" • ゴジラ • モスラ • キングギドラ: 大怪獣総攻撃 (2001)
The name is too long to write without making the heading for this section run two lines. And that's absurd, for the record it's full English title is "Godzilla, Mothra, and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack" which is more or less a straight translation, but whenever I refer to it I omit the subtitle because that's fucking dumb. However, even just "Godzilla, Mothra, and King Ghidorah" is too long for my purposes here.
GMK was the last of the three experiments, and word has it Toho was thinking of this being the last one... you know, again. For the occasion Toho got acclaimed Heisei Gamera director Shusuke Kaneko, and he got a chance to dork it out with Godzilla, and the results are... hmm. Well I'll tell you right now that when I found out King Ghidorah was going to be a good guy I wouldn't have it. No siree. I even planned to "boycott" it, the joke there being that it wasn't going to get a theatrical release here, see. I was, however, excited to see Baragon again, especially since he's going to actually BE in the movie this time. What we found out about the film later made this make a lot more sense, what happened was that script Kaneko ended up going with had the guardian beasts were Baragon, Anguirus, and Varan, but Toho didn't feel comfortable going without the big guns this time, and decided it was time to bring back Mothra and King Ghidorah. But at the time, when I was keeping up with this, a good guy King Ghidorah was just not okay, and it actually still bothers me a lot, but once the movie came out and reviews started reaching our hemisphere, people's tunes changed real fast. Soon it was the best Godzilla movie since the original, a grimdark exploration of Godzilla as a dark god, a Godzilla movie with a death toll, I remember one signature saying. And it's true, this film, which resurrects in some form the idea of a "Ghost Godzilla," really is quite compelling. As far as dark, moody, serious Godzilla movies go you can't go wrong with GMK, which executes these themes with grace and gravity. But... well, you'll see. This film features a CGI swimming scene, and the post-credits scene, moved to pre-credits for the Region 1 DVD for some reason, is a close up on Godzilla's still beating heart. The implication is that this Ghost Godzilla regenerated from the skeleton of the original... and he will soon do the same from a heart.
Oh shit, I forgot to add a paragraph about the whole generation gap angle and all that. Oh well, too late now.
The execution of good guy King Ghidorah is relatively successful, and actually ties back to another concept from an earlier project. Remember the Heisei Return of King Ghidorah? Well, according to the Japanese wikipedia, there was some sort of plan to use that idea in Godzilla vs. Space Godzilla, utilizing the Orochi from the other 1994 Toho monster flick. Now that connection is made explicit, and this King Ghidorah is a slowly regenerating Orochi awoken 8,000 years too soon. All of the guardian beasts are monsters defeated in the past, whose spirits are prayed to and have become the objects of worship at three shrines around Japan (including Aokigahara where KG is) where the monster's bodies lie. They are reanimated when Eisei Amamoto's character also a spooky ghost, desecrates the shrines by breaking "soul stones," rocks near the shrines which contain various spirits, particularly those who died in the Asian conflicts during WWII. The spooky ghost stuff isn't touched on too hard, but when it is it's really effective, showing that Godzilla vs. the Devil or Ghost Godzilla really can work. So yes, seeing a cackling, lightning spewing King Ghidorah fighting to protect the land is really awkward and weird, but the justification for it is at least pretty cool.
