Book: Godzilla and Toho Tokusatsu: Official Mook Vol.15

 

Godzilla and Toho Tokusatsu: Official Mook Vol.15

Japanese Book Title

ゴジラ&東宝特撮 Official Mook Vol.15 ゴジラvsメカゴジラ
[Gojira & Toho Tokusatsu Official Mook Vol.15 Gojira VS Mekagojira]

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Japanese
Non-fiction
2023
Kodansha
34 (notes 35, but counts cover)
9784065314968

Preview:

Back Cover

Book

Review

By: Anthony Romero

Crazy to think this isn’t even the halfway point for Kodansha’s ambitious series on Toho Tokusatsu. Anyway, volume 15 here is focused on Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II (1993). It follows the now familiar format for these mooks. That means, in order: two pages of perspective, monster bios, human character bios, an interview, machine bios, a collection of images sorted chronologically and then generally two random sections at the end that aren’t always related to the specific film.

One thing to note is that these books tend to give around eight pages for the monster bios regardless of cast size. That works against films like Destroy All Monsters (1968) for having to cram too much in, or also spreading too much out for those with only one or two monsters. The kaiju cast for this 1993 film is the perfect length, though, as you have a two page spread for Godzilla, a two page spread for Rodan, a three page spread for Mechagodzilla and then a concluding page for Baby Godzilla. The facts here are pretty nice, like it actually details when various suits were used for Godzilla. Such as using the 1991 suit (“GhidoGoji”), now amputated, for water scenes or the 1992 suit (“BatoGoji”) for the battle with Rodan on Adonoa Island and also the refinery scene. It also even documents a cut scene around Baby Godzilla. The real star here, though, are some phenomenal and sometimes rare production stills… which is pretty amazing as there are so many books on this film already that it’s hard to imagine there are rare shots of the monsters still out there.

Next are human character bios and… wow they are also using production stills rather than mostly screen captures from the film. That transitions into an interview with lead actor Masahiro Takashima. The interview, like others, covers a bit about how they got into acting. However, it thankfully devotes a lot of time to talking about their work in film, as Takashima covers his time spent on Gunhed (1989), Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II (1993) and Yamato Takeru (1994). That is followed by a full page image of a production still with actors Takashima and Ryoko Sano alongside Baby Godzilla… because why not, as it’s not only a rare image but looks stellar on a page to itself. 

Following this is a look at the gear people wore, the logos (as this film introduced G-Force but also has stuff like the “Pteranodon Forever - Kauma Aoki” badge) and mechs that feature within. There is some obscure stuff in the mech area, like the Contact Shuttle that ferried the crew inside Mechagodzilla. That leads into even more production stills, which again are done very well and with hardly a screen capture in sight.

Finally for the random sections of this mook… is an interview with actress Megumi Odaka and mech designer Katsushi Murakami? So it’s relevant, wow. Someone at Kodansha must really like this particular film. Anyway, Odaka talks about her time as Miki Saegusa in the Godzilla franchise along with her work on Princess from the Moon (1987). Murakami gives a pretty phenomenal interview, considering his role was submitting a design for this Mechagodzilla that wasn’t used. He reminisces about his time with special effects director Koichi Kawakita, how they would go drinking together and talk of the industry. He also mentions how Kawakita approached him with the desire to see a Mechagodzilla design from him. For those that don’t know Murakami, he’s fairly well known in Japan for his design work on Shin Tetsujin 28, Super Dimensional Fortress Macross, the cars in the video game series F-Zero and a ton of other stuff. Anyway, the book concludes with a modern drawing showing his Mechagodzilla design.

Bottom line, this is actually one of the best of the film based Mooks in the series so far. I’m surprised the subject matter happens to be a Heisei movie, just because there are so many books already out there about these films. However, Kodansha knocks it out of the park, with rare imagery, some cool facts and new interviews with relevant people to the production.