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What are we to Godzilla?

7.13.2021

While browsing twitter, I was struck and halted in place by a tweet by 海軍大臣 @25XMoYHgFLvjqBN. He posted a quote from an essay by Kyosuke Saki (柾木恭介): 「人間が見たゴジラではなくて、ゴジラが見た人間こそ描かれるべきものだ。」roughly translated “It is not Godzilla seen by humans, but humans as seen by Godzilla should be drawn.” I was reminded that this is really what Godzilla is all about. Godzilla is a critique of humanity. As Godzilla fans, we are predominantly preoccupied with our favorite Godzilla incarnations, suits and movies. But from the beginning, Godzilla was a picture of humanity in our failures, wrongdoings and ugliness.

人間が見たゴジラではなくて、ゴジラが見た人間こそ描かれるべきものだ。ゴジラは凶暴無残であるにしてみ、ゴジラにとっては人間はそれ以上に悪がしこく残虐である。ゴジラの出現は人間にとって悲劇であったかもしれぬが、ゴジラにとっては人間の棲息地に入りこんだのは悲劇?であった。要するに全体として、ゴジラの悲劇的運命?に無点をあてたSF映画、ゴジラの眼をとおした人間たちのドキュメンタリー。そこに描かれる人間は正視に耐えないかもしれない。同じように、宇宙人の側から見た人間ドキュメンタリー

It is not Godzilla seen by humans, but humans as seen by Godzilla should be drawn. Godzilla is ferocious and brutal, and for Godzilla, humans are even more evil and cruel. The appearance of Godzilla may have been a tragedy for humans, but for Godzilla wasn’t it a tragedy to enter the human habitat? In short, as a whole, a science fiction movie that highlights Godzilla’s tragic fate [or] a documentary of humans through Godzilla’s eyes. The humans depicted there may not be able to stand upright. Similarly, it would be a human documentary seen from the alien side.

Source: キネマ旬報 1961年 6月下旬号 第287号 通巻1102号 (KINEJUN, late June 1961, No. 287, Vol. 1102) (?)

Saki-san challenges us to see the human beings that Godzilla sees, to see the world through his eyes. And what Godzilla sees is not be a pretty picture. Godzilla see monsters that don’t stand on two legs. He sees atomic bombs, weapons of war. Godzilla represents the victims of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the Lucky Dragon No. 5. It was indeed a tragedy for Godzilla to stumble upon humans.

As the late great Toho director Ishiro Honda said, “Monsters are tragic beings. They’re born too tall, too strong, too heavy. They’re not evil by choice. That is their tragedy.” We project upon Godzilla our fears and sins. Godzilla is our scapegoat. Godzilla is our victim who returns “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” (Exodus 21:24). When will we ever learn.