Ever since his 1954 Japanese film debut, and then on movie theater screens in other countries beginning in the late 1950’s, Godzilla, or gojira, has enthralled his audiences on a global scale. The monster has likewise had a lasting impression on Japanese and non-Japanese consciousness throughout these past sixty years. However, with the release of the new 2014 “Godzilla”, the perspectives of the famous kaiju, and of the film itself already contrast interestingly between Japan and the United States.
Overall, the star of the movie has received excellent reviews from American audiences and online critics. “The scale, movements, attitude, sounds, and facial expressions of Godzilla are fantastically rendered on screen, and should leave viewers, young and old, in awe” said one online critic (Hammerle). A corresponding sentiment is expressed by a reviewer from USA Today, through which they state the “titular leviathan is a majestic beast indeed” (Puig). The size of Godzilla is likewise a major point of interest among critics. Said reviewer from USA Today as well as a critic from the Boston Globe convey that this version of the kaiju “towers over previous incarnations” (Puig).
Generally speaking, American perspectives of the monster himself have been quite positive. Although, some Japanese impressions of the new Godzilla have been communicated as less than flattering based off of what has been seen in the film’s trailer. Some have remarked about Godzilla’s being a matter of more than just height, but that of weight as well. According to a blog posted on “Kotaku” after the release of the film’s trailer, some Japanese audience members remarked such things as “did he get fat?”, “his neck looks like an American athlete’s”, and “he’s gone Supersize Me” (Nakamura). These comments display an intriguing contrast to the American perspective of “majestic” to say the least. However, Toho, (a Japanese distributor of the film), has conveyed that it is only a small minority of Japanese audiences who see the new Western interpretation of Godzilla as ‘fat’ in a seemingly negative light. Nonetheless, some Japanese audience members have simultaneously been thinking of this Godzilla as “pudgy and cute” (Schilling). Regardless of what one’s opinion is of the massive kaiju of “Godzilla” (2014), or which culture one has grown up in, the overarching consensus on this most recent Godzilla is much better than the 1998 American version.
Even though “Godzilla” (2014) has only been in American theaters since last Friday, it has received about four out of five starts, and roughly a 75% rating from “Rotten Tomatoes” and other popular online movie rating databases. So, it’s safe to say that the new film, and re-imagined Godzilla have been well-received in the USA. As it is the last place on Earth where the movie will be officially released, we will unfortunately not know what Japan thinks of the film until its Japanese release date of July 25. Will Japanese critical reviews end up seeing gojira in a way similar to that of Americans? Or, will he be seen as fat, pudgy, and or cute? We shall see. Regardless, Japanese consciousness will surely prove to be interesting in its interpretation of a Western rendering of this famous kaiju.