WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Godzilla: The Planet Eater, streaming now on Netflix.
The new Godzilla anime trilogy debuted with Planet of the Monsters, in which the kaiju have driven humans from Earth, and into an alliance with alien races to fight to take back their world. The sequel, City on the Edge of Battle, saw the nanotechnology of Mechagodzilla City employed in an unsuccessful attempt to defeat the monster.
Now, the trilogy-ending The Planet Eater introduces the Godzilla franchise's other popular characters, King Ghidorah and Mothra, as equalizers. However, it puts its a unique spin on their presence.
KING GHIDORAH ISN'T 'REAL'
The Planet Eater sticks to the established lore of Ghidorah, the three-headed dragon, as a devourer of worlds, but the major change is the form it takes. When summoned by the alien Exif to slay Godzilla and raze Earth, Ghidorah is a being of pure energy. The ritual also results in human sacrifices being taken by an apparition of Ghidorah, thus allowing the creature to enter our dimension. But rather than being a monster of flesh and bone, he's more ethereal, with his real form trapped within its own dimension.
His energy travels to Earth through three portals, all created by the beast. Also, he's not an enormous monster with three heads on one body, but rather three individual heads with long necks, not unlike a snake, that slip through each of the portals to separately attack Godzilla. Rather than teeth or claws rending flesh, the dragon latches onto Godzilla, and feeds on his energy.
As Ghidorah absorbs Godzilla's energy, the dragon doesn't appear on the electromagnetic spectrum, and instead looks like a lightning storm, akin to the infamous Galactus cloud from Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. What's intriguing is that Godzilla can't touch Ghidorah, as the creature doesn't have a corporeal form -- that is, until Metphies, the Exif priest who worships Ghidorah, is killed and the dragon becomes tangible.
MOTHRA IS LITERALLY PURE LIGHT
In the old lore, Mothra was a physical creature that people worshiped. It was seen as an ancient being of light meant to help Godzilla fend off the monsters that threatened to destroy the world. In this film, Mothra is something far more spiritual and mysterious. Although she's worshiped in a big egg by the Houtua tribe (a mystical race that evolved from the remnants of humanity after Godzilla laid waste to the planet), she has no physical form.
We've seen Mothra's egg glowing throughout this series, assuming at some point she'd be released. But it turns out she's just a being of nature who grants the Houtua life and enhances their magical abilities. We never learn how Mothra came into existence, but the Houtua use her essence to survive and to drive their philosophies of love over war. That's how they've existed for so long on a planet on which Godzilla killed everyone else.
When Haruo, the movie's star pilot and Godzilla's main antagonist, is corrupted by Metphies, so that he could sacrifice himself and lure the real Ghidorah to Earth, Maina (a Houtuan female twin) rushes to Mothra's egg, calling on its energy to purify Haruo. In this dreamscape, Mothra's shadow illuminates the dark path Haruo is about to walk, bringing him back to the light and making him aware that the Exif was using humanity and offering the planet as tribute. All Mothra was meant to do is clear Haruo's mind, rather than join in the battle.
Produced by Toho Animation and co-directed by Kōbun Shizuno and Hiroyuki Seshita, Godzilla: The Planet Eater is streaming now on Netflix.