Are the millennium Godzilla movies sexist? In Godzilla X Megaguiras we see something that we've never seen before in any Godzilla movie before: a character who believes a woman can't fight Godzilla because women are weak and easily scared. What?! Fucking what?! In both GxM and GxMG we meet our female military lead by watching their (male) commanding officers die in front of them, which sets them off on a personal grudge against Godzilla. The idea is that having a strong female pilot a weapon used against Godzilla is cool because it shows that you can be female and fight Godzilla, too. When was this ever questioned? The Heisei Mechagodzilla had two (2) female pilots, one of which was motherfucking Miki Saegusa, who, by the way, the entire mission to stop Godzilla hinged solely upon. Nobody ever fucking called Miki weak or scared. However, in these two movies the characters are called such by other characters, GMK goes waaaaay too far. Remember Ghidorah, the Three Headed Monster? In that movie, Yuriko Hoshi's character works for a tv station that reports on various strange phenomenon such as UFOs, and when the Venusian prophet appears, she suggests to her boss that she go track down the Venusian and get her to sign an exclusive contract. Everyone agrees this is a great idea, and she goes about taking care of it. In GMK, our female lead works for a tv station that reports on various strange phenomenon such as ghosts, and when one (1) of her ideas gets shot down by her boss, she complains that it's because women are expected to do as they're told. By the way, this movie was made in and takes place in the year 2001. Also? No one treats her any differently because she's a woman. That's just a thing she made up. So what, one of the main characters is a professional victim? Aaaaand how is this okay? It seems that somewhere along the line the writers of these films sought to portray the female characters as strong and capable in the face of opposition, but decided that they wanted people to know that they were doing it, so they dropped some lines pointing out something that for nearly 50 years now the Godzilla series has been doing continuously with no problems at all. Every Godzilla movie has a strong female character in it, not because it needs to fill some sort of quota, but because some people happen to be born female. Never before has a character's sex been a liability, and the notion these films put forth about how my expectations for a character should be lowered because of it makes me extremely uncomfortable. A Hollywood movie can get away with a stupid "...and she kicks butt!" bullshit but not in Godzilla.
26. Godzilla X Mechagodzilla • ゴジラ X メカゴジラ (2002)
When word came out that Godzilla's next opponent was going to be Mechagodzilla, I can't say that anyone was terribly surprised, but it was pretty exciting. Mimura, the writer of the much acclaimed last Mechagodzilla movie, was coming back, as were Oshima and Tezuka, and so it seemed like Toho had decided on the new team and the status-qua for the new series was set. They were going in the direction of GxM over G2k or GMK. While it was cool that we had these things, a new team and a new Mechagodzilla, there were a few issues that kept nagging at some fans, including me. Since Toho began reviving monsters in the 90's there were two particular monsters everyone wanted to see, and we were still waiting on: Anguirus and Gigan, but instead they kept going back to the same three: Mothra, King Ghidorah, and Mechagodzilla. It felt a little too safe. No CGI swimming scene, and the post-credits is just a scene between the humans. Lame.
And the decision to go with Tezuka instead of Kaneko was also pretty controversial. The comparison had been made that Kaneko = Honda and Tezuka = Fukuda, and that analogy is pretty solid, but there are problems with it. For one, Tezuka LOVES his job, and the whole thing is a labor of love for him, and that's really important. Honda was a quiet, peaceful person whose stories revolved around ordinary people with themes regarding the shared humanity of all nations and the corruption that money and power bring to people. Kaneko is a little different, while he does have a tendency to focus on otherwise average people (but is this of his choosing? How many non-Honda Godzilla films have the same caveat?), the tone is always much more morbid and intense. Kaneko really likes pointing fingers, while Honda's characters are willing to admit guilt and work towards a better future, but tell me where the hope is at the end of Gamera 3, if you could. Honda's war experience made him bitter and disillusioned, but this is something that he overcame, and it is precisely because of this that the original Godzilla stands out so far from the rest. Kaneko seems to indulge in dark, moody excess more because that's just the sort of thing he likes. And that's fine, he's really good at it and it's really cool, but I wouldn't call it "Honda-esque," it's only superficially so. What this analogy really gets at the heart of is, as I mentioned in the last section, is that that some people just want darker and edgier all the time, even if it doesn't make sense. If you're just super serious about everything all the time, then you're never serious about anything, and being dramatic for the sake of being dramatic loses its impact. Also, you have to figure in that Tezuka just wanted it more.
So rather than going back to GxM, GxMG starts us off in a new timeline, again, but this time a much more developed one, owing to the sense that this was going to be a real series now. It still starts us off as a fresh Godzilla sequel, but this time it's not just Godzilla, the other non-Godzilla Toho films from the Showa series are included. The film only specifically states that Mothra and War of the Gargantuas happened, but various other material like film books and the like give us a little more insight. Of course the other Toho Frankenstein film is included, but also Rodan, King Kong Escapes, and even Gorath (and I guess we're still ignoring that the moon was destroyed?) are part of this new world, making it, essentially, a "new Showa" universe.
