Shin Godzilla is a Terrifyingly Realistic & Meaningful Ode to History | Review

A brief discussion on the summer 2016 Japanese film “Shin Godzilla” (also known as “Godzilla: Resurgence”), produced Toho, co-directed by Hidaeki Anno and Shinji Higuchi, based on the original story by Anno (Evangelion). 

*I am not overly familiar with the Godzilla franchise (meaning I cannot properly decide whether it is a particularly “good” or “faithful” addition), but I do respect it and the impact it has had on the Japanese people and the rest of the world.*

“A God Incarnate. A City Doomed.”

This is how Funimation captions the deadly film containing the biggest, baddest Godzilla known to mankind, and accurately so. (He’s literally the tallest in the franchise!) But before the King of Monsters surfaced from the deep, it was just another quiet day for Japan. Chaos quickly floods the scene when a giant, strange gilled creature explodes from the ocean’s surface and begins tearing through the city.

Prioritizing citizen safety above all else, the government attempts to keep the situation under control, only to realize that their technicalities and formalities are useless in the face of true terror. It’ll take a rag-tag team of volunteer scientists, engineers, and public safety officials to come up with some sort of way to combat this seemingly perfect lifeform. “But time is not on their side—the greatest catastrophe to ever befall the world is about to evolve right before their very eyes.” – Funimation

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More Than BOOMS! and BANGS!

Despite boasting action (it’s a Godzilla film for crying out loud), there’s a surprising amount of substance, particularly a possible social commentary on the hierarchy of the Japanese government and they way the nation handles foreign affairs during war time. Specifically, we are frequently shown how frustrating and slow policy can be. The film’s first half centralizes on political officials arguing about who should do what, when, and their reactions to the unbelievable events unfolding—most were consumed with disbelief, in fact, except for the young yet forward-thinking Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Rando Yaguchi, our basically-main character (and wow, what a title).

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We join Yaguchi in his frustration against the higher-ups, as well as his struggle to make amends with the innocent lives lost because of the government’s inability to act early on. While those above him in rank merely wish to hold fast to their comfortable, well-paying seats, shrugging off the impending doom that is about to likely kill them all, Yaguchi pulls together every asset that he can to find out what Godzilla is, and solve the mysteries surrounding Goro Maki’s research on the subject. It’s sad to admit how painfully real the execution of this all is.

Unlike the other officials who merely bicker about bureaucratic protocol and semantics (and not take things seriously), Yaguchi deals with exactly what’s in front of him. He knows he’s trapped within the system’s web, but he doesn’t fear questioning those above him in order to do his job correctly and honorably. Actor Hiroki Hasegawa conveys the complexity of Yaguchi’s character impressively, balancing fitting facial expressions for each emotional hit: a mix of concern, anger, sadness, and confusion.

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As I side note, I thoroughly enjoyed the excitement that came with watching Godzilla transform from the weird gilled lizard on all fours to the menacing tower of terror we’ve come to know and love. It was so much fun! One small small complaint that I did have was (and I’m not sure if this actually counts) that I couldn’t really tell if the CG done on Godzilla was “good” or not. Seriously, I couldn’t. Was he creepy lookin’? Sure, but I’m not sure how this makeover compares to previous ones. Also, while his explosive beams later on looked absolutely terrifying, I didn’t like the cheesy sound effects for the explosions—they felt like they were missing a low boom to ’em, or perhaps an epic bass you’d expect from a Hollywood explosion.

Intense Dialogue, and the Engrish Doesn’t Help

Most of the film’s complaints are targeted at the lead female, Kayoko Ann Patterson, portrayed by Satomi Ishihara, whose unfortunate script is loaded with English-heavy dialogue. In an interview, she even stated “Sometimes it’s so frustrating, I just want to cry,” and by NO means is any of this her fault—that’s a director issue. Her character is meant to seem very American, and while we definitely get that feeling, I can’t help but think that her normal Japanese speaking would’ve sufficed the whole way through. Anyway, I still love Kayoko to death because of how her character acts as an excellent foil to Yaguchi’s—both see themselves in higher positions, but for now, they work together efficiently with what they’ve got in their own ways.

