Netflix has had a very interesting history with Godzilla. By interesting, I meant that they tend to throw away the usual Godzilla playbook and come up with something very different. It’s an interesting attempt but they tend to fail a lot more than they succeed. Unfortunately this one is no exception. It’s easily one of the worst anime I’ve seen and I don’t have a ton of hope for the sequel unless it decides to actually have a purpose this time. My main issue with season 1 is that often times there is no point to what’s going on. This anime also shouldn’t have even called itself Godzilla.
The story starts out by following Yun and Habero. They work for a robotics company that sends robots out to their clients. Yun is a genius who can predict events up to 2 weeks into the future simply by analyzing behavioral patterns and such. One day, a song rings out from a nearby facility and they decide to investigate. They end up being captured and escorted out but now crazy things are happening around the planet. A red smoke is appearing and Kaiju are descending onto the planet. It may be the end of the world as they know it, but can this be stopped? They’re going to have to take their Jet Jaguar robot out for a test drive.
Meanwhile Mei Kamino is the main character of the other plot. She has been called in to help the company decide what’s going on with the song since they don’t want to be the ones responsible for the end of the world. Well, the good news is that Mei mostly knows what’s going on. It’s a song from the future using a computer that can’t possibly exist yet and for a material that doesn’t exist in this timeline. Now she just has to figure out what’s going on and they’re good. Can she do it before the calamity wipes out the universe?
There is a ton to unpack here so strap in guys. Before doing that though lets get the rather unimaginative cast out of the way first. You’ve got Michael who is a politician that has a lot of connections. We barely even know what he wants out of this but clearly he needs to be one step ahead of the instance so he can capitalize on it and help his political career. I like the guy’s confidence at least even if he doesn’t really contribute to the story.
Lina is Bearach’s daughter and she doesn’t really do much until the final episodes. She’s not thrilled about how all of these crazy situations require her dad to be away from home so often. Still, Lina has a good head on her shoulders and at least rolls with what’s going on. You won’t be seeing her panic. Bearach is a more tragic character since he’s a complete genius but the problem is that within this series there are at least 4 other geniuses who are smarter than him. At least this guy is pro-active though and does a whole lot more than most of the other characters around here.
Li is one of those characters that the anime ditches without a second thought. She’s pretty smart and has a lot of influence since she made the most headway with the impossible materials. The main issue though is the fact that Mei has surpassed her. Mei continues to find out new things about the material while Li does nothing with her knowledge. Seriously, every episode has her saying things like she is already aware of what Mei has discovered…but to what end? We never actually see Li doing anything to help out beyond just giving speeches.
Kai is a character who will probably be getting a bigger role in season 2. He appears to be a reporter or at least that’s what he claims but the guy is very suspicious. He seems to know a whole lot of what’s going on and the guy just so happens to be trespassing whenever he appears. Not that the heroes can say anything since they’re guilty of the same thing. I like this guy’s energy though so he’s definitely one of the best characters.
Tsunetomo is one of those troll characters who insists on getting in everyone’s way and making a mockery of things. He’s got to be the absolute worst character in the series and every scene with him is incredibly annoying. His partner should have called the cops and had him arrested. When you choose to do nothing like this guy then you’re just a flat out villain.
Goro talks a good game but he’s also a very weak character. The guy just can’t fight and his robots were getting absolutely shredded. I like when characters have a lot of confidence about them but it has to be earned. This guy has yet to do anything that would make you respect his abilities. In the end he just ends up being someone that you will be shaking your head at. He’s effectively the comic relief of the show but never ends up being funny.
There’s not a lot to say about Haberu despite him being Yun’s friend. The guy just doesn’t get much in the way of character. Of course, that’s fairly true for Yun as well. He’s pretty emotionless and his only character is the fact that he’s a genius. I suppose at first they were building him up to be rather skeptical and not trusting of anyone but that vanished after episode 1. He has a lot of good back and forth dialogue with Mei over texts even if the guy always likes to start his sentences with “Let’s assume that..” even when they’re talking about something that has already been proven to be true. I like the genius aspect though so he’s good at least.
