This Week in Anime
Does Netflix's New Godzilla Live Up to the Hype?

by Nicholas Dupree & Jacob Chapman,

Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters just hit Netflix as the first in a trilogy of CG films. This week in anime, Nick and Jacob find out if Polygon Pictures and Gen Urobuchi could give their new take on a classic kaiju any bite.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed by the participants in this chatlog are not the views of Anime News Network. Spoiler Warning for discussion of the series ahead.


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You can read our review of Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters here!

Jacob
So Nick, I heard not much has been happening in Black Clover yet.

Nick D
Well Asta stopped yelling at much, which is nice, but otherwise uh...yeah...

That's a shame. Well, if we can't discuss the Wizard King this week, perhaps we'll settle for

THE LIZARD KING?



But yes, we finally get to talk about GODZILLA: THE PLANET OF MONSTERS.

PART ONE OF THREE

perhaps the MOST part one of three thing to ever part one of three

Well, we did ask Netflix to start simulcasting anime, so I guess this is what we get for being impatient.

So this is a Polygon Pictures joint written by Gen Urobuchi, and I can tell you I was way more excited for one of those things than the other.

We all know you're a huge fan of Knights of Sidonia, yes.

I hope you like flat-textured GUN-METAL GRAY cuz uh

I know a lot of people were way happier with the production on this one compared to their past work, but while I can see improvements here and there, I thought it looked pretty damn bad. It's still extremely pre-rendered PS2 cutscene to my eyes. You expect the camera to pan over a little too far to the right and glimpse a skybox with characters in T-poses floating through it.

I can't say I've ever been a fan of PolyPics' production style. While I'm open to fully 3DCG anime, their Grey-on-Darker-Grey aesthetic has never worked for me, and going back to it after seeing stuff like ID-0 and Land of the Lustrous demonstrate honest-to-god color work was a bit of a bummer.

And that's not even getting into Lumpyzilla here

I'm so sorry, all I could see was

and all I could hear was

G-zilla here could take Kylo's advice and stand to wear a mask tbh.

He already looks like he's wearing a mask! He looks like a bodybuilder stripped down, spray-painted himself, and then picked up a raptor head at the Halloween store!

So yeah, Planet of Monsters doesn't exactly look good. It's not a great sign when the best shots of your monster all look like cuts from Cloverfield.

I would say the writing is better - which it is! - but this is the most Part One of a trilogy I've seen since The Hobbit

Right, so I knew this movie was not gonna be my #aesthetic visually. I'll happily sit through visuals I'm less-than-enthused over for a Gen Urobuchi script; I've done it before with Expelled from Paradise and I'll do it again for these next two films. But I did not expect Planet of Monsters to be 20% story + characters and 80% technobabble + mechs walkin' around.

I've always been a little allergic to technobabble stuff. The worst parts of most sci-fi and mech shows for me are always the five minutes of preamble before the cool robot launches. "System A is All Green, Vector M1 at 120% Capacity, Loading Proton Torpedoes, Funnel System AXZ Is Non-Go" etc etc etc...


"And by god, you're gonna sit right there and hear about every last one of 'em!"

It's a shame because the bits of actual content that we get are pretty interesting. I'll admit I'm not a big Godzilla buff—my main point of reference is uh...


Right. In most Godzilla stories, all you need for a preamble is "he woke up and he mad", but Planet of Monsters starts with humanity losing the fight for Earth completely and spending 20 years slumming it in space with literal alien cult leaders instead. It's a unique take, I'll give it that!

The movie does capture the 2018 mood pretty well.


Knock knock, it's alien Jesus. Let him in or Godzilla will eat you.

Of course, the religious imperialist aliens' plan (I WONDER IF THIS IS POLITICAL COMMENTARY OF SOME KIND) was conditional on them actually beating Godzilla for humanity, which they failed to do. Whoops. So now we're all just sorta stuck in space hating the king of monsters together. It makes sense that after a couple decades, both sides would say "fuck it" and head back to Earth for a last huzzah to take the big guy out.

Or So It Seems

In truth, the aliens probably know way more about how Godzilla works than they've been telling humanity, and this whole 90-minute movie was just a preamble to whatever the real story/conflict is. Frankly, it was the least I've ever enjoyed an Urobuchi piece, and I felt like most of this movie was wasted time by its conclusion. Whole thing could easily have been told in 30 minutes with nothing of value being lost.

I mean, I'm not gonna marinate in the spectacle for its own sake on this one. OOF, those poop-dragons...

Yeah, it's a pretty light affair all told. Not in the sense of tone but in how little there is to chew on. There's plenty of potentially poignant lines and intriguing threads, but it's all just left to wallow in the frankly dull preparation and battle against Godzilla.

Like you can drop lines like this all you want

But it doesn't change the fact that we're just watching CG dudes with no personalities carry out the plan we've already heard explained four times by now.

This is total conspiracy theory territory, but my extensive experience with Urobuchi's work suggests to me that he wrote like a two hour and ten minute script for Godzilla at some point. And Polygon Pictures figured they could expand this into a trilogy of 90-minute chunks quite easily; you can triple the box office, and it doesn't add nearly as much to the bottom line as it would done in traditional animation. And Urobuchi gets paid three times as much! Win win. Just yanno, not so much for the audience.

Obviously we don't know what the behind-the-scenes here was like, but I can't deny that this feels like a solid first act of one film stretched to the point of breaking. Which is a shame because the final five minutes of this movie are fantastic.

What a surprise! They didn't kill the only Godzilla in a movie titled "Planet of Monsters".

Since Boochi's something of a hyper self-aware pedant (in a good way!) in his dialogue, this is brought up several times as a possibility.

But the soldiers and the audience had no idea just HOW big a Zilla we were gonna get, so the twist still hits good and hard at the end.

Gotta say, I admire Godzilla's comedic timing.




And so we leave off with just enough of a cliffhanger to make me want to see the next one. The Butcher strikes again.

I think it's safe to say that at least Metphies knows what's up here. Beyond him being the mastermind puppeting this whole failed operation, the rest is anyone's guess. Does his race intentionally seed planets with nuclear-power-eating creatures millennia in advance? Or is Metphies going rogue against his people in some way because he worships this specific destruction of hubris? I'm both intrigued and yet angry that all the good shit in this movie fits into like three scenes.

Well, three and a pinch scenes. We also find out after the credits that not all surviving humans escaped to space.

And that's a REALLY interesting idea. Now that they're totally outmatched, will humanity have to survive with these different incarnations of earthlings, separated from them by millennia? What about all the folks rusting to death on the spaceship? All interesting ideas that I'm sure will be half-explored eight months from now in the next one. XD

Let's not forget this hot thread that's dropped completely after the prologue:

Give it to me, give me that monster on monster action. I can squint and pretend they don't look like big muscular turds goin' at it, Poly-Pic.

That's more or less my stance on Planet of Monsters so far. The good stuff is just good enough that I'm willing to pick out those parts from the chaff. That said, I don't know that I can recommend it to folks who might come in looking for an actual complete story with actually developed characters.

Or anyone who has this kinda reaction to people at modules yelling coordinates for twelve-minute stretches.

Just remember folks, even if you think the movie sucks don't get too mad at it. Or else your face might get stuck that way.

Don't worry, Haruo. If Godzilla wipes out all your friends, you can just draw anime faces on a couple dozen department store mannequins and nobody will be the wiser.


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