Back in 2017, I was excited for the Godzilla the Real 4-D ride featured in Universal Studios Japan that was being put together as part of their Cool Japan campaign. I really wanted to go and experience the ride myself, in addition to simply enjoying USJ for the first time as well. As is often the case with me, I hesitated and procrastinated and worried about the cost or just couldn’t muster up the gumption to buy my tickets for months. The ride was scheduled to end in June, close to my birthday, and so I decided finally to just get a hotel room and go at the last minute.
I ended up going by myself to USJ, and at first I was worried that I might be bored. However, it was actually incredibly fun to just wander about, doing anything I wanted to do at my own pace, without worrying about what a friend or lover might prefer. I tried to go to Godzilla the Real right away, but found out that there was a schedule for the special theater in which the ride (really a film with fancy seats and added effects) took place. The first showing was an Attack on Titan show, which I tried out first to get a taste of what was to come.
The idea of these shows is really similar to movie theaters that are enhanced with DBOX, 4D, or (I believe) MXD technology. DBOX theaters add lots of movement to the action on the screen, while 4D showings include the moving chairs as well as mists of water, puffs of air, flashing lights, and scents (at least the scent of dust/sand/dirt). The Cool Japan theater experiences also had the mobile seating, puffs of air, mist sprays, and so on. In the Attack on Titan show, the gushes of mist corresponded to arterial spray from the monsters or human characters—pretty gross! Still, it gave me a sense of what to expect from the upcoming Godzilla event. Another fun touch of the Attack on Titan ride was that they had the staff decked out in uniforms from the manga and anime.
After wandering about and trying out some of USJ’s other attractions (which I found honestly really enjoyable—with the exception of the Flying Dinosaur, which gave me a crick in my neck), I came back to Godzilla the Real.
Before going in, I went over to a Godzilla Snack food stand, which apparently at some point offered Godzilla Footprint Buns for 550 yen. These buns, judging from the pic, apparently were filled with sweet beans. Unfortunately, by the time I arrived, the Godzilla Snack stand was sold out of buns. I just bought a Coca-Cola from them instead because I felt some compunction to purchase SOMETHING from the friendly purveyors of Godzilla foodstuffs.
I then got in line for the Godzilla the Real 4-D ride. Given that the Attack on Titan ride came with staff in awesome cosplay, I was hoping for something similar when the Godzilla attraction was live. If I remember correctly, the staff was wearing faux military gear, but I didn’t take pictures of them so I am not sure. Also with the Godzilla the Real 4-D ride, fake newspapers were handed out that had an article about Godzilla attacking the Osaka area. The line for the ride was pretty long, and so I was thankful for the reading material. Some folks just used the newspapers as something to sit on while they were waiting—Philistines!
Finally my group was ushered into a sort of antechamber area before the show proper commenced, in which we viewed a screen prepping us for the real deal. The Attack on Titan event had the same thing, presumably used to help with the transition from one group to the next. This time we were told that we would be flying a special aircraft to take on Godzilla, since he had just appeared in Osaka Bay. The plane was a pretty awesome VTOL craft, and we were supposed to shoot something into Godzilla’s mouth to stop him (if I recall correctly). Then we were ushered to our seats after the mission briefing, though the changeover was noticeably less smooth than the one for the Attack on Titan showing—maybe the staff were getting tired.
I wasn’t a big fan of the Attack on Titan movie, but the Godzilla the Real 4-D show was much better in most respects. For one thing, while the Attack on Titan was a sort of awkward 3D animated conversion of the anime, the Godzilla movie was rendered realistically. And I thought it looked great!
The movie was shown from a first-person perspective. As the main character, you jump into your VTOL and blast through the streets of Osaka. The sense of speed was incredible in the theater. Godzilla, too, looked really great—basically it appeared that they used the same computer model that was created for Godzilla Resurgence (2016). The encounters with Godzilla were thrilling, and once the glass on the cockpit gets blasted off, you get added gusts of air and, when the jet flew down low near the water, splashes of water. As the story unfolds, your VTOL is damaged irreparably and you have to make a perilous landing before jumping in another VTOL to finish the mission.
At the climax, in what I felt was a pretty silly decision, Godzilla is actually in USJ and interacts with the USJ globe in gratuitous fashion—at one point the globe basically gets thrown towards the camera. However, you manage to complete your mission successfully and fire the goods used to incapacitate Godzilla right into his gaping maw. Unfortunately, your jet doesn’t come out well from the last encounter, and the conclusion is an ambiguous one. (I remember feeling a bit disappointed, but unsurprised.)
Afterwards I went and picked up a few goodies, including a Godzilla the Real 4-D towel which I now make use at my local gym (though you might not know it from looking at my gut). When I purchased them, the fellow behind the register was wearing an Attack on Titan uniform, and I couldn’t help but make the salute and belt out “Shinzo wo sasageyo!” to him. I was hoping he would enthusiastically return my gesture, but he looked a bit weary, or perhaps wary of the weird foreigner.
I always intended to write up my experiences long before now, but to be honest I sometimes just want to enjoy the various attractions and events without worrying about writing up my experiences later. I often feel like I HAVE to write about every little Toho and Godzilla-related event I go to, and it adds a weight of responsibility to the events that can drain some of the fun out of the proceedings. So for this and other Godzilla events I just never wrote about my experiences, even when I really enjoyed them—which was certainly the case with Godzilla the Real 4-D.
However, with Godzilla’s return to USJ (in which everyone’s favorite irradiated beastie takes on Evangelion FOR REAL this time!), I thought the timing isn’t too bad for revisiting the 2017 ride and what the experience was really like! If you have a chance, I hope you can make the 2019 event for yourself! The Godzilla vs. Evangelion theater attraction will be featured at USJ from May 31st to August 25ththis year, along with Sailor Moon and Attack on Titan attractions—and I absolutely hope to make a return trip!