Reflections on GMK

As many people know, I am a big fan of the 2001 film, "Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All Out Attack". The film has – out of all the kaiju films to have been released in the past twenty years, as reasonably gotten the biggest response from people – become apraised by both fan and non fan alike on both sides of the Pacific. Some have reported that at the American Film Market (AFM), that one of the female viewers of the film cried while watching the film. The Japanese magazine Hyper Hobby released a special issue once it’s editors decided that the film was awesome enough to warrant a separate issue devoted to GMK. A similar thing happened to the rarely published JAPANESE GIANTS fanzine, which after over ten years of lack of an issue published, came back with an all GMK issue filled to the brim with internationally unseen material. The film also was subject to a large amount of accolades, including winning the Silver Award in Japan for "Best Grossing Film" and nominated for the Chlotrudis Award for "Best Cast". Yet, after all of this – especially in America – the film is said to be just the best film since "Godzilla vs. Biollante" or the latter Showa films. Why is this? I will try to confront these issues that people have had for GMK and try to make logic of how at least to me, they are not flaws, rather, positives which just adds to GMK’s inventiveness.

The first thing that comes to mind which has ruffled many a fan’s feathers is Godzilla’s stance in the film. He is in GMK, an embodiment of the souls of all of the soldiers who died in the Pacific Conflict Theatre of WWII. This is a topic which has ruffled many American fan’s feathers. The biggest contributor to American fans not taking this quality of Godzilla to their liking is that many people think that it takes away from Godzilla’s original nuclear allegory. Fact is that the allegory Godzilla had in 1954 is still prevalent, from a newly filmed flashback to the events of the 1954 film, to the mentioning of radio activity (like Tachibana claiming that he may have become radioactive once being inside Godzilla at the end or that the nuclear sub off Guam’s energy was totally absorbed).

Even after that, some fans still do not like the idea. This is because most people think that Godzilla needs to stay in the realm of science fiction. This is an opinion which I do not share. I share Kaneko’s thoughts when it comes to Godzilla and kaiju eiga in this century. Kaiju were science fiction in the 1950’s when there was talk in culture about nuclear energy and the possibility of there being giant monsters. Now that it is well known that something like that isn’t ever going to happen, it is no longer science fiction since science cannot vouch for the likely hood of such a happening as a kaiju. Therefore, Godzilla’s films needs to be fantasy.

However, there was an interesting comment made on a review on Stomp Tokyo. To quote, "Godzilla's true nature… is never really resolved." The reason for this is also a reason why Godzilla become the embodiment of the souls that were lost. Let’s look back at Godzilla from 1954. While an allegory for the nuclear bomb, he was a "warning" of the consequences. However, man kind can only be warned so many times before punishment needs to be laid down. So, Godzilla is the embodiment for more than one reason - both because Japan wants to forget about the past and because mankind hasn’t learned. And it is because of this that Godzilla’s immortal. His problem is never resolved because mankind will never truly resolve it’s problems. So Godzilla will keep coming back, and though it may not be the same Godzilla, it does keep Godzilla in a sense, "immortal".

However, some people seem to think of that as a bad thing. Some people ask as to "how shall the audience sympathise with Godzilla now that he isn’t a victim anymore". Godzilla is still a victim of the modern nuclear age. If he wasn’t the first time, then Godzilla wouldn’t even be the vessel that the souls would have chosen since he wouldn’t have even existed.

Now, we go to the Guadian Monsters. This is a harder one to debate since there are more things to think about when trying to stand up for the kaiju. Originally, it was not Baragon, Mothra, and Ghidorah. It was Baragon, Angruirus, and Varan. However, since Toho didn’t think that the kaiju were profitable enough, they chose the kaiju out of the big "4" while keeping Baragon for good taste. Many people seem to take primary offense with the mismatched qualities that the kaiju have. Such as Mothra’s larvae living in the water and Ghidorah burrowing.

