This review is the second part of a trilogy. The first, Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters can
Rotten Tomatoes: N/R IMDb: 5.9
Godzilla: City on the Edge of Battle follows through right after the end of its predecessor, Planet of the Monsters. After defeating what was initially perceived to be Godzilla, the triumvirate of Humans, Exif, and Bilusaludo encounter the original Godzilla, the one that banished them from Earth thousands of years ago. In the ensuing carnage, Haruo and his troops are cut off from each other and the Aratrum
In the process, Haruo is rescued by a native woman, proving that humanity, or rather their successors, found a way to survive the harsh environment created by the planet of monsters. Armed with this knowledge, Haruo and his soldiers prepare once again to take on Godzilla and reclaim the home they lost
The sequel succeeds by building on the themes and agendas introduced in the first installment. Survival, and then retribution, are once again at the forefront. Three species must once again battle together to defeat Godzilla and reclaim Earth once and for all. In the first film, The original motivations of the Exif and Bilusaludo were hinted at, and here, they’re fleshed out a little more. While humanity just wants to return home, we explore the true desires of the other species. They aren’t as benevolent as originally portrayed, making it somewhat convoluted in figuring out the actual enemy. What happens if Godzilla is actually killed? Can three races coexist peacefully on Earth? This is complicated even further by the discovery of the human natives.
Godzilla as Background
The original Godzilla movie released in 1954 was renown for its societal underpinnings, utilizing the monster and the human population to draw critiques of war and weapons of mass destruction, Godzilla being the cautionary tale for nuclear weapons. Over time, commentators have gone further to posit that other monsters in the universe, Mothra and so on, represent dueling nations and their separate interests and agendas.
With City, we once again understand the destructive potential of Godzilla, but he (or she) isn’t presented as the ultimate threat. The film is more introspective, focusing on the danger inherent in ourselves and those we choose to ally with against the towering reptile. Much as nations nowadays may give each other the side eye, Humans, Exif, and Bilusaludo aren’t going to trust each other to hell and back. The local natives, remnants, or rather the evolution of humans on Godzila’s earth, are the innocent bystanders. The refugees of war who are most likely to have their lives upended by the power players. A similar analogy would be local tribes in the Amazon having their homes destroyed with encroaching deforestation. You get the point.
The Main Goal – Action
That being said, this anime installment doesn’t dwell on or energize these themes. They’re just mentioned in passing because the most crucial objective of City is some god damn fun. All the talking, politicking, and strategizing is meant to lead to some intensively planned and choreographed action. After spending close to one hour and ten minutes on this process, it begins.
Just like the preceding entry, City focuses on meticulously descriptive battles and fight strategies, all in the hopes of taking down Godzilla. The aerial combat sequences are the highlight, with Transformers-like robots taking to the skies for a deadly confrontation. Using static components on screen interlaced with fast-moving elements ramps up the pace and tension of the unfolding events. There is carnage to be witnessed. Whether that’s as a result of Godzilla or squabbling between the three races is for the viewer to see.
City on the Edge of Battle continues along similar lines to its predecessor. Both play out the theme of alien space exploration, with the lead characters rediscovering the unchartered territory that is Earth. With City, though, the touch of societal subtext is more evident when parsing between the lines, with each separate faction showcasing the difficulty of pursuing a common goal in the presence of fundamental differences. That’s how the world works, and City, in incorporating that within the film, maintains anime’s reputation as grownup material.
However, the expository dialogue and word salad of explanations, a feature of the predecessor as well, numbs us to the true weight of these adult themes. Intentionally or otherwise, they play second fiddle to the action sequences once again. If you happen to enjoy some lively animated action sequences of colossal magnitude, Godzilla: City on the Edge of Battle is a perfect weekend companion. If you expect to leave with a heavy heart, you’ll be disappointed.