Have you watched Toho Animation’s Part Two of their Godzilla series yet? If you haven’t, two things:
1.) This review will be short, but still includes a few spoilers.
2.) No matter how abysmally repetitive I found this entry, watch it if you’re even remotely curious… But don’t hold us responsible if you feel like you’ve lost an hour and forty minutes of your life afterward… Because chances are you will.
The first chapter was full of unique world-building and offered a fresh, futuristic spin on the mythos with a lot of incredibly animated monster sequences, but chapter two? We’re sorry to say that City on the Edge of Battle doubles down on everything most found gaunt about the original whilst leaving anything of interest to die under the weight of repetitive, abysmally-tedious dialogue.
If you stayed for the post-credits scene after part one, you know Haruo, the hero of this trilogy, was found by an intriguing humanoid on this future Earth. All that we’ve learned since has led us to believe she is part of the surviving human population, and one of two twin sisters that would serve as a new iteration of the Shobijin. This is all true, sure, but is not at all the focus of this story. The focus is exactly what the title suggests: the City.
Mechagodzilla is not in this film. His discarded head is, though, and so is the nanometal he’s made of (for more on this watch the film, because it was boring enough to watch, let alone describe – genuinely). This is how the titular city spawns into being. Mechagodzilla is ancient in this timeline, and its corpse has constructed a city/refinery/empty command space to defeat Godzilla. Or hide from him in the mist it creates, actually, even though his purpose is to defeat Godzilla, not hide from him, and… also that’s how it wasn’t seen in the first chapter but… I can’t. Man alive, was this a chore to watch, let alone digest.
Aside from a few interesting philosophical questions raised by the differing but allied alien races and the death of a “main” character we barely know anything about, absolutely nothing happens in this film but the discovery of this Mechagodzilla City (yes, it is called that, which is fine), one action sequence featuring Godzilla 3/4’s of the run-time in, and then said death. All of the intricate world building and beautifully realized action of the first entry is completely absent, pushed aside so the same characters can either squabble or doubt themselves over… and over… and over again, without furthering the plot outside of this one battle, and this one city. And then it ends.
Bandai produced a full-body figure of Mechagodzilla and he’s featured as such in all marketing materials, but no such thing is to be found within, nor is Mothra, her egg, or larvae (even if the word egg is said two dozen times without, again, furthering the plot in any way).
I really hate to harp so badly on something after the first entry showed promise, but unfortunately City on the Edge of Battle does a lot more to hurt this series and franchise than it does to help.
Change is good when it is thoughtful and impactful, but everything about this anime could exist without the names Godzilla or Mechagodzilla. And if it did, it’d lose the only two things worth watching it for.
Jon D. B.