While I’d consider my media interests diverse, I must acknowledge they are almost entirely western. I don’t shy away from subtitles, but they’re usually attached to some arty french film or a late night scandi crime drama on SBS. It’s not that I’m completely uninterested in Asian media, it’s mostly that I just don’t know where to start. My previous experience of any Asian media is the anime K-On! (2009), which I’ve watched an embarrassing amount of times, and I only found it because it came on the ABC when nothing else was on television. Even with this as my experience, It’s almost impossible to have completely no knowledge of Godzilla (1954). In fact, one of my favourite films, Pacific Rim (2013), is heavily based on Godzilla.
Godzilla and Pacific Rim are in essence the same film. Both follow nearly exactly the same plot, and both focus on the human consequence of ~monsters~. Pacific Rim doesn’t shy away from it’s obvious Japanese roots, in fact one of the most prominent characters in the film is a Japanese woman.
In fact, the character of Mako Mori is probably one of the most noticeable differences between the two films. Mako is the only prominent woman in Pacific Rim, much in the same way Emiko. In fact they are in almost identical positions between their father and the hero figure of the film. The major difference however, is the agency given to each character. Emiko does nothing to advance the plot apart from convey information between characters, while in Pacific Rim, Mako is one the most important characters in the whole film, progressing the plot and having an important role to play. Where Emiko is the go-between character in Godzilla, Mako is the linchpin that ties the entire story together. I don’t particularly see these two characters as being reflective of Japanese culture, but rather reflections of the treatment of female characters across all film, especially taking into consideration that the two film were released nearly 60 years apart.
Another major difference between the two film, that probably is more cultural, is the difference in kaiju. Godzilla is a creature created from nuclear experimentation. He reflects the fears of the Japanese people in 1954, less than ten years after the nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Pacific Rim’s kaiju however are not created by humans, but rather are aliens come to invade the Earth. While Godzilla reflects a fear of nuclear weaponry, Pacific Rim instead reflects a need for international cooperation coming into an uncertain future.
(I’ve already gone over the word count but I just wanted to talk about the fact that the upcoming Pacific Rim sequel filmed close to where I live and I was out of the country. Twenty years and I don’t go overseas but as soon as I do John Boyega is fifteen minutes from where I live.)