In an epic reverse 60 years in the making, Godzilla is finding out just what it feels like when Japan picks on him.
Director Gareth Edwards’ franchise reboot may still be a few weeks away, but Japanese Godzilla fans are already reacting to the big guy’s newest incarnation, and according to them, Toho’s celebrated “King of the Monsters” may need to hit the gym.
As a wealth of promo photos and trailers flood the internet ahead of the film’s May 16 release date, Japanese fans took to Twitter, film forums, and chat rooms to voice their displeasure with Godzilla’s new, less-svelte look.
“He got fat in America on cola and pizza,” was the conclusion one upset fan came to, as social media was flooded with similar reactions. “Where’s his neck?”, “He’s so fat, I laughed.”, and “Whichever way you look at it, he’s an American fatty,” were just some of the criticisms fans lobbed at the new Godzilla, while another user simply stated “He’s gone and super-sized himself!” One fan went so far as to dub the new monster “Godzilla Deluxe”, a reference to cross-dressing Japanese TV celebrity Matsuko Deluxe.
Such visceral attitudes toward the new Godzilla could be a reflection of broader cultural perceptions of Americans by Japanese society at large. While the obesity rate in America is a staggering 36%, a paltry 4% of Japanese citizens are overweight, leading somewhat naturally to the belief that American waistlines – along with our take on Godzilla – are larger than normal.
Reactions from fans weren’t entirely negative however. Some were more forgiving of Godzilla’s new appearance, while others dismissed it outright and instead expressed their excitement for the upcoming film. Fumihiko Abe, a fan who says he’s seen every Godzilla film ever made, told AFP he was “taken aback” when he first saw the new design. Despite a perception that “It’s fat from the neck downwards and massive at the bottom,” he doesn’t think that’s an entirely bad thing.
“I can feel the mightiness of Godzilla from this new one. I’m interested in seeing how the heaviness is expressed in the new film.”
Although its too early to know if Godzilla’s new look will ultimately prove popular with fans, the 60 year old series shows no signs of slowing down, if excitement over the new film is any indication. First appearing on screens in Ishiro Honda’s 1954 classic Gojira, the iconic monster has gone on to star in over 30 films.
While the character has gone through periodic redesigns over the course of his lengthy career (most notably the much-maligned digital incarnation witnessed in 1998’s Godzilla, the last American entry in the series), none have ever been this big, quite literally. This new Godzilla is the tallest ever: towering at 100m, he’s nearly double the height of his original, rubber-suited incarnation.
Godzilla is in theaters May 16th