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Review:
Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. (2003)

Class: User
Author: Tim85
Score: (3.5/5)
Published:
March 4, 2006 [Review May Contain Spoilers]

After 4 standalone movies; Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. delivers the first sequel of (and some continuation to) the Millennium series. While the trilogy of films that began the third series ended with a solid conclusion; Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (2002) left it wide open for a sequel. While Godzilla seems to be down and out, the other title monster is still around, and the overall continuation with other non-Godzilla films is enhanced with the addition of a third title monster and the cameo of another, lesser kaiju.

A year after the battle with Godzilla, Kiryu is still under repair. Meanwhile, somewhere in the ocean, a leviathan awakes. In the Pacific, American radar shows a UFO flying straight for Japan. Word is sent to the Japanese and they send jets to intercept. After hearing singing in the background, the pilots fire missiles at the object but are destroyed by a yellow powder as the thing escapes. Satellite photos reveal a portion of the UFO, which resembles a large wing.

While vacationing at his country home in Karuizawa, Dr. Shin'ichi Chujo, his grandson Shun, and his nephew Yoshito (a mechanic for Kiryu squadron) are visited by the Shobijin; descendents of the ones that were acquainted with the good doctor during Mothra's attack on Tokyo in 1961. They have come to him to deliver a message: return the bones inside Kiryu to the sea. Disturbing the souls of the dead is a business humans shouldn't meddle with. If humans don't oblige, Mothra will turn against them. Yoshito (skeptical of Mothra after her attack 43 years ago) asks who will defend Japan from Godzilla. The girls reply that Mothra will. The Shobijin take their leave with Mothra; leaving behind a tablet engraved with Mothra's symbol.

After returning to the repair dock; the other workers notice Yoshito slacking a bit. At an evening banquet for three departing Kiryu squadron members (leaving for advanced training in the US) Yoshito recognizes the woman he saw earlier: Azusa Kisaragi, who had worked with him on a ground crew a few years ago. She is assigned to be a pilot of the Shiragasi, a highly advanced jet from which Kiryu is controlled. Kyosuke Akiba is assigned to be the controller of Kiryu, a man whom Yoshito believes to be too hard on machines. In the Kiryu repair dock, Yoshito is joined by Akane Yashiro (the former controller of Kiryu who's leaving for the US) who comments to Yoshito that she thinks Kiryu is happy in disrepair, but nevertheless, thoughtfully tells Yoshito to take care of Kiryu.

The next day, Chujo visits with Prime Minister Hayato Igarashi (an old friend of his) and tells him about the Shobijins' plea for the dismantlement of Kiryu. Igarashi wishes to help but is skeptical, due to Mothra's previous attack. Since Kiryu is Japan's main line of defense against Godzilla; it was considered wise that for as long as the monster exists, so will Kiryu.

In Kujukuri, Japan, the carcass of the giant turtle Kamoebas washes ashore. Experts claim, judging from the gashing wounds on the creature's neck, that it was killed by Godzilla. Shortly thereafter, off the coast of Guam, Godzilla attacks an American nuclear submarine and absorbs the vessel's radiation. To make matters worse, Kiryu's Absolute Zero Cannon cannot be repaired unless a very large synthetic diamond is purchased, the expense of which is deemed out of the question. When asked if Kiryu can move, Yoshito says that final checkups won't be complete for another two weeks; time that they may not have.

Eventually, Godzilla is spotted heading towards Shinagawa (the area of last year's battle). The less-expensive Triple Hyper Maser replaces the Absolute Zero Cannon as Kiryu's main weapon, and the mechanized monster is put on standby. After several failed attempts to quell his fury, the monster arrives in Tokyo Bay. It is concluded that this Godzilla is the same one from the year before, judging from the scar on the chest. After the military forces are obliterated, it is soon realized that Godzilla is attracted to the bones inside Kiryu...

During the evacuation of Tokyo, Chujo realizes the stone tablet engraved with Mothra's symbol is missing and that Shun must have it. He finds Shun at his school arranging desks in the shape of Mothra's insignia, and shortly following the rendering of the symbol, Mothra arrives in Tokyo to do battle with Godzilla. After sundown, Mothra starts to release a golden powder from her wings, which Chujo explains to his grandson is a signal that Mothra is about to die, the powder being her last defense (and a necessary component to her ability to fly). During the battle, Chujo and Shun become caught under rubble after Godzilla strikes Tokyo Tower with his thermonuclear ray.

