No Banana Oil Here

Godzilla Raids Again’s opening act captures a snapshot of post-war Japan. Rather than Godzilla representing an actual nuclear force, Godzilla Raids Again positions the beast as a looming inevitability, this while Japan’s economy and its people’s live settle into normalcy.

In the key scene, Tsukioka (Hiroshi Koizumi) dances with Hidemi (Setsuko Wakayama) at a night club. It’s somber. Everyone knows another Godzilla exists at this point of Godzilla Raids Again. The look on Tsukioka and Hidemi’s faces is not joyful; it’s anxiety and worry, drawn from what is, potentially, the last moment of peace they’ll share. It’s not the monster battle that makes Godzilla Raids Again work. It’s performances like this.

Waiting, whether for another war, another bomb, or another Godzilla, weighs on these characters. Godzilla Raids Again looks at a slice of Japanese life, not long after the US occupation ended in 1952. A fishing company employs Tsukioka (a pilot spotter), the owner bringing decidedly western capitalist ideals to his business. He’s worried more for Godzilla’s attack on his storage than Osaka as a whole. The hope is anyone but them, with no certain way to know.

Hiroshima’s impact affected Godzilla Raids Again’s average citizens

Godzilla attacks Osaka, of course. This time, destruction is shared with Anguirus, a spike-backed dinosaur. In their fight, Japan again sees ruin. From a distance, Hidemi looks on at the city across a bay. She only sees smoke, formed into a vague mushroom cloud. It’s disheartening. Godzilla Raids Again rushes through its disaster and characters, yet these bleak moments endear to a whole rather than a singular cluster of characters.

Following the monster duel, the camera pans an expertly crafted miniature Osaka in utter ruin. Characters look out at the rubble, metal barriers in front of them bent from heat. Inside, office remains exhibit visible charring. Employees busy themselves shuffling stray papers, looking for value in anything. That’s the wartime cycle – dealing with destruction, a fragile society, and finding the means to move forward.

Although smaller in stature, sloppier, and less impressive than its predecessor (Godzilla Raids Again’s turnaround was a mere six months), the morose feeling is intact. Masaru Sato’s score uses gloomy, dread-laced violins during monster scenes to counteract a jovial tone earlier. Key beats maintain a sorrowful feeling of loss, and Godzilla’s rage is aimed less at an entire country than a community. But that works, because Hiroshima/Nagasaki’s impact affected Godzilla Raids Again’s average citizens much as it did the scientists wrestling morality in Godzilla. There’s an intelligently composed hopelessness to this film, no doubt how many Japanese citizens saw their lives after devastation.

Video

Sadly, the source obtained by Criterion for this release appears to match Classic Media’s DVD. That means a multi-generational release print, flooded with damage and middling resolution. To note this is not Criterion’s fault, but Toho’s who did not license the use of new scans (or so the story goes).

What’s here then lacks any film-like firmness. Grain runs thick, low resolution factoring in. A marginal uptick in sharpness will reveal the occasional wire holding miniature planes where none were visible prior. Likewise, small flourishes on the redesigned Godzilla suit jump out, if not with any dazzling results.

Gate weave and flicker impact numerous scenes. Gray scale squanders any chance at depth. Godzilla Raids Again produces mid-range contrast, avoiding pure white and never drawing on heavy black. This does partly fit the aesthetic that uses a dreary overcast. Still, at night, the preponderance of gray cannot be ignored. Criterion succeed when remastering Godzilla, achieving a new tier of dimension. Sadly, it does not appear they were given that chance here.

Note: Godzilla Raids Again shares a disc with the American cut of King Kong vs Godzilla. No notable compression issues appear as a result.

Audio

DTS-HD mono is used for nearly every film in Criterion’s Show Era Collection Blu-ray set. Given the source, akin to the video, work is left to be done. Pinched highs lose the score’s vibrancy during the opening credits, and anytime that track reappears later. Lows wobble, needing tightness and stability.

Dialog fares better, clean enough minus static or other quality inhibitor. Amid the action, there’s no dialog loss and all sound effects survive.

Note this disc is Japanese only. The famously mangled US release is not included, nor is a dub.

Extras

Nothing, which is a shame since Classic Media’s DVD release offered a commentary. However, an eighth disc in the package holds a number of bonus features, if nothing specific to Godzilla Raids Again.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

Godzilla Raids Again
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
4

Movie

Although rushed through production, Godzilla Raids Again captured the small scale reality of post-war Japan and how average citizens dealt with destruction.

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User Review
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