There’s just one place in Tokyo this mascot of mayhem always seems to spare.
Over the last six decades, Godzilla has destroyed Tokyo dozens of times, and while his career has seen many exhilarating highs (remember that time he fought a giant space moth?!) and lows (ill-advised American remake with Ferris Bueller, mediocre American remake with Walter White, those times he had an annoying son, the franchise’s ‘Scrappy-Doo’ moment), one thing has remained consistent since his first cinematic outing in 1954. So far, the iconic monster has shown no interest in destroying the Imperial Palace in Tokyo.
The aptly-titled Shin Godzilla (US title Godzilla Resurgence, this being Toho’s first new Godzilla release since 2004) largely stays true to the character’s legacy of destructive behavior despite some differences with past films in the series. The new movie is getting considerable buzz for its relatively realistic, “disaster-film” approach to the time-worn monster-movie formula.
Many viewers seem to be enjoying this refreshing take on the typical Godzilla story, which is directed by two of the men responsible for the classic anime, Neon Genesis Evangelion. Some reviewers have remarked that the film marks a departure in style and tone from other, sillier entries in the series, with its political intrigue and timely references to the ongoing threat of nuclear disaster facing Japan since the Fukushima catastrophe in 2011.
Yet, despite early praise for the film’s attention to detail and realism, other viewers seem baffled by one of the series’ enduring mysteries. Some viewers, apparently unwilling to watch a film about an 100-plus meter atomic lizard without pointing out its numerous departures from reality, have observed that the beast always seems to spare the Imperial Palace in Tokyo while destroying nearly everything around it.
▼ And a whole lot more that’s not directly around it too!
Time and time again, the destructive yet strangely beloved monster is shown smashing other well-known landmarks in Tokyo, well-within the vicinity of the Palace. On a number of occasions, he’s managed to topple Tokyo Tower, the Japanese Diet Building (essentially the legislative building of the country’s government), and more, sometimes by himself, other times by accident. And yet the palace alone appears immune to his scaly wrath.
▼ A ‘Mothra’ eye’s view of the Imperial Palace in Tokyo and its surroundings
It seems particularly unrealistic that his atomic beams always seem to miss the Imperial Palace, since it lies in the very center of the city, and right beside his normal path of destruction in the films. Nevertheless, in a country where the Emperor remains a widely venerated figure, it seems more likely than not that this apparent oversight is simply a gesture of respect.
As long as we’re being honest with ourselves, this isn’t the only one of the many factual omissions the series has committed over the years. I mean, none of the movies I know of in this series ever care to show how Japan would emerge from the massive financial and social ruin of repeated, catastrophic reptile attacks (to say nothing of Ghidorah and his ilk). But who are we kidding — realistic or not, we love ya’, buddy!
The new film, which Funimation will distribute for its theatrical release in North America, premiered in Japanese theaters on July 29.