As for Mei, she’s okay at best but unfortunately she’s a lot more timid than Yun. She may know all of the answers but has a tough time just jumping into the fray and pointing them out. She ultimately does get the job done I suppose but with none of the main characters being very emotional or aggressive, it means that the show will usually be very low energy.
That’s where Pelops II comes in. She’s really the energy of the series. Effectively she is a free domain AI that Yun came up with and downloads into anything. Each Pelops II is different though and they all have different names despite the base code. This way each plot always has a Pelops with it. I’ll give her more credit than the rest of the characters since half the time the only way to progress is for Pelops to run some simulations and see what’s going on.
All right, we’re through the characters. Unfortunately the animation here is also very sub par. This never looks like a show that came out in 2021, not even close. It’s Netflix so there’s a lot of CGI running around here. Unfortunately it’s not the good kind. This gets shredded by most of the CGI stuff I’ve seen of late. In part I suppose it’s because this isn’t an action oriented series so it can’t really show its stuff.
Godzilla is once again barely able to move. He’s not literally made of rocks like in the trilogy but you can’t expect any real action scenes here. The Rodans can fly a bit and their tussles with Jet Jaguar are about as good as it gets. The hand drawn parts are okay but there are no noticeable moments. So the animation is better than things like FLCL and Pop Team Epic but compare it to almost any traditional anime over the last few years and it’s likely getting stomped. I’ve seen 80s and 90s anime that looked far superior to this one.
I’ll throw the animation a little bone though. The final two episodes actually give me a little hope. Sure, the ending was anticlimactic but I’m talking pure animation here. Godzilla’s Atomic Breath looked really good. You might be thinking that energy effects are the low hanging fruit since they should always look good but you have to start somewhere. It at least made for a good backdrop in the final episodes and looked rather impressive. If the next season has more action, particularly more beam battles then the animation should improve around the board. Now that’s a part of the show that has some potential. If you pause the screen at the right time some of the still images also look good like the Jet Jaguar one I picked out. I really dislike the character design they gave him but the image looks sharp. So it’s very rough around the edges right now but at least there is potential.
As for the soundtrack, it’s pretty solidly low tier. You have a remix of the classic Godzilla theme which is always memorable but it’s a very slow song so it’s not going to make the show seem any more exciting. The only musical theme that I liked a lot was the opening. The intro to the show has a lot more energy and suspense than the entirety of the anime. I’ve listened to it quite a few times now and it’s really solid all around. The images are also cool as they’re vague without being nonsense.
Okay, now lets talk more about the actual show/anime. A huge chunk of the show is told to us via text messages between the main characters. See, when the Kaiju start attacking the first thing everyone needs to find out is why the red dust is appearing. The red dust seems to be connected to the Archetype, a mysterious new kind of object that can use time travel to replenish energy.
We’re first shown this at an expo where it is able to capture two lights, one from the present and one from the future. The kicker? This material is from the future so how did it get to the present? Well, the Red Dust conveniently brought it. How did it do that? The show won’t bother explaining that part but we can assume Ashihara somehow brought some from the future.
Here’s the thing, the show is really focused heavily on the time aspect but it doesn’t make sense most of the time. Okay put it this way, you can have a super computer that brings information from the future. It’s not solid so that’s fine. How are you transporting actual objects from the future without a time machine though? No matter how you slice it that’s pretty iffy. Not as iffy as hiding a code that can physically change the size and shape of an object to also be given super abilities mind you but it’s pretty suspect.
I enjoy all of these theoretical discussions though. That’s the kind of topic you could listen to for hours and at least follow along since it’s usually pretty interesting. Where things go wrong is that the series is supposed to be a Godzilla title. Godzilla himself doesn’t really appear much until episode 8 where he ends up murdering himself by mistake and then he returns later on. Why is Godzilla disrespected so much here?
A single blast from his Atomic Breath was enough to melt him from the inside out? That’s just awful durability. This is also bar none the worst Godzilla design I’ve ever seen. I’ve made fun of the Bear face from the American Godzilla films from time to time and that his design sometimes looks a bit too thick to be ready for hand to hand fights but at least it looks like Godzilla all the way. Same with the chicken form from Shin Godzilla but I still make fun of that one so I wouldn’t put it in the same ballpark.
