Godzilla, Japan’s favorite monster, is back. A new Hollywood movie featuring the colossal beast will soon hit the theaters. But while many are excited to see the Western touch on the Asian favorite, some analysts in Japan think it’s high time they bid goodbye to the famous monster for what it represents.
Godzilla was originally a metaphor for nuclear weapons as the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki were still in the mind of the Japanese public when he first came out in 1954. According to Literature Professor Toshio Takahashi at the Waseda University, “Godzilla gains strength from nuclear power and he spews radiation everywhere.” And while the aquatic monster has always been part of Japanese culture, many believe that Godzilla appearing to Japan now, in light of the nuclear disaster in Fukushima three years ago, “he’d ultimately force people to ask hard questions” about the incident. The meltdown that rendered the Fukushima Daiichi power plant crippled continues to be a sensitive topic in Japan, which until now is uncertain on whether to continue nuclear energy or not. Even film makers who want to capture and re-enact the disaster maintain a vague setting with no mention of Fukushima lest they offend people or invite too much politics in their films.
The original monster from the sea was the product of a different generation. That was the time when Japan was battling the effects of atomic and hydrogen bomb testings by other nations. It “expressed fears about nuclear power,” said Takahashi. While other film critics equate Godzilla to radiation, latter releases of the film have toned down that idea probably due to numerous nuclear plant incidents happening in Japan that time. But even with this message, Takahashi said there is something to be learned in the movie, noting how it depicts “warning from nature about things mankind has done.” He added, ‘Godzilla shows us that we must return to our dark past and then accept it.”
[via Chicago Tribune]
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