The ‘Godzilla’ franchise enters uncharted territory.

This year marked the 100th anniversary of Japanese animation. Given the significant influence of anime on pop culture, that’s a milestone worth celebrating. But another cornerstone of Japanese entertainment is the Godzilla franchise, which now boasts over 30 movies. Therefore, you might be surprised to know that the upcoming Godzilla: Monster Planet will be the series’ first animated feature in its 63-year existence. Kid’s television is another story, but those shows didn’t last long.

Monster Planet takes the long-running franchise deep into the future. The story takes place in 2048 and follows a crew of interstellar voyagers who flee Earth to escape from its emerging population of colossal creatures. But when things don’t go according to plan and the crew is forced to return home, they’re shocked to find that 20,000 years have passed. On top of that, Earth has become a monster kingdom where Godzilla runs the roost. He is called the King of the Monsters for a reason, after all.

Watch the new Japanese trailer for the movie here:

While Hollywood’s Legendary Entertainment is presenting the heroic, blockbuster-friendly version of Godzilla with their MonsterVerse (begun in 2014 with the Godzilla reboot), the original Japanese studio home for the character, Toho, is sticking with the experimental approach that’s commonplace in their own monster movies. This looks dark, bizarre, and epic in scale. The CGI is also a welcome addition to this universe. While I’m a huge admirer of the men in rubber suit/model city approach that defines Toho’s giant creature features, the world in which Monster Planet is set appears to be striving for a new level of richness and expansion.

In recent years, the use of CG in anime has been the source of much debate. Not everyone is a fan, and Polygon Picture, who co-produced this movie, has been the centerpiece of most conversations. This latest direction for the Godzilla series has already encountered its fair share of detractors. On one hand, people just aren’t fans of this type of 3D animation. On the other, some G-fans just aren’t embracing the monster’s new medium. That said, the directorial duo behind Monster Planet have impressive resumes which speak for themselves.

Kobun Shizuno and Hiroyuki Seshita have enjoyed success working in the animation field. Shizuno’s last two Detective Conan movies are the highest-grossing in the history of the popular series after accumulating over $60M each in their homeland. They also demonstrate the director’s ability to bring dangerous, exciting worlds to life. Meanwhile, the Seshita is establishing himself as a talent on the rise, having worked on Knights of Sidonia and this year’s Netflix original Blame! 

Moreover, the screenplay was penned by Gen Urobuchi (Psycho-Pass). The writer’s previous work has earned him the nickname “Urobutcher” among fans due to its violent and nihilistic nature. With Monster Planet very much rooted in horror and apocalyptic science fiction, his macabre sensibilities are perfect for a bleak concept like this. With such a creative team, this movie promises to be one of the boldest, darkest, and most tragic interpretations of Godzilla yet.

The film’s creators have confirmed that this version of the atomic beast will also be the biggest and baddest to date. As Shizuno told SciFi Japan, “From the start we had the blessing of Toho to not be constrained by previous entries in the franchise, and with the freedom of imagination offered by animation I feel we have come up with a cool new form for Godzilla.”

Of course, this franchise has rarely concerned itself with movies that came before anyway. The reason it has remained fresh after all this time is because its history is littered with a multitude of filmmakers doing their own thing. Compared to Godzilla, even slasher franchises seem logical. 

In regards to the the creature’s design, Seshita added, “With his masses of muscle fibers and unique body tissue to support his enormous bulk, this is an extraordinarily rugged-looking physique. It was an overwhelming presence that reverberated through the whole project, like a fearsome deity that even we who created it must prostrate ourselves before. That is our Godzilla.”

Elsewhere, Legendary will be unleashing their next live-action Godzilla sequel in 2019, followed by the crossover with King Kong the following year. As for Toho, Monster Planet might be the only Godzilla movie we see for awhile. Due to a rights agreement with Legendary, the studio is prohibited from making their own live-action follow-up to last year’s Shin Godzilla until after the release of Godzilla vs. Kong in 2020. Still, the foreseeable future won’t be lacking in movies featuring the King of the Monsters in some capacity. 

Godzilla: Monster Planet stomps into Japanese theaters on November 17th, followed by a worldwide Netflix release later this year or early next.