'Godzilla: Singular Point' Is A Striking Anime Love Letter To Kaiju Movies

(Welcome to Ani-time Ani-where, a regular column dedicated to helping the uninitiated understand and appreciate the world of anime.)

As great as the recent MonsterVerse movies can get, they also have a fundamental flaw: human characters that are difficult to like to relate to, and don't contribute much to the movies at large. The other problem is that they have humanized Godzilla to the point where it is more of a superhero than a monster.

Luckily, Godzilla: Singular Point fixes that by taking a few pages out of Hideaki Anno's masterful Shin Godzilla as well as Toho's nearly 70-year-old kaiju tradition. The result delvers a true monster mash where Godzilla is finally allowed to be genuinely scary, and where the humans truly drive the action in a meaningful way.

The show takes place in the year 2030, where a group of engineers and other scientists discover a mysterious musical broadcast going around the city of Nigashio that heralds the arrival of a substance called "Red Dust," which starts drawing in terrifying monsters all over the planet.

From there, the story becomes a scientific race against the multiversal clock, as a graduate student and a programmer follow different paths to try and fight the incoming monsters while also trying to uncover the mystery of the incoming catastrophe that could destroy the universe itself. Honestly, the plot is kind of hard to explain, but just know that Singular Point is an engaging, binge-able story that gives us the Godzilla/Scooby-Doo mystery crossover we didn't know we needed, as well as some of the best kaiju action in a long time.

What Makes It Great

The first thing to know about this show is that it looks absolutely stunning. The show jumped to the top of many anime fans' anticipated list due to the talent involved: a collaboration between Studio BONES (Fullmetal Alchemist, My Hero Academia, Caroly & Tuesday) and Studio Orange (Beastars). The show is a near-perfect blend of 3DCG and 2D animation which uses the former to bring the giant kaiju (and Jet Jaguar) to menacing life, which results in the monstrous creatures feeling fittingly otherworldly in a world of 2D humans. Like with Beastars, the 3D movements and action scenes in Singular Point are dynamic and fluid, while offering intricate movements and camerawork that couldn't be replicated even in live-action.

But the action scenes work because the designs of the kaiju already sell them as formidable forces of nature. The titular king of monsters takes a changing form reminiscent of Anno's Shin Godzilla, starting as a giant fish-like creature before taking amphibian features and ultimately becoming the huge monster we know. And unlike the American live-action counterpart, this Godzilla is not an anthropomorphic beast with human-like qualities, but something completely beyond our world and beyond any empathy for the humans it stomps or the buildings it melts with its atomic breath. This is Godzilla back again as a divine punishment for mankind's sins, and the sight of the new atomic breath, accompanied by the new arrangement for Godzilla's theme (complete with an ominous choir), elevates everything to biblical proportions.

Of course, just because Godzilla doesn't show up until the last handful of episodes doesn't mean Singular Point is devoid of kaiju. On the contrary, the show's strength lies in it celebrating the entire history of Toho's kaiju movies, with updated takes on classic and lesser known enemies appearing first in order to give the entire kaiju catalog a moment in the spotlight. Whether you're a fan of Rodan or Anguirus, or even Kumonga, Salunga, and Kamanga, the show is filled with references, cameos, and easter eggs to the many, many, many monsters Godzilla fought with and against, including humanity's hero, the one and only Jet Jaguar — who gets a stunning makeover by the series' end.

What It Adds to the Conversation

Like Shin Godzilla, this anime is less about the military fighting with or against Godzilla, and more about the people trying to investigate why Godzilla is here and how to stop it. Both a homage to the classic nonsensical science jargon of Godzilla movies of old and also its logical evolution, Singular Point is written by Toh Enjoe, who actually has a Ph. D. in mathematical physics as well as a career in computer software. Enjoe's script is full of science-talk that is sure to make this a very divisive show not just for Godzilla fans, but anime nerds more interested in action than in a TED Talk about theoretical physics and quantum computing. Still, the way the show focuses on trying to find a scientific explanation for the arrival of giant monsters is commendable, and the combination of theoretical mathematics with philosophy and even art and literature with the kaiju plot makes for an intriguing mystery that feels novel for the nearly 70-year-old franchise.

Of course, the science talk, as well as the central mystery, works because of the characters. Though they can at times seem a bit distant, the characters are ultimately likable and relatable. This is particularly true of Mei, one of the two main protagonists and one of the best portrayals of women in STEM in modern media. She is overly enthusiastic and inquisitive, using science to solve the mystery of the kaiju as well as predict their actions. Rather than characters that feel like mice running around and occasionally doing something that may help the giant protagonists like in the MonsterVerse movies, the human characters in Singular Point carry the story on their shoulders.

Another thing the show does very well is play with the passage of time to allow us a look at how the world would actually react to kaiju — mostly by merchandizing the s*** out of them. As soon as flocks of Rodan start appearing, they become the world's hottest new commodity.

Why Non-Anime Fans Should Check It Out

Godzilla: Singular Point understands that, at the root of it, Godzilla is meant to be a cautionary tale of what happens when humanity messes with nature and nature messes back. Though the show's focus on scientific talk can take some time getting used to, it more than makes up for it with likable human characters, an intriguing mystery, and fantastic kaiju action featuring lesser-known but still formidable kaiju from Toho's catalog. And this is before the Big G shows up with one of the best uses of the atomic breath ever. If you were at all disillusioned with the recent MonsterVerse movies, give this anime a shot.

Watch This If You Like: Steins;Gate, Shin Godzilla, Neon Genesis Evangelion.


Godzilla: Singular Point is streaming on Netflix.