You’re a robot made by humans, but
Jet Jaguar, Jet Jaguar,
You did it, Jet Jaguar
Go, go to protect peace
We are all surprised at the courage you show
Godzilla and Jaguar punch, punch, punch
Don’t cry, let’s do our best!
What’s the Story?
Investigating strange going on in an abandoned mansion, Yun Arikawa and Haberu Katou find themselves on the path to solving a decades-old puzzle and possibly saving the world. Of course they’ll need help from the likes of young researcher, Mei Kamino, and a host of other characters, including their own pet robot, Jet Jaguar! While Mei travels the globe in search of answers, Yun, Haberu and Jet Jaguar are forced to contend with the numerous kaiju that are appearing across Japan, and soon the world. One kaiju in particular is the real problem though, according to myth he’s the God of Destruction and if one scientist’s peak into the future is any indication that’s exactly what he is. Godzilla is coming and he is the catastrophe that will end the world.
And so Kaiju-cember comes to a close with Godzilla Singular Point. At the time of writing this it’s the latest Godzilla anime project from Toho and what first caught my attention about this series was the trailer. I’ve mentioned before in this month that I’m fan of Showa era Godzilla so seeing Jet Jaguar after all these years really made my day (my VHS copy of Godzilla vs. Megalon is staring at me right now, calling out to be watched again). Throw is some quirky-looking anime characters and an animated Godzilla that actually looks like the Godzilla I know and love (even if the 3D animation isn’t the best) and my hopes were raised at last! So, did it manage it? Do I finally have a kaiju anime to gush about? Not exactly.
Don’t get me wrong, out of everything I’ve looked at this month this series is the closest I’ve gotten to finding something I can truly gush about, but there are still some serious issues here. Let’s start with the positives. Maybe I just want a kaiju series that appeals to my nostalgia, because all of my favourite moments in this show appeal directly to the long-term memory centres of my brain. Every time I heard a revamped classic theme or saw Jet Jaguar rolling into action against one of the smaller kaiju, I was suddenly a kid again staring up at my TV from the Living Room carpet. There’s nothing that’s a carbon copy of anything I remember from my childhood, they’re just old ideas presented in a new way and yet they still carry that weight of nostalgia. They’re also really fun action sequences and by far the times I was most engaged in what was happening, it’s classic monster movie stuff. Weak, frail humans struggling against the might of something primeval and almost entirely unstoppable, and yet still somehow making it through with their will and ingenuity. Also I want to applaud the choice of kaiju, avoiding any of the big names like Mothra or Ghidorah and instead going to lesser-used monsters like Anguirus and Kumonga.
Another area I have to praise this series for is the human characters. The non-kaiju characters are often the weakest part in a kaiju story for a lot of people, and yet they’re the characters we often spend the most amount of time with. We spend a lot of time with the humans in this series, some might say too much but I’ll come back to that in a minute, thankfully Singular Point makes the right choice of giving us interesting characters to follow. They may not be the most developed or depth-filled characters, but they’ve all got personality and foibles that make them at least fun to watch. Whether it’s Mei being a complete and utter klutz while at the same time always being the smartest person in the room, or Yun and Haberu’s overzealous geriatric boss, who’s an incredible engineer, I’d happily spend time with any of them.
That brings me to the negatives though and the first one is a dozy. This really should be called Jet Jaguar Singular Point, because the robot is the star of the show and the focus throughout. Godzilla does appear in the series, but we don’t really get a good look at him until about halfway through the series and even then he’s relegated to the background for the majority of this series’ runtime. Heck we don’t even get him in his final form until the last few episodes, and he’s little more than an obstacle that our human heroes and Jet Jaguar have to overcome. There’s no big showdown with him, every fight he has with other monsters and the military is over in a few minutes and the rest of the time he just stands there looking menacing. He’s the titular character for crying out loud, surely we can give him a bit more to do! Hopefully he’ll have a bigger roll in the second season that gets teased at the end.
There’s one last thing to talk about with this series and, honestly it’s this that put me off more than the series relegating Godzilla to a background character. I have no idea if the science presented in this series is in anyway accurate, if it is it’ll be some high-level quantum physics stuff, or if it’s just made up technobabble, either way it’s annoying. I typically don’t mind a series that wants to play around with some big ideas, in fact I encourage it, but you have to deliver it in the right way. Give me a good analogy or break the concept down into smaller ideas that I can wrap my head around. Don’t dumb it down, but present it in a way that doesn’t have my eyes glazing over and my brain switching off like a fuse has just blown. A good example of this is the scene on the plane with Mei, when she pierces a folded over rectangle of jelly with a toothpick to show how something interacting on a higher dimensional level can look to us. If more of the science was explained like this I’d have a lot more leeway for the series, but instead it chooses to give us these massive info-dumps, one after the other, all of which go over the top of my head and leave me disinterested for the majority of scenes, which I’m sure is not what the writers of this wanted.
In the end, Godzilla Singular Point is a mixed bag (much like everything else I’ve reviewed this month). There are some definite highlights, the characters, both human and not, are all interesting and fun to be around. There’s a great sense of nostalgia to seeing the likes of Jet Jaguar and some of the lesser-used kaiju getting their time in the spotlight for the first time in a long while, but there are negatives too. Godzilla, out title character, is little more than a background decoration. Throw in the overbearing amount of big science/sci-fi ideas that are either poorly exampled or thrown at you with such speed that they’ll quickly overwhelm you and you get a disappointing final product. I did enjoy it, but I probably won’t watch it again unless that teased sequel comes rolling around. Maybe then they can find the right balance between big ideas and kaiju action.
Chris Joynson, aka the Infallible Fish, is a writer, blogger and lover of animation living in Sheffield. The blog updates every Friday or you can follow me on Twitter @ChrisGJoynson.
That’s it for this year, my thanks to everyone who’s liked, commented or even just viewed one of my posts in 2021. Here’s to the New Year, I hope it’s better for all of us and I’ll see you then for more anime reviews!