"There is so much writing in English on Japanese cinema that can't be accepted at face value — not because the writers are careless, but because the differences in culture and language are just too intricate. When I see August Ragone's name on a piece of writing, it gives me permission to place my faith in it completely. Among Japanese fantasy film historians, he's the best working in English." —Tim Lucas, Video Watchdog

Saturday, September 12, 2009

New Bargain-Priced Magazine & DVD series!


GODZILLA (1954) is the subject of the first issue. ©Toho/DeAgostini

A couple of years back, Tokyo-based imprint, DeAgostini, launched a successful series of magazines on Tatsunoko Productions' seminal anime series SCIENCE NINJA TEAM: GATCHAMAN (1972). All three GATCHMAN series are being released in 68 issues, and is currently in the 40s. What really made this a hit, was that each biweekly issue contained a DVD of the corresponding episodes, which were merely the same (and expensive) pressings released a few years earlier, at a substantially lower price. While this must've been harsh for those who bought the original DVD releases, those who held out can pick them up for much less, and get a cool magazine, too.

The premiere issue of GATCHAMAN. ©Tatsunoko/DeAgostini

Each issue of the DeAgostini's magazines are slickly produced, with great, eye-catching layouts, are stuffed with excellent images, and are simply must-haves for fans. Publishing scores of pop and culture series, they have also published similar DVD series with "The STAR TREK Best Episode Selection" (featuring NEXT GENERATION, DEEP SPACE NINE and VOYAGER), "The X FILES DVD Collection", "The STARGATE DVD Collection" and "The Toei Jidaigeki DVD Collection", among many others in their line-up. Now, DeAgostini is about to do the same for Toho's Visual Effects Catalogue.

Issue Two: MOTHRA VS. GODZILLA (1964). ©Toho/DeAgostini

Launching on September 29th, the premiere issue of the "Toho Special Visual Effects Movie DVD Collection" will feature the original GODZILLA (1954). Each glossy, biweekly issue will focus on a particular film, jam-packed with photographs, with minimal text, and featuring sections on Production Backgrounds, Actor Biographies, Staff Profiles, Monster Guides, Weapons Encyclopedias, Advertising Museums, and a special column on each film by Visual Effects Director Koichi Kawakita. The DVDs also come in their own protective amaray cases, featuring the original Japanese movie posters emblazoned on their jackets.

Issue Three: GHIDRAH (1964). ©Toho/DeAgostini

Sounds good? It gets even better — the premiere issue will sell for the special introductory price of ¥990 ($10.65), with the succeeding issues retailing for only ¥1,990 ($21.40). This is an absolute steal compared to Toho Video's DVDs for the films, which retail for around ¥5,000 ($55.00) — and these are the same DVDs — plus, you get the fully-illustrated magazine to boot! DeAgostini has officially announced that there will be an astounding 55 issues of the "Toho Special Visual Effects Movie DVD Collection" in all, and that the subject of each issue will not be released in any particular chronological, or categorical, order.

Issue Four: ATRAGON (1963). ©Toho/DeAgostini

While the premiere issue will tally in at 22 pages, the following installments will feature 14 pages. The second issue, released on October 13th, is devoted to MOTHRA VS. GODZILLA (1964). On October 27th, issue three will feature GHIDRAH, THE THREE-HEADED MONSTER (1964), with issue four spotlighting ATRAGON (1963) on November 10th. MOTHRA (1961) takes center stage in issue five on November 24th. Additionally, DeAgostini is offering special binders, which will hold 14 issues each, and will go on sale in October at the special introductory price of ¥690 ($7.60). Additional binders will retail for ¥1,290 ($14.22) each. The publisher is also offering special coupon-redeemable wooden DVD racks (in black lacquer) in each volume, starting with issue three.

Issue Five: MOTHRA (1961). ©Toho/DeAgostini

This is going to be a great series, and I've already reserved the premiere issue. Those who have held out on picking up the Toho Video DVDs because of their relatively high MSRPs (between $50-$60), and are also holding off on Toho's Blu-rays, will do well by getting their hands on DeAgostini's latest series — the magazines are worth the ¥1,290 without the DVDs. While you can't order them directly from DeAgostini outside of Japan, you can get them through Japanese booksellers in the U.S. And if you've got a region-free DVD player, what the hell are you waiting for?

UPDATE (09.16.09): Here's the official "Toho Visual Effects Collection DVD" Commercial now airing on Japanese television.


Lee Merritt said...

Thanks for this marvelous info! I'd like to order these as they're released. Can you steer me to a bookseller in the U.S. that would sell them? Thanks!

August Ragone said...

I would try Kinokuniya Book Stores of America, which offers a subscription service. But, here are the locations and phone numbers of several Japanese booksellers in the US:

Asahiya Bookstores (Chicago), 847-228-9851

Asahiya Bookstores (Torrance, CA) 310-787-0700

Asahiya Bookstores (Los Angeles) 213-626-5650

Asahiya Bookstores (San Diego) 858-565-0100

Hakubundo, Inc. (Honolulu) 808-947-5503

Kinokuniya (Costa Mesa) 714-434-9986

Kinokuniya (Los Angeles) 213-687-4480

Kinokuniya (San Francisco) 415-567-7625

Kinokuniya (San Jose) 408-252-1300

Kinokuniya (Seattle) 206-587-2477

Kinokuniya (Portland) 503-641-6240

Kinokuniya (New Jersey) 201-941-7580

Kinokuniya (New York) 212-765-7766

Nippon Book Co. (Los Angeles) 213-624-2089

Sasuga Books (Massachusetts) 617-497-5460

Here's a link to a listing of a number of Japanese booksellers around the world for those residing outside of the US:


Another outlet is the international Japanese company, Overseas Courier Service, Inc., which ships directly from Japan to you doorstep, and offers subscription services as well:



Lee Merritt said...

Thanks for the info on those book stores and the website link! I appreciate it!

Hux said...

Hey August, I just found your blog. I saw your book recently in San Francisco's Japantown and loved it. I especially appreciated the in-depth discussions of the plots of the films, not just the effects. I don't know whether it was intentional on Toho's part, or just by-product of your writing, but it seemed like all the Kaiju movies all kind of fit together into a cohesive storytelling universe, even the ones that didn't get swallowed up by the Godzilla series.

Speaking of Godzilla, what do you think of William Tsutsui's Godzilla on my mind? It's the first Kaiju book I ever saw, and I liked it quite a bit. What's your take on it?


Newton Gimmick said...

Looks interesting.

Raida|23 said...

Hi August, I'm pretty sure the correct name is De Agostini.

Anonymous said...

forgive me for my ignorance but how does that website work? i would very much like to pick these up but it would be dificult for me to go to a physical store. is there a website i can order them from? thanks these look awesome!

August Ragone said...

While it's well-written and researched, I didn't care for Godzilla On My Mind, but I did enjoy the follow-up, In Godzilla's Footsteps much more. Thanks for the compliments on my book, it's appreciated. If you pull back, you can see that all of the post-war Japanese fantasy films and television shows are all connected to one another. All roads lead back to Eiji Tsuburaya.

I posted a listing of outlets in the US, check it out!