With the hard failure American Godzilla remake in 1998, TriStar tried to recoup their losses with an animated spin-off aptly titled Godzilla: The Series. Running two seasons, the show managed to bring some of the charm lost by the film to die-hard fans, although it remains purely for the kids.
Monster Wars was the finest moment for the series, an all-out brawl between multiple monsters around the world under alien control. It’s a none-too-subtle homage to Toho classic Destroy All Monsters, which pitted countless Toho creatures in a battle to save Earth from invading extraterrestrials.
The cartoon series has a few quirks. Since Godzilla was cheaply killed at the end of the movie, the Godzilla here is one of the hatchlings, carrying the same dopey design as his film father/mother. Like a puppy, he listens to HEAT leader Nick Tatopoulos as he commands the beast on what to do.
Since only a few scattered episodes are available on DVD, starting here isn’t the best choice, although give the writing, it’s a crapshoot anyway. Stories from previous episodes are immediately brought up, characters and motivations are unclear, and the alien invasion that begins the monster war dust up is already in place.
Animation is on par for modern Saturday-morning filler, and there are some fun concepts. The cyborg Godzilla, created from the Godzilla in the movie, is a fun way to bring the Mechagodzilla concept into the modern day. Other monster designs are fun, and the pacing is lively. Oh, and Godzilla can breathe his radioactive breath. Novel concept.
While not a classic piece of kids animation, Godzilla – The Series is heaven compared to the Hanna Barbara Godzilla cartoon of the late ‘70s. Monster Wars is probably the best output the series would see, and remains quite watchable for kids and G fans in general despite the usual round of animated fare complaints.
Monster Wars is presented in its original 4×3 aspect ratio, and looks fair on DVD. Compression is always an issue with animation on DVD, and this disc is no exception. Aliasing is common and distracting. Noise appears on white areas, particularly shirts. The overall look is soft, with bright, saturated colors that remain controlled.
A 2.0 surround track offers little to discuss. There are minor moments of positional stereo work as a bat creature swoops in and out of the frame. Dialogue is clear, and the action never overwhelms it.
Roddy McDowall’s acting career, which began in 1938, finished here in one episode as Dr. Hugh Trevor. He passed away only a few weeks after completing his work.