Japanese release title: Godzilla X Mothra X Mechagodzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. (i.e., "Godzilla, Mothra and Mechagodzilla: Tokyo S.O.S.")
U.S. release date: December, 2004, by Tri-Star Video.
Japanese audience attendance: Approx. 1,000,000
Director: Masaaki Tezuka
Screenplay: Masaaki Tezuka and Masahiro Yokotani
Sfx: Eiichi Asada
Musical score: Michiru Oshima
U.S. version available on home video by Tri-Star Video.
One year after the events in the previous film, the cyborg kaiju Mechagodzilla was still undergoing repairs at the Self-Defense Force Hachioji base. There, Mecha G (a.k.a., Kiryu) stands immobile and inactive, where the Anti-Megalosaurus Force (AMF) hopes that he will soon be ready when next he's needed to defend Japan against Godzilla or any other dai kaiju menace.
Meanwhile, many miles off the coast of Japan, Godzilla once again begins to stir, as if awakened by some unknown force. At the same time, in the Caroline Islands of Micronesia, a large winged form takes off, heading for Japan.
Soon, the JSDF detect a huge flying object moving at great speed above the skies of the island nation. A troupe of JSDF military jets take off to intercept this object high above Iwojima. The object responded to no hails from the jets, and wasn't harmed when the planes were forced to fire upon it. Suddenly, one of the pilots noted to his command center that he could hear a melodious form of singing, as if it were operating on a psychic wavelength. The U.F.O. soon turned out to be none other than Mothra, who had returned to Japan after 43 years. The Kaiju of Peace managed to evade all missiles fired at her, and the purpose of her visit remained mysterious.
Shortly afterwards, Dr. Shinichi Chujo (who was involved in Mothra's original appearance in Japan as a young man when he journeyed to Infant Island), was entertaining his nephew Yoshito, who is a brilliant engineer from Team Kiryu, and his grandson, Chun. Suddenly, Dr. Chujo's home is beset by what appeared to be an earth tremor, as if something enormous flew over it, but this quickly subsided. Then, he and his family received a surprise visit from old acquaintances…the Shobijin, a.k.a., the twin faerie girls who were of the same "family" as the previous miniature, psychically linked girls he had met over four decades earlier on Infant Island (and who apparently possessed the memories, if not also the consciousness, of the original Shobijin). These particular tiny twin girls were not only telepathic, like their predecessors, but they also possessed low-level telekinesis (an ability their predecessors never demonstrated).
The Shobijin had renewed their acquaintance with Dr. Chujo in order to ask him an urgent favor. They insisted that the bones of the "original" Godzilla, which were used to construct Mechagodzilla, must not be used as a weapon, and must be returned to their final resting place at the bottom of the sea. According to the twin faeries, the fact that the remnants of a dead creature have been used in tandem with human technology to create a weapon was perceived as a type of 'sacrilege' of sorts against the life force of the Earth, with whom Mothra was a physical manifestation of. Yoshi Chujo and his young cousin argued against abandoning the Mecha G Project, telling the miniscule esper girls that the giant cyborg was their only proven defense against Godzilla. The twins then mentioned that should Godzilla attack their nation again, Mothra would move to protect Japan in Mecha G's place. Dr. Chujo was incredulous with this promise, since Mothra destroyed Tokyo 43 years earlier [not without just cause, however], but the twins gave their word. Moreover, they also said that should the Japanese government refuse to return Mechagodzilla's organic bones to the sea, Mothra would be forced to declare war on the human race on behalf of the Earth itself [what a harsh sense of ethics that Mother Earth seems to have!].
Upon walking outside into the wintry landscape, Dr. Chujo and his family discovered that Mothra had landed not far from their home, and chirped at them as if in greeting. The twins then mysteriously vanished, and Mothra took to the skies once more. Upon returning inside the house, Dr. Chujo discovered that the tiny twins left behind a small stone artifact that had a symbol inscribed on it, which he well recognized…it was the very symbol that, if given a large enough visual representation outside, could be used to summon Mothra herself to that area.
