Toho choose a poster to unveil their new look for Godzilla, in the upcoming film Godzilla Resurgence or known as “シン・ゴジラ” aka Shin Godzilla in Japan. The internet, as it often does, has erupted into opinions on Hideaki Anno and Shinji Higuchi‘s new look for the creature.
Being hardcore Godzilla fans, the staff of Toho Kingdom weighs in as well with our own reactions to the look of Godzilla 2016. Our thoughts are presented in order of seniority on the site, although the founder’s is included at the end as a summary. Staff weighs in solely on what is available, which in this case is a shoulder-up view of the new Godzilla as shown on the poster.
In Rotten Tomatoes fashion, the thoughts are consolidated into a Positive, Mixed or Negative reaction based on an interpretation by the owner.
The new Shin-Godzilla design is terrifying. It’s like seeing a lifelong friend damaged by a traumatic experience. That defeated look in their eye confirms they will never be the same. Which is ironic, considering the meaning of Shin-Godzilla translates to True Godzilla. This new design tells us exactly what direction the filmmakers are taking. Throughout the decades, Godzilla has changed with the times. Godzilla has played the part of the majestic hero, the mighty protector, the insidious villain, etc. But what is Godzilla really? What does the King of the Monsters truly represent?
What truly makes Godzilla an iconic character is how he represents so many fundamental messages at once. But at the core of Godzilla’s character, he is and always will be a metaphor of humankind’s hubris. Before nuclear weapons, humankind never posed a threat to all life on Earth. After the inception of nuclear weapons, humankind now has the ability to transform the planet into a lifeless, radioactive husk. Godzilla’s presentation in the original 1954 classic was meant as a warning to humanity, to inspire us to curb our destructive ambitions and desires. And that is what I think makes this new Godzilla so terrifying. It not only looks like we ignored the message, but we are now destined (or damned) to bear witness to what Godzilla truly is. My fear is Godzilla, at his core, has no meaning, no purpose. Godzilla is not here to maintain balance, or help humanity discover its place in the world. When I look into his eyes, I don’t see the Godzilla we once knew. I don’t see the dark side of humanity made manifest; I don’t see the personification of nature’s retribution.
When I look into Shin-Godzilla’s eyes, I don’t see a damaged victim. I see an uncaring, cancerous god staring right back at me.
And I’m totally digging it!
I believe both the strength and the weakness of the new Godzilla design, based on what little we have seen of it, is that the beast evokes a kind of speechless and wild horror. It creates this effect by focusing the design on mutation and the grotesque. One can see this in perhaps the most controversial aspect of the new design—the uncomfortably tiny staring eye. That eye appears all outside of proportion to the rest of the grossly bloated and misshapen head, as if, through the mutation process, the eye did not grow at the same rate as the tumorous flesh about the skull. Even the new Godzilla appears to be surprised at the form he has found himself in—or perhaps in this new form Godzilla has no eyelids, perhaps they were scorched off in the heat of the radiation so that now he has no choice but to stare in wild rage. It’s really too early to say, but the initial image is evocative and hideous.
That hideousness, that sense of mutated deformity extends to just about everything we see in this new design. His mouth, too, appears to have been torn and twisted in the radioactive fires—any cheek or lip tissue scorched away, and the teeth (which perhaps normally would have stood in regulated rows for effective clutching and crushing power) are now more like spines or spikes, emerging at random angles, growing in abundance like thorns piercing his maw. In this picture, too, his nose looks somewhat indistinct, emerging from irregular, lumpy, scarred skin that hearkens back to the design of the original Godzilla and its keloid-inspired texture. The ears, meanwhile, seem to have been swallowed up in bulging, tortured flesh. Even the back plates appear to have received some mutation. Usually, in previous incarnations, the spines were largely maple-leaf designed, with the protuberances poking out along the edges, but more or less “flat.” That is to say, the bony spines of the back plates only jutted out along one plane like a throwing star or a leaf. Here, the spines appear to be poking out more unevenly in several directions like a spiked mace.
