Masaaki Tezuka  Masaaki Tezuka (手塚昌明)
  Director / Writer / Special Effects Director / Actor
  Date of birth:
  January 24th, 1955
  Tochigi, Japan
Director Filmography - Assistant Director Filmography - Writer Filmography- Assistant SFX Director Filmography - Acting Filmography


A cinema fan from a very young age, Masaaki Tezuka's hunger to work in movies began in elementary school. No older than six or seven at the time, he attended a busy screening of Ishiro Honda's classic King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962), whose combination of spectacular monster action and zany human characters left an indelible impression on the young moviegoer. "I didn't have a clue about directors, cameramen, writers, or producers," the director recalled many decades later, "but as a young boy, I just thought, 'Yeah, I want to make a movie like this!'" In the years that followed, he routinely watched Sunday Foreign Film Theater with his father, steadily expanding his love and knowledge of the art form. Movies seemed to be, for lack of a better term, his life's calling: in one of few attempts to obtain a regular white-collar position, Tezuka disenchanted his interviewer by talking at length about the Italian filmmaker Federico Fellini.

Following graduation from Nihon University of Art in 1977 (degree in film), Tezuka quickly entered the television industry. His first assignment was as an assistant director on Saturday Wide Theater: a program specializing in TV movies. Three years later, he met Kon Ichikawa on the set of Koto: The Ancient City (1980) and struck up a fourteen-year professional association with the famed director. Tezuka collaborated almost exclusively with Ichikawa through the 1980s, their pictures together including The Makioka Sisters (1983), The Burmese Harp (1985), and Princess from the Moon (1987). It wouldn't be long, however, before he immersed himself in the making of monster pictures. In 1992, Tezuka joined the production of Godzilla vs. Mothra and worked on three other kaiju films over the next six years. Little did he suspect his first shot in the director's chair was just around the corner.

In the late 1990s, Toho announced a second reboot of the Godzilla franchise, with three movies already set to be produced. The first, Godzilla 2000: Millennium (1999), was entering production, and Toho extended Tezuka an offer to direct the second. Setting out to correct what he perceived as mistakes in the previous few entries—namely the diminished third-act involvement of human characters—Tezuka completed his directorial debut, Godzilla vs. Megaguirus (2000). (The film established a military interest which has remained prevalent in Tezuka's career ever since.) However, despite reputed enthusiasm from monster movie fans in Japan, Godzilla vs. Megaguirus failed to attract mainstream audiences and underperformed at the box office. In a move demonstrating genuine humility, Tezuka stepped away from the director's chair to once again become an assistant, this time on Godzilla, Mothra and King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (2001), directed by Shusuke Kaneko.

As it turned out, Kaneko's film pulled enough profit to warrant a few more Godzilla movies, and producer Shogo Tomiyama granted the ever-enthusiastic Tezuka another shot at the King of the Monsters. Once more the drama was centered around a female soldier determined to defeat Godzilla, and stress was again placed on thoroughly involving the human characters in the story. Tezuka finished Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla (2002), which outperformed his previous movie but still failed to go down in Toho's books as a hit. Initially unaware of any plans for a direct sequel, the still-blooming director was picked to helm a 2003 follow-up. This film also marked his foray into screenwriting: unimpressed with the treatments provided to him in pre-production, Tezuka proceeded to write his own story and, with assistance from co-screenwriter Masahiro Yokotani, fleshed it out into a complete script, which became the basis for Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. (2003). Alas, the sequel sold even fewer tickets than its predecessor, and the Millennium Godzilla series came to a close the following year.

After Godzilla, Tezuka directed Samurai Commando: Mission 1549 (2005), based on a manga loosely reimagined from the Ryo Hanmura novel Time Slip, which had previously been adapted as the film G.I. Samurai (1979). But 2008 would prove to be the busiest year of his directorial career. Within this twelve-month span, Tezuka helmed both a special effects-heavy short as well as a feature-length production. The former was Go! Godman, a 22-minute update on a 1970s kid-oriented superhero series of the same name; the latter was a live-action adaptation of the anime Rescue Wings. The second 2008 project demonstrated a similar flavor to Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla, focusing on a conflicted woman who joins the military and ends up validating her bravery not only to others but to herself. Masaaki Tezuka's most recent film—yet another example of his fascination with military-oriented stories—is a 2014 documentary titled Nexus: Back to the Sky – Blue Impulse, which follows a famed military aerobatic team after their base was damaged by the 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami.

Image © Norman England / Toho Studios, Inc.

Director Toho Filmography

Date      Title Type
2000 Godzilla vs. Megaguirus Produced
2002 Godzilla Against Mechagodzilla Produced
2003 Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. Produced
2005 Samurai Commando: Mission 1549 Distributed
2008 Go! Godman Produced

Assistant Director Toho Filmography

Date      Title Type
1979 White Love Distributed
1980 Virus Distributed
1980 Koto: The Ancient City Distributed
1981 Lonely Heart Produced
1984 Bye-Bye Jupiter Produced
1985 The Burmese Harp Distributed
1985 Sound of the Sea Distributed
1987 Princess from the Moon Produced
1989 Buddies Produced
1992 Godzilla vs. Mothra Produced
1993 Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II Produced
1993 Monjiro Kogarashi Returns Distributed
1994 47 Ronin Produced
1996 The 8-Tomb Village Produced
1997 Abduction Produced
1997 Rebirth of Mothra II Produced
1998 Rebirth of Mothra III Produced
1999 Hypnosis Produced
2006 Murder of the Inugami Clan Distributed

Writer Toho Filmography

Date      Title Type
2003 Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. Produced

Assistant Special Effects Director Toho Filmography

Date      Title Type
2001 Godzilla, Mothra & King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack Produced

Acting Toho Filmography

Date      Title ROLE Type
2000 Godzilla vs. Megaguirus Teacher Produced
2001 Godzilla, Mothra & King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack SDF Officer Produced