Top positive review
Hail to the King of the Monsters
Reviewed in the United States on December 5, 2020
The DVD gets the job done. I've checked out multiple episodes on multiple discs, they all work well. There's pretty much no special features. But the DVD is functional. It includes 40 episodes, thankfully including the two unaired episodes (both of which are solid entries).
However, the DVD does have the episodes out of order, the DVD does not have it organized by the original broadcast order. Since this series is mostly monster of the weeks, this won't be a big problem. The original broadcast order itself wasn't perfect, with eps like Area 51 seemingly being set in season 1 when it actually aired in season 2. In short, there's really no right way to watch the show.
Now, I want to talk about the series itself. 40 episodes in total. I personally love the animation. Its made from the same studio who animated Extreme Ghostbusters and the Men in Black series. I really dig the style and its perfect for action.
Godzilla is joined by a group of scientist investigating mutations. 5 scientist in total with the help of a robot named N.I.G.E.L. Before I go over the individual characters, I want to say that each of the main cast is very likable. Its fun to spend time with these characters. They all seem to get along, and those who don't, change and grow. They all have some time to shine.
Nick Tatopoulos is returning from the 98 film. This time portrayed by a new actor with a redesign. He feels like a completely different character then the meek, nervous Nick we saw in the film. He's very "take charge" in this series and acts like a competent leader. In the series, He is Godzilla's adoptive father, since the lizard imprinted on him. A dynamic that could have been developed more (that's one complaint I have for the series).
Nick is joined by Mendel Craven. He's also returning from the 98 film, but this time the original actor for Mendel returns too. Mendel is often sickly and fussy. But he is incredibly smart, the relationships he develops with Randy and Elsie are some of the best parts of the show. And we even see a cool future version of him in an ep. He's a standout character. He might seem like a "wimp", but he'll surprise you. He's also the creator of the robot N.I.G.E.L
Elsie is really funny, with a dry sense of humor. She develops a sweet relationship with Mendel. I do wish the series had given her a bit more focus, but she's great whenever she's around. She was also from the 98 film, but has a new actor here.
Randy is a new addition to the franchise. He's fun, can surprisingly be sweet at times. He can be a pain in the butt, but you get the sense he has a good heart. His friendship with Mendel is great. But his relationship with Monique could use some work. It feels like just a physical attraction and lacks substance. Randy is the one who's always cheering Godzilla on, which is neat, and he's also very very good with computers.
Monique is cool. She's a french agent assigned to look over HEAT and Godzilla. It feels like a natural expansion of the French characters in the 98 film. She can kick ass, and easily is the second in command of the group. She may be cold (sometimes the writers write her too cold, and forget nuance) but you do get the sense she cares for people.
N.I.G.E.L. the robot is an important member of the crew, with many different functions proving his worth. Randy constantly messes with his voice to annoy Mendel. Its a running gag that N.I.G.E.L. is demolished each episode.
Now the big iguana himself, Godzilla. They kept with the 98 design but slightly modified it. I actually really lik the 98 Godzilla design, so of course I like this. Godzilla feels like a good blend of his Toho roots and the 1998 version. He has the atomic breath, which is very useful, but unlike Toho's Godzilla, this Godzilla's atomic breathe is green instead of blue. He can burrow really well like the 98 version. He also has the agility of the 98 version. He's taking monsters down like the Toho Godzilla, even acting as a hero like the Showa era Godzilla and the Hanna Barbera Godzilla.
If you're a Godzilla fan, there are a ton of references here. They mention giant lobsters (like Ebriah), Cyber-Godzilla is very similar to Showa era and Millennium era MechaGodzilla, there's a monster that is just like Hedorah, a brief appearance of a monster very similar to Anguirus, a version of monster island appears on the show, the Monster Wars three parter is clearly inspired by Destroy All Monsters, Destroy All Monsters is name dropped. I have not seen these Toho movies, but apparently one monster resembles Megaguirus (from the Millennium era) and another resembles Battra (from the Heisei era). I'm sure there are things that I missed. But this show obviously did its homework. It takes inspiration from what's come before to create something new, while not ignoring/belittling the controversial 98 film which spawned this cartoon.
Briefly I want to mention some side characters. Audrey is from the movie but she's very annoying here. She's the love interest of Nick, but each episode feels like another reason they should just separate. She is a returning character from the movie, but with a new actress. Hicks is back, a military general from the movie even played by the same actor. He seems to trust Nick in the series, but isn't given too much to do. His inclusion is nice to see tho. Cameron Winters is a fun villain. A genius who hates Nick and knows a lot about robotics (and monster mind control). A solid villain.
A lot of the stories feel like they could be for a genre show intended for a teen or older audience. And the show never talks down to children (it avoids harsh language or gore). It treats its audience with respect.
The monsters for these stories can be really interesting. The designs are solid. Tho the series does rely on bugs a bit too much for adversaries.
A few stand out episodes include Future Shock, End of the Line, and Monster Wars. But average episodes can be wickedly entertaining with usually a cool new monster and focus on the likable leads.
The weakest episode is S.C.A.L.E. which kind of shows the monsters (which at this point were often seen as large animals) being treated inhumanly on monster island. With way too small enclosures, shock collars, and government tests. It just takes some of the fun out of it, and its nowhere near as charming as Showa era Monster Island.
So my complaints would be that episode, I find Audrey annoying, a little more variation for the monsters, some work done with Monique & Randy's romance, and some development with Nick and Godzilla relationship. Since the series was cancelled, there was no real ending. The 98 film and the cartoon series continuity never gets a continuation or finale. But this design of Godzilla does appear in Final Wars and some of the Godzilla comics, just renamed as a new character "Zilla".
The good parts are solid episodes, good monster designs, likable leads, respecting the source material (both the 98 film and the Toho series), having some relationship actually develop (though sometimes it reverts back to what it was prior), monster fights, pleasing animation, and being fun. I recommend the series. If you're a fan of Godzilla, the 98 film, giant monsters, or genre shows then do yourself a favor, and watch this show!