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The Engrish problem is solved by switching the language settings to Funimation’s English dub, which is especially wonderful because the subtitles just fly by! Shin Godzilla is a film about talking through the problem, and less about any spectacular human actions. The political nonsense in the first 20 minutes, as well as the ending with solving Maki’s quote (which I’ll get to) are much easier to understand with the dub. If you don’t mind live-action dubs, do give this one a go—it could help immensely with understanding the film’s main messages.

Understanding the Legacy of the Atomic Bomb

More than having knowledge of the franchise, it’s historical context that is needed for full emotional effect here. Japan was rocked not once but twice by an evil that shouldn’t have even been unleashed on the planet: the atomic bomb. History has learned that the destruction that follows an atomic bomb is not cool. It’s not something the U.S. or any country should glorify, and this film makes sure of that. Godzilla was birthed once the long-term effects of radiation poisoning revealed themselves as something just as fearsome and frightful as the bomb itself—gosh, perhaps worse.

This brings us back to the film, which could stand an allegory for nuclear war and its long-standing effects, Godzilla itself mirroring the disastrous earthquakes, tsunamis, and radiation that hit the poor nation all at once. Unlike normal action films where you’re just waiting in anticipation for the bad guy to unleash their awesome powers, I was left not cheering, but shaking with fear of the results that, very closely, mimic an atomic bomb. The theme of destruction is a powerful one, a scary one, and that’s how this film shocked the viewers—the moment Godzilla unleashes its wrath is one that can only be witnessed . . . and feared.

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The People that Made this Experience Special

1. Sharla (Sharmander on YT)—Being one of my favorite YouTubers, it’s rare to ever hear about her work life as a dialogue coach, and so I was ecstatic once she put out a video saying that she worked with the cast (particularly Yaguchi and Kayoko on those stubborn English lines) and Anno himself.

2. Shiro Sagisu—Known for his epic music in Evangelion, Shiro gives the film a really neat character. His famous “intense operations planning” music that plays throughout the franchise makes several appearances in this film, and though it felt overplayed at first, a second watch through with the dub made it all feel like it blended seamlessly, as if Eva and Godzilla were truly “a match made in kaiju heaven!”

3. Hidaeki Anno—THIS MAN puts me through so much stress, and yet I can’t ever look away whenever I hear his name involved in a project. He is the reason I jumped into this foreign franchise, after all, so that’s got to mean something, right? He perfectly combs together realism, destruction, and rebirth in such a way that merits a masterpiece with every work. In Shin Godzilla, he took me back to the first time when I saw Evangelion and was impacted in such a way that I’d never be the same without it. I’m glad Anno took the break between 3.0 and the final Rebuild film, because hey, sometimes we have to “Do as we please,” and I respect that.

Thank you for giving me my Evangelion fix—it was an incredibly enjoyable experience!

“Do as you please.”

These are the few words left by the enigmatic Maki, and yet, they remain the strongest message within the work. It’s something so simple, to do as you want to, though I get the impression that it’s not a common Japanese lesson taught. No, this isn’t a wish or a passing thought, but a statement aimed DIRECTLY at Japan. Towards the end of the film, the Prime Minister must either give consent to or deny the United States’s declaration against Godzilla: “Take care of it now, or we will nuke it.” That’s right, history will repeat itself. Japan would risk losing the pride and dignity it spent so many years recuperating to the humiliation of starting at ground zero once again.

With the titular creature MIA towards the end and the U.S.’s threat, it almost begs the question: Are humans deadlier than Godzilla?

