After the incredibly fun Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (2001), the bar was set pretty high for Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (2002). The end result was a fun flick that, while not quite as entertaining as its predecessor, did offer up some continuity to other films in the Toho library.
The movie begins in 1999 and acknowledges Gojira (1954). Another Godzilla is attacking Tokyo and a young soldier, Akane Yashiro (Yumiko Shaku), makes a key mistake during the combat. Godzilla survives but many others are killed. She is blamed for the failure and is moved to a desk job. After the combat, it was determined that a new weapon was needed should Godzilla return. A robotic Godzilla is created using the skeleton of the original Godzilla. It is named Mechagodzilla but goes mostly by the nickname of Kiryu. Akane is named one of the pilots of this new weapon but many still blame her for the losses in 1999. Akane struggles with her self-worth as she becomes dedicated to vindicating herself in battle with Godzilla again.
Soon, Godzilla returns and Mechagodzilla is placed into battle. However, the spirit within the bones of the original Godzilla takes control and, after Godzilla returns to the sea, Mechagodzilla proceeds to destroy everything in sight. It eventually runs out of energy and they must go back to the drawing board. The inevitable rematch happens, this time with Mechagodzilla in control. The key weapon is known as the Absolute Zero (a big disintegrator ray) but it becomes useless when Mechagodzilla is damaged. Akane must board it herself to run it manually. A final showdown follows that ends in a standoff. Godzilla suffers a deadly blow to the chest but survives. As it returns slowly out to sea, Mechagodzilla is badly damaged with the Absolute Zero destroyed. The story isn’t finished yet as a return match is clearly set up for the sequel.
This was the first film in the Millennium series to acknowledge previously Toho entries. In addition to being a sequel to Gojira (1954), it also made reference to Mothra (1964), War of the Gargantuas (1966) and Space Amoeba (1970). While including Mechagodzilla, it made no reference to the previous Mechagodzilla films. That’s why it is mostly referred to as “Kiryu” or “machine dragon”. The movie went on to great success, being the second biggest hit of the Millennium series. It should come as no surprise that it was the first in the Millennium series to have a sequel in Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. (2003).
Personally, I’ve never been a huge fan of the Mechagodzilla character. That said, of all the films using Mechagodzilla to date, this was my favorite. The special effects and soundtrack were top-notch and the story was engaging, while the battle sequences really stand out. As it also centers a lot on the character of Akane, along with the sub-plot of a scientist and his daughter, it adds some depth and really is a solid entry in this series. Check out the trailer and add the movie to your collection. At less than $15, it is well worth the investment.