What’s it about? A young scientist and a pair of freelance programmers/inventors/paranormal investigators are brought together over a series of mysterious radio signals. There are theories that they may be related to UFOs, but they come from a guy who’s poured his life savings into building a giant robot, so he would say that. All parties shrug the strangeness off… until a monster descends from the sky and starts wreaking havoc.
Godzilla, the legendary cinematic kaiju, has stomped his way onto Netflix in a brand new incarnation co-produced by studios Bones and Orange. Or, well, the star of the show hasn’t stomped into view just yet, but the premiere is slick enough that I can only assume the big fella’s eventual entrance will be spectacular.
I’m not well-versed in the filmic history of Godzilla, so I’m coming to Godzilla Singular Point as a relative newbie. This means I’m viewing it with fresh eyes as a standalone piece of media. As well as the usual criteria we review by here at AniFem (treatment of female characters, presence of marginalised groups, fan service, etc.) I’m going to be judging Singular Point with a few key factors in mind:
1. Is it accessible to newcomers to the franchise?
2. How well does it set up its characters and story?
3. Is there a big monster, and is it really, really cool?
It doesn’t seem, at this stage, like prior knowledge of Godzilla and friends is required to get into this. Singular Point seems to be inviting us along to discover the power of kaiju at the same rate as the characters. The story kicks off with a good old-fashioned mystery, following odd-job freelancers Yun and Kato as they check out a possibly haunted hilltop house. Behind a bookcase door, they discover a custom-built radio playing a loop of an Indian pop song. Which is an odd thing to come across, even before it starts making the electricity short out.
Simultaneously, graduate student Mei is on her way to a lab facility on behalf of her mentor. They’re picking up the mysterious signal too, and the presence of the song on their radars has set off an alarm. What does it all mean? Mei calls Yun for help, since his company’s number was in the instructional manual left by her professor. This brings the two plotlines together, though both sides are just as baffled as the other. What does it all mean? And what does it have to do with the Pteranodon that swoops down and interrupts the summer festival?!
I know exactly enough about monster movies to know that an unlikeable cast of humans is one of the biggest elements that can sour the fun. While, obviously, I’m most excited to see The Big Lizard, I found the non-kaiju characters dynamic and interesting enough that I won’t mind spending more time with them.
Yun being a hodgepodge of programmer, inventor’s assistant, ghost investigator, and amateur detective, is played off in a way that’s quirky and intriguing without bogging him down in an “obnoxious genius” persona—at least for now. Kato makes a fun foil as the beefcake to balance out Yun’s brains. Their boss is mostly a caricature of a zany old man full of UFO conspiracy theories, but there’s still time for him to get more layers.
Mei seems compelling too: we know her motivations, her aspirations, and we feel for her when she’s thrust into a weird new workplace where she’s put in charge but is out of her depth. The animation lets her be cartoony and expressive and the camera doesn’t leer. Plus, she has what looks to be a dinosaur-shaped phone case, so she’s already the coolest anime girl I’ve ever seen. Where do I get one of those?
This premiere has the audacity to end on a monster-attack cliffhanger, so technically it does show us a giant creature even if it’s not G-Man himself (Studio Orange, most famous for Beastars and Land of the Lustrous, are handling the CGI, so if nothing else we can trust that the monsters are going to look very cool). And of course there’s the final sting when the audience gets a glimpse into the facility’s secret basement. Oh, what does it all mean? I’m compelled enough to watch a couple more episodes and see if I can find out.