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Eiji Tsuburaya: Master of Monsters: Defending the Earth with Ultraman, Godzilla, and Friends in the Golden Age of Japanese Science Fiction Film

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Overview

Now in paperback! Behind-the-scenes hero to anyone who's thrilled by giant monsters duking it out over Tokyo, Eiji Tsuburaya was the visual effects mastermind behind Godzilla, Ultraman, and numerous Japanese science fiction movies and TV shows beloved around the world. The first book on this legendary film figure in English, this highly visual biography surveys his fascinating life and career, featuring hundreds of film stills, posters, concept art, and delightful on-set photos of Tsuburaya prompting monsters to ...

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Overview

Now in paperback! Behind-the-scenes hero to anyone who's thrilled by giant monsters duking it out over Tokyo, Eiji Tsuburaya was the visual effects mastermind behind Godzilla, Ultraman, and numerous Japanese science fiction movies and TV shows beloved around the world. The first book on this legendary film figure in English, this highly visual biography surveys his fascinating life and career, featuring hundreds of film stills, posters, concept art, and delightful on-set photos of Tsuburaya prompting monsters to crush landmark buildings. A must-have for fans, this towering tribute also profiles Tsuburaya's film collaborators, details his key films and shows, and spotlights the enduring popularity of the characters he helped create.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"When I moved to America to start filming Godzilla, this was one of the few books I brought with me. Eiji is a true inspiration, and a one of a kind innovator of special effects, the likes of which we'll probably never see again in cinema."-Gareth Edwards, director of Monsters and Godzilla (2014).
Library Journal

While the cinematic smack down of Freddy vs. Jasonowes a huge debt to the interfilm monster battles of Japanese sci-fi movies, it can't hold a flaming skyscraper to the clash between Godzilla and King Ghidorah or any of the other beastly brawls orchestrated by visual-effects wizard Eiji Tsuburaya during the 1950s and 1960s. In this first English-language book about the creator of Mothra and Ultraman characters, Japanese film and culture commentator Ragone highlights Tsuburaya's inspirations, technological advances, and lasting impact on popular culture and the Japanese film industry. Ragone expertly weaves biographical anecdotes into his exhaustive accounts of film productions, showing readers how a young aviator and toy designer fascinated by King Kongwould, with his singular vision, exorcise the demons of postwar Japan, push the boundaries of television, and launch the careers of many talented writers and designers. A selected filmography and plethora of beautiful photographs of film sets, promotional materials, and figurines based on Tsuburaya's creatures will satisfy hard-core fans and novices alike. Recommended for all academic and large public library film and Asian studies collections.
—Blanche Angelo

The Barnes & Noble Review
In August Ragone's charming, colorful and comprehensive biography, Eiji Tsuburaya: Master of Monsters, there are numerous photos of Ragone's auteur subject, the Japanese SFX genius and "father" of Godzilla, Ultraman, Mothra, and scores of other well-loved cinematic and televisual creations, bestriding his insanely detailed miniature sets like a deity, as large as the various rubber-suited antiheroes clustered around him. With his trademark fedora and dapper suits, cigarette perpetually alight, Tsuburaya is the epitome of artistic cool, looking more like a member of the Rat Pack or a Miles Davis compatriot than any salaryman. Exhibiting keen instincts for outrageous visuals, a sense of mythology worthy of Joseph Campbell, a direct line to the zeitgeist, and the inextinguishable playfulness and fecund ingenuity of the ten-year-old who, upon seeing his first film in 1911, immediately constructed his own toy projector, Tsuburaya (1901-70) had a hand in over 150 films during his long career, engendering fond memories of monster marathons in several generations. Ragone's text delves minimally into the psychodynamics and day-to-day family life of Tsuburaya, instead focusing on his professional accomplishments; it sings the litany of one lovingly handcrafted monster after another, created first for Toho Studios, and then for Tsuburaya's own production company. One suspects that this particular spotlight on the workaholic Tsuburaya is the most accurate and flattering, and it certainly makes for an engrossing narrative. Several sidebars by experts and comrades of the man cover everything from the feedback loop of American-Japanese-American cultural borrowings to the raft of collectibles spawned by Tsuburaya's dreams-made-latex. The enigmatic smile on Ultraman, we learn, derives in part from the smile of Kannon, a Japanese Buddhist bodhisattva of compassion. I suspect some of Tsuburaya's own glee is blended in as well. --Paul DiFilippo
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781452135397
  • Publisher: Chronicle Books LLC
  • Publication date: 5/6/2014
  • Pages: 208
  • Sales rank: 201,130
  • Product dimensions: 10.40 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

August Ragone has written and commented on Japanese film and pop culture for more than 20 years. He lives in San Francisco.

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