Book: Distributed by Toho Special Effects Movies 1954-1999


Distributed by Toho
Special Effects Movies 1954-1999

Japanese Book Title

東宝配給作品 特撮映画大全集
[Toho Haikyu Sakuhin Tokusatsu Eiga Dai Zenshu]









By: Anthony Romero

This book, literally translated as "Toho Distributed Productions Special Effects Movie Giant Complete Works", was released by Kindaieigasha in conjunction with Toho. This Toho angle is seen both in the copyright and the amble connection to Toho Video, with the back even devoted to listing upcoming Toho Video releases with the dates and prices.

In terms of contents, the book starts off with 34 color pages. This begins with four pages devoted to, then recent, Yamato Takeru (1994). The coverage for the 1994 production is... actually quite good with a lot of great photos from the film with a focus on the various monsters that appeared in it. Afterwards are various production stills for the non-monster science fiction productions. Sadly, the images are small here, but it's nice to see some color photos for a few of the more obscure titles. Six pages for Godzilla follow, which are nothing special, along with three more for other kaiju productions. Next are interviews with producers Tomoyuki Tanaka and then Shogo Tomiyama, in Japanese naturally. What follows are a few pages devoted to posters and toys, once more all in color.

After the color segment comes a large movie bio section. This is pages 36 through 109 which all follow the same basic mold. These are all in black and white focused on the various movies. They are in chronological order until the 1970's when they are in loose order, sometimes logical reasons like having the "Bloodthirsty" films together but other times it feels random. Each listing has the Japanese title, an English title (not always), production stills, a cast/crew listing and some details on the movie. This generally takes up about a page or half a page per movie, although not always. The movies that get more coverage and those with less are sometimes surprising. For example, Godzilla (1954), H-Man (1958), The Secret of Telegian (1961), Submersion of Japan (1973) and Yamato Takeru (1994) are the only moves to get two pages of coverage. Meanwhile, the early 1970's Godzilla movies and the 1990's Godzilla movies are shoved three films to a page. As a side note, the book does feature a full page of coverage to Prophecies of Nostradamus (1974). That's not unusual for the time, but coverage on this self-banned film by Toho would vanish from most books just a few years later.

Now there are two elements that make this publication stand out... well three if one considers the more direct connection with Toho. The first is in the name and the fact that the book actually focuses on both Toho produced and distributed movies. This means movies like Virus (1980) and Tokyo Blackout (1987) are featured, a rarity for Toho focused books that tend to focus on the produced ones. The other stand out quality is minor but important: the English names used. Most movies included feature an English name, although some are missing them like Daijobu, My Friend (1983) and Checkers in Tan Tan Tanuki (1985). This means some of the more obscure movies for Western audiences get English names cited. As the years have gone by and more movies have been released or copyrighted, this has been less noteworthy but still provides some insight for some of the ignored films such as Monkey Sun (1959).

Overall, this is an enjoyable book for diehard Toho fans. Casual fans should skip it, especially if their primary interest is just in the kaiju productions. For those who like seeing more of the obscure movies, though, this is a nice source for coverage on them. Especially as it features a lot of production stills to at least get a very minor hint of what the films are about.