Due to the success of GvsMGII's theme, it is revisited here with a bit of a twist. This timeline doesn't have futurian technology, so they need a new reason why building Mechagodzilla at all makes any sort of sense. Of course there's the obvious part about no other weapon working against Godzilla, but if you're going to build a super weapon to combat him, you need some kind of core concept, something to build around. The idea this time is that they can build Mechagodzilla by using a DNA computer, and constructing it around the bones of the original Godzilla, which is a good reason, it saves a lot of time and effort building up and working out the logistics of a mechanical skeleton for a giant mech. Using this as a starting point allows them to build an effective super weapon within four years. However, because of this, Mechagodzilla, or Kiryu, is no mere machine, it actually has memories. It IS the original Godzilla, a fact made all too clear when Godzilla's roar makes the DNA computer go haywire and it begins acting like Godzilla on its own. The artificial vs. natural conundrum is now complicated by Kiryu's own will. Since it's not just a robot, Mechagodzilla also has a say in this fight, but most of the time we don't get to hear it. Some people treat it like a machine, some don't, but are those who claim to understand what Kiryu wants correct? And what's with this sleeping grass stuff? Is it just a metaphor or a sequel hook? Why would the use of a plant as a metaphor possibly be construed as a sequel hook in a Godzilla movie where scientists used Godzilla's genetic material to produce another monster? I'll wait until GMMG to cover that.
In this timeline, which again only follows the original Godzilla, the second Godzilla doesn't show up until 1999. That's a little odd. In the Showa series the second Godzilla just lived on Lagos, we know this because the split between the Showa and Heisei timelines is when that Godzillasaurus was moved and wasn't mutated until much later when a nuclear sub sank in the late 70's. A second Godzilla certainly exists in this timeline, so who is it? According to the director it's the son of the original Godzilla. So that isn't Minilla for sure, Minilla was the second Godzilla's son. Could it be... ? Well, Junior isn't the second Godzilla's son, it's the son of his cousin according the original script for GvsMGII, which feature a fight between a "White Rodan" and a Godzillasaurus after it laid the parasite egg (this is Junior's mother, either the second Godzilla's cousin or that cousin's mate, and probably Minilla's mom as it's the only female Godzillasaurus that's ever mentioned anywhere). If it was laid by a Godzillasaurus, then it must have happened before the Bikini Atoll nuclear test, which means it's probably a constant in every timeline. We don't know who the father is, just that there was only one other Godzillasaurus out there that was already hatched... the first Godzilla. The implication here is that Junior is the son of the original Godzilla, who is as an individual probably much older, as there are legends about him. So Junior's egg must have been there for a little bit before it was affected by nuclear waste, this and not the Bikini Atoll test, giving us a possible reason for why we never see a female Godzilla: because she never became a Godzilla. Junior's egg must have been affected abnormally by this, but it wasn't a mutant at birth, it only became one afterwards, and when exposed to radiation grew far more quickly than it otherwise would have. It only hatched in 1994, that's five years before the second Godzilla appears in GxMG's timeline. It very much seems to be that the divergence point in this universe is simply that the Lagos Godzilla died from his wounds in 1944, and that we never saw another one until Junior hatched and grew into a full grown Godzilla after five years. I only realized the connection recently, and it's pretty awesome. However, at the time I didn't hear about it being Godzilla's son, so I went with another theory that's actually on this blog somewhere, which I no longer support. Because of this, when I realized that the new films would go off in yet another new direction without Junior, I was starting to get a little worried that I'd never see Junior again.
27. Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. • ゴジラ X モスラ X メカゴジラ: 東京 S.O.S. (2003)
People had their misgivings about what the last two films indicated, but now there was no doubt. For the past four years there hadn't been any sense of stability in the series, and it kinda threw people off. At the time, making a movie with the same opponent and just adding Mothra seemed lazy, overly cautious, and a complete waste of everyone's time. Don't get me wrong, I certainly liked that it was an actual series once again, but a sense of continuity is important because it ties events together, different events, not the same one over and over again. I had the same sort of reaction when the sixth Alien movie had them fighting the predators again instead of something new. What a surprise, then, when it ended up being one of the best films, not only of the millennium "era," but of the whole damn series.