Unable to simply stand by and let Mothra fight alone, Igarashi decides to send Kiryu into battle one last time. Kiryu is unleashed, preventing Godzilla from killing Mothra. Godzilla manages to bring down Kiryu, but before he can deliver the finishing blow, Mothra strikes Godzilla. The savage creature turns his ray on her, knocking her down for the count. On Himago Island, the Shobijin are surprised when the egg Mothra had lain only days earlier hatches and reveals twin larvae! The two infant Mothras take off for Japan as Kiryu rises again. Its control system is quickly taken out by Godzilla's unfathomable rage. After rescuing his uncle and nephew, Yoshito offers to repair the machine and the maser tanks, as the Shiragasi is ordered to distract Godzilla. Before Godzilla can finish off the robot, one of the larvae sprays silk at Godzilla; to which Godzilla responds with a blast of his atomic ray, flinging the larva through the air, landing near its sibling and mother. After a brief family reunion, Godzilla attempts take out all three with his energy blast, but the imago Mothra shields her young by taking the full brunt of the beam. The enraged larvae take off after Godzilla, furious at the loss of their mother.

Yoshito finally fixes Kiryu (with the aid of the Shobijin) but cannot escape due to intense damage dealt to the hatch by Godzilla's atomic ray. He selflessly informs the crew that he escaped, so that the next round could finally commence. Kiryu and Godzilla become entangled in the heat of battle once more, taking the Diet Building out with them. Akiba converts Kiryu's right hand (the one lost in the previous battle with Godzilla) into a drill and jams the spinning object into the creature's scar, causing the King of the Monsters to stumble back in pain. Kiryu then unleashes a double whammy with the Triple Hyper Maser and the Twin Maser from its metallic maw. The screeching beams collide into the monster's now open wound, causing the beast to cry out in intense pain. The cry triggers memories in the 1954 Godzilla's bones again; the thoughts of which are also experienced by Yoshito, causing him to realize that Kiryu only wishes to rest in peace. After the larvae completely encase Godzilla in a silky cocoon, the robot goes berserk once more and takes the monster to the Sea of Japan to rest in peace, forever. Azusa takes off in the Shiragasi after the fleeing robot. When it is realized that Yoshito is still inside Kiryu, Azusa blasts open the damaged hatch, allowing Yoshito to finally escape. Before he escapes, Kiryu bids him farewell. Akiba ejects from the Shiragasi and catches Yoshito just in time.

With the day saved, the Shobijin thank everyone for returning the bones to their resting place, and they return to Infant Island with the twin larvae. Little does anyone realize that danger still remains, as the DNA extracted from the 1999 Godzilla incident is placed into special containment...

Character development here is almost non-existent. Noboru Kaneko plays Yoshito Chujo (the only new character who really develops in the movie), a Kiryu mechanic who eventually learns that Mechagodzilla only wishes to rest in peace. Azusa Kisaragi (model Miho Yoshioka) is one of the new Kiryu pilots who has a history with Yoshito; that's it. Kyosuke Akiba (Katsuya Onizuka) is the new hot -headed main pilot for Kiryu; again, that is all. Only the returning characters from Mothra (1961) and Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (2002) are really developed in any way. Hiroshi Koizumi returns as Dr. Shin'ichi Chujo from Mothra (1961). While he's mostly here to explain the events that happened in the aforementioned movie, it's still great to see a veteran actor back in action. Akira Nakao returns as Prime Minister Hayato Igarashi and brings back the gruffness he had in Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (2002). Actors returning from (and bringing ties to) the previously mentioned film in smaller roles are: new series regular Eoichi Ueda (General Dobashi), Lieutenant Togashi (Koh Takasugi), Akane Yashiro (Yumiko Shaku), and Naomasa Rokudaira (Dr. Goro Kanno). While the actresses are new, (Chihiro Otsuka and Masami Nagasawa) the Shobijin return from Mothra (1961). In comparison to a more recent effort, they are much better than their 1992 counterparts; and, like Godzilla vs. Mothra (1992), they aren't twins, but look enough alike to pull it off.

Special effects in this film are by far the some of the best (if not THE best) ever seen in a Godzilla movie. The opening scene with Mothra and the jets almost rivals a similar scene from Gamera 3: Revenge of Iris (1999). All the matte shots blend with the scenes seamlessly. The monsters all look like they're really alive. The shots with the Shobijin are well done, and they blend in well with the surroundings. The CGI used is some of the best seen in the series. The only problems in the cinematography area are some of the editing jumps, like when Mothra tosses Godzilla across the city. After Mothra lets him go, it immediately jumps to Godzilla sliding through the city. However, these scenes are not that noticeable and can be easily missed by the casual viewer.

The music score is wonderful. Michiru Oshima could easily be considered the Akira Ifukube of the Millennium series, as her scores can stand on their own and get away with being repetitive. Her themes for Godzilla and Kiryu return triumphantly and are just as pleasing to the ears as before. Her rendition of Mothra's theme is wonderful, and the actresses that sing the song of the Shobijin are better than the actresses who had a similarly vocal role as the Cosmos in the Heisei series.

