Never trust space aliens.
Now you can trust a singular alien. Alf? So long as you don’t let him near your cat, it’s all good. But a whole bunch of Alfs isn’t a friendly visitation. No matter how many witty one-liners they spout and laugh tracks they summon, a gathering of Alfs is an invasion.
Much like the first movie in this animated take on Godzilla, the most interesting thing about City on the Edge of Battle is how humanity interacts with the two alien factions with whom they’ve teamed up to retake Earth. The Bilusaludo, the more “logical” of the two aliens and the creators of Mechagodzilla, and the Exif, the religious cult, really start to tug at the earthlings’ motivations and loyalties in all of this. The survivors of the initial fight between the reclamation party and the real Godzilla begin regrouping to find a way to either mount another attack or return to the mothership. Along the way they meet some humans who appear to have survived and adapted since the initial abandonment of Earth. They use scraps of a highly potent metal to make arrows and the like that can easily penetrate the scales and hides of the Godzilla-evolved creatures who now dominate Earth.
Turns out this metal comes from the evolving remnants of Mechagodzilla. The metal has some sort of sentience to it– or at least it’s alive in some way– and it’s following its “destroy Godzilla” programming to some awesomely ridiculous extremes. It has literally “evolved” into a city with all the capabilities of destroying Godzilla. All it needs is for someone to return, take control, and give it the necessary plans to do so.
But things are never that simple. Mechagodzilla is never just a friendly aid in the fight to save Earth. In this case, it was built around the general philosophy of the Bilusaludos– that sort of extreme “logic” that insists that the cold, unemotional reaction to something is always the most effective. It’s that sort of logic that effectively becomes its own sort of spirituality, where the ability to reason and reach conclusions is infallible– if you follow point A to point B and so forth, that result is without fault. Consequences are just paths deemed inferior, and anything or anyone who doesn’t reach the same conclusion isn’t just intellectually inferior, but also morally so.
Their “logic” has reached the conclusion that the only way to defeat a civilization-destroying monster is to become such a monster yourself. The Bilusaludos begin merging with the city, their minds becoming part of its processing power. Their sacrifice will speed up production and capacity, thus allowing for the Godzilla destruction plan to be effective. It’s a decision first seen as horrifying but necessary by many of the non-Bilusaludos, but that sort of “do what you must while we do what we must” attitude soon gives way to forced conversion when the initial plan fails and a more direct approach must be made to defeat Godzilla. The City attempts to merge the Earthlings and Exif as well, deeming their need for individuality and physical forms to be a weakness to shed.
This leads the lead Earthling, Haruo, to turn on his “comrades” and destroy the City rather than merge and (possibly) finish off Godzilla.
All of this does raise an interesting question. The Bilosalodos don’t see the creation of Godzilla as Earth’s greatest failing. They see Earth’s inability to harness and control Godzilla as their downfall. Is that really the result of Earth’s inability to evolve? Humanity caused Godzilla to appear due to the way it treated the planet, and rather than embrace the results of their actions, humanity retreated. Is that a rejection of humanity’s nature? If we pollute and destroy, should we not find a way to accept the fruits of those actions? The Bilusaludo do so by embracing their own monster and becoming one with it. It’s a failure in the end, as they appear to die with the destruction of the City, but they followed that chain of thought to the end.
Is that a betrayal of our nature, or is that the essence of our nature? Maybe that’s what makes us human– the ability to make those sorts of leaps in logic. Point A to Point Whatever leads you to think you must become the monster, but our instincts tell us that becoming the monster– or at least becoming one of these monsters– is the wrong thing to do. The right decision is often one taken with some degree of faith, with the logic connecting everything only coming after the leap is made.
It’ll be interesting if all of this ends up tying into the Exif’s creation– Ghidorah is their destructor and the focus of the third movie in this trilogy– and into how Earth’s remaining humans ended up evolving to be “one” with Mothra rather than Godzilla. Is it just a matter of picking the right savior? We’ll see.
Maybe it’s all a matter of choosing how we die rather than how we’re saved. The horror isn’t in the fact that we face extinction, but in the idea that we’re uncomfortable with the fate we’ve chosen for ourselves and the knowledge that it’s too late to make another choice.
We just know we probably can’t trust some aliens to make the choice for us. Alf can’t make us eat those cats no matter how much he tells us they’re tasty.