Book: The Godzilla Chronicles - The History of Toho Fantastic Movies, 1935-1993


The Godzilla Chronicles: The History of Toho Fantastic Movies, 1935-1993

Japanese Book Title

ゴジラ画報: 東宝幻想映画半世紀の歩み
[Gojira Gaho: Toho Genso Eiga Han Seiki no Ayumi]






Back Cover



By: Anthony Romero

Published by Takeshobo under their B Media Books label, this is the first entry in The Godzilla Chronicles series. Like the later volumes, this book goes over the the Toho produced science fiction films, along Daigoro vs. Goliath (1972). Although it notes this as 1935 to 1993, it's more accuracetly from 1954 to 1993. As for the contents, the book cvoers a lot of ground. Everything from monster bios to toys to lost projects and the movies themselves. While the depth of coverage varies, the toys are just a footnote, the book does go into some nice detail in regards to the movies. The publication has a lot of pictures as well, 1,372 in total in fact with 317 being in color. This made it a popular import item, helping bridge the gap for fans who can't speak Japanese.

The book starts out with 10 pages, in color, dedicated to the then recent Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II (1993) before going over the specifics of Toho's monsters. The monster section is pretty thorough, but isn't without its faults. Chief among them is the questionable English names used for the creatures. Some examples include Gavalla for Gabara, Jet-Jagger for Jet Jaguar, and Mechanic Kong for Mechani-Kong just to name a few. A general rule of thumb is to take all the English used in this section with a grain of salt. Next, the book goes over the posters and merchandise associated with Toho's Sci-fi films before finally going over the movies themselves. The, lengthy, section devoted to Toho's films and actors is the "meat" of the book, but is, unfortunately, entirely in black and white. This section, which is organized by date of release, lists each film's US title in English below the Japanese one. The drawback to this, however, is that if there is no US title for the film, the book won't list a English title at all instead of using the film's International title. Through out the movie and actor section, lost projects are scattered in with a short amount of info on each along with some concept art or "doctored" still.

Although there are other books with a similar scope, The Godzilla Chronicles makes a minor name for itself by covering some of the numerous lost projects that have accumulated over the years. Unfortunately, people will probably want to skip this volume in the series if they don't already have it and just pick up the more recent The Godzilla Chronicles Vol. 3; unless they want the extra color photos of Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II (1993) or the page long coverage on Prophecies of Nostradamus (1974) as this film was removed from later volumes in the series.

As a side note, the title of this series is interesting. Takeshobo actually gave the series an English name, The Godzilla Chronicles. This is quite different from the Japanese name for the series, which is The Godzilla Pictorial or The Godzilla Illustrated Magazine. For an English audience, whoever decided on Chronicles as the name did a good job versus the literal alternatives. Speaking of, the complete literal title to this book is: The Godzilla Pictorial - The Half-Century Advance of Toho Fantasy Films.