Considering The Return of Godzilla (1984) is my personal favorite film in the Godzilla series—and therefore one of my favorite movies in general—it was only a matter of time until I learned about and got my hands on a copy of Toho's official book dedicated to the making of the film. (This is the first Japanese book to enter my collection. In the past, I've read some translated editions of Japanese books, but this is the first legitimate book from the Orient—with page numbers sequenced right-to-left, text read top-to-bottom—I've ever owned.) The fact that I could barely read any Japanese didn't impede my purchase in the slightest; as a huge fan of The Return of Godzilla, owning this book was nothing short of mandatory.
(A disclaimer: despite the inclusion of New World's Godzilla 1985 in the title, this item revolves solely around the original Japanese version of the film. So if you're seeking behind-the-scenes material featuring Raymond Burr, your search has not ended just yet.)
The Making of Godzilla 1985 is a primarily pictorial experience, complete with promotional images, production photographs, storyboards, concept art, and (the first image you'll see upon turning the front cover) a gorgeous poster illustrated by the late Noiyoshi Ohrai. Much of the book's beginning section shows the Godzilla suit in action—with several of the pictures taken from angles different than in the film. So, for instance, instead of a ground-level shot peering around Godzilla's leg as he decimates an entire industrial facility, we are presented with a breathtaking high-angle view, the monster's body silhouetted in a fireball. Instead of a wide profile shot of Godzilla facing the shoreline defense units in Tokyo Bay, we see him head-on from the dock, looming over the foreground structures.
Sometimes the reader is treated to pictures pertaining to cut or trimmed material. One such picture reveals the wide shot of Godzilla stomping away from the nuclear power plant had originally been longer and included the monster being tailed by a helicopter. (A few of the photographs in this book were also included in the Godzilla theatrical pamphlet, albeit not in the same scale or resolution.)
In regards to behind-the-scenes material, Toho's marketing department primarily invested in detailing how the special effects were pulled off. As revealed, even seemingly uncomplicated tasks such as the opening storm sequence required a great deal of effort (not to mention several gigantic pieces of machinery). Galleries focused on the animation and matte processes are intriguing, as are pictures exhibiting the circuitry underneath the Super-X's wood-and-fiberglass carapace. The book also offers plenty of material devoted to construction of the monster costume and, of course, Toho's favorite promotional gimmick for years to come: the gigantic computer-controlled Cybot Godzilla. It is eerie fun seeing the prop evolve from a white robotic skeleton with a blood-red mouth to the jittery, imperfect doppelganger we all remember. It may not have been everything Toho wanted it to be, but these making-of images of the Cybot champion special effects director Teruyoshi Nakano's willingness to take chances with the generous budget he'd been granted. (A budget he ended up raising twenty-five percent during production.)
Text, for the most part, is relegated to in-the-margin notes. In fact, the book does not become particularly text-heavy until the last sixty-two pages. Those with a good understanding of Japanese will definitely want to check out a six-page interview with key creative forces: Nakano, director Koji Hashimoto, screenwriter Shuichi Nagahara, composer Reijiro Koroku, wire works technician Koji Matsumoto, and suit actor Kenpachiro Satsuma.
In short, The Making of Godzilla 1985 is a most worthwhile item for collectors and certainly a must-have for those interested in the production of Godzilla's 30th anniversary film. Highly recommended.