New Godzilla film, new merchandise to capitalize on the blockbuster and with it is Kadokawa’s latest book on the franchise. Published in August of 2016, New Godzilla Walker: The New Legend of the King of the Monsters focuses on the recent Godzilla Resurgence (2016). As the wonderful cover art by Yuji Kaida might imply, though, this book actually covers the franchise as a whole with emphasis on the recent film. This includes movie bios, interviews, art and more to look over.
So let’s start with the coverage of the new film. This includes a rundown of the huge cast for the movie and also a wealth of full page still images. These images are nothing new, meaning they were all used heavily to promote the film and should be familiar to most Godzilla fans, but it’s nice to see them full page here. There is also a cool segment that compares the body parts of the new Godzilla to those that came before him. For example, it compares the eyes of the new Godzilla to those of King of the Monster as he appeared in Godzilla (1954), Son of Godzilla (1967) [!?] and Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (2001). The only downside to this section is that it utilizes the sculpture of the character used to help in the creation of the CGI model seen in the movie. The negative element of that is that it does differ versus the film version a little. For example, the teeth are a little larger, rounded and dull in the sculpture versus the smaller, jagged ones in the movie.
For interviews, the book has quite a few. From the new film, we have director/special effects director Shinji Higuchi, sculptor Takayuki Takeya, along with actors Hiroki Hasegawa, Yutaka Takenouchi and Satomi Ishihara. It also includes an interesting interview segment with artists Yuji Kaida, who did the cover for this and also the cover for the music release Godzilla Legend, and Kia Asamiya (birth name Michitaka Kikuchi), who is famous for his manga work on titles like Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla and Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla among many others. Finally, there is also a joint interview session with Godzilla vs. Biollante (1989) director Kazuki Omori and Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (2001) director Shusuke Kaneko.
The book focuses a fair bit on the art elements of Godzilla as well. Besides the artist interviews, the book also has full page original art of the character. The best of these is found on page 88, an homage to the various looks of the Showa Godzilla, while there is also an interesting, manga inspired poster depicting Major Sho Kuroki (played by Masanobu Takashima) against Godzilla. The manga poster draws from the events of Godzilla vs. Biollante (1989), but is really homage to artist Kia Asamiya who inserted the character in his 1990’s manga adaptations. Finally, the book also contains a fold out, huge poster of the cover image of the new Godzilla with Godzilla 1955 (or maybe 1954…), Godzilla 1963, Godzilla 1964, Godzilla 1994, Godzilla 1999 and Godzilla 2001.
Moving onto the movie bios, each contains the film’s poster, still images, monster stats, story synopsis and backgrounds. The quality of the posters presented is generally high, although there is some damage on the Ebirah, Horror of the Deep (1966). The poster used for Godzilla vs. Mothra (1992) is interesting to note, though, as it looks similar to the main one used, but is actually a variant with the tagline at the top and still images to the left of the main image. Unfortunately, quality of each of these bios isn’t equal. All Monsters Attack (1969), for example, has a lot of overly brightened images for its stills, while Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964) uses low quality, color faded screen grabs straight from a DVD source, edge enhancement halos and all, which looks very cheap. As a side note, the book does have bios for GODZILLA (1998) and Godzilla (2014), but they are all crammed on the same page with the American version of Godzilla (1954).
Now one cool side note to this book is that it contains a self defense force timeline. Most of its straight forward, like the Heisei machines are credited for the year after the movie’s release, which makes sense as they were December films but took place in the following year. The exceptions are the machines from Godzilla vs. Biollante (1989), the Musashi-2 sub from Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah (1991) and the machines from Godzilla vs. Destoroyah (1995) which are all credited as being created in their release year. Nothing abnormal here as those devices being created a year before their use makes perfect sense. It also credits the Millennium machines in the same way, a year after the movie’s release, with the exception of the Satsuma which is credited as 2004. The Destroy All Monsters (1968) tech is also credited as being created in 1990, giving it 9 years of use before the events of the film. Where it doesn’t make sense is some of the early Showa films, like the electrical blockade for King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962) which is credited as 1961 even though that was seen being made in the movie… unless it implies that movie took place in the past. The Type 66 Maser Cannon is also credited as 1973… even though, as the name implies, it was supposed to be created in 1966 and was first featured in The War of the Gargantuas (1966). Regardless, gives some food for thought and amble ammunition for fans to talk about things.
Overall, despite being only 122 pages, the book is slightly exhaustive in its approach in the amount of things covered, citing all the past films, monsters, self defense force and even interviews with past Godzilla crew members. While this makes the book a good catch all, it does also offer a weakness in that the book never goes into too much depth on any one subject. So what makes it stand out is the spread of concept art for the new film, the great artwork, full page still images from the new movie and finally the interviews (for those who can read Japanese).