What gives me pause about this design is that, while the monster looks ferocious and horrific, the design does not lend itself to personality. With no lips, Godzilla can’t even snarl—his expression is fixed into that one mutated gawping expression. The first American Godzilla had a similar problem—she had no lips, either. Just enormous teeth that jutted out. She could not snarl or convey much emotion with her face, but at least she had large eyes that could show her sorrow and rage. The new Godzilla’s eyes look largely emotionless in this picture, although the looming eyebrow may be used to show more emotion. Perhaps it sounds strange to complain about a rigid face design given that Godzilla through the years has often had very little in the way of facial expressions, but the best Godzilla designs (in my opinion) show personality in the suit designs. I love the King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962) suit for its kind of playful demeanor, or the stern and powerful look of the Heisei Godzilla design. To me, just based off of the first picture, this Godzilla looks less like a main character as it does kind of a soulless background beast that shows up to scare everyone, but doesn’t have the stage presence to carry the show. It’s way too early to say, really, and I admire the commitment to trying something new and horrifying. I just hope the “Shin Godzilla” also is just… interesting.
The new Godzilla from Hideaki Anno and Shinji Higuchi’s upcoming Godzilla: Resurgence (2016), to me immediately evokes the original classic 1954 design. The dead eyes are evocative of the iconic image of Shodai-Goji, and also evoke his design from The Return of Godzilla (1984), particularly the famous Cybot Godzilla. The jaw is nice and wide and almost hinged. The ridge up his back also evokes several Showa designs including the iconic Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964) reptilian look and I also like how pronounced the trademark charcoal grey skin tone is. The charred skin design evokes Bio-Goji, as well as Powered Red King from Ultraman Powered, and seems to be bringing back the “burn victim” inherent in the original’s design. Although in my humble opinion, the eyes need to be a tad bigger and more emphasized, but overall very nightmarish and fitting for Higuchi and Anno’s vision of revisiting the roots of the franchise. Can’t wait to see it in action.
Overall I’m very positive about the new design and enthusiastic that Higuchi and his team will bring it to life in the best way possible!
As far as first impressions are concerned, I’m mixed. On the one hand, I do like that Anno and Higuchi are harking back to the cold, fearsome design of the original 1954 Godzilla—particularly with the nice touch of the eye gazing down, probably upon hapless victims. And based on what little we can see of them in this poster, Godzilla will be brandishing those classic maple leaf spines once more. And I’m curious to see in what manner these spines will glow when the King’s preparing to unleash his atomic breath! I also like the thorn-like teeth. On the negative side of things, though, I must admit I’m not especially enthusiastic about the shape of the head. The backwards sloping brow, the blocky knob at the base of the skull, the way the snout transitions into the forehead—I just don’t feel the sheer sense of menace the filmmakers are aiming for. Also: not really a fan of the way Godzilla’s throat seems to fuse into the center of his mandible. Perhaps this is one of those designs that will grow on me with age. Perhaps it will look much better in the context of a full-body shot.
But here’s a hypothetical worst-case scenario: a film like Son of Godzilla (1967) or Godzilla vs. MechaGodzilla II (1993), where I don’t care for Godzilla’s physical appearance but still find plenty to like about his character and the movie around him.
When I look to the near future and think of Godzilla 2016, I hold child like anticipation of one of my favorite franchises returning, but still plenty of skepticism due to the previous entry in 2004. These thoughts however altered slightly as the new poster for the film was revealed.
The original Gojira is not one of my favorite films, but I recognize its importance to the franchise, and with this note I feel slightly disappointed by the design of “Shin Godzilla.” From what I can see the monster is well detailed, focuses on the burns and mutations that came with its creation, and is far more… creepier in execution. Horror is definitely the route I see this Godzilla following, and I will hold final judgement on its execution until the film’s release but at the moment I am not thoroughly impressed.