The next day, at Hachioji Base, new Prime Minister Hayato Igarashi was holding a press conference with the international community, where he stated that the repairs of Mechagodzilla were proceeding apace, the arm that was destroyed in battle with Godzilla the previous year had been replaced, and it was believed that the cyborg would soon be fully operational again. When asked if the cyborg's damaged Absolute Zero Systems had been repaired, the PM responded in the negative, saying that though he wasn't certain when the Absolute Zero Systems would be restored, Mechagodzilla would soon be otherwise operational and ready to defend Japan should Godzilla reappear.
The international press reps were also told that Godzilla had a serious wound inflicted upon him the previous year due to being hit point blank in the chest by Mechagodzilla's Zero Cannon, and the government was doing its best to track the Big G's current whereabouts. Another question given to the PM, however, dawned on the true reason why the Shobijin insisted that that the bones of the "first" Godzilla be returned to the bottom of the ocean…it was rumored that the organic material within Mechagodzilla was somehow capable of actually drawing Godzilla to Japan, due to some type of primitive meta-genetic connection between the kaiju and preserved organic material bearing his own DNA [but why the Shobijin didn't just come out and say this, and why they stated that Mothra would declare war on the human race should this project not be abandoned, is unknown…I guess they must enjoy being somewhat cryptic, not to mention overly dramatic].
In the meantime, Dr. Chujo told his grandson the tale of his original adventure with Mothra, which included showing the boy photos of Infant Island, where he journeyed as a language expert. He mentioned that though Mothra attacked and devastated Tokyo, she only did so because a group of villainous capitalists had kidnapped the twin faeries to display them for profit, and that Mothra meant the human race no malice. He also showed his grandson a picture of the symbol they drew at the airport to attract Mothra's presence to that locale (see the original Mothra  for full details on this).
Yoshi Chujo had a short but poignant conversation with Akane Yashiro, who had manually piloted Mechagodzilla against his organic counterpart a year earlier, just prior to her departure, along with other AWF soldiers, for a year of special combat training in the United States. She told Yoshi that while aboard Kiryu, she had the 'impression' that the cyborg no longer wanted to fight Godzilla, as the two were once part of the same organism, and that he only wanted to be laid to rest, and as such, it may have been best to leave the cyborg on the scrap heap. Yoshi, always in love with his technology, refused to accept this, and a despondent Akane left the base to prepare for her departure, asking Yoshi to take care of Mecha G in her absence.
Dr. Chujo met with Prime Minister Igarashi and tried to plead with him to end the Mecha G Project, and to let Mothra defend Japan from Godzilla if need be (to which, quite rationally, the PM told Chujo that his story sounded ridiculous). Chujo then presented the PM with the artifact left behind by the Shobijin, on the back of which was an inscription in their native language that said life must be lived in the time allotted to it by nature, and the Japanese government's usage of the "original" Godzilla's bones was violating that principle of nature. The PM agreed that one day it would likely be necessary to discard the Mecha G Project, but he refused to do so while Godzilla remained alive, since the cyborg was the only defense they had which had proven effective. Further, the PM refused to trust Mothra, since she destroyed Tokyo 43 years earlier (he didn't seem overly concerned about her valid reason for doing so, however).
Soon after this, some particularly ghastly evidence appeared to suggest that Godzilla's return was imminent. An AWF team led by General Dobashi discovered the carcass of a giant aquatic predatory turtle known as a Kamoebas, the first one seen in 17 years, and first discovered on Selga Island in 1970 (see Yog, Monster From Space for full details on that particular exploit). Close inspection of the carcass revealed brutal slash wounds on the monster turtle's neck, which made it clear that the Kamoebas didn't die of natural causes, but was actually attacked and mortally wounded by an even larger and more powerful predatory monster…which the General deduced could only be Godzilla. The giant aquatic turtle had managed to make it to the coast of Japan before dying, and the General pointed out that this served not only as evidence that Godzilla was now active again, but also that Japan would have to contend with other possible kaiju incursions, as well.
