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  • Writer's picturewiresdonttalktheba

Godzilla Minus One: My Emotional Ride of Parenthood

Updated: Mar 7

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I really like Godzilla...

Dinosaurs are the coolest thing to ever exist and then you just give one of them superpowers, I mean, what’s not to love. This is one of the few franchises where I just don’t care what I get. I don't care if it's cheesy monster fighting action, kinda odd, creepy, or super serious. No matter what I get, I know I'm going to have a good time…I was excited for another Godzilla movie, especially one from Japan with Godzilla Minus One...except, instead of smiling out of the theater…I cried…I mean I wept like a baby and like for a while too even before the credits were rolling and long after it. I didn't see anyone else crying in the theater. And I’m a 30-year-old man with a family. Society tells me I’m supposed to be this emotionless macho man…but that’s a man to a god, especially a Japanese God of destruction.

If you haven't seen Godzilla Minus One or any recent Japanese Godzilla movie, you may be confused why I would get emotional. But even the original Godzilla back in 1954 is emotional, but I didn’t cry at that when I saw it years ago…but Godzilla has changed over the years and so have I. I mean, I’m a father now and that has alot to do with Godzilla Minus One. If you have only seen the recent American Godzilla films, I may have confused you even more but there are some big differences to the Monsterverse Godzilla and what Japan comes up with.

Nowadays it's pretty easy to tell the difference between an American Godzilla movie and a Japanese one. The simple way I explain it, is that American Godzilla films focus on crazy effects and monster beat downs that make you want to hit the gym. Then there are the Japanese movies that scare you, make you think about global ecological issues, and tackle Japanese politics.

But regardless of which style you prefer, it is the perfect time to be a godzilla fan. We have an american Godzilla franchise giving us huge fights and fan service with movies and a tv show, Godzilla and Kong are currently doing a crossover comic with DC comics. We got a weird Godzilla anime that was flashy, strange, and confusing. And Japan keeps reinventing the character with each movie. All while creating cool toys and merchandise for fans to collect.

You may see may Godzilla toys and merch in my videos and think I have been a Godzilla fan since I was a little kid but that isn’t the case. For a monster that has been around for 70 years now, I've only known him for 10 and that takes me back to my college days. 

In 2014, the first Monsterverse Godzilla movie came out and the trailer piqued my interest. It was dark, gritty, and Godzilla looked mean and powerful…also Bryan Craston was in it after the hype of Breaking Bad…that part was a bit underwhelming. But I watched the movie and though it isn’t the best Godzilla movie, it was cool. So I would watch the movies and slowly get more addicted by watching, collecting, and even reading. There are like 3 really good Godzilla comics and this book is fantastic. 

So, with my love for the giant lizard and all the Godzilla hype, I decided to see the movie in Regal Cinemas 4DX. I didn’t know what this was to be honest. It was just the most expensive ticket, and it was marketed as an immersive experience. What this means is that these theaters match the action on screen so your seats will move, fog and wind will hit you, scents fill the theater, and even water will spray on you. And just think about all of that stuff in reference to a Godzilla movie. The air in the theater would smell like the sea and the wind would blow as Koichi and his gang went to work. As Godzilla rose from the water I would get hit with splashes. As Godzilla walked, the seats would rumble as if I was in the buildings surrounding him, and the largest explosion in the movie had me literally falling out of my chair. This was a surreal way of taking in a Godzilla movie, so combining this experience with Godzilla minus one’s story. I had no chance of walking out of there emotionally intact.

Now to move forward in this story, I need to talk about spoilers for Godzilla Minus One. 

The biggest complaint of any movie like this where you are supposed to follow these larger-than-life creatures but instead follow a random human, is that people don’t care about the humans, and that’s wrong, you don’t care for bad writing. Godzilla Minus One gives us alot of human elements and it is written incredibly well. Each person we meet, you can empathize with and root for. These all feel like real people who are recovering from a world war and then given another destructive force to deal with.

By the way, that is why it is called Godzilla Minus One! It references that Japan was already at 0 after World War 2 and then it went into the negative because of Godzilla.

Godzilla returns to his origins of being a wicked force of nature mutated from atomic bombs destroying the world that made him. He truly fits the role of the God in his name. This is easily my favorite style of Godzilla too. He is prehistoric yet gnarly. He looks so lifelike and angry. He even looks both Modern and classic at the same time

And tying together the humans, the monster, and this dreary mournful plot is the score of the movie. 

