Like a Mandala
Since the closing moments of Shin Godzilla there has not been a definitive explanation of the fifth form. But I believe there is one clue that may unlock its mystery. In a previous post, I wrote about the actor and director, Shinya Tsukamoto (塚本 晋也), who played the biologist Hazama Kunio, an Associate Professor of the Graduate School of Biosphere Science at National Seongbuk University (間邦夫 (はざまくにお), 国立城北大学大学院生物圏科学研究科准教授). Hazama makes provocative and insightful statements about the nature of Shin Godzilla throughout the film. While doing research on the Goro Maki’s analytical table, I was startled by Hazama’s description of Godzilla in his last words on screen. And I immediately thought this may be the key to understanding Shin Godzilla’s fifth form.
Hazama is always in deep thought and has eureka moments that prove pivotal to the plot’s development. It was Hazama who realized Shin Godzilla was a nuclear reactor with fins functioning as cooling system by releasing its blood. It was Hazama who in terror said, “So not only could it evolve to a smaller size, it could sprout wings capable of intercontinental flight.” And it was Hazama who remembered the red origami crane as the key to Prof Maki’s analytical table. He is always getting under Godzilla’s skin showing that there is more to be understood and more to come. His point of view is not merely scientific but also philosophical. He argues that Maki’s analytical table is not Godzilla’s molecular array. So what is it? I believe Hazama’s last words offer an important approach to explaining Shin Godzilla’s fifth form.
Rather than a chemical scheme
It’s an ideological pattern.
Rather it is close to a mandala.
I have to imagine the answer first.
It is said that it cannot be solved.
It is a paradoxical question.
Professor Makimoto is quite a strange person.
I do not even know the meaning of the simple lines.
Hazama sees in Shin Godzilla’s structure an ideological pattern rather than a chemical scheme. He compares it to a mandala (曼荼羅). This maybe the key to unlocking the significance of the fifth form. A mandala is “any of various ritualistic geometric designs symbolic of the universe, used in Hinduism and Buddhism as an aid to meditation” (thefreedictionary.com). Here is a more descriptive and insightful explanation of a mandala (emphasis added).
“At the core of Esoteric Buddhism is the idea that one can attain Buddhahood during a single lifetime. To achieve this goal, practitioners meditate upon cosmic diagrams known as mandalas in conjunction with performing hand gestures (mudras) and voicing sacred formulas (mantras). Due to their potency and complexity, initiates must perform these exercises with the guidance of a teacher.”
“At the center of each of the two principal mandalas of Japanese Esoteric Buddhism is the Buddha Dainichi Nyorai (Mahavairochana), the embodiment of universal truth. All of the other figures and forms in the mandalas are emanations that spring forth from the Buddha. Some of the emanations take the form of many-headed or armed beings, others of geometric shapes, and still others of objects such as swords or jewels. Each and every one—from the beautiful to the fearsome, from the figural to the abstract—is an aspect of the Buddha, an element of the truth.”
“Unique to Japanese Esoteric Buddhism is the weaving of gods and goddesses of the indigenous Shinto tradition into the conception of the cosmos of the Buddha Dainichi. Shinto deities associated with Esoteric Buddhist sites are often presented as avatars of Dainichi—manifestations within the Shinto universe of the truth existing in the Buddhist cosmos. In this way, the Buddhist deities depicted in mandalas are mapped onto distinctly Japanese geographical sacred spaces.” (Source: “Japanese Mandalas: Emanations and Avatars“)
There are intriguing connections between Shin Godzilla and Japanese mandala that suggest Shin Godzilla could be understood as a cosmic diagram, avatar, and deity. I believe this description is substantiated by the revelation of the fifth form and is consistent with the film’s theme and plot.
First, Shin Godzilla is like a cosmic diagram with geometric shapes revealing deep insights to those who contemplate it. (This is what I explained in a previous post in which I suggest Shin Godzilla is like the Kabbalistic Tree of Life, which functions as a mental filling system enabling thinkers to formulate ideas and to find simple expression for complex thoughts.) Hazama with his towel around his neck brings a deep intense, introspective, and philosophical perspective that is like that of a buddhist. I don’t think it is a stretch to imagine his words and gestures as mantras and mudras. His fixation upon the Maki’s mysterious analytical table is like that of a disciple meditating upon the mandalas to achieve Buddahood. It is in these moments that his insights are born. Each member of Yaguchi’s team brings his or her unique contribution and speciality. Consider the deep insights the team derived from gazing upon Shin Godzilla’s structure.
“This new Godzilla surpasses anything I imagined.” (Kayoko Patterson)
“Gamma rays match no known elements whatsoever. It’s incredible… Gojira is it? Its body harbors new elements.” (Tatsuya Negishi)
“Gojira’s the most evolved creature on the planet.” (Tatsuya Negishi)
“It’s not a molecular array.” (Hazama)
“Gojira has 8 times the genetic info of humans.” (Kazuaki Machida)
“Gojira’s the most evolved creature on the planet.” (Hiromi Ogashira)
“Capable of self-mutation.” (Hazama)
“That trumps human intelligence.” (Hazama)
“Gojira has something of a nuclear reactor in its body.” (Hazama)
“[T]his may be how Gojira plans to propagate. Rapid colonization all over the world.” (Ryu Yasuda)
“So not only could it evolve to a smaller size, it could sprout wings capable of intercontinental flight.” (Hazama)
“How do we know it hasn’t made itself immortal?” (Hazama)
“Man is more frightening than Gojira.” (Hiromi Ogashira)
“So Gojira is both a threat to mankind, but also poses a revelation of limitless potential.” (Rando Yaguchi)
Second, Shin Godzilla is like an avatar incarnating powerful and divine-like forces in an animal form with the power to create and to destroy. The humanoid creatures of Shin Godzilla’s fifth form are frightening and appear ready to fulfill Hazama’s prophecy that “it could sprout wings capable of intercontinental flight.” The humanoids seem to fit with the description of the fearsome figures and forms as “many-headed” and “armed beings” emanating and springing forth from the Buddha. What could they be? Could they be the result of the mixing of Prof Maki’s DNA with Godzilla evolving into a new human hybrid creature as Hazama feared. This may not be as farfetched, but maybe substantiated by the dropping of what appears to be a jaw on Shin Godzilla’s tail immediately following the scene of Rando Yaguchi asking, “What did he (Maki) do in the end?”
And third, Shin Godzilla’s fifth form understood through the idea of a mandala is consistent with the recurring theme that Shin Godzilla is a god. Crowds, gathered outside the Cabinet Office in Tokyo, shouted “Godzilla is God!” and “Save Godzilla!” The US representative Kayoko Patterson said, “Godzilla. Truly a god incarnate.” Yaguchi suggested that Shin Godzilla was a destructive God sent to test of mankind and Japan. Hazama’s notion of Godzilla as mandala does seems more accurate than speculative with the emergence of the humanoids in the end.
Shin Godzilla’s fifth form is still shrouded in mystery but Hazama helps us see more than what our eyes can see. His words invite us to see Godzilla as a vehicle for discovering deeper truths about the universe and humanity.