Validating the General's concerns, an American nuclear submarine was soon attacked and destroyed off the coast of Guam for its stores of atomic energy. When news of this got back to the Japanese government, it was determined that with the Zero Cannon still non-functional, it would be about two weeks before Mecha G could be repaired enough to be launched, even sans the cannon. To do so earlier could well mean the quick destruction of the cyborg, as they could not find the means to purchase another huge synthetic diamond that would be needed to power the Zero Cannon.
In the meantime, Yoshito Chujo was called to a government hearing where he was asked about whether his uncle was accurate in his claim that Mothra would defend Japan if the Mecha G Project was scrapped, and if he had actually seen the giant insect there himself. Yoshi then correctly surmised that the government was contemplating the end of the project. This didn't sit well with Yoshi, who had long harbored the desire to work on the largest robotic entity ever built by humankind…and Mechagodzilla was the fulfillment of that dream.
Godzilla soon rose from the Pacific Ocean near Hachioji Island, where the Kaiju King resisted all attempts by the JSDF to repel his progress towards Tokyo. The AWF resolved to lead Godzilla to the Shirigawa district, which was still in rubble from the Big G's last battle there with Kiryu. Mechagodzilla was hastily equipped with a Hyper-Maser Cannon in his chest unit to replace the now destroyed Zero Cannon, and was prepared for activation as Godzilla headed towards Japan. Hearing this news on the television, Dr. Chujo's grandson asked him if Mothra would indeed arrive to protect Japan from Godzilla's rampage…the older man could only hope.
As Godzilla appeared on land, the JSDF noticed that he still bore a red scar from the damage inflicted on his chest the previous year by Mechagodzilla, and since the extreme cold of the Zero Cannon had somehow prevented the Kaiju King's G-Organizer from fully healing that wound, this may represent a weak spot on the monster to concentrate their attacks upon. As Godzilla arrived in the Noda district of the city, the AWF hit the monster with their entire arsenal, including maser tanks, all of which failed to halt his progress. Godzilla was evidently heading towards the base where Mechagodzilla was sequestered, and it appeared that the kaiju was indeed attracted to the skeleton of his former organic incarnation.
In the meantime, determined to save Japan, Dr. Chujo's grandson Chun arranged a large number of desks outside of his school to make a representation of the mystic symbol that would attract Mothra to Japan.
As promised, Mothra quickly appeared in the skies over Tokyo and engaged Godzilla in combat. The government decided to place Mechagodzilla on standby as Mothra valiantly attempted to defeat Godzilla.
However, as the battle progressed, Mothra began receiving the worst of the combat, and was soon seriously injured by Godzilla (at one point, the Big G ripped one of her legs off in his jaws).
[At another point during the battle, Mothra began using her wing "scales" against Godzilla, and observing this, Dr. Chujo noted to Chun that this was Mothra's "weapon of last resort," and that once all of her "scales" were expended, she would no longer be able to stay aloft…but how Chujo would know this is a bit of a mystery, and may be an example of sloppy scripting, since Mothra didn't use this power during her initial appearance in her imago stage 43 years earlier, unless her wing scales were confused with her poison powder...as a playable character in Atari's 2004 video game 'Godzilla: Save the Earth,' the adult Mothra can use both her wing scales with no ill effects, and her poison powder, with both being depicted as entirely distinct weapons in the giant moth's arsenal.]
On nearby Hachioji Island (called "Himago" Island for this scene in the American version), where the adult Mothra had created her egg so that it would be closer to Japan, the Shobijin stood and sung their native mystic chant to rouse the larva from within, as they were aware that the current adult Mothra would not survive her battle with Godzilla due to the injuries she had received.
