Eiji Tsuburaya: Master of Monsters / August Ragone : 5 of 5
Although I'm pretty close to finishing all my Christmas DVDs, it takes me longer to get through my Christmas books! I've been reading this incredible biography sporadically for several weeks, and I finally finished it since I've been so fascinated by Godzilla movies lately. Eiji Tsuburaya is the father of Japanese special effects, who pioneered all of the filming techniques that we associate with kaiju movies today. His life was really interesting, and made me think of Walt Disney in many ways, since he always took risks (financial and otherwise) to continually improve his methods. Not only was he technically brilliant, but his studio was also responsible for creating many Japanese hero icons, such as Ultraman! After covering his childhood and early interest in miniatures and film, the book quickly starts covering each of Tsuburaya's movies with interesting anecdotes about their development and shooting - there are so many incredible films mentioned that I want to watch them all! I enjoyed learning more about the philosophy of Japanese special effects, embodied by a great quote that mentions how many shots would have been cheaper to film with actual tanks, cars, and so on, but miniatures were used to convey a sense of wonder. The quality of this hardcover book is simply amazing - its graphic design is bold and artistic, right down to the quality of the paper. I could go on and on about the photos, which are truly a delight for any kaiju fan. There's just something awesome about seeing Eiji standing in the middle of a miniature city, smoking a cigarette and talking to Godzilla! I can't imagine a better book on this subject ever being produced, so I definitely recommend this fantastic work to any fan of Japanese film (Godzilla or otherwise).