※This article contains spoilers about the movie. Don’t say we didn’t warn you!
November 3 is Godzilla’s birthday. Did you know what?
Hello! I’m Ayumi and I watched Shin Godzilla six times. Yes, that’s right. I went to the cinema six times to see the how this new era for the King of Monsters is going to unfold, and I don’t think I am the only one. The box office revenue has already exceeded 8 billion yen.
As it happens today with smartphones and social media, the reporting of Shin Godzilla (AKA Godzilla: Resurgence) was made on twitter in real time. Fans went so far as to work together and tweet like they were really inside the world of Godzilla (even though they were not asked to do so). For example they tweeted: ‘giant unknown creature? Isn’t it bad?’ and ‘I will be visiting Tokyo multiple times this month but is Tokyo safe?’ under the #シンゴジ実況 tag.
『本日、政府は巨大不明生物の凍結、無力化を目的とした #ヤシオリ作戦 を**11月26日 朝**より開始すると発表しました。
— ふぇいる＠冬眠まぢか (@fairoo) November 24, 2016
But the movie had one flaw that prompted me to write this article. You hear way too many difficult words! There is a large volume of dialogue in the movie and many of the characters are either military or bureaucrats. To be honest, many phrases were difficult even for Japanese people.
They are also talking way too fast and without any explanation, and many times I found myself wondering, ‘what did he just say?’ I had to go home and find what they meant after deep contemplation.
Ok, I’m overeacting a bit, but the truth is that there are many things that needed to be explained, and that’s what I will try to do in this article. Let’s try to analyze some of the words and story of Shin Godzilla, so that you can go back to the theaters and see the movie from a new point of view!
Shin Godzilla’s Appearances
Let’s first make a list of the times the monster appeared in the movie.
First Appearance: This is not so much a form since we just saw its tail, witnessed at Tokyo Bay. Details are unknown since its body was under the sea.
Second Appearance: The form when it arrived on Kamata’s seashore from Nomikawa, Tokyo. Nicknamed Kamata-kun.
Third Appearance: The form when Kamata-kun stood up at Shinagawa, Tokyo. Nicknamed Shinagawa-kun.
Fourth Appearance: The form when it hit Kamakura shore again. It’s the form used on the poster.
— 宮脇修一 海洋堂センム (@sennmusann) November 22, 2016
About the Taba Strategy
In this scene, The JDF battles against Godzilla who has just landed on Kamakura shore in order to prevent it from entering the city. They are calling the mission the ‘Taba Strategy.’
The source of Tama river is the Taba river which runs from Enzan of Koshu City in Yamanashi to Tabayama-mura. It is said that the name Tama is actually Taba pronounced with an accent. Since Shin Godzilla uses many old references and words, it was only natural that they would call it Taba instead of Tama.
It’s really great how the director decided to use the name ‘Taba Strategy’ despite knowing that people will wonder what it really means.
— iro＠ほしのかけら/3日目j-20a (@irohamu) October 23, 2016
About the Yashiori Strategy
The name of the strategy was initially ‘Godzilla Freezing’ but the main character, Rando Yaguchi, changed it because he thought it is too childish.
The name may sound childish, but it was also suprising that the Ground Self-Defence Force adopted the name ‘Yoshiori’ without any argument.
‘Yashiori’ is rumored to be a homage to the ‘Yashima Strategy’ used in Evangelion since the release of the movie, even though they are clearly different. ‘Yashiori’ comes from Yashiori no Sake as it appeared in the Japanese legend, Yamatano Orochi.
The story goes like this:
A long time ago, there was an eight-headed monster called Yamatano Orochi. The monster comes down from the mountain every year to eat a girl alive. A couple, who had seven daughters already eaten by the monster, were worried about losing another one. A man called Susanoo who had been exiled from Yomi no Kuni (the land of the dead) told the couple, ‘I will protect your eighth daughter if you allow her to become my wife.’ The couple were reluctant at first, but they eventually agreed. The man thought that he could not win against the monster with strength alone so he got the monster drunk with strong sake that had been brewed eight times. He defeated the monster while it was sleeping after drinking up sake. The man and the eighth daughter lived happily after that.
That’s the short version of the story, but I kept the gist of it. This strong sake that was brewed eight times is called ‘Yashiori no Sake.’
The ‘Godzilla Freezing Strategy’ succeeded by injecting coagulant to Godzilla via its mouth. Susanoo defeated Yamatano Orochi by making it drink sake. Rando found something in common to these strategies and that’s why he named it the ‘Yashiori Strategy.’ Rando is a man who is very particular about naming so he must have gave it some thought before coming up with this cool name.
— のらねこ部長 (@NoraBucho) October 24, 2016
About Amano Habakiri Platoon
The name ‘Amano Habakiri Platoon’ can be heard only once in the radio communication during the ‘Yashiori Strategy’ introduced above. It’s the first unit that will take part in the execution of the strategy. Unfortunately, it was burned down by Godzilla’s restored thermic ray.
The name of the platoon is written 天羽々斬剣 in kanji characters. The name refers to the sword used by Susanoo from the Yamatano Orochi legend. It’s the sword he used to kill the sleeping monster after it got drunk…as you may have already guessed, it’s a platoon that is essential to the strategy: they would give the coagulant to the fallen Godzilla. They are given the name of the sword because they will be the ultimate weapon that will defeat the monster.
The legend is very popular in Japan. It’s taught at schools and most Japanese people know about it from a young age. Even though, it takes some time for most of them to make the connection.
Why Prime Minister Okouchi hesitated to give permission to use the weapon at first
If you compare Shin Godzilla with the recent 2014 Hollywood adaptation, there is a difference in how the government reacts to the monster threat. Many overseas viewers might wonder on why the Japanese government is hesitating so much to take action.
If Godzilla was real and attacked any other place than Japan, armed forces would have dispatched almost immediately. But this is Japan. Striving for realism, the movie took in account the current military situation of Japan. They need to gain permission from many different bodies to get an ok to dispatch the Self-Defence Force and use weapons. There are also constitution issues and safety measures to be considered. This may sound too bureaucratic, but it’s the sad reality.
Imagine if the Prime Minister ordered the army to take immediate action. He would be known as the first politician to dispatch the army after World War II and he would be held responsible for all damage. His political rivals would be waiting in the corner, laughing at every single casualty, every little mistake. Would you have taken such a drastic measure? Maybe you would, but the reality is that people are rarely ready to take responsibility for their actions.
Next time you see the movie, try to rationalize the hesitation as though you were in the characters’ shoes. What would you have done?
Reality vs. Fiction
There are many points to make about the movie, such as Tokyo’s evacuation, the damage from the thermic rays and any residual radiation that will contaminate the area after the battle. If you like observing the little details, then you are already considering re-watching the movie a few times.
Even though there is too much dialogues and the characters speak so fast that sometimes it is hard to follow, I think that the movie puts meaning in every single line. There is no superfluous dialogue. Things that might seem bizarre can be explained through Rando’s words.
I will explain more things about the movie after the Blu-ray is released. If you want to talk about a part of the movie that you can’t understand, leave a comment below!