We finally get another animated Godzilla series, but no Godzooky.
So, this isn’t the first Godzilla television show, but it is, surprisingly, the first non-educational Godzilla anime series. Yeah, until the 90s, the Hanna-Barbera adaptation was the only animated version of Godzilla. I find that crazy for a popular character that’s been around since 1954. Much like the three anime Godzilla films that Netflix debuted over the last few years, this show decided to go ahead and reinvent the Godzilla mythos, this time tying Godzilla and his fellow kaiju to extra-dimensionality and time travel. Honestly, after so many crazy twists and gimmicks over the decades, this seems almost par for the course.
The show is set in the near future in Japan. Two engineers working for the “do-it-all” Otaki Factory (aptly named as they appear to literally do anything they feel like), Yun Arikawa and Haberu Kato (Johnny Yong Bosch and Stephen Fu), are dispatched to an old building which has been having strange occurrences. At the same time, cryptozoology student Mei Kamino (Erika Harlacher), is investigating signals coming from an abandoned building. Both parties hear the same strange song, which leads to the awakening of creatures that start to attack Japan, including the pterosaur swarm called Rodan, the armored Anguirus, sea serpent Manda, and, of course, the mack daddy king of the monsters, Godzilla. The only thing that they have to fight back is an experimental robot built by the crazy head of the Otaki Factory called Jet Jaguar. It’s awesome.
The designs of the monsters in this series are all adapted from their traditional images, but they still are clearly recognizable. For example, Rodan, who is traditionally a nearly Godzilla-sized pterosaur, is reimagined as a flock of car-sized flying dinosaurs. Anguirus, at least in the dub, is acknowledged to be named after an ankylosaurus, with a line thrown in about the name coming from a kid who couldn’t pronounce the dinosaur. I think that was a shot at the 1990s Godzilla film, where the name “Godzilla” is a mispronunciation of Gojira. Godzilla is a bit more aquatic in this adaptation and his signature atomic breath is redesigned to be a sign of his drawing power from outside of this world.
This show’s hook is that all of the kaiju are made up of extra-dimensional material, thus avoiding the question of how such creatures can move given the square-cube law. It also sets up that a lot of this series involves time-travel and an amount of technobabble that would make a Star Trek script blush. One of the devices in the series, the Orthogonal Diagonalizer, is both the stupidest name and also somehow the cleverest, because the idea is that it orthogonally shifts the dimensions of reality the way you would shift a matrix in linear algebra. The show makes a great use of time travel and expresses the nature of its interconnected timelines not only on the show but also through the naming of the episodes. If you were to lay the names of the first 12 episodes along the edges of a cube in 3 dimensions, they would have 8 intersections that share letters. Those letters form the name of the 13th episode, “Together.” The extra effort really is appreciated.
Overall, solid show.