Toho Special Effects: All Kaiju Illustrated Encyclopedia
Language: Japanese Release: 2014
Publisher: Shogakukan Pages: 208
Genre: Non-Fiction ISBN: 9784096820902

Page 31 - Page 73 - Page 100 - Page 147
Back Cover
Anthony Romero

If anyone had ever wondered how to make me spend $60 without a second thought, Shogakukan seems to have uncovered it. Placing Biollante, Matango, Gransazers and Zone Fighter on a cover will pretty much get me to buy whatever it is. If you want to make me run to the register, put in something super obscure like Guyferd as well.

Released to capitalize on Godzilla (2014), which is also included in the book, Shogakukan has published an exhaustive encyclopedia on all things Toho for the special effects films. This encompasses all the Godzilla films, Mothra films and more. The meat and potatoes of the book are movie bios that feature the poster, cast/crew and a quick synopsis… before providing a sound off of all the monsters from the films. The book spares no detail, with even the loveable Giant Lizard from King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962) getting a highlight. These bios include pictures of the monsters, stats, powers and descriptions. It's like the Toho Kingdom Monster Bios section… in Japanese, print form.

The book features the usual suspects, but also dives into the television side of things as well. Go! Godman (1972), Godzilla Island (1997) and Gransazers (2003) are just a few examples. Rather than focus on an episode guide, it instead includes every monster seen in the shows. It's exhaustive and welcome, as these programs are often neglected in the book department. If obscure stuff is your bag, this has you covered with even more recent stuff like The Vampire Gigolo (2004).

While the primary focus is the kaiju films and shows, the book does host the non-monster films as well. Typically these are brief in contrast, but still you can find stuff on Conflagration (1975), Vampire Doll (1970), Bye-Bye Jupiter (1985) and much more. As a surprise move, Prophecies of Nostradamus (1974) is also included. For those who don't know the back story, the 1974 disaster film was self-banned by Toho after controversy arose for its depiction of survivors of an atomic bomb. While the movie was still included in books up through the mid-1990's, it vanished around the time Godzilla 2000: Millennium (1999) started to be promoted. Its return in this book, and the recently released Character Encyclopedia Godzilla, is a positive sign. Maybe not for a home video release, but that the taboo on mentioning it at all might be gone. For the non-monster films, there isn't a lot of focus, although a few like Gunhed (1989) and The War in Space (1977) get full bios on themselves and the crafts.

In terms of extras, the book comes with a little slip, pictured here, and contains a few features found inside the cover. These are billed as "limited time", although it's not clear if current editions are still carrying them. For reference, I bought mine 7 months after release and it still had them. These extras are: a clear file featuring the front and back cover design, Godzilla vs Mothra (1992) paper crafts and a Godzilla poster sticker set.

Overall, while neat cheap (it retails 4000 yen, which will net you around $55-60), it caters to a hardcore group and is exhaustive enough that anyone with an interest in the non-Godzilla science fiction world should jump on this.