It’s such a pleasure to see a big movie take its time building up its characters and its setting so that the eventual kaiju action has emotional and thematic resonance. We spend enough time with Kōichi (Ryunosuke Kamiki) and his family in post-war Tokyo that by the time Godzilla shows up in the city, we fully understand how he represents not only Kōichi’s PTSD and survivor’s guilt but the trauma of Japan writ large. The film even builds from there as a repudiation of how Japan conducted itself during the war and the state’s horrific disregard for its soldiers’ lives. One element of the ending is a smidge too far but the film had built up so much good will that I didn’t really mind.