Why GODZILLA MINUS ONE is Perfect | Ending Expl...

Why GODZILLA MINUS ONE is Perfect | Ending Explained

Why GODZILLA MINUS ONE is Perfect | Ending Explained

Welcome to the Heavy Spoilers show, I’m your host Paul, and this is my love letter to Godzilla Minus One.

After six months, I finally got a chance to check out the movie, and I was blown away by Godzilla’s atomic breath.

Beyond that, though, the story really sucked me in, and it might be my favourite movie from 2023. Throughout this video, I want to break down some of the big themes behind it and also talk about why it works so well. I think this is a masterclass of storytelling that succeeds where most other movies fail.

Now, a lot of that comes down to the human drama, which is often one of the most boring parts of a Godzilla movie. You’re often more attached to the monsters, with the human scenes feeling a lot like filler. It’s difficult to have 2 hours of CGI monster fights, and stuff like that would balloon up the budgets.

So they tend to have things that we’re not really interested in and place cookie-cutter heroes who don’t have any depth.

Not looking at you, Bryan Cranston. You smashed it.

However, on the whole, I think it’s something most people agree with, and it’s where most of the US versions fall flat. What Minus One does, though, is that it gives us someone who isn’t a hero, and in fact, all the characters we meet are losers.


Now, I don’t mean that in a way where they collect hundreds of Funko Pops… what I mean by that is that they’ve just lost the war. Japan is suffering defeat, having just been beaten by the hands of the Allies. That’s why the title’s called Minus One because the country was at its lowest point. Adding Godzilla on top of this takes it lower than that, and they’ve got to rebuild on top of rebuilding.

Things like seeing cities ripped apart by the beast hurt even more as we know just how long it took to rebuild. The movie takes place over a number of years, and we see first-hand how much work goes into it. It’s all wiped out within seconds, and yeah, that city scene especially feels like a massive gut punch.

Beyond that, though, we also have our focus character, who we learn was a Kamikaze pilot.

Refusing to carry out his duty, he fled to a base and has been deemed a coward. Now, as they say in John Wick, how you do anything is how you do everything, and I definitely feel like that’s reflected here.

Shikishima basically walks away from a lot of things when he’s given the chance, and this is reflected in a lot of things he does.

The character even has a chance to kill Godzilla early on… and though it probably wouldn’t have worked… there is the possibility. In not pulling the trigger, several men were killed, and this guilt continues when he gets back home.

His neighbour says in not doing his duty he’s also caused the death of her children.

I think in war, when you’re on the losing side, people obviously look for someone to blame. This is something that’s been deconstructed a lot in post-Vietnam movies, with Rambo: First Blood examining it too.

Why GODZILLA MINUS ONE is Perfect | Ending Explained
Why GODZILLA MINUS ONE is Perfect | Ending Explained

Asked to care for a baby, he initially leaves it behind, which again sums up the character. It shows that he’s not just abandoning his duty but he’s also abandoning his future. You see, I believe that children are our future, teach them well and let them lead the way. But him doing this here shows he doesn’t care. However, he returns and makes sure it’s taken care of, which opens up a better life for him.

With the future in mind, he’s able to succeed, and this is something that we see throughout the film. Thinking about what his actions are worth in the end helps them bring down the monster. All the citizens we see know they’re fighting for the future, and they realise that it rests on their shoulders.

This is also seen immediately in his neighbour, who questions why he looks after the baby. She says she’s stopped caring for people, but throughout the movie, she also looks after the child. I think it shows that life is precious, which is a message that constantly shows up in the movie.

Basing things off real-world comments, we hear how ill-equipped the Japanese forces were. Food lines were barren, and thus their soldiers starved, and some planes didn’t even have ejector seats. Kamikazes were basically throwing away their lives when their goal could’ve probably been handled with an explosive. It’s something I’ve always wondered about, and obviously what the citizens say shows an undercurrent of why. Lives simply weren’t viewed as being important, and the masses were just cannon fodder for the war. Now, I don’t think this is exclusive to Japan, and there are lots of countries that have handled things like this.

In the First World War, soldiers were told to walk out of the trenches because it was deemed ungentlemanly to run. Obviously, that ended up going out the window because it’s a stupid tactic that just isn’t practical. However, it shows the mentality that the people at the top have and how they don’t understand the war that’s being fought. Because they’re not on the front line, they don’t give war the respect it deserves. They’re happy sending people to their death, and I think because of this, we relate to Shikishima.

I have to say, I think I probably would’ve done the same thing, and though that would make me a coward, I still am like… yeah, I probably would do it.

What I love, though, is that the movie explores Japanese culture while showing the strength that you get from a loss. Japanese films have always fascinated me, but I’ve always lent more towards the horror. Whether it’s the Ring series… breakdown on the channel now… or Ju-on: The Grudge, I think there’s always added depth to these films due to the cultural aspects. That’s something I feel in this too, with it showing the resilience of the Japanese people.

