full, embarrassing disclosure: it made me a little horny when the first film in this series described the earth’s entire ecosystem as having become “subservient” to godzilla. (and yes, of fucking course the recentish godzilla: king of the monsters trailer explicitly referring to humanity as godzilla’s “pet” did a number on me.) but godzilla: the planet eater goes a step even further by proposing that not only did the earth’s ecosystem become subservient to godzilla in the absence of a humanity that was so thoroughly defeated by him that they evacuated the planet altogether, but that in fact the entirety of human history and achievement was leading to the creation of godzilla. that all of our technological achievements were never really to serve our own ends. that we were creating the avatar of our own destruction.
there are several non-horny ways to read this, ofc. there’s the old, very well-circulated idea that godzilla is created by humanity’s hubris and punishes us for said hubris. while i think this interpretation is probably the one the vast majority of people are most familiar with because it’s so present in popular culture, it’s honestly usually way less general? and often tied to a lot of very specifically japanese history and identity? but there is certainly ample support for this reading in godzilla: the planet eater.
more specifically, though, it is extremely possible to read this as the idea that technology and “achievement” necessarily lead to calamity in the form of global climate change or the omnipresent threat of a nuclear apocalypse. even these are somewhat more general and vague than you usually get in a japanese godzilla movie. (although several of them have tackled global climate change, tbf.) honestly i think that’s more or less what planet eater was going for. on the other hand, it’s also very much the case that i’m not an expert on japanese history and culture (i took literally one class about japanese history), so it’s very possible there’s something more subtle & specific that i’m missing out on here.
another alternative reading that i’d really like to present that i absolutely do not think the filmmakers intended is that this film’s frequent assertion that godzilla was the inevitable product of the march of technological advancement, that the inevitable end of these advancements was our own destruction, could honestly very much be related to the way that technological advancement under capitalism which should theoretically make workers’ lives easier actually imperils us. again, i really don’t think that’s where they were going with this, but it’s a pretty easy parallel to draw.
anyway, i obviously prefer a more straightforward reading of the whole “earth being subservient to godzilla” thing. because it’s kinky af.
i’ve never been the biggest ghidorah fan (sacrilege, i know), but i genuinely liked what this film did with him. and i kinda loved the bit where metphies got all his followers to devote themselves to ghidorah. all the stuff about devotion and becoming something greater by serving something greater and having the opportunity to choose who one is devoted to gave me massive subby feels. i knew there was no way it was gonna happen, but considering all the rhetoric around Godzilla and ghidorah as godlike or just literally gods, i was really kinda holding out hope that the ultimate resolution would be haruo and some of the other humans worshiping Mothra and her kicking all the ass to save the day.
in point of fact, my girl got seriously shafted by this movie, as towards the very end it finally seemed like they were setting up a big hero moment for her but she just interrupted metphies’ and ghidorah’s attempt to brainwash haruo. my girl wasn’t even physically there, she just popped up in the vision and helped haruo snap out of it. sigh. (on top of that, there’s a post-credits scene where you can tell that the survivors are worshiping something and considering it’s just a post-credits scene, i was very foolishly like please let that be Mothra??? but… it was fucking haruo? like, what the actual fuck? he’s just a dude, guys. get over him.)
i felt like this was pretty easily the best of these three godzilla anime movies, but it could very much be the case that this is entirely owing to how much it catered to a lot of my predilections. i was still let down because the joygasm i had when the second movie teased mothra never really got paid off to any kind of satisfying degree, but oh well.
“godzilla is scary. tornadoes and lightning are scary too. but… hate? i don’t know.”