While the human characterization is weak, it is more than made up for by the monsters. It's not surprising for the viewer to show more emotion for the kaiju than for the human characters! Of course it wouldn't be a Godzilla movie without Godzilla, now would it? His suit is much more flexible and realistic than in Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (2002) and his reason for appearing, due to Kiryu's bones, is an interesting angle that explains Godzilla's appearances in the previous film. The animatronics in the head give Godzilla more emotion and help show signs of a relentless hell-bent creature, only last seen in Godzilla, Mothra, King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (2001) The CGI used to render Godzilla swimming is well-done, as it really gives a good impression of what Godzilla swimming would actually look like. The fact that Godzilla is given a greater variety in his roars than in the previous film helps more emotion to show through. When Kiryu activates the arm drill in Godzilla's scar, with skin flying off, it's not as realistic as if there was blood spewing about; not enough to be graphic, just enough for realism. In this movie, Mothra is actually made to fit into the story and she and the Shobijin remarkably aid with the subplot and themes concerning morality (instead of being inserted simply for marquee value, like in GMK). Her design is a throwback to her Showa days, and the filmmakers pull off the best portrayal of the monster since her debut movie. The only problem with Mothra is the frequency of wing flaps during her flight scenes (a problem that was almost fixed in her previous appearance), but it still makes up for the dreadful stiffness from the Godzilla vs. Mothra (1992) days. In this film, Mothra's wings actually flex with each flap. Her legs are taken from GMK and articulate realistically, like in the days when Eiji Tsuburaya was responsible for the effects. The wind effects and her scale powder attack are done wonderfully. The fact that the scales blow up when they come in contact with Godzilla's ray is more realistic than the reflection effect (à la her Heisei appearance). The powder's explanation by Dr. Chujo also lends to the move's credibility. Her battle with Godzilla harkens back to their first battle in 1964, and her emotional death sequence is beautifully accomplished.

The twin larvae fair much better then the larva from 1992, and the one in Rebirth of Mothra (1996). Animatronics used to move the mouths and the antennae-like appendages made the larvae even more realistic. The silk spray makes more sense then the single string in previous movies. The reunion with their mother is heartwarming and the three communicating shows the intelligence of the creatures. The eyes turning red when witnessing the imago Mothra's death helps show the anger the larvae feel for losing their mother. In the battle with Godzilla, for the third time in the long-running series, a larva latches onto the tip of Godzilla's tail (an obviously painful move). The twin larvae wrapping Godzilla in silk is an obvious throwback to Godzilla vs. Mothra (1964).

As for Kiryu, this mechanized kaiju returns with a vengeance. His deeper color shows the effect of a robot taking a dip in the ocean (the end of Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla [2002]). While comments have been made about how the battle style was different from the last film, one must remember that Kiryu has a different pilot this time, so it would be natural for a different fighting style plotwise. The majority of his weapons are upgraded; in more ways than one. The Triple Hyper Maser is a cool replacement for the Absolute Zero Cannon. The wrist mounted laser guns are much more intimidating then his old guns. The shoulder rocket launchers are much better looking then the "hair dryer" ones from the previous film. After Kiryu has dispensed this payload, the launchers can be fired as rockets as well. The replacement for the right hand's (which was lost in the last battle) ability to become a drill is an awesome surprise. One thing to note: during the battle with Godzilla, Kiryu tosses him over its shoulder. The move looks realistic and is very cool. Despite being a robot, Kiryu does display some emotion when Yoshito is about to leave the machine. On one of the monitors, Kiryu says farewell to Yoshito; which is quite a touching moment.

Another, final monster worth noting is the dead carcass of the Kamoebas, which is a nice connection to another non-Godzilla kaiju movie that is part of the Space Amoeba (1970) timeline. It's a relief that producer Shogo Tomiyama decided to put this monster in place of Anguirus. If the original idea to use the fan favorite was not changed, Anguirus' role in the film would have gone over like a lead balloon in the fandom.

There is a saying that "third time's the charm". For Masaaki Tezuka, it holds true. Any mistakes of his previous films are corrected here. While the human angle is weak; the phenomenal special effects, the catchy musical score, and the strong monster aspect more than make up for it. Since this movie and its predecessor Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (2002) are considered the "Kiryu Saga" by many people, with Godzilla: Tokyo SOS being viewed as Part 2 of the series, it's much more enjoyable than if it were simply an individual movie. While Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (2002) set up the story, Godzilla: Tokyo SOS certainly delivers the goods.