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

Class: User
Author: Godzillawolf
Score: (4.5/5)
February 14, 2010 [Review May Contain Spoilers]

After watching Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (2002), I had big hopes for Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S., and it didn't fail to disappoint. It's the only true sequel in the Millennium series, which vouches for the effectiveness of Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (2002). The plot is successfully executed; it's all quite exciting and there's almost never a dull moment throughout the entire movie. From the very first appearance of Mothra during the opening scenes to the final dramatic conclusion, this film is a great follow-up to its predecessor.

After the epic battle between Godzilla and Kiryu, Japan is left with both hope and dread, hope because they finally have a weapon that can turn back the King of the Monsters, and dread because the very same Saurian Tyrant still draws breath. As Kiryu is examined after a year of repairs, Godzilla awakens the very moment the machine's bio-computer is reactivated. Meanwhile a US base in Hawaii picks up a UFO soaring over the ocean toward Japan. The nation is alerted and they deploy jets to identify the object. Amidst a chorus of singing, Mothra emerges. Though shots are fired, Mothra is unharmed and escapes.

Meanwhile, Doctor Shinichi Chujo, who was among the first outsiders to witness Mothra forty-three years prior, is met at his house by the descendents of the original Shobijin. The new Shobijin explain that by constructing Kiryu from the bones of the original Godzilla, mankind has committed a terrible crime against nature. The bones must be returned to the sea, or Mothra will declare war on the human race to avenge this offense, something neither Mothra nor her fairies desire. If mankind concedes and returns the bones on their own, Mothra promises to protect Japan in the cyborg's place. However, Shinichi's nephew Yoshito, a Kiryu mechanic, doesn't trust that Mothra will defend Japan…

Back in Tokyo, it is revealed to the public that Kiryu suffered heavy damage during the battle of the previous year, rendering the Absolute Zero Cannon offline. While the Prime Minister is confident Kiryu can protect Japan, a reporter reveals that some believe the original Godzilla's bones actually attract the new Godzilla, ultimately rendering the cyborg a gross liability. Akane Yashiro, the pilot who led Kiryu to victory one year prior, leaves for America to train while a new crew takes over. She reveals to Yoshito that she feels as though Kiryu doesn't want to fight Godzilla again. His uncle, Shinichi, meets with the Prime Minister in an attempt to convince him to halt the project, but he refuses, admitting that Kiryu will be returned to the sea once more, but not before Godzilla's defeat.

On the shore of Japan, a dreadful warning to the ensuing chaos is discovered when the carcass of the giant sea turtle Kamoebas (Megalo matamata) washes ashore. A fatal neck wound leads the observers to come to only one conclusion, that this creature was slain by Godzilla. The Absolute Zero Cannon, Kiryu's ultimate weapon, is scrapped as an American submarine is brought to the depths by the Nuclear Leviathan (as time is now of the utter essence). Godzilla surfaces, and a Triple Hyper Maser takes the place of the Absolute Zero Cannon as Kiryu is prepared for battle. Realizing the military won't be able to stop Godzilla, Shinichi's grandson, Shun, heads to his school to summon Mothra by arranging his desks in the pattern of Mothra's insignia. As the three monsters clash in Tokyo, the fight for the world begins!

The characters are not quite as strong as those in the previous entry, but they still prove their central importance to the overall plot. Yoshito Chujo (Noboru Kaneko) is one of the main characters, who grows dynamically throughout the film. Despite working so closely with Kiryu and knowing the machine's internal workings like the back of his hand, he fails to realize that the machine has a sentience and will… and that what the cyborg really wants is to return to the eternal rest that its bones once experienced. Dr. Shinichi Chujo is reprised by the veteran actor who appeared in the original Mothra (1961), Hiroshi Koizumi. While he isn't as important as Yoshito, he plays a key role, acting as Mothra's emissary to mankind. However, his pleas appear to fall on deaf ears. Another return appearance is that of Prime Minister Hayato Igarashi (Akira Nakao reprising his role from the previous film), who once again shows the emotional tug of war his position in the film presents, this time measuring the justified ultimatum Mothra has issued against the all-too-real threat that Godzilla poses to Japan. Chihiro Otsuka and Masami Nagasawa take on the role of the Shobijin, giving a great presentation of the classic twin girls, not to mention pulling off the Mothra song in excellent fashion. While not extremely prominent, Akane Yashiro (Yumiko Shaku) reappears for several scenes. Though she only appears in a cameo (in contrast to her vast role in the previous movie), she first introduces Yoshito to the idea that Kiryu may have dreams of his own.

The music also helps carry the tone of this film. Mothra's classic theme receives a slightly more resonant update, and the mournful music that plays during the final scenes with Kiryu and Godzilla is a definite plus. Kiryu's heroic cue returns, along with Godzilla's deep, resounding accompaniment. Michiru Oshima continues to impress as she did in the previous film.

And what would be a kaiju film without the kaiju, of course? Mothra is quite possibly the best she's ever looked. Very lifelike, her legs move realistically and her wings are flexible and much more true-to-nature than her 1992 appearance. Like GMK (2001), Mothra forgoes her multitude of beam weapons from the ‘90s and sticks to a far more fitting weapon, her poisonous scales. Seen previously in the original Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964) (of an alternate timeline), this is her last-resort attack. To make things even more spectacular this time around, they explode on contact with Godzilla's atomic ray. As for the Monster King himself, Godzilla is presented in an even better way than he was the previous year. His movement is more fluid and lifelike, and his facial appearance has a more aggressive edge, with what appears to be a greater range of expression. In addition, Godzilla has a broader variety to his roars, showing much more emotion from a vocal perspective. Another difference is the scar on his chest, which (to my knowledge at least) is the only time we've ever seen a lasting scar on a Godzilla incarnation. Not only does it look really awesome, but it reveals to everyone very clearly that this is the same creature from one year earlier. Another nice touch, which was carried over from the previous film, is the fact that the characters actually take precautions to avoid exposure to Godzilla's radioactivity, something rarely touched on since the early Showa Godzilla films. Like before, Godzilla's atomic ray is wonderfully rendered (though fortunately, the filmmakers did not resort to a beam war). Kiryu is just an amazing suit, looking both mechanical and organic enough to really show off a certain fluidity lacking in its 1974 and 1993 counterparts. Kiryu's weapons, including the new ones like his shoulder missiles and the Triple Hyper Maser, are brought to life onscreen brilliantly. My personal favorite addition would have to be the drill, replacing the hand that was destroyed in the previous movie. Even though Kiryu doesn't show it often, his own soul and personality are once more deeply expressed here, especially in the concluding scenes. Last, but not least, the incredible Mothra Larvae should be mentioned, which are realized much better than any previous movie. They are fully lifelike, as well as capable of showing emotion with an eye glow of alternating hue. There are even homages to the original Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964), including a larva clinging to Godzilla tail (actually about the third time this has happened) and cocooning Godzilla in silk (the silk itself also proving to be a solid effect). While only featured in one scene, the corpse of Kamoebas (originally meant to be Anguirus, but thankfully switched out due to fear of fan outcry) was a wonderful, realistic prop. They even mentioned his original appearance from the somewhat obscure Space Amoeba (1970).

Overall, Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. surpasses its predecessor (except character-wise of course) and is one of my favorite films. If you're a Godzilla fan, you owe it to yourself to watch this film. However, I should note that it would probably be wise to first see Godzilla (1954) and Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (2002) in order to fully understand everything. As an interesting side note, the DNA scene at the end leaves the story open-ended, on the off-chance that Toho ever decides to return to this awesome timeline!