I guess it was due time for Godzilla to get an anime version, and the 32nd film in the franchise provides just that, with the present movie being the first part of an upcoming trilogy, which, this time, implements a rather sci-fi approach.
In the last summer of the 20th century, giant monsters began appearing all over the world and wreaking havoc. A powerful creature called Godzilla appeared which destroyed humans and monsters alike. Two species of aliens, the Exif and the Bilusaludo, arrived with the former attempting to convert humanity to their religion and the latter seeking to emigrate to Earth with promises to defeat Godzilla with Mechagodzilla, should humanity accept them. However, the Bilusaludo were unable to activate Mechagodzilla, which forced the aliens and humanity to abandon Earth and emigrate to Tau Ceti e.
20 years later and 11.9 light years away, the immigrants are still looking for a suitable planet to inhabit, while the ship’s provisions are ending. Captain Haruo Sakaki, who strongly believes that the project should be abandoned, tries to force the ship’s governing committee to return to Earth, but to no avail, in a series of dramatic events that have him captured and imprisoned. However, eventually he finds an unlikely ally in the face of Metphies, an Exif priest, and through a number of rather cunning means of persuasion, they manage to make the committee agree to the return to Earth. Upon their arrival, however, and despite the fact that they soon realize that thousands of years have passed, Godzilla is still alive. Sakaki manages to come up with a quite risky plan that can kill the beast.
Kobun Shizuno and Hiroyuki Seshita direct a film that follows a number of the latest trends in the Japanese anime and the franchise, which include the late appearance of the monster (as in “Godzilla: Resurgence” ), the intricate battle plans (as in “Code Geass“) and some sociopolitical (even conspiratorial elements, as in “Terror in Resonance“). These elements are quite well presented, with the first part of the anime dealing with the last, before the action takes completely over in the second part.
This is actually, where the anime thrives, with the prolonged battle sequence excelling equally in conception, directorial execution and production values. The first aspect is presented through the plans Sasaki comes up with, which, although somewhat far-fetched, are in completely resonance with the anime’s aesthetics. Furthermore, I found the way the battle was presented, as an actual warfare with Godzilla functioning as a battleship and his fledglings as aerial support against the land and air forces of “good”, ingenious, and one of the greatest aspects of the film, along with the shuttering finale. The CGI aspect also finds its apogee here (which again required some getting used to, particularly for fans of traditional anime techniques), with some very impressive visuals. The drawing, and particularly those of the monsters is quite good, but the same does not apply to that of the characters, whose faces in particular, seem quite plain, with very little detail.
“Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters” has some faults, particularly regarding the fully CGI approach, but it definitely deserves a watch for its story, direction, and especially the great battle scenes.