This is the third Tezuka/Oshima film and it feels really familiar and safe. It's sort of like at G3HM or GvsM where we know what a Godzilla movie from this era is supposed to look, sound, and feel like. It is hard for me to... heh... overstate how well Oshima did stepping into Ifukube's shoes. That Ifukube's music continued to a part of the Godzilla series well into the 90's makes what was once a traditional association with Godzilla now an inseparable component of it. Still, the series will always use the "Godzilla theme" as it were, that's been decided, but Oshima's cues have had three movies to grow on us now and they feel more in tune with and natural to Ifukube's feel than Otani or Hattori. And similarly to the way the Ifukube music, returning monsters, and recurring cast help create the sensation of a new golden era during the kaiju renaissance, so to does the same thing happen here, created through the addition of an altered Showa timeline, recurring cast members (including Koizumi intentionally reprising a role, as in not the Murai/Miura thing), and sense of a new normal make GMMG feel more true to the core of Godzilla than any of the previous films. The fact that this film once again goes back to the hardcoded DNA of the structure of Mothra movies helps as well. Also, the special effect are the best of the series.
One thing that I noticed this time around is that the twin larvas aren't the same as the ones from the 1964 film. Remember, that egg, like the one in 1992, was buried under the ground and was actually older than the first Mothra we see. Here we know that the egg was laid recently by the Showa Mothra on Himago Island, and the fact that it hatched into twins as well is just a coincidence. There seems to be no real deciding factor on whether one or two larvas will hatch, although it's interesting that in Rebirth of Mothra, Mothra Leo hatched too early. How that explains why it gets a beam weapon and can turn invisible I'm not sure, but it at least tells us that the amount of time before the egg hatches, which we've seen in every Mothra movie with an egg is totally variable and it can be induced to hatch by the Cosmos/Shobijin/Elias, has some correlation on what emerges from it.
The theme from the last film, which in turn is the theme of the third Mechagodzilla film, is complicated by the appearance of the Shobijin. Mothra isn't too pleased about the used of Godzilla's bones to create Mechagodzilla, because to her it's a violation of Godzilla's right to die, and bringing the monster back from the dead is unnatural and sick. That said, she understands that it was only done as a means for humans to protect themselves, so she offers her protection against the monsters so that Kiryu can finally rest. Kiryu, erm, Godzilla, seems to agree, and we realize by the end of the film that wanting to rest really was its will the whole time. Again, despite the best efforts of the most well meaning people, a few good apples can't seem to fight the system of modern bureaucracy. But things go a little differently, almost as if they trick Mothra. Shun, Prof. Chujo's grandson, makes up the Mothra symbol out of desks as soon as news about Godzilla coming ashore, meaning she shows up before the cabinet even gets an answer. I don't think Mothra knows this, and it kinda seems like the Shobijin aren't expecting Mechagodzilla to show up. It seems a little underhanded, but in the end Mothra's wishes are fulfilled... oh, wait, it doesn't matter. That's right, although Kenji Sahara does give the go-ahead and agree that this will be Kiryu's last mission, he's not the one that decides that, because at this the original Godzilla's memory returns and he makes his own mind up for his selfish reasons. And that, as Hiroshi Koizumi figures out pretty early in the movie, is the whole name of the game here. The way he figures, either we keep Mechagodzilla to protect ourselves, or we dump it to gain favor with Mothra. Either way it has nothing to do with what Kiryu or Mothra want. This is a really interesting angle to me, because a running theme of all the millennium films. and even Godzilla vs. Destroyah, was basically "HEY GUYS REMEMBER THE FIRST MOVIE???" Everyone keeps bringing up that we humans are the real monsters because we created Godzilla, and that's great, but you're also still fucking doing it. That's what Shiragami and Kirishima were talking about way back in Biollante, the conflict isn't man vs. monster or artificial life vs. natural life, it doesn't matter what it is, as long as the only thing you can think of his what you have to do to benefit yourself, then you're just being a selfish prick. The bomb was created by people fighting a war, Godzilla was created by the bomb, Mechagodzilla was created from Godzilla. Mothra is right, by creating new weapons you're not solving anything. Remember Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah? Three monsters were created to solve the same fucking problem. That's Mothra's plan to protect humanity, to stop the cycle of creating one monster to stop another, to recognize the right to live of all creatures, monster or not, and maybe get everyone to calm the fuck down just a little bit.
