Shin Godzilla (シン・ゴジラ Shin Gojira?, also known as Godzilla Resurgence) is a 2016 Japanese science fiction kaiju film featuring Godzilla, produced and distributed by Toho. It is the 31st film in the Godzilla franchise, the 29th Godzilla film produced by Toho, and Toho’s third reboot of the franchise. The film is co-directed by Hideaki Anno and Shinji Higuchi, with a screenplay by Anno and visual effects by Higuchi. The film stars Hiroki Hasegawa, Yutaka Takenouchi, and Satomi Ishihara and reimagines Godzilla’s origins where he emerges in modern Japan for the first time. Inspiration for the film was drawn from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster and the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami.
In December 2014, Toho announced plans for a new domestic Godzilla film. Anno and Higuchi were announced as the film’s directors in March 2015 and principal photography began in September and ended in October with the special effects work following in November that year. Shin Godzilla had its world premiere at the Hotel Gracery in Shinjuku, Tokyo on July 25, 2016. It was released in Japan on July 29, 2016 in IMAX, 4DX, and MX4D to critical acclaim from Japanese critics but received mixed to positive reviews from Western critics and was a box office success, becoming the highest grossing live-action Japanese film of 2016 and the highest grossing Japanese-produced Godzilla film in the franchise.
As the Japanese coast guard investigates an abandoned yacht in Tokyo Bay soon the water erupts with a strange red liquid. Soon afterward, the Tokyo Bay Aqua-Line is mysteriously flooded and collapses. After seeing a viral video showing a large entity moving in the area, Japan’s Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Rando Yaguchi is certain that the incident was caused by a large marine creature swimming in the bay. His theory is initially dismissed but later confirmed when news reports show a massive tail coming out of the ocean. Later, a massive aquatic creature appears and moves inland via rivers. The Japanese Prime Minister assures the public that the creature is unable to come onto land due to its weight, only to be informed that the creature has made landfall. The creature moves through the city, leaving a massive wake of destruction and civilian casualties, before evolving into a significantly larger, red-skinned creature that can stand upright on its hind legs. The creature then returns to the ocean.
The top government officials focus on military strategy and civilian safety, while Yaguchi placed in charge of a small task force to research the creature. Due to high radiation readings, the creature is theorized to take its energy through nuclear fission. The U.S. sends a special envoy, Kayoko Ann Patterson, who reveals that a disgraced, vehemently anti-nuclear zoology professor, Goro Maki, had been studying mutations due to radioactive contamination and theorized the appearance of the creature but the U.S. covered it up. According to the notes, Maki had named one of the creatures he discovered “Gojira”, meaning “incarnation of God.” The yacht abandoned in Tokyo Bay had belonged to Maki, and he had left his investigative notes, encrypted into a mysterious code to prevent its use, there before disappearing.
The creature, now named “Godzilla” after Maki’s research, reappears, now twice his previous size, and makes landfall near Kamakura en route for Tokyo. The Japanese Self Defense Forces respond, but their tank, air and artillery strikes have no effect on Godzilla, and they suffer significant casualties, while Godzilla enters Tokyo. The Japanese government, in desperation, appeal for and receive American support. U.S. Air Force B-2 stealth bombers attack Godzilla and successfully wound him with Massive Ordnance Penetrator bunker-buster bombs, but this inadvertently forces Godzilla to respond with highly destructive atomic rays fired from his mouth and dorsal fins. The battle destroys large swathes of Tokyo, all of the stealth bombers, and kills most of the top government leaders, including the Prime Minister. After depleting his energy, Godzilla enters a dormant state and becomes immobile.
Yaguchi’s team discovers that Godzilla’s dorsal plates and blood work as a cooling system, and theorize that through the use of a coagulating agent, they could trigger a reactor scram and cause Godzilla to freeze over entirely to stay alive. Furthermore, after analyzing tissue samples, they find that Godzilla could survive as long as air and water are available and that the monster is able to reproduce asexually. The U.N., unaware of this crucial development, informs Japan that the use of thermonuclear weapons against Godzilla is inevitable, and gives it a short deadline when, should the Japanese be unable to put down Godzilla on their own, an American-led multinational task force will be authorized to use nuclear weapons against the monster. Unwilling to see nuclear weapons detonated in Japan for a third time, Patterson decides to use her political connections to buy Yaguchi’s team as much time as possible to finish the plan, even if it puts her career at stake. Her efforts are rewarded when she is able to convince France to have the U.N. extend the deadline. In the meantime, Yaguchi’s team is finally able to decode Maki’s research, which contains comprehensive data on Godzilla that can be used to increase the coagulant’s potency and give it a better chance of success.
Against international pressure and the lack of faith from the interim government, the team manages to procure enough coagulant and enacts their plan, named Operation Yashiori, after a mythical drink. They awaken Godzilla using explosives-laden trains and hundreds of American drone aircraft, provoking him into using his atomic breath until his energy stores are once again depleted. The team then detonates explosives in the nearby buildings, knocking Godzilla down onto the train station and giving the first platoon of modified tankers full of coagulant an opportunity to inject into Godzilla’s mouth. However, the monster unexpectedly recovers and uses his beam, annihilating the unit. More of the explosive trains hit Godzilla and detonate, knocking Godzilla down once more and giving them another chance to inject the coagulant. After emptying the coagulant stores, Godzilla awakens again and prepares to unleash his beam, but suddenly freezes completely.
