News Article:
Koichi Kawakita: 1942-2014
Current News - Past News

Date: 12/10/2014
Author: Anthony Romero and Chris Mirjahangir

Famed Special Effects director Koichi Kawakita passed away on December 5th, 2014. His family has just released the news in Japan today.

Kawakita was an instrumental force at Toho on their science fiction films for decades. He began working at Toho in the late 1950's. This prompted him to drop out of college and work full time at the studio in the early 1960's, doing cinematography work on productions such as Ebirah, Horror of the Deep (1966).

In 1971, Kawakita got a break by being an assistant special effects director on Godzilla vs. Hedorah (1971) and directing special effects on the TV show Zone Fighter (1973) two years later. His breakout work, though, is often regarded for his time in the SFX director's chair in the 1980's. Films like Bye-Bye Jupiter (1984), Zero (1984), Gunhed (1989) and Godzilla vs. Biollante (1989) featured some of the best special effects work of their time for Japan.

In 1991, Kawakita was awarded a Japanese Academy Award for his work on Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah (1991). It was these films which cemented the iconic Heisei series look for the Godzilla character as well. Kawakita was heavily involved in Toho's special effects films up until Rebirth of Mothra II (1997). He remained head of Toho's visual effects department up until 2002. After this, he formed his own independent production company called Dream Planet Japan. This allowed him to keep his involvement with Toho on TV shows like Gransazers (2003) and Sazer-X The Movie (2005).

His passion for Japanese science fiction films, especially The Mysterians (1957), was unmeasurable.

At the time of his death, Kawakita was 72 years old, tragically passing on his birthday.