「はるかなるいえじ」 (Haruka Naru Ieji)
The first episode of Godzilla Singular Point might not feature an appearance from the titular giant lizard, but it lays out the groundwork to get a more human perspective on trying to make sense of the growing presence of kaiju. It’s still in its preliminary stages, but knowing it’s a Netflix anime, it makes sense that Episode 01 ends with enough intrigue about the kaiju to make you curious about what the next episode would entail.
It was tricky to make heads-or-tails of what Godzilla Singular Point would be like. For as long as Godzilla has been a staple of monster mash films, each individual property and film has its own special caveat. Some focus on the human element and hone in on the social commentary behind Godzilla as a symbol of nuclear power, American imperialism, climate disasters, and other forms of societal destruction. Others are high octane action films where we see Godzilla either destroying cities and paramilitary forces or waging war against interstellar creatures and mutants that have spawned in time for a good ol’ fashioned brawl.
Additionally, Netflix already has a symbiotic relationship with the Godzilla property with a trilogy of CGI films written by Urobuchi Gen, but the lukewarm response to those films might call into question how exactly Godzilla Singular Point will fare. Will it be as CG-heavy as the Netflix movies or their other anime acquisitions? Will it be centered around humans fighting off the in-coming kaiju or Godzilla stomping around as he gets entangled in another big budget fight sequence?
With sci-fi writer Toh EnJoe, kaiju designer Eiji Yamamori, and character designer Kazue Kato of Ao no Exorcist fame as its more high-profile staff members, it’s difficult to tell exactly how their influence will channel into the Godzilla franchise. Whereas you could imagine how Urobuchi or Evangelion creator Anno Hideaki would interpret the franchise through their respective work on the Netflix films or Shin Godzilla.
While the first episode of Godzilla Singular Point is still setting the stage for the giant lizard to make its grand debut, it does a solid job at giving its human characters some legroom to work with. Arikawa and his assistant Kato make for a unique pair with the former’s more eccentric mindset needing to be reigned in by the latter’s sensible approach. As an engineer for a robotics factory, Arikawa’s interest in investigating a song transmitted by a mysterious force brings him closer to understanding the kind of threat that aims to impact Japan. Meanwhile, Kato’s down-to-earth personality actually gives him more chemistry with his childhood friend, researcher Mei Kamino.
Kamino is also an interesting character to follow as she ends up getting wrapped up in the whole Godzilla business after she takes her mentor’s place in getting involved with scientists who know a little bit more than they let on. Kamino’s attitude along with the Otaki Factory members also add a unique layer to the story by being much older than your standard leads. She shares many grad student woes such as being strung along by a bureaucratic hierarchy as she aims to just get what she has to do completed so that it’s one load off her back on her way to graduation. Her involvement with Otaki Factory’s AI, which used her background info to name itself Pero 2, also allows for some humorous banter as she tries to remove it from her desktop.
Although it does a great job at setting up what is happening behind-the-scenes with our cast of researchers and mechanics, there is still some fanservice to be had with fans of Godzilla. Otaki Factory being the creator of Jet Jaguar is one of the more stand-out nods considering how Arikawa and Kato will likely be piloting the Jet Jaguar mecha as they protect themselves from any oncoming kaiju. The one major kaiju to appear in this episode is Rodan, but they look like a newer monster created for the show. There is one big reveal in the last five minutes of the episode when one of the researchers is introduced to secret kaiju bones. Time will tell on whether it manages to live up to some of the better installments of Godzilla, but so far, it’s looking like a promising start to a show you can look forward to binge-watching soon.