Monday, April 6, 2020

Shin Godzilla シンセイキ・ゴジラ (2016)

It’s impossible to be an edgy hipster filmmaker without making a few enemies, so how Anno Hideaki succeeded at anything is a mystery, but the world is glad he did.

The original Godzilla movie was a parable about the experience and effects of invasion. What this parable represents is so fundamental to Japanese culture that by now, Godzilla is passe, even schlock. You’ve probably seen clips of the ridiculous battles between rubber suit performers in the Godzilla sequels. The franchise is out of control.

Anno-sensei knows this, which is why Neon Genesis Shin Godzilla is not about the drama of a giant lizard, but the process of dealing with the giant lizard. It’s the smartest possible approach to the franchise, and as is usually the case with this caliber of talent, it’s a masterpiece.

Nobody ever really dies in sci-fi.

To call Anno Hideaki one of the greatest artists of all time would not be an overstatement, so pairing him with Godzilla seems a bit odd. However, it’s a safe bet that fans of Neon Genesis Evangelion would watch an Anno Hideaki Godzilla movie. Nobody’s as rabid as sci-fi fans, so the business is on point. What about the art part, as in the philosophy of the film as helmed by at least two high-caliber artists? (Higuchi Shinji, director of the live-action Attack on Titan (2015) co-directs.)

Here’s the thing about Hideaki: He’s not pretentious; he doesn’t give a shit about what the film snobs watch. If an American studio approached him to direct a Fast & Furious sequel, he would probably do it. If he had directed Tokyo Drift, it would be very different. It would probably be called Furious (Japanese: 新世紀怒リ, Hepburn: Shinseiki Ikari, lit. “New Century Anger”).

Bad movies don’t stay bad movies in good hands, but it’s rare that A-list directors sign up for garbage projects unless their name is Joel Schumacher. Fortunately, there are no bat-men in Shin Godzilla, just white-collar government people intelligently discussing things at tables. Holy shit, rational discourse in a modern Godzilla movie? You heard right. This movie is full of people sitting and talking, and it’s a blast to watch.


The new Evangelion is coming out in two months. After that, Hideaki-kun is doing Ultraman, which may be similar to his live action adaptation of Cutie Honey. (Yes, it’s real!) This guy is like the lovechild of Quentin Tarantino and George Lucas, or David Twohy’s more-successful brother-from-another-mother.

A quick diversion about Neon Genesis Evangelion, even though it’s off-topic. I didn’t know until recently that there was a stinger at the end of each of the “rebuild” films. The post-credits scene following the climactic catharsis of Evangelion 2.0 can be summarized as “a bunch of shit happens that completely changes the story”. The disaster of the following film was foretold. The end is never the end, you see. For as long as media franchises exist, artists will keep getting dragged back in, and as long as artists exist, so will media franchises.

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