Four years ago yesterday, on a hot summer day in Tokyo, I was in Shinjuku waiting to see Shin Godzilla. That was a week I’ll never forget. It was a short trip en route to Indonesia for work. I didn’t know what to expect but based on the trailer and early leaks of the animatronic Shin Godzilla, I knew it was going to be different.
The week leading up to the opening day was such an exciting build up. Across Japan there were interviews and trailers on tv, events and exhibits at department stores and film locations, newspaper ads and articles, decal-covered airplanes and elevator doors, merchandise and magazines, look books and posters, collectibles, special foods at restaurants and convenient stores, statues and street banners, on display, and more. The marketing and promotions were amazing.
During that week, I made my rounds to meet my friends and to visit my favorite places and shops. I searched Kamakura for Shin Godzilla locations made famous by the trailers. I visited Toho Studios and the Godzilla Statue in Hibiya Square. And I went to Wonder Festival for the first time. The buzz about Shin Godzilla was everywhere.
When I exited the theater and asked what I thought, I said to my fellow Godzilla fans who were part of the G-Tour, “Wow!” Some had expressed disappointment. Others didn’t know what to say and needed to see it again. I found it to be the Godzilla I needed and that’s what I wanted. My first viewing was in the IMAX 4D theater. The seats were rigged for shaking, vibrating, and squirting steam. The gimmicks were annoying and after getting sprayed in the face I was over it. It was not appropriate for Shin Godzilla. I was immediately struck by the film’s tone and seriousness. I was waiting for the typical Godzilla appearance and that never happened. Shin Godzilla didn’t follow the old script but went in a new necessary direction by wrapping reality in fiction.