The film features the return of the CGI swimming shot, actually two of them, one of which is Godzilla swimming away while holding a sub and the other a more traditional shot. The post-credits scene is... well, remember when I mentioned sequel hooks are really obviously eluded to Biollante? Well guess what the post-credits scene is. That's right, a sequel hook for "Godzilla X Biollante" as it were. Unfortunately we won't get to see this as the 50th anniversary is coming up, but the good news is that the 50th anniversary is going to be everything we've been waiting for since the 90's... and it will also start to threaten the very fabric of the fanbase.
26. Godzilla: Final Wars • ゴジラ: Final Wars (2004)
First, a quick review of the anniversary films so far. As this is the 50th there are four previous ones: Ghidorah, the Three Headed Monster, Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla, Return of Godzilla, and, uh... Godzilla vs. Destroyah, although technically it should be Godzilla vs. Space Godzilla but isn't. Each one of these takes a slightly different approach, G3HM pits Toho's biggest monsters against a singular super monster from space, Mechagodzilla creates a foe for Godzilla that is not only his equal but also his reflection, G84 is a callback and direct sequel to the original, and Destroyah is conclusion to the original, and the only other time that Godzilla conclusively dies. Each of these is a pretty big deal in their own right, but there was never any question on anyone's mind when it came to what the 50th would be, because we'd been talking about it for years. It was a foregone conclusion and basically wrote itself. But, for those you may not have been around, I'll have to get into a little bit about what those expectations were.
While the fandom was less cohesive back then, it was clear that fans wanted more reversions of classic monsters, and these tended to converge on Anguirus and Gigan. Other creatures reimagined in fan art and especially fan fics included Hedorah made by oil-eating bacteria used to clean up oil spills (which is mentioned in Godzilla vs. Biollante), a new Manda that ties into Super Atragon (both of these had stats written up in GURPS Godzilla, which I think is still around, also I remember one fan fic that had Manda be a giant snake or something), and a more powerful version of King Ghidorah, a space Ghidorah, which in one story was called "Bombshell Ghidorah" and absorbed the powers of Godzilla, Anguirus, and Rodan. In addition, we also wanted another Destroy All Monsters. The last one was in 1968, and there had been so many more monsters since then that it only made sense to make another epic, event film which gathered them all together for one gigantic "monster mash" if you will. We all kinda new that we'd finally get it for the 50th. There was a leak guy that hung around Rodan's Roost in those days, who would come out with the most bizarre and ridiculous predictions, that ended up being true 100% of the time. Previously, he had predicted that the new Mechagodzilla would have "purple hairdriers" on his shoulders as weapons. One of the first leaks was about the monster roster, which went as such: Anguirus, Mothra, Rodan, Manda, Gorosaurus, Kumonga, Kamacuras, Ebirah, Gigan, Hedorah, King Caesar, Minilla, King Ghidorah, and a new monster called Monster X. This, truly, was a dream team. He was wrong on two accounts, probably owing to the fact that he thought concept art for Zilla was Gorosaurus, and not distinguishing between Keizer Ghidorah's two forms, which is understandable seeing as how that little bit of info was kept a secret right up until the release, so you can imagine how fucking cool that was. He did mention that this KG was going to be four legged, solidifying, once the website went live and the monsters were gradually revealed, that he was right, again. He then made some really bizarre predictions, such as Minilla driving a car and at the end spreading his arms out to protect the humans, and that's where people got suspicious. He was still right, though.
