In the last days of World War II, kamikaze pilot Koichi Shikishima (Ryunosuke Kamiki) lands on Odo Island, seeking repairs for his plane. After a full inspection, Tachibana (Munetaka Aoki), the head mechanic, figures out Shikishima landed on Odo Island to avoid fulfilling his duties as a kamikaze pilot. That same evening, Godzilla goes on a rampage against the military encampment on Odo. When Shikishima fails to pull the trigger on Godzilla, the crew is decimated, leaving only him and Tachibana alive. Shikishima is riddled with survivor’s guilt when he returns to his bombed-out family home in Tokyo, only to learn his parents passed during the bombings.
When his neighbour, Sumiko (Sakura Ando), sees he’s alive, she berates him as a coward. While adjusting to his new life in post-war Japan, he unwittingly takes in Noriko (Minami Hamabe) and a baby, Akiko (Sae Nagatani). Life goes on, and Shikishima ends up finding a high-paying job on a minesweeping boat, where he meets Akitsu (Kuranosuke Sasaki), Noda (Hidetaka Yoshioka), and Mizushima (Yuki Yamada). Everything seems to have calmed down, but then Godzilla shows up again. Godzilla rampages through large ships and makes landfall in Ginza, showing off his newfound weapon. Noriko passes in the attack, leaving Shikishima devastated. Since Japan is demilitarized, and the US cannot assist with the Godzilla issue, civilians, most of them war veterans, gather and plan to defend Japan.
I haven’t been impressed with Warner Brother’s recent Godzilla and Friends films, so I groaned internally when I saw another Godzilla film. But that changed when I saw Godzilla Minus One, a Toho-produced period piece. This film is free from the burden of the extended WB universe and the Monarch silliness and was refreshing.
For the first time in years, I didn’t want Godzilla to curb-stomp the main characters; I wanted them to triumph over him. It was nice, for a change, that humans didn’t deserve to be wiped off the face of the Earth. There was enough backstory for the characters to root for them but not too much to slow the plot. The cast for this film was great. Ryunosuke Kamiki as Shikishima was fantastic; he made the pain and mental anguish palpable. This 125-minute film didn’t feel like it was over two hours because it was well-paced, and the cast held your attention.
Another thing I thought was very well done was the handling of post-World War II Japan. That period can be a little awkward, and I wasn’t sure how it would shake out. But, the film managed to handle it with care, and it was one of the things I liked about it.
Now that I’ve seen this film twice, in both 4DX and regular format, it’s one of the year’s best action films. I loved this film, and I’ll see it a third time if they re-release it in black and white next month. I would not wait until it premieres on streaming; the film deserves to be seen on a big screen. Films like Godzilla Minus One are why I will keep seeing films in theatres.
Where to Watch
I’m a Data Analyst, from the land of Matthew McConaughey. I’m an avid movie-goer and love seeing films in theaters. My most recent favorite films are Good Time, Only Lovers Left Alive, TENET, and England is Mine. When I’m not at the movies, I’m either reading or watching obscene amount of true crime and historical documentaries.