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Saturday, June 7, 2014

Godzilla: The Series (1999) animated series review





Overall verdict: 8.5/10

The Good: sleek and smooth animation, detailed monster designs, fun and frantic monster fights, well written dialogue, decent character development, does not shy away from darker stories.

The Bad: flat looking backgrounds, formulaic episodes, character designs take some getting used to, no definitive conclusion to the series.

3D Readiness: none
IMax-ability: none

******************************Review*****************************
Picking off moments from the end of the 1998 GODZILLA movie, Dr Nick Tatopolus discovers and befriends the last remaining baby Zilla. It imprints on Nick as his parent but is chased away when the military comes calling. Baby Zilla soon grows to full size and although he displays an undying loyalty to Nick, Nick can no longer hide it. While the army is hell bent on exterminating this beast, new monstrous behemoths start to emerge across the world, some the result of mutation, some ancient, others extraterrestrial. Teaming up with former co-scientists Elsie and Craven, along with mysterious French secret agent Monique, Nick forms the H.E.A.T team aiming to track down these giant creatures for scientific purposes before the military blows them apart. But not all these monsters are friendly, and that's where the now adult Godzilla comes in to take them down. 

Clearly inspired by the Showa era of heroic Godzilla movies, as well as the Hannah Barbara GODZILLA power hour cartoon, Godzilla the series ranks among the better animated shows based on movies. It is arguably better than the movie itself, returning a generic giant monster premise to its Japanese roots. Where most animated adaptations/continuations dumb down the story (see Robocop, Rambo, Star Wars Droids), this shows ups the ante in action, scale and enjoyment. 

The plots could be a tad formulaic: new threat shows itself, H.E.A.T team investigates, gets into trouble, Godzilla helps, monster attacks, fights Godzilla who may or may not be evenly matched, Godzilla ultimately wins thanks to its own cunning or human assistance. Thankfully, the execution is top notch. For a start, the characters are well written with snappy dialogue and good chemistry among the voice actors. There are hints of character development across the series. They start off one dimensional but as episodes go along, they change slowly, subtly adding depth to their personalities. For example, Nick outgrows his geeky personality into a confident action leader type by the second season.

On the production side, Godzilla the series looks quite good for a 1999 animated show. Animated by Korean studio DR Movie, this show displays a good balance of art detail and animation fluidity. Shadows are consistent, clothing show folds; only the backgrounds come across a little half baked. The backgrounds are flatly colored with the odd scene looking a tad unfinished. Though the character designs may also take some getting used to, coming across like Rugrats mixed with bad early 90s Japanese anime, the monster designs are marvelous. You can tell that most time and effort went into the monsters themselves. They are drawn with an insane level of expertise and animated very smoothly.

Fans agree that this series is what many wished the 1998 Godzilla remake delivered. It is not shy to delve into darker territory, such as the acclaimed "monster wars" 3 part saga, and manages to balance a coherent plot with some timely humor. (Poor N.I.G.E.L). Initially only selected episodes were released on DVD. But now, A complete series DVD set has been released to coincide with the 2014 GODZILLA movie from legendary studios. The late 90s and early 2000s was a new renaissance for American animation, with GODZILLA THE SERIES right there among the best.

*****************************Review End***************************

Entertainment: A
Story: B-
Characters: B+
Animation: A-
Art: B+
Music: B-
Voice work (English): A
Replay Value: A-
"Brains": C-

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