Wow. It’s almost as if the makers of Godzilla: Singular point read the minds of every person who was pissed by the lack of rampant, Kaiju action in the Netflix Godzilla trilogy and decided to fast track some monster mania, stat. I’m being sarcastic of course as mind reading capabilities are utterly unnecessary thanks to the deafening scream of the internet, but even a fool would realise that to not take advantage of Toho’s sizable Kaiju community as soon as possible would be a mistake as huge as one of Godzilla’s morning turds. So it’s with great relief that I settled down to watch the second episode of Netflix’s anime series and was instantly presented with a smackdown betwixt a heavily redesigned Rodan and the gawky figure of cult favourite robot Jet Jaguar, a character that hasn’t seen any major action since 1973! But was it worth it?
As Haberu and Mei converse about various theories about the rules of mythical creatures, Yun and Gorõ have to contend with a pterodactyl-like creature named Rodan who has rudely decided to crash a town festival. Luckily, the reason two members of the Otaki Factory is to show off Gorõ’s passion project, a gaudily coloured mecha by the name of Jet Jaguar and while the young Yun strives to save kids from the Kaiju’s snapping beak, the old man excitedly hops into his creation in order to whup some ass.
After a brief scrap that sees Jaguar lose an arm and Gorõ lose consciousness, Yun manages to reboot the robot that manages to ward Rodan off – however, not long after taking flight, the fierce flapper suddenly plummets back to earth, dead as a dodo.
In the aftermath, our characters start trying to figure out what in earth was going on. Yun realizes that Rodan’s roar generated strange radio waves that match that mysterious signal they’d discovered an episode ago, while Mei brainstorms with high pitched A.I. Pelops II, who posts her notes on extra dimensional lifeforms in order to get her an audience with Professor Li. However, the most alarming theories comes from Gorõ who believes an ancient prophecy that suggests Rodan’s appearance and the discovery of other, equally dead Rodans, is only the start of more such attacks, with an old painting depicting a huge, spined monster rising from the sea.
Further highlighting this point, fishermen stare in awe as dozens of Rodans rise from an inexplicably crimson ocean and head towards land.
Anyone who’s read any of the multiple Godzilla titles from comic company IDW will know that the most satisfying aspect of playing in the Toho sandbox is that you can mix and match the various creatures as they get bashed together like a kid playing with action figures. Thus the second the episode starts with a showdown between the Otaki Factory’s Jet Jaguar and a marauding Rodan and while both characters are far smaller than we’re used to, it’s still a fun, highly energetic brawl that’s vibrantly colourful and beautifully animated. In fact, here seems to be a good place to mention that the Kaiju redesigns are the work of former Studio Gibli animator Eiji Yamamori and while Rodan’s radical new facelift takes a little getting used to for an old G-fan like myself, I have to admit, the clunky look of Jet Jaguar is a cool reimagining for an original design that reached cult proportions thanks to being really freakin’ silly.
However, outside of the rock ’em, sock ’em robot fighting a flying lizard, we find Singular Point falling into the same trap that’s blighted many a Kaiju project – uninteresting humans. While I totally understand the Singular Point is taking a more experimentally scientific look at the world of city stomping monsters with its cast of super-smart youngsters, you feel that the theory-heavy dialogue is overwhelming the characters somewhat, leaving them feeling stilted and unrelatable as they whitter on. Because of this, almost all the characters are noticably lacking any warmth or depth and instead are just walking exposition dumps, dropping a ton of complicated jibber jabber at a moment’s notice even if it has nothing to do with the overall plot. If our core trio of Haberu, Yun and Mai come across as walking ot ciphers, the supporting cast fate slightly better – but even then, Satõ’s conspiracy speak and Gorõ’s ranting just swap out science-talk for their own particular brand of rambling. Even a new character, Otaki Factory’s goth employee, Satomi Otaki, merely pops up to further elaborate on Gorõ’s belief in a monster-laden prophecy.
I understand that the running time is tight and chances for exposition will be rare once the monster cast rapidly expands, but I’d still rather the characters sound more like average smart people than Stephen Hawking on a snort of cocaine.
Thankfully, the visuals are far more relatable and warm thanks to animation studios Bones and Orange, who keeps things bright and clear and who even throw in the odd easter egg, such as a reference to The Beast From 20,000 Fathoms flashing up on Mai’s computer screen while Pelops II unleashes – you guessed it – yet more exposition on us.
However, after two solid episodes, I’d already rank the anime show over of anime trilogy any say of the week. Let’s just hope the characters eventually become as well-formed as the action.