But oh, “Danger is an opportunity for personal growth,” remarks the U.S. President in the film. Yeah, not for this country. The true climax of the film comes down to a duel between philosophies—to accept help and then rebuild, or own up to the situation. And when Japan finally does decide to take matters into its own hands, fighting the way only they do best by studying their enemy, the scientific team makes work of the King of Monsters in a way that, without spoilers, makes me proud to be human. Using science, mankind’s greatest weapon, the team transforms the impossible into plausible—theory into reality.

It’s that moment when you realize you CAN stand for yourself WITHOUT having to kill another being—THAT is the big takeaway. Take pride in the things you can create and accomplish together, NOT destroy. And finally, for ONCE in your overly obedient life, do as YOU please, NOT what the others want.

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Shin Godzilla is incredibly smart, realistic, meaningful, and genuinely scary at times. Most of all, my god, if this film had come from my country, I’d be overflowing with pride, too.

“Accountability comes with the job. A politician must decide to own it or not.” – Rando Yaguchi 

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(None of these screenshots belong to me. No copyright infringement is intended.)


Have I been completely Godzilla-fied? Haha, not quite, but I will definitely be keeping an eye out for future installments, including the wildly anticipated CG Godzilla film directed by Gen Urobuchi, another one of my favorite directors in the industry! Shin Godzilla may not be anime, but I’ll let it slide into the “Caffe Mocha” selection as grade-A movie material for sure, and for everything it stands for. Shout-out to Scott (Mechanical Anime Reviews) for hyping me up about it, and for covering the film way better (and quicker) than I did here.

Lastly, thank you so much for reading, as this was a film that has grown to mean a lot to me. I’m dying to know what you thought about Shin Godzilla, especially regarding its production, so let me know your thoughts in the comments! Until next time everyone, this has been

– Takuto, your host

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Cafe Talk #5: 10 Places In Anime I Would Hate to be Found DEAD In

Dying sucks. I mean, I’ve never done it myself, but it looks pretty rank. In the Halloween spirit, I could have just posted an ordinary “Top 10 Horror Anime” or something to that appeal, but I realize there are plenty of great lists already floating around the community at this time. Besides, I probably haven’t even seen ten horror anime. But back to dying. I know it’s depressing in real life, but in anime, where anything and everything is exaggerated to so much as a head tilt, deaths can pretty . . . graphic, and most are so tragic we feel as if we lost a sibling, or a mother, or a dog. Also, in the instance of Another or Higurashi, death is unusually cruel to witness and done so in the strangest of places. So what I’ve decided to do is compile my top ten places in anime I would hate to be caught dead in. Dying sucks, so enjoy! HAPPY HALLOWEEN!

By the way, there are ***SPOILERS*** for the following anime, in no particular order:

The Future Diary, Psycho-Pass, Higurashi, Steins;Gate, Madoka Magica, Deadman Wonderland, Sword Art Online, Another, [C] Control, and Attack on Titan

Though . . . If casinos were this flashy, I might spend a quarter or two . . .

# 10. From [C] Control, The Financial District

Do you know how to spend your money wisely? If not, you better learn fast! Because here, if your game of Pokemon results in your defeat, then you better expect to return home to an entirely different world. That’s right, put your money on the wrong slot and the collateral damage is astronomical! You could lose your job, your house, your family, and even your own life. And it’s all because you wanted to play the lottery. Shame.

What lies beyond this vault stays beyond this vault.

# 9. From Psycho-Pass, The Vaults of Sybil

Do you ever feel like you witnessed something that you shouldn’t have? Well b*tch, you just done it. You can’t “unsee” the computational law enforcement enterprise that runs the ‘utopia’ with an iron fist. The Chief is probably waiting behind the damp steel wall with the Dominator under her whim, ready to unleash your termination. Now your splattered body lies on the cold, hard, metal ground, just awaiting a mindless cleaning robot to sweep you into the trash. I would say curiosity killed the cat, but you’re a human, and I know you’re smarter than a domesticated fur ball. How embarrassing.

“Gather ’round, kids, it’s time for another game!”