As Mothra bravely continued her battle with Godzilla, the Atomic Titan gravely injured the Kaiju of Peace by blasting one of her wings with his atomic breath, knocking her out of the sky in the process. Once it became obvious to the Prime Minister and the AWF that Mothra would not defeat Godzilla on her own, the order was made to launch Mechagodzilla to assist her. After Yoshi Chujo asked pilots Azusa Kisaragi and smartass but tough Akiba Togashi to take care of Mecha G, the cyborg was activated and sent into battle once again.
Soon, however, Tokyo Tower was hit by a beam of Godzilla's atomic breath during the battle with Mothra, and the collapsing construct nearly killed Dr. Chujo and Chun.
Arriving promptly at the scene of battle, Mechagodzilla unleashed his full fusillade of weaponry at the Monster King, taking much of the proverbial heat off of the injured Mothra in the process.
Yoshito soon appeared at the site of the destruction, and helped rescue his uncle and cousin from the rubble, and thankfully neither were mortally injured.
The fierce battle between Godzilla and Mecha G continued to rage, with Mothra briefly recovering and joining the battle. Nevertheless, Godzilla managed to severely damage Mechagodzilla and deliver more serious injuries to Mothra with his atomic breath during the battle.
Finally, back on Hachioji Island, the Mothra egg hatched, and to the Shobijin's delight, twin larvae emerged and immediately began swimming to Japan so that they could join the battle against Godzilla.
As Mechagodzilla continued the battle, the Mothra larvae arrived and appeared at the side of their matriarch, whose consciousness was merged with their own. The twin larvae then joined the fray themselves, with the adult Mothra being entirely obliterated by Godzilla's atomic breath when she took the blast to protect her two progeny. When Mecha G suffered a complete power outage due to taking several hits of Godzilla's atomic breath, the Mothra larvae endeavored to keep Godzilla distracted with their own attacks, but they were not powerful enough to defeat the Kaiju King on their own.
Yoshi arrived and entered the hatch of the fallen cyborg, determined to repair Kiryu so that he could rejoin the battle and destroy Godzilla once and for all. Yoshi was ultimately successful in re-activating the cyborg monster, but during Godzilla's battle with the Mothra larvae, the hatch was damaged so that he couldn't escape. Determined that his own life would not deter the pilots of the AC-3 warplane from bringing Mechagodzilla back into the battle, Yoshi lied and told them over his commlink that he had gotten clear of the giant cyborg.
Hence, upon his reactivation, Mecha G returned to battle with the hapless young Yoshito Chujo trapped inside.
As the battle continued, pilot Akiba decided to take the damaged cyborg on the offensive in an extremely ruthless manner, and he did this by programming Mecha G's mechanized hand to take the form of a deadly power drill, and began mercilessly tearing away at Godzilla's wounded chest area, finally drilling directly into the kaiju's chest itself. The cyborg monster then blasted Godzilla in that wound with his over-powered Hyper-Maser Cannon, causing the Kaiju King even more crippling injuries. The Mothra larvae then moved in and began entwining the Atomic Titan in their strong silk cocoon. The gravely injured Godzilla was unable to break free from the Mothra larvae's strong silk entrapment, and the Kaiju King found himself at Mechagodzilla's mercy.
However, just as Akiba programmed Mechagodzilla to move in and deliver the killing blows, the cyborg, severely damaged and with one of his optical sensors destroyed, suddenly once again wrested himself free from human control. This time, however, instead of running amok, the cyborg lifted the fallen and cocooned Godzilla, and used his mechanized shoulder rockets to fly both himself and his fully organic counterpart out to sea, where the cybernetic kaiju was determined to rest for good.
Before the cyborg reached his chosen destination over the Japan Trench, however, Azusa and Akiba realized that Yoshi was actually trapped within the cyborg. Using an elaborate and tricky maneuver with the AC-3 warplane, Azusa managed to blast the cyborg's hatch open and enabled Akiba to catch the intrepid engineer, the latter of whom had been prepared to sacrifice his life for the benefit of others.
Just after Yoshi's rescue, Mechagodzilla, under his own volition, crashed into the ocean with Godzilla in tow, where both sunk down into the dark abyss of the Japan Trench, the cyborg kaiju now finally able to rest in peace.
