Japan Society Screens Godzilla Minus One

BY Amanda Moses

Seventy years ago, the world was first introduced to a prehistoric reptilian monster—an unwitting result of hydrogen bomb testing that had awakened the beast—who was set on wreaking havoc on Japan. Now known as the King of Monsters, Godzilla has become a household name embedded in cinematic history.

In light of this, the Japan Society—a non-profit organization based in Midtown Manhattan focused on cultivating an everlasting bridge between New York City and Japan—held a press and public screening ahead of the latest film’s release: Godzilla Minus One.

Directed by the talented Takashi Yamazaki, Godzilla Minus One has already been herald as a masterpiece that digs deep into the effect that World War II had on Japan, especially those who served in the military.  There has often been a narrative of World War II that mainly focuses on one side in its retelling, and yet we never hear about the fate of soldiers who’ve been instilled an ideology of honor through paying the ultimate sacrifice, such as Kamikaze pilots were expected to do.  Godzilla Minus One showcases the internal battle of fealty toward Japan, and the fight to simply survive and live a life of love and genuine happiness. As the film explores this struggle, it shows the devastation that Godzilla had on Japan.

For Peter Tatara, Director of Film for the Japan Society, Godzilla is not just an iconic monster, but also a symbol of Japanese culture and film’s legacy. 

“I think Godzilla is one of the biggest cultural ambassadors of Japan. This is the 70th anniversary project to celebrate the dawn of Godzilla. And it’s exciting for us,” Tatara said. “Audiences have said this is their favorite Godzilla film ever. Other audiences have gone so far as to call this a masterpiece.”

On November 28th, members of Spring Creek Towers’ (SCT) Department of Public Safety’s (DPS) Young Adults Program (YAP), attended a public screening of Godzilla Minus One at the Japan Society. When YAP was first created, it was built upon the members’ love in learning more about Japanese culture, and in light of this were excited to attend the screening. According to YAP Director, Eileen Level, the Japan Society gifted the program a few free tickets for the young adults to enjoy.

“The mission of the Japan Society is to help make positive opportunities and exposure to Japanese culture and art as a peaceful medium but it’s also looking to make new connections and outreach. So, what I really loved about all these events I was exposed to is that it got me out of the house and out of feeling that I have nowhere to go and exposing me to positive social groups as well as to low cost to free spaces like the YAP lounge. I didn’t have much to do until YAP came along,” Angelo Manatu said, a YAP member. 

For Level, the ability to attend the Godzilla Minus One screening at the Japan Society is the embodiment of what she works to introduce at YAP, which is the appreciation for arts and culture.

“Having newfound access to expose our members to and hot ticket events that peak their interest has elevated the DPS Young Adults Program to be the best chill spot for ages 18+ and to enjoy and be involved in Japanese Pop Culture,” Level said.

“Furthermore, witnessing their reactions, growth and the impact it has had on them due to their direct involvement has been a privilege! I’m there experiencing all this alongside them making this feel like a dream come true as well as a testament to the impact the DPS Young Adults Program has had on young adults in and around our community,” Level added.

According to Tatara, the Japan Society screens over 60 films across the span of Japanese cinema throughout the year. Since July, the Japan Society worked closely with Toho, Godzilla Minus One’s film distributor, which took, what Tatara says, a tremendous amount of trust to present ahead of its release.

Photos by Amanda Moses and courtesy of YAP

Amanda Moses