My hope is this film is something akin to GMK, which also held a Godzilla that was not as pleasing to the eyes as others, but was executed extremely well though only time will tell on the final result. In the meantime, I will try to avoid making direct eye contact with the newest interpretation of everyone’s favorite lizard.
When the poster for Godzilla Resurgence/Shin Gojira was released, I was very excited. I shared the same picture on my personal Facebook page at least three times. Nonetheless, when I took a good look at what I was presented I had slightly mixed feelings.
The first thing that grabbed me was that maw. I LOVE the teeth design, but I didn’t really care for how far back into the head the jawline receded. I also thought the eyes were too far forward in his head. It just didn’t look badass. I showed it to my friends the same evening, and they loved it… and I have to say I actually agree with them now.
Looking back at Godzilla (1954)’s design, there’s one thing that makes it very different from almost every other suit. It was hand made, and is therefor very unsymmetrical. And on a black and white screen set at night, it looks very realistic, and even terrifying… well, maybe not to us, as we watch it on DVD, but it’s easy to imagine why everyone in the movie is screaming.
What this suit does is capture that same realism that the 1954 suit had… and mixes it with imagery that is actually terrifying to look at. The sharp teeth, the uneven skin texture, the scarecrow like grin… it’s creepy. Imagine looking 389 feet into the air, and seeing that weirdly human eye staring directly at YOU. That would be horrific.
Looking at every Godzilla design from 1999, to 2014, they’re all badasses. Emphasizing Godzilla’s strength, endurance, and sheer power levels. Even in Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (2001), where we the how cruel Godzilla actually can be, it still looks like the design is meant to be super cool. This Godzilla doesn’t have to be badass. This movie is Japan vs. Godzilla, and he knows he can win. This Godzilla simply wants to be cruel, not cool.
My first reaction to the design was negative. Not overwhelmingly so, but to the point where I didn’t care much for it. I was a bit shocked as well compared to my expectations. Toho had been on a Heisei series splurge of late. They recently created a moving statue of the Godzilla from Godzilla vs. Mothra (1992) on the top of the Toho Cinemas Shinjuku theater. Meanwhile, the King of the Monsters in the Playstation 3 and Playstation 4 game Godzilla was also dedicated to this era. Going further back, we also have the toy line S.H. MonsterArts, which started with a 1990’s slant, and all the Heisei series films were also the first to hit Blu-ray in Japan over the other eras.
Heck, the first image surrounding the film, seen to the right, had a very Heisei vibe to it. So I was bracing for something that evoked that look, a fan favorite and mine as well. What we got was something totally unlike any Godzilla seen to date. As others here have touched on in this article, the look is horrific. The King of the Monsters never struck me as scary. His opponents, in particular Hedorah, terrified me as a kid, but Godzilla himself never caused that reaction.
Given that, it’s easy to see why they did not evoke a look similar to the 1990’s series run. That Godzilla looked bad ass, but scary is not a reaction anyone would have to it.
All that said… as things often do, my feelings toward it warmed as I looked at it more. While there are elements I still don’t like, in particular the incredibly small eye, I am more open to it. I have the luxury of reading the other staff’s thoughts before giving my own, and must say Nicholas Driscoll summed up the mutated angle way more succinctly than I could have hoped to.
While reactions here are mixed, none are negative and some quite positive. The unusual look is certainly getting people talking as well, which is helpful for any film versus a sentiment of indifference. So I would be willing to say Toho did right by the design even if most fans aren’t ecstatic toward it. If the company follows through on giving us a film suited for the look, the entry will certainly stand out in the franchise. At the very least it will prove a large counterpoint to the more heroic Godzilla seen in Legendary Pictures’ Godzilla(2014), which may or may not have been intentional on Toho’s part.
Thoughts of your own on the design? Weigh in yourself in the comments section for your reactions to the look of Godzilla 2016.