This one looks absolutely like Titanosaurus and doesn’t look like Godzilla. I don’t know what the animators were doing but they definitely weren’t watching the original films. This is also truly just a mindless monster called Godzilla. Most of the Kaiju here are really only the characters in name only. You have the droves of mindless fodder called Rodan that are barely even sentient as they crash into everything. Are we supposed to take them seriously? You have the climbing Kaiju who doesn’t even get named and a bunch of Manda.
The only Kaiju treated with a lot of respect here was Anguirus. He’s given some pre cog abilities where he can predict the future and dodge attacks. That was cool and a good way to make the time manipulation work for you rather than it being the other way around. It was one of the only moments in the whole show that I would actually say was “cool” and not just emotionless.
Going back to the core issue of the series though, it’s just relentlessly boring and aimless. So all the talks between the two main characters are at least leading up to something right? Well, not really. They spend a few episodes discussing a possible code only to find out in the final episode that there is no code. It was already sent in the past so they just wasted all of their time and ours.
All right, at least we will be able to figure out a way to stop the Calamity right? Wrong, Ashihara figured that out decades ago and put in a program that would make Jet Jaguar ready for this. Pretty impressive that he predicted 50 years ago how the company would build Jet Jaguar and that they would turn on the machine at the precise moment needed to download it.
There’s coincidence in shows and then there’s just the plot saying it’s time to go. The only explanation for this that isn’t awful is that Ashihara is actively time travelling to fix events in the future into his favor. While that is possible, that’s not how the show has been showing us time travel so far. So far it’s mainly been about calculating the future as opposed to travelling.
Let me put this plot in order real quick so we can break it down. This is effectively the timeline of the show. 50BS (Before Show) Ashihara realized that a calamity was going to destroy the world so he built a song into his company’s computer and left instructions for it that were to be opened 50 years later. He then hid the broken bones of an old Godzilla in the basement to transmit the song. Next, he created a computer that is able to read data from the future and buried it into the center of the Earth. He left it with some instructions on how to locate Archetypes and how to build the Orthogonal Diagonalizer which is the only weapon effective against the stronger Kaiju. He then vanished.
So we can now cut over to the present. Everything is unfolding exactly as Ashihara predicted. That’s why we have a Super Computer that is slowly being dug out of the planet and a bunch of Archetypes for things that don’t exist. So we’re in a good spot except why did he have to be so coy about this? If he just left clearer instructions then we’d be good. Perhaps he is a villain since he seems awfully shady but then why even leave all of these notes?
Part of why the show feels utterly pointless is because the main characters didn’t accomplish anything. Ultimately Ashihara did all of the work. The heroes were just following his ideas and recreating the steps he took but even by the end they were too late and he effectively had to step in with the song. That’s why it’s all so aimless and it’s why even the techno babble couldn’t save it.
Usually for these things there is a purpose. Watch A Certain Magical Index/Railgun for a great example of technological speeches and concepts that always serve a purpose. Whether it’s to get a leg up on the enemy or to try and solve some ancient puzzle that crosses the boundaries of magic and science. There’s always a reason that they’re discussing things. Even the Ironman Technovirus movie which was not the best at least had a reason for why they were talking about morality and destiny.
Here? Even the characters seem unsure at times. I still say Yun was bluffing to an extent such as when he started back pedaling in his texts saying “Let’s assume such a material could exist” when Mei just sent him photo evidence of it existing. Maybe he was on auto pilot by then but it could be that he was trying to sound really smart but knew that she had surpassed him by this point.
I’m just not yet convinced about the time aspects of this either. If you could see information from the future then you must be looking at an alternate timeline or else it would keep on changing. So lets say that’s true then it’s still really handy but it doesn’t change the fact that obtaining materials from the future would be impossible. Creating mini loops using the Archetypes would also defy every kind of science law imaginable. If you could pull that off then what’s to stop you from putting the world on loop accidentally? The instant someone weaponizes this it’s all over.
