A new Godzilla flick from Toho Studios is always cause for celebration, but Godzilla: Monster Planet is a next-level treat for kaiju and science fiction fans. The first in a planned three-movie anime series, Monster Planet takes the Big G in a bold new direction: the deep future.
The tireless fans at Tokusatsu Network have provided a quick translation of the film's premise, which reinvents the Godzilla mythos just as much as Shin Godzilla did last year. The series begins with the premise that the kaiju menace has gotten so terrible by the late 20th century that humans have to leave the planet. So, in 2048, an AI "managed under the central government" picks a group of humans to board a generation ship bound for the Tau Ceti system.
Unfortunately, the planets orbiting Tau Ceti turn out to be uninhabitable. Soon, political infighting breaks out on the generation ship. Some humans want to return to Earth, while others think it will be too dangerous. Finally, a group of "Earth Returnists," led by protagonist Haruo, forces the remnants of the human species to pilot the failing generation ship home.
That's when they discover that 20,000 years have passed (don't ask questions), and kaiju rule the Earth. Haruo watched Godzilla kill his family when he was a child, so he wants nothing more than to take back the Earth and defeat the Big G.
I love that this premise combines so many themes from non-kaiju science fiction, like generation-ship politics. The plot actually echoes Kim Stanley Robinson's superlative novel Aurora, which also deals with an AI-controlled generation ship whose human occupants are blindsided when their destination turns out to be environmentally deadly. Gen Urobuchi (Madoka Magica), who wrote the script for Monster Planet, is known for his complex and nuanced explorations of common anime genres.
I'm also incredibly excited about seeing a far-future Earth ruled by kaiju. One of the themes of this movie seems to be alien ecosystems, both on Tau Ceti (the generation ship's ill-fated destination) and on our future planet. In this trailer, the animation absolutely does justice to the horror and wonder of an Earth covered in monsters, where all signs of humanity's reign have been wiped out. Also, we've never seen the kaiju in Godzilla movies living in their own ecosystem, unless you count Monster Island.
The recent English-language Godzilla film, which was a joint production with Toho, also played with environmental themes. It was the only time we've ever seen a kaiju reproductive cycle, with the MUTOs engaging in a nuclear-powered mating dance. In previous films, we'd see kaiju laying eggs but never mating. Biological science is seeping into these movies in a way that's both bizarre and pleasing.
Monster Planet comes out on November 17 in Japan, and it will arrive on Netflix shortly afterward.Read More...
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