The mission of the Mothra larvae successfully completed, Dr. Chujo and Chun (with the older man reminding his grandson that "life has to be lived in the time nature allows"), watched as the two giant caterpillars peacefully swam home to Infant Island, the Shobijin delivering a telepathic "thank you" to Yoshito.
This second and final entry in the consistent timeline decided upon by Toho for the Millennium Series didn't live up to its predecessor despite the always welcome addition of Mothra to the proceedings. One of the problems is that this movie again falls victim to the insistence from Toho for hastily producing a G-film every year on a relatively modest budget. The sfx didn't suffer much this time around, as effects director Eichi Asada provided a good mixture of suitmation, marionettes, pyrotechnics, breathtaking city miniatures, and CGI to produce some way cool kaiju effects, not to mention some great kaiju battle scenes. Perhaps the most splendid effects scene in the entire film was when Godzilla and Mechagodzilla, while grappling with each other, fell onto and demolished the Diet Building. Nevertheless, the G-suit produced by Shinichi Wakasa once again looked rather stiff and "plastic," and again this can probably be blamed on the hectic shooting schedule he had to work under. Mothra, realized by a combination of marionette action and CGI, looked rather decent, and the detail and undulations of the larvae were also well done.
However, Mothra's showing against Godzilla in this film, in both imago and larvae stage, wasn't nearly as impressive as it was in the classic Godzilla vs. Mothra (1964), and she would not have triumphed in either form if not for the intervention of Mechagodzilla. This will come off as a let-down to the many Mothra fans who hoped to see the Kaiju of Peace perform better against the Big G than she did two years earlier in GMK…though she got more screen time in this movie, and gave Godzilla a much better fight, she ultimately fared no better.
Mechagodzilla looked as cool as he did last time, of course, but he wasn't improved in any way from the previous entry, and this rematch wasn't enough to save the film from a poor box office performance, the poorest of all the G-films in the Millennium Series.
As for the fourth Toho dai kaiju to appear in this film, who happened to be a Showa Era revival…it was nothing to get excited about in any way. Kamoebas, the vicious, gigantic, extendible-necked aquatic turtle appeared in this film only as a corpse (which was realized onscreen by a rather realistic looking prop backed up by good matte effects). Regrettably, the Kamoebas's ill-fated encounter with Godzilla took place entirely off-screen. However, his quick, throwaway usage in this film is more fortuitous than one may think, because rumor has it that in the original screen treatment for this film, the off-screen kaiju victim of Godzilla was intended to be fan fave Anguirus. Thankfully, cooler heads prevailed, and the popular Anguirus was spared this ignominious presentation by way of being replaced with a rather obscure, third-string Toho kaiju (though I must say that Kamoebas was, IMO, the coolest of the three dai kaiju featured in the lackluster Yog, Monster From Space , and it would have been nice to see his fight with Godzilla, even if the altercation was likely quite brief).
Like the previous G-film, the main theme followed by the kaiju stars was an "evil" monster (Godzilla) opposed by "good" kaiju (Mechagodzilla and Mothra). Kamoebas was thrown in simply as a gimmick, serving much the same purpose as the daidako did with Gaila in War of the Gargantuas (only this time we didn't get to see the fight, dammit!).
Though this G-film certainly wasn't bad, what suffered the most from its hasty production schedule and rather modest budget was the script. This time, director Tezuka also handled part of the screenwriting chores. Both his direction and his script were obviously so hastily thrown together that not only were there many holes in the plot (note the inexplicable threat of Mothra to go to war with the human race and that equally inexplicable notion of her wing scales being her "weapon of last resort," a cheap way to add tension to the battle), but Tezuka's screenplay was totally unoriginal and nothing but derivative of many things that he and the rest of us have already seen before in G-films, as well as things he himself had done before. Also, as other critics pointed out, how would Chujo know about Mothra's wing scales, since she didn't utilize them in her first appearance? [In fact, this film was the first time she ever used them]. It should be noted that her wing scales are distinct from her poison powder, the latter of which she utilized for the first time 19 years earlier in Godzilla vs. Mothra. Interestingly, in the recent Atari video game 'Godzilla: Save The Earth' (2004), the playable Mothra adult can use both her poison powder and her reflecting wing scales (and the latter at no detriment to her ability to stay aloft).