# 8. From Deadman Wonderland, The Deadman Wonderland Amusement Park

Really, a horror amusement park? It’s cliche, but still a ruthless place to waste your life in. Imagine all of the cute bird costumed-people lined around the stadium, the audience thinking it’s all just apart of the thrilling show! NO. These security guards are armed with machine guns and rifles, and won’t think twice about your sorry corpse. Escape isn’t an option at Deadman Wonderland, so the only way to leave is by living and risking it all in the games, or by dying while the death is quick and painless. All the crowd would do is point and laugh at your decapitated head. That’s sickening!

Where would you go? What would you do?

# 7. From Steins;Gate, Any Lost World Lines

World line Theory. Whether you believe it or not, it’s a thing in this time-traveling masterpiece. So Okabe uses the microwave time machine to repetitively go back and save his friends from an ominous organization. After overworking his brain for 25 episodes, Okabe finally will get to sit on the couch and do whatever mad scientists do best. But what if this supposed “savior world line” still contained tragedy? The movie dives into that, but consider this different position: What if you ended up in a random world line where the microwave gets destroyed and your friends aren’t there anymore? What then? Let’s say that your family doesn’t recognize you either, and refuse to let you in, believing that you died in this timeline. You’ll now spend your remaining days roaming the sweaty streets of Akihabara until you die of depression. In a lost world line void of your existence, you were just a null concept, unmemorable and nonexistent. Scary AF.

I know, it looks so, sooo tempting – Don’t even think about it! Just go download ALO or something.

# 6. From Sword Art Online, The World of Aincrad

That’s right, of only 10,000 recipients of the first-ever virtual reality video game, how exhilarating! Upon your full-dive, however, there’s no escape. In a mere month, 1/5 of all players died, and you very well could have been one of them. Kirito eventually finds Asuna and also happens to know a lot of the ins-and-outs due to beta testing, so he’s all set with a dandy life. What about you? This is your first time, but you don’t get nearly as lucky as “The Flash.” You’re pretty pathetic as it is, and you don’t get along with others, so a guild is out of the question. Solo-playing might be the only way to go! WAIT, this is a trapped room – no Teleport Crystals allowed, too! They’re pouring in from the right and the left, and no one can hear your senseless yelping! It only takes 12 seconds to deplete your dinky life meter. As you fade and start to shatter, all you can do is pity yourself.

I suppose it’s more notoriously known for this giant hole. Talk about fine landscaping!

# 5. From The Future Diary, The Gasai Estate

Y’all know what goes on in this house, so I won’t even start. Even if you were a welcome guest and your terms were fair with Ms. Yuno, “you know” she’s got one giant, stark, pink eye aimed in your direction. The lights are out, so Yuno will take care of whatever you need. Thirsty? She’ll get you some water from the tap. Hungry? She’ll slice you an apple. Bathroom? Just down the hall, but only use the restroom. One turn to the left or the right will take you to a dark, damp, foul-smelling cage with two rotting corpses and vomit in it. Where were Yuno’s parents this evening?? “Oh, they went out, but don’t let that bother our private time together, Yuu-ki~”

It’s quiet . . . too quiet . . .

# 4. From Attack on Titan, Outside Wall Maria

Up for a game of tag? Great, they’re it, RUN, HIDE, not that it’ll do you any good because they can just sniff you out like bacon on a Sunday morning. Have you ever seen a mouse scrambling around a maze trying to find the prized cheese? It’s a horrifying sight, the poor cheese! Now, remove the walls and throw in 100 more mice. That’s just a square mile or two outside Wall Maria, where death is the only option – Just how long can you keep on running? Even the monarchy smells your fear from the Interior’s comfy walls!

What kind of childish nightmare is this!? It’s like my own vomit vomited on itself!

