Godzilla Singular Point has stomped its way onto Netflix with all the fury of a thousand nuclear breath attacks, paving the way for an adventure of titanic proportions. But did that adventure live up to our Jet Jaguar-filled expectations, or was the King of the Monsters about ready to abdicate? Here’s what we loved, and what we didn’t.
Godzilla may be in Singular Point’s title, but the hero of the show is, without a doubt, Otaki Factory’s trusty anti-kaiju mecha (turned sentient, giant-sized super robot by the climax), Jet Jaguar. From its clunky origins to its heroic sacrifice, Jet Jaguar — thanks to an upgrade from Yun’s experimental AI midway through the season — goes on a journey of self-discovery and actualization that’s just as fleshed out and fascinating as any of the human characters in the show. You love to root for it, you feel stressed out when it takes a beating, and cheer when it finally becomes the key to saving the day in the climax. Jet Jaguar is a legend, and don’t you forget it.
That It Was a Love Letter to Kaiju, Not Just Godzilla
Some fans might be disappointed at just how little Godzilla is actually in Singular Point. The titular beast only really makes himself known around the midway point of the 13-episode season, and even then, much of that presence is lurking in the background of the devastated Tokyo until its final episodes, rather than Godzilla really acting as the driving force of the narrative.
That’s not to say the Big G doesn’t get his due — the show’s deployment of his iconic theme as Godzilla utterly, hauntingly lays Tokyo to waste with a series of beam attacks isn’t just better than literally anything Godzilla vs Kong did, it’s one of the best moments of TV we’ll see this year. But Singular Point shines, and amplifies its monstrous threat, by letting all sorts of classic kaiju, from Rodan to Anguirus, from Kumonga to Salunga (the latter of which takes elements from Gabara) take the reins. In addition to incorporating a cinematic history beyond the specter of Godzilla, this choice allows for a sense of escalation across the show, as humanity’s curiosity as a few Rodan show up grows to capitalisation on the moment, to utter fear, as things very quickly stop being cutely weird and start becoming unknowable and dread-laden.
The Mix of CG and 2D Animation
Despite the ever-increasing prevalence of 3D animation in anime, there’s always going to be some subsection of fans whose hackles raise whenever you mention a show’s got CG work in it. Singular Point is no exception to this, but the way it blends 3DCG and 2D animation is more of a technique than it is an action shorthand. Much like Trigger’s approach in the smash hit tokusatsu anime sister series, SSSS.Gridman and SSSS.Dynazenon, Singular Point almost exclusively uses 3DCG animation — work led by Studio Orange here — to animate its kaiju and Jet Jaguar, which makes them feel much less like natural entities in the world, but in a good way. Instead, they read more akin to… well, people in suits. They manage to take the feel of live-action tokusatsu productions and their special effects, and translate it into this medium, while also being able to use CG to go beyond the restrictions a monster portrayed by actors in suits would have in a live-action production.
It also provides a fascinating contrast to the largely 2D world and human characters around them, not just effectively “othering” the creatures the moment you lay eyes on them in a way that they read as immediately alien and unsettling. It’s never not intentionally off, in the way some clunky 3DCG can be.
The Dedication to Weird Science
Singular Point is, almost to a fault (we’ll get to that later), almost more of a show about weird theoretical science than it is giant monsters. The show is fascinated with the idea of temporal physics, a crucial through line through its entire narrative arc. But the way it blends advanced science — imagined through the lens of its near-future 2030 setting, where public technology largely looks the same but advanced AI, powerful supercomputers, and other wild technology can be in the hands of governments and independent shadow organisations — with elements of folklore and myth, with religious imagery and human history, creates a very fascinating vibe for the series.
This isn’t an uncommon thing in kaiju material in the first place — the idea that these creatures are a part of our planet’s history, and a reaction to the way human civilisation has evolved off of the back of exploitation of that natural history — but Godzilla Singular Point’s embrace of it instead of the easy option of a “giant monsters attack!” narrative leads to some head-twisting moments of cleverness that really elevate the show when it needs it.
That Post-Credits Tease
How do you instantly make a story that feels satisfyingly concluded suddenly feel like it’s blown wide open and you’re dying to know more? Add the hubris of a scientist who’s deciding to make Mechagodzilla, apparently.
The final moments of Singular Point tease that the theoretical scientist at the heart of the season’s temporal mystery, Michiyuki Ashihara, is not as dead as everyone else thought he was, and has actually been working in secret to build his own version of Godzilla, using technology from the mysterious tech cabal SHIVA to construct a mechanical frame around the bones of an old, inert kaiju skeleton that, well… it’s Mechagodzilla. Given the seeming definitive exit of the King of the Monsters, and his purely antagonistic status in the show’s first season, bringing in Mechagodzilla raises some interesting questions should the show continue.
We Didn’t Love…
… That the Dedication to Weird Science Was a Little Too Dedicated
OK, so the vibe of Singular Point’s weird science is fascinating and brings in the right kind of strangeness you want in a monster movie project. But it’s also a lot. So much of Singular Point’s narrative involves textually very smart people just repeating fake buzzwords like “Orthagonal Diagonalizer” at each other over and over, or talk about how some impossible temporal physics theory is both impossible and yet also has to work because the plot simply demands it.
Whether it’s through in-person conversations, or more often than not, shots of rapidly scrolling mobile phone screens as protagonists Yun, Mei, and AI companion Pelops II rapidly text each other back and forth while also narrating their conversation (which, if you watch the original Japanese dub with English subtitles, is eye-searingly difficult to comprehend at times, as katakana and kanji scream across your screen while you try to listen to the dialogue and read the subtitles), a lot of it is very dry to take in, and there’s so much of it. It’s not very interesting to watch at best, and frustratingly and unsatisfyingly dense at worst.
The Disconnect Between its Protagonists
What doesn’t help then is that Yun and Mei, outside of bookend moments in the opening and ending of the series, spend almost all of their time apart, working on investigating the ‘Red Dust’ phenomenon that’s heralding the rise of kaiju across the world in different ways. While Yun and his colleagues at Otaki Factory focus on dealing with the Kaiju head-on through enhancing Jet Jaguar as Japan’s unlikely anti-kaiju weapon, Mei is globetrotting with theoretical scientists and SHIVA agents as she explores the temporal mysteries behind the strange dust kaiju like Godzilla create as they arrive on humanity’s shores. But you never get the feeling that there’s really a link between their narratives until the climax, even though they’re connected through their shared use of Yun’s AI program — which itself gets split into two distinct personalities in Mei’s AI pal, Pelops II, and Yun’s phone OS, which is eventually uploaded to become Jet Jaguar’s synthetic personality — and through back and forth texting throughout the series.
It makes their own emotional arcs feel very isolated, and when it’s time for them to actually reunite in the very final moments of the show, just weirdly unearned. Future seasons might actually give them the chance to make an actual connection together, but for now, it just feels very frustrating.
The Dodgy Pacing
This isn’t helped either then, that Singular Point is the very definition of a slow burn. This works in its favour sometimes — the build-up of the kaiju threat over the first few episodes, from a single Rodan’s appearance, to small flocks, to just clouds of the monsters and other beasts spreading across the world and getting more and more aggressive is excellent, for example. But when a lot of Singular Point’s first half is largely about our heroes going off in separate investigative tangents and mostly repeating information over and over to themselves until a narrative step forward happens, it can make the series very frustrating to follow.
It certainly gets better as the show builds towards its explosive climax, but the shift between the first and second halves feels like an abrupt escalation rather than the smooth build-up it could’ve been.