Wednesday, March 31, 2021

Godzilla Animated!

It seems that every twenty years or so there's a need for some new Godzilla cartoons. I had the distinct pleasure of recently watching a trilogy of feature-length Godzilla movies from Japan made in 2017 and 2018  which put the story far into the future. It's essentially the story of mankind attempting to reoccupy the Earth after having to abandon it because of the influx of monsters, the most powerful of which was Godzilla. The people of Earth were helped to make the faster-than-light quest by two alien races -- the technological and warlike "Bilasaludo" and the extremely religious "Exif". While it has been twenty years in space for the people aboard their space ship nearly twenty thousand have passed on Earth and it's a much changed environment the humans find on their return. This is a Godzilla movie unlike any I've ever encountered with the titular "King of Monsters" portrayed as something beyond the ken of people both in scale and purpose. Godzilla reminded me most of Mount Fuji in fact, a dominant part of the landscape and central to the understanding of the world itself for the people who live there. There are three movies in this series: Godzilla - Planet of Monsters (which tells of how Godzilla has changed), Godzilla - City on the Edge of Battle (which offers a different take on MechaGodzilla), and finally Godzilla - The Planet Eater (which brings Ghidorah into the epic tale). 

Twenty years before in 1998-1999 following on after the American Godzilla movie which is so much decried in these modern times, came Godzilla- The Series. This was a joint venture from both American and Japanese producers and featured the more nimble Godzilla seen in that movie starring Matthew Broderick. One change though is that this Godzilla has imprinted on the lead character and can also spew flames unlike the original film which so many people disregard. This band of researchers called H.E.A.T.(Humanitarian Environmental Analysis Team) travel the globe aboard the high-tech ship "Heat Seeker" which is provided by the French government. These are sturdy adventures with some real range on the kinds of threats that the team with the help of Godzilla face. The monster designs are really creative and evoke memories of the classic Toho beasts just barely here and there. We have spins on giant bugs (beetles, bees, mosquitos, scorpions, etc.) , the Loch Ness Monster, the Mexican Firebird, an ancient sphinx, an enormous armadillo, and giant fish, others I cannot figure out how to describe, and even a cyborg "Godzilla". One funny ongoing gag is the destruction of NIGEL, a robot used for analysis and such who gets destroyed in just about every episode.  For many Godzilla fans this era of the King of Monsters is one they would  like to forget. Me, I rather enjoy it. And watching after seeing the most recent Japanese films, I get the sense I am seeing the mutation monster plague begin which drove humans away from Earth finally as reflected in the movies discussed above.  

Twenty years before the original Godzilla -The Animated Series I know of dropped onto television screens. This was a joint venture between the Hanna-Barbara studio and Henry G. Saperstein and featured character designs by Doug Wildey of Jonny Quest fame among other things. This is a story in which Godzilla works in league with a team of humans who live aboard the Calico, a hydrofoil research ship. Also on board is "Godzooky", a humorous small-time version of Godzilla. The team travels the globe and manages usually to scare up a giant monster here and there for Godzilla to rise from the depths of the ocean to confront. But the show was mired in a TV environment where any sort of violence was virtually forbidden so Godzilla couldn't even step on a building. Not much for a giant monster to do after that edict has dropped. Sadly only the first season has been presented in DVD and those are hard to find. 

And before I sign off a final time for this month filled with Godzilla let me remember the first Godzilla cartoon of them all from 1969, the totally awesome Bambi Meets Godzilla!  

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