The first thing people need to think about is things in past films which could help validate these actions by the kaiju. For example, GMK isn’t the first example in which Mothra has lived under water. Mothra actually showed this trait back in the 1961 debut film "Mothra". After the fire bombings put on her while she was swimming to the Japanese main land, Mothra actually swam underwater till she made it to the dam on the mainland. The same ability is attributed to GMK’s Mothra. Ghidorah also has a problem with people say that it makes no sense of him burrowing. Sure, it makes no sense. But then we get to the fact which excuses in my mind all of those "flaws": these kaiju are deities.

The fact that these kaiju are deities brings a lot in mind. Such as that "God works in mysterious ways". That has been a saying which usually has been associated with happenings in which people do not know the divine creator’s intentions (for those who believe in such an entity such as myself). However, this could also be used for explaining the hidden abilities and powers of the kaiju that have these seemingly illogical powers. So it doesn’t make any common sense that Ghidorah can burrow. Does it make any sense that a man named Jesus can call himself the son of God and bring people back to life? Plus, Ghidorah as a god makes more sense than Varan, since Ghidorah is basically not just a god, but a tribute to a creature in Japanese mythology, Yamato-No-Orochi, with the film revealing that Ghidorah, when fully grown, is to have eight heads, just as the mythic Orochi.

But some people still have a hard time seeing through the little details, like where in Japanese mythology does a giant moth fits in (I think Stomp Tokyo said it better when it said, "GMK must gloss over a few details to explain how Mothra could have anything to do with Japanese mythology.") Except for the fact that in Japanese lore there is the belief that butterflies and moths can act like omens for people and their love life or the creature SUKUNA-BIKO, known to have feathers. This is really a stretch and can seem to be a flaw to some people.

Onto the human characters. We seem to have a good variety of emotion and qualities with these characters, melancholy, comedic, ect. But some people think that the human characters aren’t that intertwined with the kaiju action. That beside explaining the ties to Japanese mythology, they simply watch, and that Yuri just simply maturing into the role of journalist from being part of a fictional documentary production company. However, it is more intertwined than what some viewers think. Mike Russo’s review of GMK gives this justice, saying, "Among these scenes, the interaction between the characters is one of the key driving forces. Yuri and Taizo's separate stories, one of maturity and the other of duty, begin to cross... and in this regard, the two characters start to gain mutual understanding of the nature and purpose which they each possess. The distance that existed between the two characters early on begins to close, and respect begins to flourish. Unlike previous Godzilla movies, where it appears as though the human story runs strictly parallel to the monster drama, this one instead finds a way to meld these aspects together. For example, Yuri's artifact revives Ghidorah, and her spirit encourages Taizo to keep fighting. Taizo uses his intellect and resources to utilize the wound Ghidorah inflicted on Godzilla to ultimately defeat him. It all comes together, and while some may cry foul, due to the fact that it wasn't the monster's who in fact defeated Godzilla, it must be remembered that the whole story of Godzilla is strictly a human story... a story of recklessness, consequence, maturity, and redemption. We created him; it is up to us to destroy him. Also remember that King Ghidorah opens the initial wound, which really is half of the fatal blow. When you see how all of the pieces to the puzzle are introduced in the first half of the film, and then how they all interweave as the plot progresses into the latter half, it is clear that this story is among the best-planned works in recent Godzilla history."

Now, some people think I am unable to talk about the flaws of this film. I do admit it is not perfect. So, here are the problems I see with the film: 1. The CG when KG is rising and when we get a shot of two Satsumas dive down to Ghidorah and Godzilla (the artifacting of the CG, eh). Then we get to the Baragon battle scene. While it looks cool to me, some may consider it a flaw seeing model RC helicopters in the wide shot of Godzilla whipping his tail against a climbing Baragon.

So, there. If I find any other critisism, I will evaluate it and see if I need to talk about it or add it to the paragraph above as a genuine complaint. But to end this two page piece of work, I would like to say that this essay of sorts is just my critical opinion. Is GMK perfect? No. But it is my favorite Godzilla film. That being said, let readers acknowledge that flaw is not fact and that anyone’s assessment of any film is not fact, just opinion, weather critical or personal. Keep that in mind. GMK rules.