There's another important factor that didn't "click" with me until the second or third time watching, and wasn't confirmed until later: Junior is finally back. The original concept for the movie was not only to be another DAM, but also have it be the Heisei DAM, literally mimicking the intended purpose of the last one and bringing everything together for a proper send off to the second series, and to do this of course you need to have Junior. However Kitamura's brain must have been fried by the "alternate universe" concept of the early entries and didn't want to make the continuity of the film so direct, preferring a more ambiguous approach. Unfortunately, this means that all the relevant dialogue that would have explained anything was cut out, and some of the effects shots were effected by this as well. What it doesn't affect, though, is the fact that it's still Junior in the movie. The title sequence makes it clear right from the beginning that we're finally getting the real deal this time, something we've all been waiting for for 9 years, as it introduces Godzilla in the same way GvsD ended, and draws a direct comparison to the two by crossfading between GvsD's adult Junior and the current Godzilla frozen in ice. It is explicit. You can cut the dialogue, but it doesn't change the fact that you're staring Junior in the face, clear as day. The first time I saw this opening sequence, I was all like O_O and got little goosebumps crawling all over. Holy shit what's going on here? Subsequent viewings got me used to the fact that none of the characters made any references to anything, so I wasn't real clear about what the actual intention was. It was only in 2008 or so that I found a source that confirmed it, which was just a special day for everyone.
Two of the monsters in GFW are appearing here in a Godzilla movie for the first time, one of which is new, the other is Zilla. I didn't mention this before during GMK but the recovery from Deanzilla went in three phases: the direct response of G2k, then putting the '98 Zilla in GMK's continuity and making it legitimately a different monster, and finally in GFW putting in the same movie as Godzilla, giving it a proper name, and letting Godzilla fuck it up to death in less than 10 seconds. The wound had finally been healed, although as I mentioned before, the scar's not going away. In addition to this we FINALLY get to see the god damned Gotengo appear in a Godzilla movie. Gotengo is a little odd in that it's the one headlining star of the Tohoverse that isn't a monster, but rather a super weapon. It's also odd in that Mothra and Rodan crossed over immediately and yet it took the Gotengo 41 years to finally co-star with the king. I'm not complaining though, I'm just so happy to finally see the two together, it just makes me giddy seeing the two share a frame. Gotengo has appeared in 3 (counting GFW) feature length theatrical films, one cartoon OVA (original video animation, it's an acronym applied to direct-to-video cartoons), and one short film made as a tie-in to the choseishin series. Every Gotengo movie requires it to drill the fuck out of something, the most extreme example being 1977's War in Space where it blows up the entire planet Venus. There were plans to bring Gotengo into the Godzilla series as early as 1995, where it would have been the Super-X 3, with three drills (!!!), but this design was passed up, although it would be used in Super Atragon as the "evil Gotengo" Liberty. The Gotengo is awesome, that is all.
Having this be a GvsD sequel from the beginning, and having the roster of monsters being the first thing decided on, means that all the assorted kaiju are supposed to fit within the Heisei continuity. Now I don't know, and I don't think anyone does besides Tomiyama and Mimura, exactly what the explanation for all of this is, but it has to fit altogether somehow. I've mentioned on a past entry here some years ago that there was a theory in the 90's that Godzilla's meltdown would reconstitute Rodan from his expelled energy, which is exactly what several fan fics went with even as late as C. L. Werner's "new era" series, but not having any data for sure makes leaps like this, however cool they sound, not really be acceptable as explanations for the finished film because it's too much making up your own plot and not enough going off the films themselves. But I have my own ideas about the Tohoverse, and as you might have picked up on, I believe it is consistent from one timeline to the next, and there's plenty of evidence to support this. So there's no reason why the Rodan in GFW can't be from Mt. Aso, since in the Heisei timeline none of them were ever seen before. This "parachronic homology" makes some interesting revelations when applied to two other subjects in GFW, Gorath and the Xiliens. The Showa KG was created by the Garoga, destroyed Venus's civilization, and traveled via a meteor, something