The sad thing is that this show could have really worked if it went in a different direction. First off, this should not be called Godzilla as I mentioned. The Kaiju scenes are all just time wasters and serve no purpose in the story. Cut them out entirely. All right, so we’ve got them out and now there’s no Jet Jaguar either. Refocus Ashihara as the main villain who is introducing this tech into the world. The world is in danger because messing with time is dangerous and the Archetype will cause the calamity.
Now you have Mei and Yun debating about whether the risk is worth it or not. Have one of them think it’s a good idea to keep the Archetypes while the other doesn’t. Now you’ve got an engaging series and a reason for their discussions. Suddenly each conversation has a lot of weight to it because both side is pretty valid. No matter what option they choose, it would be a fun ride all the way to the end.
Because when you think about it, Kaijus just showing up is extremely random. Why would using Archetypes even summon these guys in the first place? The only option the show gives you is that Godzilla is effectively a manifestation of the universe. He keeps things from going out of control. It’s stated almost explicitly that using the computer too much brings about the calamity. So the universe calls in Godzilla to protect the past from being altered?
Now that’s actually a very interesting angle so of course the show doesn’t go there. The Kaiju are all just mindless acts of nature. They serve no purpose here and should have just not been around. Hopefully Season 2 can handle them better. If we get a change in plot I think it’s definitely possible, it just has to be handled with care but surely it will have more of a focus than this one.
Don’t call yourself Godzilla if the star player misses the first 6 episodes. You just can’t do that. We have some mild action scenes but it’s not that kind of show and you can tell since it’s all rather half hearted. I’d also say the show’s directing needs to be more focused. Stop having every news channel cut the other one off. They’re never able to have a full conversation and it’s a gimmick that gets old almost immediately. Come on now, there’s no reason for that. Just let each broadcast play. It’s an intentional design choice so it’s not an error but it’s bad design.
As a final note, the calamity is supposed to wipe out the entire universe. My question would be…how? Godzilla’s laser isn’t destroying a city, let alone the universe. If Godzilla is the calamity then there is no way he is going to destroy the universe. So presumably there has to be another layer here like destroying Earth will somehow affect the rest of the universe. That or when Godzilla died in the explosion, it would destroy the universe. Kind of a desperate move for the universe itself if it’s summoning these Kaiju. I suppose the easiest solution is just that meddling with time causes a paradox which destroys the universe but you definitely have to use a lot of head canon for this show.
I could probably keep going but I think you get the gist of it here. Netflix clearly wants to turn Godzilla into a deep philosophical series and I have no idea why. You can turn any series into that direction of course so Godzilla is just as qualified as anyone but it does take away from the appeal of the series. People watch Godzilla for big action scenes and a lot of special effects. Not for talks on the inner mechanics of the universe. Again, if there was a point to it and not just “Eh, lets just let Ashihara save the day” then it would be different. As it stands, you could remove every human character from the story entirely and Ashihara would have still been able to save the world with Pelop II. That’s the most depressing part when you think about it. (Climax made no sense power level wise)
While this is definitely a show that is getting a low score, what prevents it from going lower is that at least it did have some positives. There were some characters I liked as I mentioned earlier and at least the discussions were interesting. They may have been fruitless but introduced unique concepts at least. I can’t imagine majoring in a field to study things that don’t exist though. How do you get a job off of that or is it something you just have as a personal achievement? The energy effects looked good and we get the occasional battle scene. Anguirus’ time pre cog was neat. It also helps that the show didn’t make any huge mistakes either. There’s no fanservice here or anything like that. If it was less boring it would probably jump up a star or 2 as it is. It’s not like the writing is bad either, it just didn’t know where to go.
Overall, That’s Godzilla Singular Point in a nutshell. I really didn’t think it was possible for the show to fumble the ball so badly but it is what it is I suppose. The show ends with a direct cliffhanger so I have to assume that a season 2 is in the works. Hopefully it should beat the first season. In a lot of ways it shouldn’t be hard but if we’re going to just do everything all over again then there may not be a reason for it to improve. What’s so hard about playing it straight for a change and having a Godzilla anime about giant monsters battling it out all the time?