Book Review--Eiji Tsuburaya: Master of Monsters 
Tuesday, March 18, 2008, 06:45 PM

It hasn't been often that Japanese sf and fantasy cinema has had publications written in English released in this country, and all but a handful have been written by individuals with either little knowledge or respect for the genre. At the end of November of 2007, Chronicle Books published a coffee table hardcover volume called "Eiji Tsuburaya-Master of Monsters" which bucks the trend and provides what many of us have been patiently waiting for over the years. Written by Japanese film expert August Ragone, this book serves up important research on the father of Japanese special effects in a profusely illustrated package.

Visually, the book is quite impressive. Kudos to Chronicle's designers for recognizing that such a visual medium like Japanese sf demands an emphasis on visual materials. The designers present a large number of stills, and wisely most of them are printed large enough so that the reader can drink in the rich details. Brad Warner deserves credit for not only digging up the huge inventory of stills, but also for the far more challenging and frustrating task of dealing with the myriad corporate bureaucracies in Japan to unravel issues of rights and obtain permissions. I'm sure he could write a book on that subject alone.

Unlike Japanese books, whose enjoyment in the West is often limited to the visuals, here is a book which readers can learn a lot from. In terms of style, Ragone's text is economic and accessible, a smooth and informative read. Ragone's research pays off in an interesting account of Tsuburaya's early life, presenting many facts previously unpublished in English. Some complaint has been raised that there are not enough 'making of' stories, but that seems to miss the point of a biography such as this. If anything, I felt the opposite...I wanted to learn even more about the man and his thinking, his accomplishments. The pictures take care of the 'how-to' aspect. The most interesting part of the book for me was Ragone relating the development of Tsuburaya's involvement with tv production. It would be interesting to see what Chronicle's editors decided to clip from the original manuscript for the book, which was considerably longer according to the author. What the editors choose for the last portion of the book turned it into more filmography than biography.

Quibbles? Well, it's a shame that Chronicle chose not to produce the book in an even larger format as with some of their other picture books. These photos are best enjoyed when printed large, a point often lost on Japanese book designers. From a content viewpoint, the choice to refer to films by literal translations of their Japanese titles is rather peculiar. While it is true that many of the the films mentioned are known by several titles outside of Japan, these literal translations do not correspond to any common references. While most people familiar with the films can figure out the proper references, those unfamiliar with these films could easily be confused. Awkward titles like "Beauty and the Liquid People" may be technically accurate, but no one refers to films by them, especially when entirely appropriate titles like "The H-Man" are either well-known or easy to find in reference materials. But it is a small matter.

Quite simply put, this book offers good information presented in a handsome package. If you haven't obtained a copy of this book yet, what are you waiting for? A must have for anyone interested in the cinema of the fantastic. Here's a link to get you on your way... ... amp;sr=8-1

Ed G.

PS - And congratulations are in order for the book getting an honorable mention in the 6th annual Rondo Awards!

Out of hibernation 
Wednesday, March 12, 2008, 07:51 PM
Ok, well, at least it wasn't as long between blog entries as it was between Issues #8 and 9 of JG. Sorry for the long absence in posting, but I have been quite busy in various projects. Sometime this year, what that has been will become apparent and hopefully it will explain my lack of activity here. But enough of that...time to start adding content again.

I recently returned from a business trip to Japan, during which I was able to make time to attend Wonder Festival, a semi-annual event that most collectors should find the opportunity to attend at least once if you can. I filed a report over at SciFi Japan that you may want to take a look at: ... onderfest/

Ed G.

Whew, it's been a long time... 
Wednesday, July 4, 2007, 11:17 PM
Since this blog has rocked or rolled. This is the official poster for the Godzilla Unleashed game from Atari. Godzilla Unleashed will be released for the Wii later this year.

Gojira Heads to Saturn!!! 
Tuesday, May 15, 2007, 01:26 AM
It seemed that the 2006 Awards season was over but word comes out today that Classic Media's Gojira DVD collected the Best DVD Classic Film Release at the 33rd annual Saturn Awards. The Saturn Awards are presented annually by the Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror Films.

For a complete list of winners, visit the Saturn Awards website.

Sakai Dioramas to Conclude 
Saturday, April 7, 2007, 11:46 PM
The final installment of Yuji Sakai Godzilla Set of 7 by Bandai is set for release at the end of the month. If you haven't picked the previous installments up, do so before they're all gone. The figures are highly detailed and depict a scene from each of Toho's Godzilla films. The figures in the set are: Godzilla 1954, Godzilla 1966 from Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster, Godzilla 1969 from Godzilla''s Revenge, Godzilla 1973 from Godzilla vs. Megalon, Godzilla 1991 from Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah, Godzilla 2003 from Godzilla vs. MechaGodzilla and Godzilla 2004 from Godzilla Tokyo SOS. Check with your favorite dealer, today.