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Godzilla Minus One: Fashion Review

Toho Nailed 20th Century Japanese Attire

Note: There may be a few spoilers in this fashion review.

Godzilla Minus One was a monster opus. But those details I’ll reserve for my review of the movie. The focus of this piece will be on the clothing worn by the major and minor characters in the film.

Let’s begin by providing some historical background on post-World War II Japan:

The Evolution of Japanese Clothing in the Post-World War II Era (1945–1949)

The mid to late 1940s marked a significant period of transition for Japanese society as it emerged from the devastating aftermath of World War II. The war left Japan in ruins, both economically and socially. In this context, the evolution of clothing during this period offers a lens through which we can examine the resilience and adaptability of the Japanese people as they navigated the challenges of reconstruction. Let’s delve into the transformations in Japanese clothing styles, materials, and socio-cultural factors that shaped fashion between 1945 and 1949.

When the movie begins, we meet the main character, Shikanisima, a Kamikaze fighter pilot. He decides to detour from his assigned route and land on Odo Island. There he meets the mechanics who tend to the war planes. Shikamisima wears a dark brown leather bomber jacket, form-fitting khaki pants that balloon slightly at the hips, a matching tan shirt, and brown high-ankle lace-up boots. His oversized goggles and form-fitting cap helmet complete the look.

The mechanics wear white jumpsuits and matching caps. The jumpsuits are one-piece button-ups and slightly baggy. Despite the apparent warm climate of Odo Island, the jumpsuits are long-sleeved. The men all wear heavy-soled black shoes.

Historical Context

Japan’s surrender in 1945 marked the beginning of the Allied occupation, led by the United States. This occupation not only influenced political and economic aspects but also left a profound impact on the cultural and social fabric of Japan. The clothing industry, like many other sectors, faced severe challenges due to resource shortages, economic instability, and a devastated infrastructure.

When Shikanisima discards his uniform, he wears a brown and tan kimono-style outfit. It’s a loose-fitting outfit that he wears without a t-shirt underneath. His shoes are slip-ons.

Clothing Materials and Styles

The scarcity of resources during the post-war years had a direct influence on the materials used in clothing. Traditional fabrics like silk became increasingly rare, leading to a shift towards more practical and affordable materials. Cotton and synthetic fibers gained popularity as they were more readily available and less expensive. This shift reflected not only economic constraints but also a pragmatic approach to rebuilding a nation.

The styles of clothing during this period mirrored the overarching mood of resilience and simplicity. Kimonos, once associated with elaborate patterns and luxurious fabrics, transformed. Simplified designs and muted colors became the norm, reflecting a departure from the extravagance of pre-war fashion. Western influence also played a role, with more Japanese adopting Western-style clothing as a symbol of modernity and progress.

When Shikanisima returns home, it’s the aftermath of an air raid. The village was bombed and the survivors are cleaning the debris. Another key figure is Sumiko, a mother, who lost her children in the attack. Her attire is a white and black oversized kimono with draped sleeves.

The citizens of the village are a mix of old and new fashion styles. Some men are wearing suits. Other men are wearing caps with sweaters and baggy dress pants. Some women are wearing colorful 40-style dresses with short jackets and pumps. Older women are wearing traditional kimonos.

Socio-Cultural Factors

The post-war period in Japan witnessed a societal restructuring that extended to gender roles and cultural norms. The devastation of the war prompted a reevaluation of traditional values, leading to increased gender equality and a desire for a more egalitarian society. This shift was mirrored in clothing choices, with women opting for more practical and functional attire that reflected their newfound roles in the workforce.

The American influence on Japanese fashion during the occupation cannot be overstated. The introduction of American styles and consumer culture had a profound impact on the clothing choices of the Japanese population. Western-inspired clothing, characterized by simplicity and functionality, gained popularity as symbols of modernity and progress.

Another key character is Noriko. When we first meet her, she is dressed in a variety of clothing, a mix of pants and kimonos. She is on the street and her clothes are dirty. As the movie progresses, her attire becomes better and befitting of the times. Her outfits are sweaters, short-sleeved shirts, and skirts. Her color palette skews toward darker hues like gray and navy with the occasional white blouse. In a later scene, Noriko obtains employment and wears a matching two-piece gray top with a white collar and matching skirt.

Sources of Influence

Numerous sources provide insights into the fashion trends of post-war Japan. Historical archives, including photographs and newspapers from the era, offer a visual representation of clothing styles and societal changes. Personal accounts and memoirs of individuals who lived through this period provide a more intimate understanding of the challenges and adaptations in clothing choices.

The citizens are adjusting to more modern attire. In Ginza, a city not damaged by air raids, the people are leaning towards American attire. There are men in suits wearing trench coats women are wearing cute blouses and sweaters with skirts and ballet flats. Men are wearing fedoras and women have scarves tied around their necks. Ginza is portrayed as a city in transition.

The post-World War II era in Japan was marked by a confluence of historical, economic, and cultural factors that shaped the evolution of clothing. The scarcity of resources, coupled with societal changes and Western influence, led to a transformation in styles and materials. The resilience of the Japanese people is evident in their ability to adapt to these challenging circumstances, as reflected in the pragmatic and simplified approach to clothing during this pivotal period in history. The military was an interesting fashion dynamic. Sailors wore blue jumpsuits and white caps. Soldiers wore gray uniforms. Captains and commanders wore military attire complete with medals to signify their achievements. In the movie, it became clear that men portrayed a somber tone in their attire.

The study of post-war Japanese clothing provides a nuanced perspective on the intersection of fashion and societal changes, illustrating the capacity of a nation to rebuild and redefine itself in the face of adversity. I look forward to studying more of Japan’s fashion in future Godzilla movies.

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Godzilla Minus One
20th Century
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