followed by the RoM Ghidorah. THAT Ghidorah was born from the severed tail of Cretaceous Ghidorah, while the main body, which fell into a volcano and "died," became Death Ghidorah, a four legged skeletal-armored looking creature. The ORIGINAL original Ghidorah was either Orochi or Cretaceous Ghidorah, with Orochi becoming the GMK Ghidorah. Gorath, in the Showa universe, is something like a neutron star, a small but incredibly dense collapsed star that's not quite a black hole. In GFW Gorath is called a "planet," but this, I think, is just that sub's translation of "sei," which is a word that predates the differentiation between "star" and "planet." However it turns out to be a fake, so perhaps they did mean that it was a planet and not a star, which was a tip-off that it's a fake. Oh wait, it actually isn't a fake, they simply have it under their control and only use it as a last resort against Godzilla... who destroys the "real" Gorath to reveal it as Monster X, who is actually a Ghidorah. We know that Ghidorahs travel in meteorites, or at least the engineered Garoga Ghidorah does. We don't see how Cretaceous Ghidorah gets to Earth, so we don't know how natural this is, but I suspect that it is, and that the difference between the Showa and RoM KG in size is due to the Garoga's meddling, and everything else is natural. So remember my theory about Gigan's organic form being related to the Ghidorahs? In this film it's very clear that the Xiliens are way more alien than we thought, some sort of cyborg grey creatures, and the "M-base" is the result of Xilien tampering on Earth creatures (the mutants and the powered-up Earth kaiju), and is inherently present in the space monsters they control, Gigan and Ghidorah. So it looks like I could be right, but is Keizer Ghidorah tampered with? A unique Xilien creation from standard Ghidorah stock? To test this we have to apply this new information backwards and sideways, to the Showa Xiliens, who must control King Ghidorah with magnetic waves and lose control over him during the A-Cycle Light Ray attack, meaning that he has no M-base. We later find out that this Ghidorah was created by the Garoga. It could go either way, technically, as both KG's could be artificially created, but we know the Showa one doesn't belong to the Xiliens. I think that perhaps Gorath is the ultimate source of the Ghidorahs, and that Cretaceous Ghidorah and Orochi are mutations. That's my theory, at least.
GFW was an incredible ride and brought us up to the next phase of hibernation with a bang, but it also created problems. Reaction to GFW by some fans was negative, owing to the cheese and camp that it indulged itself in. If you've seen every Godzilla movie, none of this is a surprise and the fact that GFW can take the time to appreciate all the different eras of Godzilla's history and somehow make it all work is great, but a lot of people at the time had been, well... corrupted by GMK. There was now a meme floating around that Godzilla should always be darker and edgier, that the camp and light-hearted, child-friendly elements of the series were anathema to it, and that if Godzilla wasn't killing babies every waking moment then he wasn't cool or interesting anymore, that even acknowledging the past was bad and that we should all forget half of the movies ever happened. GFW is not a perfect film, it's not not in my top 5, but it did what it was supposed to and did it right. Godzilla has been through so much over the past 50 years that it's totally understandable that within the fandom people are going to have their own types of Godzilla that they prefer, this isn't like Star Trek where it's Kirk vs. Picard, there's too much variety in Godzilla for such a simply dichotomy to exist, but to be a "Godzilla fan" implies you're a fan of the series, not of just a couple of the films on their own. You take the good with the bad and you move on. Initially, this is what I thought the criticism of GFW was, that because people didn't prefer the campy Godzilla, they disliked the focus it had in GFW. It turned out, though, that things were getting much worse.
28.5. ALWAYS 2 (2007)
With news on "Godzilla 3D to the Max" drying up and there not being much going on in the world of Godzilla at the moment, I stopped paying attention to the fandom. I went to forums and news sites, and before that read G-Fan and other fanzines to keep up with what was happening, to be a part of Godzilla as it was current, but with Godzilla on a break there wasn't much of a reason to focus on that sort of thing anymore. I was in college now trying to learn how to make my own monster movies. It also became difficult to keep up with after the creator of the Monster Zero news site passed away in 2006, shortly after Akira Ifukube. But when I heard that Atari was making a third Godzilla fighting game, I popped in once more to see what was going on in the world of Godzilla.
And it was dismal.