# 3. From Madoka Magica, A Witch’s Labyrinth

Your partner just got shredded into pieces by the Witch’s minions, and now they’re after you. Can you hear the chant? It’s for you. They split into groups and run with their fluffy axes of death, feeding on your trail of anxiety and fear. Run faster on the multi-colored ribbon road, dodge the cotton men, AH, there are the henchman! RUN the other way, go, HURRY! They’re catching on to you. Finally, She feels your presence and hope has just been swallowed. The wall behind you seals up with puffy candy and She licks her lips, ready to taste your despair. You shoot magic, she slithers out of the way. She wraps her slimy body all around you, ready to feast, but she can’t help it – that’s just the cycle of things. And just like a cycle, she swallows you whole, never again able to see the light of the real world. Why did I say yes? Was my wish even worth it? I guess you’ll never know . . .

Any day with these kiddos is a day closer to death. It could come at any time.

# 2. From Another, Class 3-C (Yomiyama)

“Things that were never properly buried come back to haunt the high school of the damned.” The worst part about sitting in this close-to-death class is know that you can and will die, you just don’t know how. The Calamity will consume you and the spread bloodshed by any means – you just have to die. A knife, a pole, a car, a fall, even an umbrella will do the trick. And your fellow classmates and family members will continue to perish aimlessly until the dead is sent back to death. That’s creepy!

I just can’t! NOPE, not gonna do it!

# 1. From Higurashi, Shion’s Underground Torture Chamber

Like Yomiyama, all of Hinamizawa is one large blood-red target, but Shion’s “Fun-Fun Underground Torture Chamber” takes the cake for my most-feared location out of all of the anime I’ve seen. I won’t even sugarcoat this one like I did with the others, because you all know of the horrid sh*t that goes on in this hell hole. The hard, brown, dirt ground with cells built into the cavern. A splintery table with rusty metal clasps that will hold your shaking body as Shion readies whatever ancient instrument she pleases. Now I’m shivering, and it’s not because of the cold rain outside or low thermostat (or my heart lol)! Higurashi, you win, so take your scary-ass setting and get outta my cafe!

So to recap, dying sucks. It can be even worse, however, depending on WHERE you get spirited away. This Halloween season, do yourself a favor and DON’T visit any of these horrifying places! You’ll thank me later, I know it. If you are so daring as to dive back into these terrifying settings, then please, please make sure you return in one piece. I’d feel bad for anyone who had to spend their holiday scraping up your sorry corpse 😀 If you had similar thoughts, hit the like button! I have been waiting so long to write this post you have no idea! My question for you: Where in anime would be a terrible place to die? In the meantime, thanks so much for reading, and have a spooky Halloween!!

– Takuto, your host

Halloween and End of October Update

Hi and welcome to the cafe! This month was filled with anime for me! To start, I finished watching The Devil is a Part-Timer, Attack on Titan‘s English dub, selector infected WIXOSS, and continued with SAO II, Log Horizon 2, Fs/n UBW, In Search of the Lost Future. I also picked up on Trinity Seven. Wow, for me, that is a lot!

On Halloween, I literally told myself that I was going to stay up all night to marathon a new anime. Did that happen, well, no, but I got pretty damn close LOL! For that grand night, I chose selector infected WIXOSS as my companion, and boy was that kinda creepy. Originally I was gonna watch Tokyo Ghoul because it was so well-received and because duh, it’s Halloween, but I chickened out. What did I think of Wixoss? I’ll do a review here soon on it. I also watched FUNimation’s dub of Attack on Titan. God I freaking love that show! The dub was very similar to that of The Future Diary‘s, in that while the main character(s) could have been better, all of the remaining cast was amazing! I do give them props, though, as they kept that driving intensity/insanity that AoT is famous for.

To top off the night, I heard that I might be going to Naka-kon in the spring, so yeah! It’ll be my first convention and I’m totally stoked! What did you do for Halloween? Anything special? Friends? Anime or gaming? Let me know in the comments below! Fall has arrived in my town, so nice weather has returned. Maybe I’ll spend some time outside, too!

– Takuto, your host