Godzilla Minus One is just a thought experiment: What if, in the years immediately following World War II, Godzilla materialized and launched an attack on Japan at its most vulnerable point? Japan is experiencing a severe economic downturn in 1947. While many people continue to live in makeshift homes made from the debris of their firebombed homes, the nation is only beginning to rebuild. The military has been totally disbanded, and almost all of the aircraft and ships have been seized, dismantled, or dearmed. The American administration, now engrossed in the Cold War, chooses to let the Japanese to fight off Godzilla on their own. This presents the main conundrum of the movie: How can Godzilla be defeated with such constraints?
Godzilla Minus One bases the plot by making it the intensely personal experience of one guy, as opposed to emphasizing how the Japanese bureaucracy as a whole handles the situation (like in Hideaki Anno’s Shin Godzilla). Koichi, a former fighter pilot, experiences survivor’s guilt and PTSD. He is a man who slaughtered a squad of soldiers because he was unable to shoot the pre-nuclear Godzilla when he had the opportunity.
When he gets home, his parents are gone and his house is in ruins. In the years that follow the war, he is forced to fight for survival, but he succeeds in finding a family. A young woman named Noriko moved into his home on her own initiative, taking care of an abandoned infant that she found. In the meanwhile, he undertakes the hazardous task of disarming the sea mines that dot Japan’s coastline in order to provide for them, and in the process, he forges deep friendships with his colleagues. However, Godzilla emerges, and each new fatality at the hands of the monster weighs hard on his conscience, just as he is beginning to question whether he can be forgiven for his cowardice during the battle.
The protagonist of Koichi’s novel is a guy whose war never ends; it rages on in his dreams every night, even before Godzilla goes on his rampage. He is not alone, though. The impacts of the war are being felt by every character in the movie. But instead of dying valiantly for their nation, the battle against Godzilla offers them the option to fight to survive and bravely go into the future with the people they love.
Nevertheless, despite having a really solid premise and emotional resonance at its center, the movie occasionally veers into corny melodrama. In an attempt to elicit an emotional response, the film relentlessly employs tearjerking clichés, but ultimately achieves the opposite result. Fortunately, everything else the movie has to offer nearly drowns out these times.
The majority of the time, the movie had excellent visuals. It is really nicely directed, with many of inventive shots that give the movie personality without making it difficult to follow along. The film differs from the plethora of other Godzilla movies in that it centers on destroying Godzilla at sea rather than on land. The titular monster’s computer graphics, which vary based on the situation, are the only true problem. Regarding the audio aspect, the original score is audible even though the iconic Godzilla theme is there. During the most crucial parts of the movie, it heightens the suspense and maintains the action.
In the end, Godzilla Minus One is an excellent Godzilla movie. It has a fantastic premise, and it’s also interesting to watch how the many individuals band together to try to combat Godzilla while having such few resources. In addition, Koichi’s internal conflict gives the narrative a grounded sense of reality, turning the movie from a fight against a monstrous creature to one of healing his wounded spirit. And while its melodramatic moments and shoddy computer graphics don’t make the movie flawless, these are ultimately just small quibbles. You’ll probably enjoy this one if you enjoyed Shin Godzilla or the original Godzilla. It’s a fresh interpretation of a beloved series, and in the years to come, it will probably rank among the greatest.