Book: Kaiju Super Power Ultra Illustrated Encyclopedia

 

Kaiju Super Power Ultra Illustrated Encyclopedia


Japanese Book Title

怪獣スーパーパワー超図鑑
[Kaiju Supa Pawa Cho Zukan]

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Japanese
Non-fiction
1993
Asahi Sonorama
73
T1001844121004

Preview:

Back Cover

Book

Review

By: Anthony Romero

The early 1990's were a great period for Godzilla fans in Japan. The Heisei series was in full swing and with it a huge merchandizing blitz for each new film. While these items would often highlight the latest entry, many did honor the movies and characters that came before them. This book, the awkwardly titled Kaiju Super Power Ultra Illustrated Encyclopedia, is a great example of that. It has a heavy focus on Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II (1993), but covers much more... and what better way to signal that then with a random inclusion of the obscure dragon from Princess from the Moon (1987) on the cover. All that said though, this encyclopedia covers a lot of ground. The shining content area, though, is in the form of full color, painted illustrations found inside that include some amazing cutaway views of the characters.

In terms of contents, let's do it in order. First is a 19 page section devoted to Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II (1993). This includes a ton of photos from the movie that first go over the basic plot, mostly focused on the battles. They then cover the characters, listing stats for the various kaiju. This area includes our first cutaway, although it's a very dated looking CGI model for the Heisei Mechagodzilla. After this is some coverage of the military vehicles, Garuda included, seen in the production.

Following this is the greatest portion of the book where it focuses on the kaiju from prior films. Kicking off this section is an incredible cutaway view of the Heisei Godzilla, with the attention to detail paid to the artwork here nothing short of remarkable. This is followed by a less detailed cutaway view of King Ghidorah from the Showa series. Each of these cutaways is flanked by pictures from the films, stats and details in Japanese. After this the coverage splits a little, for example showing an okay illustration of Gorosaurus' kangaroo kick against Kong without a cutaway element. The book rebounds with a cutaway of Megalon that goes into some nice details. Next is an illustration of Mothra and Battra attacking Godzilla, once again no cutaway. Next is a cutaway of King Caesar... focused solely on his head and his reflection ability, which is great to see this level of detail. Sadly this is the last cutaway for this section. What follows is general art, like Baragon burrowing, although does have one stand out in the form of Godzilla Heisei series, Gezora, Manda, King Kong and the Mothra Larva swimming with a really nice painting of this.

Around page 45 the kaiju coverage switches to black and white. This is less bio focused and more on certain topics. Like for example there is a speed chart that compares the various monsters, with Mechagodzilla from the Showa series being the fastest and the Mechagodzilla from the Heisei series being the slowest (technically Hedorah is just as slow, but I guess they liked the visual of the Mechagodzillas being at the front and end of the list). The list is mostly focused on the Godzilla series, although the Black Moth from Latitude Zero (1969) got snuck in.

At page 66 the coverage shifts to the mechs. This starts with one black and white page before switching to color... and also bringing back the illustration cutaways. This includes cutaways of the Gotengo, Moonlight SY-3, Super X2, Mecha-King Ghidorah, Gigan, Mechagodzilla Showa and Jet Jaguar.

...And that's the end, literally the last page is the cutaway view of Jet Jaguar, although using the concept art rather than an original illustration, while being flanked by bios for the mechs from Gunhed (1989).

Overall, this is a great book. While it could have drifted to obscurity, the original artwork, creativity in coverage and amazing cutaways keep it relevant even today.

As a side note, the ISBN is confusing for this title. The 13 digits listed on the back of the book is the same exact one that publisher Asahi Sonorama used for their Godzilla Fierce Fighting Super Illustrated Encyclopedia entry the prior year. Was this a mistake? Is this not the ISBN? If it's not, I don't see any other number sequence on the book that would work.