To quote this prescient analysis by J.D. Lees from his review in G-FAN #68: "Once more, the main characters are mostly military types. Once more, one of the young officers (this time it's a male, Yoshito) must struggle with a personal emotional issue, which is neatly resolved by the end of the movie. Once more, the hero must get involved in the monster fight, entering Mechagodzilla at great risk to himself." Okay, granted it can be argued that you expect many military types to take center stage in a G-film for obvious reasons, as these types of characters tend to be less boring than other character types in action-oriented movies, and granted Tezuka didn't have an indefinate number of future films to carry out an emotional plot thread with his human protagonists. But the derivative elements from previous works, including some of Tezuka's own, are still there.
Godzilla's battle scenes with Mechagodzilla were largely a reprise of the previous film, only now Mecha G was a bit less original than before, with the rather cool and highly formidable Absolute Zero Cannon simply supplanted by a bigger maser cannon (thankfully, in the aforementioned Atari video game for the Playstation 2 and X-Box systems, the playable Mechagodzilla 3 can use his Absolute Zero Cannon when in "rage" mode). All of the action with both the adult and larvae Mothra were lifted from a superior G-film of yesteryear, Godzilla vs. Mothra, only this time both incarnations of the Kaiju of Peace took a beating unless Mechagodzilla was on the scene. Since this version of Mothra, both imago and larval stage, was to be more or less identical to the Showa version, her size and power level were scaled back down to what it was back then, thus abandoning the formidable energy-projection weaponry she wielded in the Heisei Series (such as her antennae beams).
In short…what we got here is nothing that we haven't already seen before, only done better.
The acting was decent, and Hiroshi Koizumi reprising his role of Shinichi Chujo 43 years after the original Mothra was a welcome sight. Seeing Yumiko Shaku appearing again as Akane Yashiro was likewise welcome, though her role in this film barely amounted to more than a cameo. Masami Nagasawa and Chihiro Otsuka were amazingly beautiful to behold as the latest generation of the Shobijin, and their voices in singing Mothra's famous song were likewise beautiful. The kid actor who played Chun Chujo (I don't know his name) did a good job, he wasn't annoying, and he was treated respectfully in the screenplay despite his young age. However, the guy who dubbed his voice for the international version sounded an awful lot like the dude who dubbed the "Kenny" character of Rokkuchan from Godzilla vs. Megalon in 1973…the same voice actor can't still be working for that cheap dubbing outfit after 30 years, can he?
The worst part of the script, however, was the sequence at the end featuring Yoshito's escape from Mechagodzilla, which was overly long and drawn out, and as tedious to view as the extended trapped-in-the-building sequence we saw in Godzilla 1985 18 years earlier.
The score, once again conducted by the talented Michiru Oshima, was highly reminiscent of her numbers in the previous film, once again tainting this G-film with the "where have we seen/heard this before?" type of aura. The closing, soft montage played over the end credits was pleasantly different, however, and brought this brief series-within-a-series to a distinctive closing. And for the second time in a row, a Millennium Series G-film used no classic tracks or medleys culled from Akira Ifukube's extensive body of work whatsoever.
This movie performed poorly at the Japanese box office, so much so that Toho decided to pull the plug on the Millennium Series, allegedly putting Godzilla to rest for a long time, if not forever. The powers-that-be at Toho didn't want to change the modus operandi of the G-series that consistently caused those films to perform below expectations (e.g., making the same poor business decisions over and over again in regards to their hiring practices, an overly hurried production schedule, not caring overly much for quality scripts, not affording their creative staff with a big enough budget to truly create some screen magick, etc.). The only reason Toho decided to produce one more G-film after this was because the following year would be Godzilla's 50th anniversary, and for that reason alone they wanted to bring the Millennium Series out with style, including getting some fresh talent to helm the film and giving him a bigger than usual budget to work with. Had 2004 not marked the 50th anniversary of the Kaiju King, however, the Millennium G-series would have been terminated as abruptly as the Showa Series was nearly 30 years earlier.
