How ‘Godzilla Minus One’s Ending Sets the Stage for a Potential Sequel
Spoilers for Godzilla Minus One ahead!
Godzilla Minus One comes from Godzilla’s original creator and owner, Toho Studios. As a result, it is not part of the MonsterVerse or related to any of Legendary and Warner Bros.’ Godzilla films and TV shows. Additionally, although Toho has created dozens of Godzilla films, this one isn’t a direct prequel or sequel. It’s a standalone film that takes Godzilla back to its roots in postwar Japan.
Toho’s latest Godzilla story follows Kōichi Shikishima (Ryunosuke Kamiki), a former WWII kamikaze pilot who failed to complete his mission. His deviation from the plan led to him landing on Odo Island, where he was once more stricken with fear when a monster known as Godzilla shows up and decimates the island, leaving him as the only survivor besides mechanic Sōsaku Tachibana (Munetaka Aoki). Two years later, Kōichi has tried to pick up his life with his partner, Noriko Ōishi (Minami Hamabe), and their adopted daughter Akiko (Sae Nagatani), despite grappling with survivor’s guilt. However, when Godzilla is spotted approaching Japan, he seeks to redeem himself by saving his family and country.
How does Godzilla Minus One end?
Godzilla Minus One is quite an emotional film as it captures how Kōichi is wracked with guilt and the larger devastation, trauma, and anxiety of postwar Japan, which Godzilla further shatters. Kōichi’s story only gets more devastating when Noriko is among the thousands unaccounted for after Godzilla’s first attack on Tokyo. Though it retreats to the ocean, Japan fears Godzilla’s return, with its enhanced power and atomic breath due to being mutated from nuclear weapons. Not only does the United States refuse to help, but Japan’s own government is fearful of upsetting postwar tensions, thus refusing to use its military power. Fortunately, a few civilians step up to save the country.
Kenji Noda (Hidetaka Yoshioka), who previously served in Japan’s navy, leads the effort against Godzilla. He comes up with a unique plan to kill Godzilla using the ocean. The first plan is to force Godzilla so far underneath the ocean’s surface using Freon tanks that the pressure kills it. Meanwhile, if that isn’t enough to kill the monster, Kenji plans to use pressurized balloons to force Godzilla back toward the surface, thus killing it through explosive decompression. Of course, it wouldn’t be a monster film if the first or second plan was carried out without complication. Godzilla survives both the pressure and decompression attempts but is injured.
That’s when Kōichi enacts his final plan. He had his original kamikaze plane repaired by Sōsaku, deciding that, if all else failed, he would fly the plane into Godzilla’s mouth and detonate it, thus sacrificing himself to save Japan. Kōichi valiantly flies into Godzilla’s mouth, with his plane exploding and causing the monster to explode, too. It seems Kōichi is lost and has finally achieved his honorable death. However, his fellow civilians are shocked to find him alive. It turns out Sōsaku secretly included an ejection mechanism on Kōichi’s plane so that he didn’t have to sacrifice himself. Kōichi then reunites with Akiko and learns that Noriko is still alive, bringing the family back together again. So, it’s a happy ending … right?
Unfortunately, Noriko is suffering from radiation poisoning and may not survive. The scene is likely meant to demonstrate how, even after the initial loss from the atomic bomb, many more victims in Japan died from radiation poisoning, which the United States tried to hide because it didn’t want the world to know the widespread and devastating effects of the radiation from its bombs. Hence, it’s a sad but realistic ending for Noriko. However, the ending also teases something else. In the final scene, viewers see a piece of Godzilla’s flesh bubbling on the ocean floor, teasing that he may be able to regenerate from that one piece of flesh.
So far, there’s no confirmation that Godzilla Minus One is getting a sequel, but the ending makes it possible for the Titan to return. Noriko’s sickness illustrates that there’s a lot more that could be explored about postwar Japan and the impact of the Atomic Age.
(featured image: Toho International)
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