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  Godzilla Singular Point Getting metaphysical with Godzilla
Year: 2021
Director: Atsushi Takahashi
Stars: Yume Miyamoto, Shoya Ishige, Ayako Takeuchi, Jin Urayama, Kaho Kouda, Kenichi Suzumura, Kotori Koiwai, Taro Kikuchi, Wataru Kagachi, Yohei Azakami, Hiromichi Tezuka, Kenta Miyake, Masako Isobe, Misaki Kuno, Rie Kugimiya, Runa Onodera, Ryotaro Okiayu
Genre: Animated, Science Fiction, Weirdo, TV Series, AdventureBuy from Amazon
Rating:  7 (from 1 vote)
Review: Upon decoding a mysterious musical broadcast from another dimension cute and quirky physics genius Mei Kamino (voiced by Yume Miyamoto) forms an online relationship with gifted engineer Yun Arikawa (Shoya Ishige). They discover the music heralds the arrival of an equally mysterious Red Dust. Emanating from so-called Singular Points, areas around our planet where the laws of physics are bent and broken, it unleashes terrifying giant monster that rampage across the world. As Yun and his team pit their kaiju-slaying robot Jet Jaguar in battle against hordes of deadly Rodan and malevolent sea-dwelling Manda they inadvertently stumble upon a sinister conspiracy. Meanwhile Mei and her adorable canine A.I. Pelops II (Misaki Kuno) set off on a globe-trotting odyssey to unravel the secret of the Singular Points. It is a race against time with the world, indeed the entire universe facing extinction at the hands of the seemingly unstoppable legendary monster known as Godzilla.

As the second Netflix anime treatment of Japan's enduring monster franchise Godzilla Singular Point undeniably improves upon the tedious trilogy wrought by Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters (2017). Combining the apocalyptic spectacle of the live action films with the boundless imagination fans associate with Japan's idiosyncratic animated medium, for many Singular Point finally delivers on the inherent promise of a Godzilla anime. However just as many fans deride the thirteen part serial as a mind-boggling mess, spinning an impenetrable story laden with pseudo-scientific gobbledegook. Granted there is some validity to the latter criticism. Screenwriter Toh Enjoe is a PhD in mathematical physics that transitioned from a career in computer software to penning novels and scripts for the likes of cult anime Space Dandy (2014). His super-cerebral screenplay bombards viewers with relentless ruminations on theoretical physics, cryptograms, artificial intelligence, quantum mechanics and wild sci-fi concepts like the discovery of a new polymer able to trap light.

Certainly those yearning for a simple old fashioned monster romp will be lost at sea. Yet there is something refreshing about a Godzilla story that does not talk down to its audience but rather dares them to keep up. It also re-imagines the king of monsters, here a rapidly mutating entity along the lines of Shin Godzilla (2016), as something less tangible and more an existential threat. The closest comparison to the concepts dealt with here might be John Carpenter's similarly ambitious if flawed Prince of Darkness (1987) although here director Atsushi Takahashi counterbalances the mounting existential dread with warm moments of whimsy and wonder. Vast in scope, intricate in detail, Singular Point will either delight or infuriate depending on personal taste. Any fans still griping about Gareth Edwards dawdling over the monster intros back in 2014 will likely balk at Godzilla not making his big entrance here until episode seven. For much of its runtime the focus rests primarily on human characters (along with their endearing A.I. companions) unravelling a vast cosmic mystery one arcane fragment at a time. Luckily, despite occasionally coming across like sounding boards for Enjoe's ideas, chic geek Mei and silver-haired Yun are vivid, engaging protagonists.

Moreover Singular Point does not stint on the city-stomping action and monster battles. Merging traditionally animated characters with 3D animated kaiju to eye-catching effect, the animation team consistently deliver suspenseful set-pieces along with other intriguing plot elements long before Akira Ifukube's familiar theme heralds Godzilla's rise from the murky depths. Especially appealing to long-time Godzilla fans are the often inspired reinvention of classic characters from the Showa era films. Including scary redesigns for Rodan, Manda, Anguirus and Kumonga. Most notably a fresh take on super-robot Ultraman clone Jet Jaguar. No longer the object of fan ridicule in the wake of his appearance in Godzilla vs. Megalon (1973), here Jet Jaguar is re-imagined as a badass steampunk kaiju-slayer with a surprisingly moving character arc of its own. All in all, while certainly not for everyone, Godzilla Singular Point is among the most fascinating, stimulating pieces of Godzilla media ever conceived. It lays down a lot of intrigue for season two.


Reviewer: Andrew Pragasam

 

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