As it was, Toho ended the consistent timeline it had finally decided upon after only two films in the Millennium Series, and decided to return to the alternate reality format for the final movie in the third G-series. Also, Mr. Tezuka was handed his walking papers, with the final G-film handed over to a maverick, rising star of a director whose films were then all the rage in America, hoping that his present popularity coupled with Godzilla's 50th anniversary and a more lavish budget may serve to bring them a final slew of bucks for their bang before the big lizard is retired for good (this failed utterly, of course, as Godzilla: Final Wars barely did any better than this film at the box office, and failed to sell well internationally).
Note the odd parallels between the end of the Showa Series and the end of the Millennium Series.
1) The Showa Series was doing poorly due to low budgets, hasty production schedules, and poor scripts in the early '70's;
2) The introduction of the first Mechagodzilla brought box office tickets up somewhat and created new hope for Toho, so Mechagodzilla was brought back in the next film;
3) However, Mecha G's encore appearance didn't add up to the previous outing, as he was powered down after being rebuilt, paired with a kaiju ally against Godzilla, and this direct sequel to the previous film performed so much lower than any other G-film in that particular series that Toho decided to pull the plug on the franchise altogether.
And the Millennium Series three decades later?
1) The Millennium Series was doing poorly due to low budgets, hasty production schedules, and poor scripts in the early '00's;
2) The introduction of the updated Mechagodzilla brought box office receipts up somewhat and created new hope for Toho, Mechagodzilla was brought back in the next film;
3) However, Mecha G's encore appearance didn't add up to the previous outing, he was powered down after being rebuilt, paired with a kaiju ally against Godzilla, and this direct sequel to the previous film performed so much lower than any other G-film in that particular series that Toho decided to pull the plug on the franchise altogether.
Talk about history repeating itself. Then again, when has Toho ever done much more than repeat its history, and when has the company ever displayed a willingness to seriously re-evaluate their business decisions? And again, the only reason we got one more G-film produced this time around was because the following year happened to be the Big G's 50th anniversary, and Toho felt they could perhaps milk some money out of their exhausted cash cow one final time. When the Showa Series ended with Terror of Mechagodzilla in 1975, the Atomic Titan was already just past his 20th anniversary celebration, so Toho had no problem with abruptly terminating the series then and there, without the honor of an official farewell film.
Another notable thing about the script of this film was its strong anti-science stance, which appeared to be a somewhat veiled condemnation about tampering with nature, with the modern examples of this being the fledging sciences of genetic engineering, nanotechnology, cryonics, and cybernetics, all of which hold out the strong hope of immensely improving and extending the human life span once these disciplines come of age. This was alluded to in the blatant "life must be lived in the time nature allows" message throughout the film.
Now, like many film reviewers, I try to steer clear of expressing my political and /or philosophical views about important social issues as much as possible on this particular site, but every once in a while, one feels the need to do otherwise when certain issues arise.
To make it brief…this condemnation of "tampering" with nature to improve and extend human life is yet another reprise on an old concept present in Tezuka's script, as this same message was quite common in sci-fi and horror B-movies of the '50's, and including it here in such a brazen fashion only served to taint this already problem-plagued entry in the G-series with a "B-movie" tone. Further, it forces one to ask the following questions if you are truly willing to look at that message/theme in a critical fashion…do we not "go against" nature every time we administer a vaccine to someone? Or when we give someone an artificial heart or organ transplant that allows them to live past the time that nature would have allowed them to survive in the natural course of events? Isn't every single visit to the doctor opposing the will of nature in some way, shape, or form? Isn't every improvement in the quality of life in general that extends the human lifespan "anti-nature" in this same respect? Isn't undergoing a simple surgical procedure to remove an infected appendix "violating" the edicts of nature by enabling that person to live much longer than if we simply let nature take its often capricious course and allowed that person's appendix to burst and flood their abdomen with poison? Aren't we also "violating" the will of nature by surgically implanting metal pins in someone's broken or malformed limbs to enable them to walk properly, something they would be unable to do if nature was allowed to take its "chosen" path?