The tone of Godzilla minus one is haunting and intimate but then explosive and intense. The music follows that tone very well. You hear gentle and minimal melodies for the emotional scenes and then bombastic scare chords during Godzilla’s rampages.  What I didn’t expect to hear was in the more triumphant scenes where the soundtrack reminds me of Joe Hisaishi's work. He is the mastermind behind the studio Ghibli movie’s music. I already did a whole video on him so you can check that out.

But what I mean is that the soundtrack employs sweeping orchestral songs full of uplifting melodies that bring alot of power and emotion to the humans' victories. There is even just no music at times and they let the ambiance of the world around the characters play out. It gives a sense of realism to the world, peace to the human moments and dramatic impact for Godzilla’s. 

And all of these elements just amplify the themes that I got from this movie…and that’s what caused the water works.

Godzilla Minus One follows Koichi Shikishima, a World War Two kamikaze pilot who fled from his responsibilities. Godzilla shows up and yet again he fails to act, and he returns home to his destroyed town where he is not respected because he failed his duty.  Stricken with survivor’s guilt he begins to care for a woman and an orphaned girl she rescued. As Godzilla is lurking in the sea, Koichi finds himself struggling to understand what honor means to him and becoming somewhat of a father and husband. 

And about 6 months before this movie came out, I became a father...

Something weird that happens when you are about to become a parent is that some old people just tell you how awful it is, spread doom, and tell you you’re going to give up on your passions when you didn’t even ask. This happened to me quite a bit and in preparation for this hellstorm these idiots predicted, I began studying different philosophies and one I was drawn to given my love of Japanese culture was bushido (hold up books). 

Bushido is “the way of the warrior” and it is a vast topic that I barely scratched the surface of but the key aspect of the samurai life involved training to master your skills, never display cowardice, and be ready to die for your honor. 

Normally the Japanese Godzilla movies aren’t that impactful to me. Like Shin Godzilla was very cool but I know nothing of Japanese politics and I don’t even really Know what a prime minister is since I live in America. Like is he just a president? He isn’t a king. He isn’t wearing a lil crown. I don’t know! I’m not a smart guy! 

But this helped me understand Koichi’s struggle. He was cowardly and when his duty called. He failed to execute and brought shame to his family. He was not only disrespected but his own view of himself weighed heavily on him. He feels he isn’t a real man. That’s why he doesn’t marry the woman he has been living with and raising a child with. He can’t be an influence in their lives because he feels he doesn’t deserve it because he has no honor. 

And I had to reflect on this myself as I studied. I was going to be a father and that meant I was going to have to follow my virtues and values and lead by example to help my child be better than I could ever be. In order to be that example, I looked to the samurai and knew that I have to work hard to improve myself, be brave in the face of hardship, and stand up for what I believe in to have my own sense of honor. 

And Godzilla Minus One makes Koichi ask himself what his honor is, not the historical Japanese version of it. Does he finally sacrifice his life for the good of Japan or does he preserve his life for his new family that he yearns to be a part of. Koichi ultimately chooses life while still saving the day from Godzilla and he immediately goes home to his adopted daughter and wants to truly be the father she doesn’t have and decides to marry the woman who has helped him raise her. 

And this is where I cried like a big fat baby…

In my journey to become a father I have challenged myself to think about what I value and what I should focus on. I realized that I have my own form of honor that I need to constantly uphold and reflect on it in order to be someone special in my child’s life.I find it funny that so many people tried to scare me because it has been a joy and privilege to be a father and I would take this journey of finding honor over Koichi’s any day, but this did challenge me to learn a bit more about a culture I enjoy and strengthen my mind for what comes next.

Godzilla Minus One surprised me for alot of reasons but I never expected to be hit with an emotional gut punch that cuts so close to home by a giant radioactive lizard. The theme of this movie that stayed with me is so relevant to my life now and it inspires me to keep trying to grow and as I do that, it seems like Godzilla and his movies are doing so as well. 

The director of Godzila 2014 admitted to being jealous of Godzilla Minus One saying "This is what a Godzilla movie should be like." And in 2014 I never expected to be on this emotional ride with the giant monster on screen. Godzilla has changed so much over the years. He started from a representation of the global impact humans have on this world and nature fighting back and over time we lost that message a bit with a campy bunch of costumes wrestling over miniatures and CGI filled explosive monster mashing action. But Godzilla Minus One returns to show Godzilla as a god of destruction pushing humanity to be better or die and by doing that, Godzilla Minus One tells a story that i can relate to and push me to be like Godzilla and never stop evolving. 

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