2022 is the first year that I have finally decided to knuckle down and get involved with a thing I’d been meaning to do for quite some time. Well, two things – one being doing a convention panel, the other being taking part in Anime Secret Santa. I’ve been a long-time listener of the Reverse Thieves Podcast, so I’d heard about it through them – and more recently it has shifted to being organized by the All Geeks Considered podcast, with Kate & Alan of the Reverse Thieves still taking part. So, when the call came out for participants (and which was repeated on the Reverse Thieves Discord), I tossed my hat into the ring as a participant. So, I was tremendously pleased to see a series that I’d been meaning to watch for quite some time was among the three series put before me – specifically, Godzilla Singular Point.
Godzilla Singular Point, like a lot of the stronger entries in the franchise, puts its focus on the ground level, generally on the scientists trying to understand and predict the behavior of the kaiju rampaging around them in the hopes of ultimately stopping the damage and ultimately saving lives. In this case, the focus lies on a graduate student with a double major in folklore and physics named Mei Kamino and Yun Arikawa – an engineer, computer scientist, and handyman working for the Otaki Factory.
The Otaki Factory probably makes for one of the key points of this anime – its discussion of the franchise’s past and future, which is also made thematically relevant within the work through the concept of singular points and concepts of quantum communication through time being part of the ultimate way that our protagonists deal with the Kaiju in this series. And, in this case, with one of the significant points of the story is a new iteration of Jet Jaguar.
I will admit when I saw some of the earlier trailers for the series, my honest first thought of this was “Huh, Jet Jaguar. The character from one of the Godzilla movies that went on MST3K was mocked with a particularly harsh ruthlessness for that show. That’s a bold move – let’s see how that works out for them.”
It turns out that it worked out exceptionally well – the series version of Jet Jaguar, starting as a smaller piloted mech before becoming more autonomous as the series goes on, ends up becoming particularly charming, particularly since the character has significantly more dialog and the creators feel like they put a lot of work into anthropomorphizing them. This is accompanied by a companion AI – Pelops-2 – who works alongside Mei on her parallel plot.
All of this also works well with how the series handles modern technology – Yun and Mei collaborate heavily throughout the series and build up a powerful friendship over long distances – completely through text and chat messages, and because of IM handles, neither knows who the other really is nor do they have any actual real extended direct meeting until the end of the story. However, because of how well their rapport is conveyed through this dialog, you completely miss that aspect of it, and with it any sense that either one is unaware of the other’s gender, until very late in the series. We just get that they have become not just close collaborators but also fire-forged friends (and depending on how shippy you want to be, attracted to each other) without ever having met face-to-face.
The various Kaiju in the series are also well – particularly how characters like Rodan are reimagined. Rodan in particular is changed from one pteranodon-esque monster to a large number of them, with a few other creatures like Angirus showing up in the course of the series, while also leaving some of the other more high-profile Godzilla foes (especially Ghidorah) off the table in the event they ever decide to do another series later.
This does lead to a bit of a headscratcher on my part – the series ends with a post-credits stinger that is definitely meant to be a sequel hook, but in a way that doesn’t quite feel earned – the idea that a force that was obnoxious, somewhat obstructive, and misguided, but also somewhat meaning well in an “If the world ends that’s bad because that’s where we keep our stuff” sort of way.
From a production side of things, the animation is very good – with a particularly strong mix of CG and 2D animation for the Kaiju and Kaiju-related monsters and constructs. Jet Jaguar generally stays a CG character, which I think works particularly well considering that they are an artificial creation. The voice acting is generally good, though the English dub has performances that feel a little more downplayed. In particular, Johnny Yong Bosch is cast as Yun, and he really feels like he’s underplaying the role a little more than the Japanese side. The Japanese actor, Shoya Ishige, has a sense of deadpan to his role that’s still kind of emotionally active, which he can let slip as needed when circumstances require it – I’d compare it to something along the lines of Richard Belzer’s work. Bosch (or the voice acting director, Megan Buchholz) keeps the lid a little more tightly on.
Still, I really enjoyed the show, and I really wish I’d gotten around to it sooner. I have one of the novels by the series writer Toh EnJoe on my shelf, and I think this show is what will push me into getting around to that novel in the coming year. Godzilla Singular Point hasn’t gotten a physical release yet, so it’s currently only available for streaming on Netflix.
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