Godzilla has conquered the world. After "stomping" and "flattening" Japan for 70 years, the prehistoric reptilian monster won an Oscar last week for best visual effects. This was not only Japan’s first win in this category but the first Asian film to take home this trophy.

The win is much more than a recognition of Japanese filmmaking skills. It is a victory for a filmmaking culture that puts humanity in both creation and scale at the forefront. It is a victory, too, for creativity that celebrates passion and detail.

The original Godzilla emerged from the briny depths of the Pacific Ocean in 1954, awakened from his sleep by nuclear tests. A force of nature, he rampaged across Japan (and other parts of the world in American versions) for 37 movies, first as a threat to humanity and later as its protector. The films were rich in symbolism, with Godzilla serving as a reminder of the destructive power of the defining feature of the modern era: the splitting of the atom.