In the aftermath, as recovery and rebuilding efforts begin, the international community agrees to call off the nuclear strike but have the new Japanese government agree that, in the event of Godzilla’s reawakening, a thermonuclear bomb will be launched at him, forcing the Japanese people to have to co-exist with the beast. Meanwhile, dozens of frozen humanoid skeletons resembling Godzilla are seen splitting off from the tip of his tail.
Shin Godzilla drew inspiration from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster and the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami and many critics and journalists have noted similarities to those events. Mark Schilling from The Japan Times stated, “The original Godzilla was conceived as a metaphor for nuclear devastation, most notably the then-recent Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings. Anno’s beast, however, is also clearly inspired by the March 11, 2011, triple disaster, with Godzilla serving as an ambulatory tsunami, earthquake and nuclear reactor, leaving radioactive contamination in his wake” and went further in depth with the film’s March 2011 parallels by stating, “The government officials, Self-Defense Forces officers and others scrambling to meet this monster menace are held up as heroes similar to the famed ‘Fukushima 50’ (the workers who risked their lives laboring round-the-clock to stabilize the crippled No. 1 nuclear plant). Despite some initial bumbling, most of these folks, especially Rando and the anti-Godzilla task force he heads, are hardworking, dedicated and formidably bright, rattling off jargon-packed dialogue with nary a pause for breath. And, of course, they are doing it all for the greater good and glory of the Japanese nation.”
Roland Kelts, the author of Japanamerica, said, “Shots of the mobilizing blue-suited civil servants and piles of broken planks and debris quite nakedly echo scenes of the aftermath of the great Tohoku earthquake, tsunami and nuclear disaster.” Robert Rath from Zam stated that the film “is actually commentary about the Japanese government — and Fukushima” and went on to say that the film “transcends being a mere monster movie, and instead reveals itself to be full-blown satire of Japanese politics” and also compared the film’s lead character Rando Yaguchi to the Fukushima plant manager Masao Yoshida. Matt Alt from The New Yorker stated, “In the preview for “Godzilla Resurgence,” you can see how the directors are again mining the collective memories of Japanese viewers for dramatic effect. But their touchstones are no longer incendiary and nuclear bombs. Instead they are the 2011 earthquake and tsunami.” Alt also noted parallels to the fallout from Fukushima and authorities in jumpsuits, stating, “the sight of blue-jumpsuited government spokesmen convening emergency press conferences is enough to send a chill down one’s spine. So is the shot in the trailer of a stunned man quietly regarding mountains of debris, something that could have been lifted straight out of television footage of the hardest-hit regions up north. Even the sight of the radioactive monster’s massive tail swishing over residential streets evokes memories of the fallout sent wafting over towns and cites in the course of Fukushima Daiichi’s meltdown.”
In his review, Ollie Barder stated, “In many ways, this new movie is a searing indictment of how the 2011 Tohoko earthquake and tsunami as well as the Fukushima disaster were mishandled by the Japanese administration.” He also noted the film’s depiction of the Japanese government, stating, “In that, the old guard with their overly complex and corpulent bureaucratic ways were simply unable to deal with a crisis in any kind of efficient or fluid way. This is shown repeatedly in Resurgence, as the high-ranking members of the cabinet, comfortable in their positions of power, use the hierarchical nature of the system they reside within to protect their own positions, at the expense of the lives of their citizens.”
The film’s score is composed by Shiro Sagisu, who also scored Anno’s Neon Genesis Evangelion and Higuchi’s Attack on Titan. There are also various remixes of “Decisive Battle” from Sagisu’s Neon Genesis Evangelion score. The film also includes several pieces from previous Godzilla films composed by Akira Ifukube. Anno had decided to use Ifukube’s music while writing the screenplay and attempted to adapt the old Ifukube tracks to modern stereo settings but the task proved too daunting and eventually settled on using the mono mixes instead. The soundtrack was released on July 30, 2016 and sold 8,427 copies in 2 weeks.
Hiroki Hasegawa as Rando Yaguchi, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary. After Toho offered him the role, Hasegawa immediately accepted, stating, “Who wouldn’t want to be involved in a Godzilla production?”
Yutaka Takenouchi as Hideki Akasaka, Aide to Prime Minister. Takenouchi stated that the film will contain a “deeper message”.
Satomi Ishihara as Kayoko Ann Patterson, Special Envoy for the President of the United States. She became excited after accepting the role but stressed that her character features “English-heavy dialogue”, stating, “Sometimes it’s so frustrating, I just want to cry.”
The film features several cameos and supporting appearances, including Kengo Kora, Ren Osugi, Akira Emoto, Kimiko Yo, Jun Kunimura, Mikako Ichikawa, Pierre Taki, Takumi Saito, Keisuke Koide, Arata Furuta, Sei Hiraizumi, Kenichi Yajima, Tetsu Watanabe, Ken Mitsuishi, Kyūsaku Shimada, Kanji Tsuda, Issei Takahashi, Shinya Tsukamoto, Kazuo Hara, Isshin Inudo, Akira Ogata, Shingo Tsurumi, Suzuki Matsuo, Kreva, Katsuhiko Yokomitsu, and Atsuko Maeda. Mansai Nomura portrayed Godzilla through motion capture.
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