"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

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

The First Book on Optical Animator Sadao Iizuka

光線を描き続けてきた男 飯塚定雄

"Treasured Photobook" follow-up featuring animator Sadao Iizuka.

In the monstrous footsteps of Yonsensha Publishing's previous heavily-illustrated "Treasured Photobooks" on important figures of the golden age of Japanese visual effects films at Toho Studios (monster suit actor Haruo "Mr. Godzilla" Nakajima, visual effects director, Koichi Kawakita, and monster-maker Keizo Murase), comes this biography, focusing on legendary optical animator Sadao Iizuka.

In 1954, while still in high school, IIzuka was studying art under Seiji Tojo at the Nikaikai Institute of Art, when he started a part time job at Toho Studios. Chief of the Special Technical Department, Eiji Tsuburaya, put Iizuka to work in his Art Department, where the young artist worked on GODZILLA (1954), GODZILLA RAIDS AGAIN (1955), MADAME WHITESNAKE (1956), and RODAN (1956), among others.

Noticing Iizuka's artistic abilities, Tsuburaya transferred him to the optical animation department in 1957, with his first job being the ray-filled orgy, THE MYSTERIANS. His talents were seen in such films as VARAN (1958), BATTLE IN OUTER SPACE (1959), SECRET OF THE TELEGIAN (1960), MOTHRA (1961), THE LAST WAR (1961), GORATH (1962), KING KONG VS. GODZILLA (1962), MOTHRA VS. GODZILLA, DOGORA, and GHIDRAH (all in 1964), and even Daiei's GAMERA (1965).

Iizuka was not only responsible for the rays emitted by the Maser Cannons in THE WAR OF THE GARGANTUAS (1966), but he also went on to creating the optical animation for ULTRA Q and ULTRAMAN, the same year, not to mention ULTRA SEVEN (1967). And after leaving Toho, he formed Den Film Effects with his other student, Minoru Nakano, and they worked on MESSAGE FROM SPACE (1978), the latter Heisei Godzilla films, and the recent, ULTRAMAN X (2015).

From the book's obi (paper band): "Godzilla's radioactive heat ray, King Ghidorah's gravity rays, Ultraman's Spacium Beam and Shredding Halo! These cool ray beam techniques are absolutely essential to Japanese visual effects! For more than 60 years, Sadao Iizuka continues to emit beams of light as one of the true heroes of the visual effects industry!"

This all-new, illustrated book, clocking in at a whopping 303 pages, was compiled by Iizuka and his protégé Hajime Matsumoto (Zeiram, Heisei Godzilla series, et. al.), featuring an interview (in Japanese) between master and disciple, and includes a foreword by Hideaki Anno and Shinji Higuchi (currently making the upcoming Godzilla Resurgence). Together, they illustrate the "Iizuka Method", and his indelible impact on anime and visual effects creators.

If you've ever been fascinated by the myriad of beam weapons and deadly rays in the Japanese fantasy film — this publication comes highly recommended, despite the language barrier for non-Japanese readers, with is wealth of incredible llustrations and production stills. This one now sits proudly among the best books in my own reference library.

Click on the link below to order from Amazon Japan:
Format: 8.2 x 5.9 inches
ISBN-10: 4800308518
ISBN-13: 978-4800308511
Release Date: January 8, 2016
MSRP: ¥2916 ($24.86 USD)

1 comment:

St. Paco said...

RIGHT up my alley, this book is. Thanks for the heads up!