There was now a new generation, the "millennials" I've heard them called, had discovered Godzilla. Now, these aren't legacy fans, that's the first thing you need understand about these kids, these are people who "discovered" Godzilla when it was marketed to them. These are sheltered sheeple unable to make decisions for themselves, people who need others to tell them what it is that they are required to like, what's "cool" or "hip." Godzilla is a multi-cultural and international phenomenon, but he is not "cool" and "hip." It's the same with Mickey Mouse and Mario, they've penetrated popular culture in such a way that they transcend it, they are constants, legendary figures that permeate our modern mythology, not products to be sold. Godzilla's commercial viability had been diminished since the 80's and the millennium films didn't sell as many tickets as they used to, but it was still Godzilla, and people still loved it. At least they did last time I checked. But these kids are different. Hollywood sold them 1998's ZILLA, and they said "yeah this is cool it has tanks and stuff" and it became a part of their childhood. The notion that something so heinous can actually do some good in the world and contribute to the fond childhood of some future grizzled and miserable adult is a nice thought, but it omits the part where ZILLA was the center of a mass merchandising blitz by Sony to sell the Godzilla name as a brand. Because Zilla was at the time just one movie, and it was still called "Godzilla," this of course meant that what they were up-selling the kids they hooked on was... like, Godzilla. This is the time when the Heisei films came out in the western market, which to us established fans, the ones who grew up with Godzilla, was the event, but to these idiot kids it was a part of the advertising blitz and promotional tie-ins for ZILLA. That is, we're talking about a generation of "buy me this" imbeciles who viewed Godzilla as a subset to the very thing that nearly destroyed him. I should not have to elaborate on why this is a bad thing.
The first clue I got that something was wrong wasn't about GFW, it was about Godzilla: Unleashed. Before it was unspoken that putting Zilla in the game was not only the worst possible decision, but al- oh wait I can't top that hyperbole. But now people were clamoring for Zilla on the various forums. "Because he's cool." At first this was said with a tinge of justification, you'd read comments like "the movie sucks but his design is need, and a fast monster could be cool," but over time, and after Unleashed had hit the shelves, it became more and more horrifying. It was now clear that there was a not insignificant number of "fans" who actually thought Devil and Himlerich did a good thing. There was a sub-sub-set to this, the Zilla deniers. These are people who refuse to accept that Zilla's name is Zilla, and that he's legitimately Godzilla. Their arguments make no sense, and reading something written by one of these people makes it clear that they're living in a fucking dream world. This isn't your just plain stupid religious person, this is your outright insane fundamentalist creationist, these people are fucked in the head (seriously, that link is worse than time cube).
Fast forward to now, and things have only gotten worse. The Heisei series, the whole of it, now "sucks." Godzilla vs. Monster Zero is "boring." Bagan is "overrated." This is the new face of the fandom, utter contempt for the entire existing Godzilla series. The whole fucking thing is trash to them. It's not longer about what Godzilla you personally don't enjoy as much as the rest, it's become "what the one thing, other than Zilla, that any of you actually like about the Godzilla series in the first place?" It has become, I'm sorry to say, the Alien fan base all over again.
And that's the final piece of the puzzle. Hollywood wants to sell a product, and they've got a new generation of empty headed drooling morons to do it to, people who not only don't hate Zilla, but accept him, even prefer him. The top brass of the studio have made sure to pay their people enough to say "this won't be 1998 all over again," but the truth is that it doesn't matter. Godzilla is played by an actor, a person, made by real, legitimate special effects created by skilled craftsman and artists. He is NOT a fucking video game. He is real. He is a fictional character that has meaning beyond the Snickers promotions and io9 articles and IGN insider reblogs. He's living inside each one of us, bigger than any individual. You can't make that a product, that's not how it works. But now people will buy that product, and their numbers are overwhelming. More than that, "today's audiences" don't want and can't stand the real Godzilla, they think real special effects are stupid, and they're expecting a grimdark reboot of Zilla. And they're going to get it. And then it will all be over.
Commercialism will finally kill Godzilla. And in a few hours I'm going to attend his funeral. Hopefully someone will come to mine.
I'll give a review of the new "Godzilla movie," it's only fair I get to say my piece before I lose him forever. But for now, good by old friend. I'll miss you.