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Arts & Culture

Podcast Episode 95: Godzilla 101 — The Monster Is The Message

Poster art from the first Godzilla movie to come from Toho Studios in 12 years, "Shin Godzilla." Godzilla is the topic of discussion and the object of adoration on Cinema Junkie Podcast 95.
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Poster art from the first Godzilla movie to come from Toho Studios in 12 years, "Shin Godzilla." Godzilla is the topic of discussion and the object of adoration on Cinema Junkie Podcast 95.

New Toho Godzilla film reboots the 60-year-old franchise in clever ways

95: Godzilla 101 - The Monster Is The Message
Episode 95: Godzilla 101 - The Monster is the MessageGet schooled in Godzilla with professor Ramie Tateishi as we look at 60 years of Godzilla including the first Toho Studios Godzilla film in 12 years, "Shin Godzilla." Subscribe to the Cinema Junkie podcast on iTunes or your favorite podcatcher.Support the podcast at kpbs.org/feedthejunkie.

"Shin Godzilla" is the first Japanese film in 12 years to feature Toho's famous monster icon. On this podcast, I speak with professor Ramie Tateishi about the legacy of Big G and how this new film revisits the past and defines a potential new future.

The last time we saw Godzilla on the big screen was in 2004 celebrating his 50th anniversary with "Godzilla: Final Wars." But that film left some fans feeling disappointed. For the big guy's 60th anniversary in 2014, we got Gareth Edwards' American "Godzilla." And again, fans were left not fully satisfied. But this year, Toho Studios returns to its famous icon to let Godzilla stomp Tokyo yet again.

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"Shin Godzilla" may not be a perfect film but it reboots the franchise with a new creature design and some bold new ideas. At the helm is writer-director Hideaki Anno, who is probably best known for his work on the anime "Evangelion."

For "Shin Godzilla," Anno both pays tribute to the past and breaks intriguing new ground as Godzilla rises from Tokyo Bay to wreak havoc on Japan. The film begins with Godzilla in a sea slug-like form with adorable googly eyes, but he soon grows legs and sprouts arms and develops a whole new array of atomic weaponry. The film is both an action film and a "Dr. Strangelove"-like satire on government bureaucracy in the face of national disaster.

I speak with National University assistant professor Ramie Tateishi about the new film and about the history of this legendary monster. Tateishi, who is also the program director for the masters in film studies, is currently teaching a world cinema class focusing on Japan. In December, Godzilla will be the topic of discussion.

I play a few rounds of stump the professor where I play monster sounds and see if Tateishi can guess which kaiju they are from. And you can hear his Lounge Lizard take on the classic Godzilla theme.

Check out my review of "Shin Godzilla" as well as what Godzilla has to say about Japan.

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