And isn't it simply natural for human beings, like all other life forms on this planet, to use our natural abilities (in our case, well-developed brains capable of creative and abstract thought) to improve our chances of survival, both individually and collectively?
And to briefly touch on the philosophical side of the issue…is everything truly "beautiful" simply because it's natural? How many of us, for example, consider a polio virus or a syphilis causing bacterium to be beautiful simply because they are natural? Granted, Mechagodzilla's case may not be totally applicable to the above questions or examples, since he was something akin to the Frankenstein Monster, as well as being created for the sole purpose of serving as a bio-mechanical weapon of mass destruction, which raise entirely different albeit loosely connected questions…but the theme as inferred by the Shobijin and Dr. Chujo in the film appeared to be quite broad in scope, and seemed to admonish the very idea of going against nature in any way.
Still, I must end this anecdote by noting that I truly respect a film that encourages one to think, even if you may not agree with the message that the screenwriter is proposing.
With this G-film's poor showing at the Japanese cinemas, few American G-fans held out any hope for it to get a theatrical release on these shores, limited or otherwise. As expected, Tri-Star released it direct to video, its release coinciding neatly with the Los Angeles and Japanese theatrical release of Godzilla: Final Wars and other events commemorating the Big Guy's 50th anniversary, including Godzilla being given a square on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, each occurring in the final month of 2004. Like all of the Tri-Star Millennium Series video releases since Godzilla vs. Megaguirus, there is no discernable difference between the American or Japanese versions of this G-film, save for the typically below par English dubbing in the case of the former (which sometimes changes the intention of the Japanese script, and thus makes the Japanese version preferable for that reason alone; see below). Of course, all of these language and sub-title options are available on the Tri-Star DVD...the American version of this film simply incorporates the poorly dubbed English language version that shows the Japanese film in its entirety, which was commissioned by Toho for the international release of this movie.
Some of the problems with the American version, both with the English sub-titles over the Japanese language and the English dubbing, as noted above, is how the script often receives subtle but important changes.
When I originally composed this review, not being fluent in Japanese, I stated that in this movie, Kiryu is rarely referred to by that name and usually simply called 'Mechagodzilla' by the film's human cast. In the American and international versions of this film, that is indeed the case. Luckily, however, we do have many English-speaking G-fans who are also fluent in Japanese. As G-fan and correspondant Ken Arromdee pointed out to me: "In [the previous draft of this review], the remark that the name 'Kiryu' is rarely used is wrong. If you listen to the Japanese track, it's always called Kiryu. This is just a subtitle problem--the subtitles are really dubtitles and aren't accurate. I spotted some other mistakes caused by the dubtitling; for instance, Azusa tells Yoshi that he cares about machines too much and maybe he should care about women instead. What she actually said was that he should care about people."
Kudos to Mr. Arromdee for bringing this to my attention, as it's an important reminder to all non-Japanese speaking G-fans that what you see or hear in the English sub-titles or English dubbing may not coincide with what was actually said onscreen.
As with the last three G-films, a quality English sub-titled Japanese edition of this film is affordably available from the good folks at Video Daikaiju, but since all of these options and special features are also available affordably on the Sony Tri-Star DVD, there is no good reason not to purchase the 'white market' edition of this movie.
After this G-film that killed the franchise, Godzilla would return one last time the following year for his 50th anniversary, where some new directorial blood by the name of Ryuhei Kitamura would abandon the consistent timeline of the last two G-films and bring the Millennium Series to a very unusual end.
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