Godzilla shows Japan’s real fear is sclerotic bureaucracy not giant reptiles
By ROLAND KELTS
Five years before the release of Godzilla Resurgence (Shin Godzilla), the first Japanese-made Godzilla movie in more than a decade, Japan’s north-east coastline was slammed by a massive earthquake and tsunami, causing a meltdown at the region’s Fukushima nuclear power plant. Citizens were either misinformed or kept in the dark about the damage: the government would not even use the term “meltdown” until three months later. In an interview with a national newspaper in 2014, novelist Haruki Murakami diagnosed a national character flaw: irresponsible self-victimisation.
“No one has taken real responsibility for the 1945 war end or the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident,” he said. “I’m afraid that it can be understood that the earthquake and tsunami were the biggest assailants and the rest of us were all victims. That’s my biggest concern.”
Resurgence director Hideaki Anno, a revered otaku (nerd) hero best known for creating one of Japan’s darkest and most elaborate anime classics, Neon Genesis Evangelion, doesn’t let his compatriots off the hook, visually or emotionally. Shots of cars and yachts piling up along canals by the force of water pointedly replicate scenes from the 2011 disasters, turning Godzilla into a personified tsunami. Relief workers and politicians in hazmat suits and light blue jumpsuits respectively echo the surreal imagery of the catastrophe’s aftermath.
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