Now, this change in his neighbour Sumiko is also something I think we need to explore as well. It shows that she’s saying one thing while doing another. I think this duality is shown in most of the characters, with them doing the opposite to the face they give the world. The mechanic says he understands why Shikishima didn’t follow through, even though this would be an unpopular opinion.

Shikishima dresses as a soldier, even though he’s not really ready for war. The Doc is smarter than you’d think, and when we first meet him, he’s a lowly boat captain. The boat he drives is seen as crap, but we learn it being wooden is for practical reasons. There’s also Noriko, who becomes Shikishima’s love interest, and when we meet her, she’s posing as a vagrant. She’s hiding what she really is too, but we see how all these aspects come out in the end.

I think it all ties back to the plane which we see in that opening scene. The mechanic says there’s no defects and it’s not like the others, showing that there’s hidden things going on with every aspect. You could even see that in the ejector seat, which is something we’ll talk about at the end.

Now pretty much all that is me talking about how much I love the film, and I haven’t even really touched upon Godzilla. Yep, a monster movie can have depth.


Look, now I know that a lot of them do, but I think that shows how good the movie is.

When Godzilla comes into it, though, that’s when it goes up a notch, and we see the terror that the beast would bring. I feel recently that a lot of Godzilla properties have gotten away from that horror aspect that was laced in the originals.

In the West, the creature’s seen more like a hero, whereas here, it’s a devastating force. Just watching that atomic breath wind up, you really get shaken, and that blast in the end is absolutely crazy.

Watching the people rush through the streets, you really feel the terror that they’re going through.

I’m probably never gonna listen to “Simon Says” in the same way again after that.

I feel like it feels almost like documentary footage at points, which adds authenticity to the movie.

I don’t think it’s any coincidence that they also did a black-and-white version because it feels like it’s rooted in reality. Obviously, whenever we look back on those times, we think about them in black and white. The footage is what the history is, and that’s something I think also works in the movie.

Why GODZILLA MINUS ONE is Perfect | Ending Explained
Why GODZILLA MINUS ONE is Perfect | Ending Explained

Operation Crossroads is also depicted as well, and this shows how the creature was created. We don’t need any exposition or explanation of what happened and can instantly tell what it is that went on.

They also use the beast to comment on the government and how the officials acted at the time. The government doesn’t tell the public, and it’s similar to how the atom bomb was downplayed. It took two being dropped before they surrendered, which even today I know the US still goes back and forth about.

That atomic breath represents atomic fear and just how devastating these weapons can be. Here, though, it’s shaped through a monster rather than the horror of what it was like in real life.

Either way, there’s that fear of the public being the ones who are hurt, and this is something we see across war. It’s very, very, very rare that the people fighting in conflicts are the ones that benefit from it. Wars are always fought for the future, with this being cemented in that final battle.

The future of the country is in the hands of the people because they’re living in a world where the government has failed them.

Shikishima doesn’t initially want to be part of the plan, though, and he almost walks away from the fight. I feel like survival is his main driving instinct, with this being deeply rooted in fear. He was too afraid to die, too afraid to fire, and even too afraid to ask Noriko to marry him.

However, this is a real change in the character, and in the end, he saves the country and himself.


Defeating Godzilla is redemption for losing the war not only for the main character but also for the soldiers. They say they’re still fighting their war, and this second life is a second chance to do things right.

It’s a battle to live rather than to die, and with a message like that, that’s why the ending works so well.

Shikishima throws himself at the creature, and in the end, this is what seems to destroy it. Ejecting out, he does a Dark Knight Rises and returns to his home so he can live that second life. Now, we learn that this second life is something shared across the board as we discover that Noriko is, in fact, alive. It seemed like she died in that atomic breath scene, but she’s been resting up in a hospital. In embracing life and choosing to live, Shikishima gets a chance to go on and be happy.

Noriko gets a second chance too, as does the child Akiko that they took in initially. Sumiko has had a second chance too, and she’s also been helping to raise the child. Japan itself has a second chance as well, and it can move to the future with bright things ahead of them.

Now who also gets a second chance at life… is Godzilla… as we see him healing in the ocean. Hey, it’s thematic connectivity, but yeah, I can’t wait to see where they go as I am in love with this movie. I’m annoyed at myself for taking so long to watch it, but in the end, it was really worth the wait. I kept bringing it up on my podcast how I still hadn’t seen it, and I know there’s a couple of people who hit me up weekly asking why I hadn’t.

Why GODZILLA MINUS ONE is Perfect | Ending Explained
Why GODZILLA MINUS ONE is Perfect | Ending Explained

Thank you for getting me to do it, and yeah, what a marvel of cinema. Just even looking at the budget for it is absolutely insane to me, as the movie is incredible.

But I’ve done it now, so leave me alone, and I was so glad I did, as I’m really in love with the movie. I hope you’ve enjoyed us going back through it and also talking about some of the deeper layers in it. If you agreed… if you didn’t agree, then let me know below, as I’d of course always love to hear your thoughts.

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