Book: Godzilla - The Official Guide to the King of the Monsters

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Godzilla: The Official Guide to the King of the Monsters


English Book Title

Godzilla: The Official Guide to the King of the Monsters

Authors:

Graham Skipper

Language:
Genre:
Release:
Publisher
:
Pages:
ISBN:

English
Non-fiction
2022
Welbeck Publishing
256
1787398994

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Back Cover

Book

Review

By: Anthony Romero

Released by England based Welbeck Publishing, this publication is a rare example of a non-fiction English book focused on the Japanese Godzilla which has received Toho’s blessing. In fact, for non-fiction it’s a small group that fits that criteria, with not much in it besides art books and The Official Godzilla Compendium from 1998. So, let’s jump in and discuss this release and what it offers.

First off… well it’s just cool to have another English book approved by Toho. While authored by Graham Skipper, Toho’s involvement is overt to the point where they even list themselves (Toho Co. Ltd) as an author on the official Godzilla store listing

Now one fear with authorized books is that they might be a little sterile, sticking to details that most fans will already know and aren’t particularly insightful. Author Skipper avoids this, though, having a few great facts weaved into the publication. It includes details like director Ishiro Honda being brought in to give notes on Godzilla vs. Hedorah (1971) to assist the production. It also mentions stuff like Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II (1993) being at one time considered as the conclusion to the Heisei series to honor Honda’s passing. That said, it would be nice if there were more of these facts throughout. For example, the anime films have virtually no trivia at all, just being story synopsis followed by the author’s reaction, with the sole exception being noting composer Takayuki Hattori had prior work on the Godzilla series. Speaking of the author’s reaction to the films, the book is less successful when it gushes about a particular production. For example, a paragraph devoted to talking about the climax of Godzilla vs. Biollante (1989) as a “full on horror movie, the nightmarish Biollante unleashing a torrent of violence on Godzilla, who is barely hanging on for its life.” It does something similar for the climax of Godzilla Final Wars (2004), noting it as being “steeped in love for Godzilla not only as a character but also the franchise as a whole, bursting with reverence and a childlike destructive glee.” Suffice to say, it can be way over the top at moments. Given the involvement of Toho, I didn’t expect Skipper to be negatively critical of the films, but frankly it probably would have been better if it was just neutral as it feels a bit hollow to see a Toho approved book feverishly praising Toho movies.

In terms of format, the book is organized by films in chronological order with a section devoted to each. The only exceptions are the American movies, placed toward the end, and very brief sections devoted to television, comics and video games. I should emphasize very brief, to the point their inclusion doesn’t really add much although there are some nice images from the comics for those who haven’t kept up with the IDW releases.

As for what to expect, most of the films are given a page or two worth of detail along with the poster and images related to the production. Now this book is huge, about 11 inches tall and 9 inches wide, so the images presented here get to shine a bit, including full page images for things like Baby Godzilla or Kiryu that look incredible to behold. Unfortunately, quality control on the images is uneven. You have some really great full color production stills that look amazing alongside ones that look washed out or are black and white when the production was in color. The worst offenders are the ones that were haphazardly Photoshopped together, like a really bad composite that shows Godzilla fighting Hedorah’s flying form. I don’t want to get the wrong impression, these are not the old school composites that you would find on lobby cards from back in the day. No, these are modern day creations that look, to be brutally harsh, amateurish.

Bottom line, this publication can be a little uneven in spots. That all said, I’d say this is a recommended purchase. Even if it wasn’t authorized by Toho, it’s a good book. It’s got some incredible pictures and with the size of the publication these get to really shine. While there are some cheesy parts in the details, there are also some nice facts (although I do wish there were more) and few errors, outside of things like accidentally identifying Keizer Ghidorah as “King Ghidorah” at one point or sticking King Ghidorah from Zone Fighter (1973) among the production images for Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster (1964). The fact that it has Toho’s stamp of approval makes it particularly noteworthy, though, as kind of an update to their latest guidelines with the property. As an example, that includes Little Godzilla now being spelled as two words, whereas in The Official Godzilla Compendium it was spelled as “LittleGodzilla”. It also does things like note Zone Fighter (1973) as being canon to the Showa Godzilla series, which is cool to see from an English source with Toho’s stamp of approval on it.

As a side note, there are both physical and digital versions of this publication. The physical version has a rough texture on Godzilla’s skin for the cover along with a bit gloss on his to make it pop more. The digital version, pictured above, instead totally obscures the eye.