Title

Godzilla and Rodin's "The Gates of Hell"

Publication Date

Fall 2021

Description

“Shin Gojira” released five years after the devastating triple disaster of earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant of March 2011, is an unabashed metaphorical censuring of the Japanese government response to that disaster under Prime Minister Kan Naoto, as well as a warning of the dangers of continued reliance on nuclear power. In this respect, it diverges from the message of nuclear disarmament effected by its 1954 progenitor, “Gojira”, but it still hews true to Godzilla’s roots as the concretized fear of a particular historical moment with the atom at its heart. This new iteration of Japan’s favourite kaijū, however, offers a trenchant condemnation of Japan’s pursuit of energy autonomy by relying on nuclear power generation. An oblique evocation of Auguste Rodin’s “The Gates of Hell” at the end of the film and the tip of Godzilla’s tail drive this point home. Through the metaphor of the gate, Godzilla becomes a liminal marker of an alternative possibility. Ultimately, however, although Godzilla is positioned as both a destructive force and a source of hope—as was the atom—the current reality in Japan suggests that the safe path forward has already been closed to the Japanese population.

Journal

East Asian Journal of Popular Culture

Volume

7

Issue

2

First Page

271

Last Page

287

Department

East Asian Studies

DOI

https://doi.org/10.1386/eapc_00053_1

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