"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

Friday, January 22, 2016

New Marathon Streaming Live on January 23rd


Dynamic poster for Shout! Facotry TV's Super Sentai Spectacular!

For our third marathon with Shout! Factory TV, I'll be hosting a three-hour live streaming event featuring the original Japanese episodes of DINOSAUR TASK FORCE: ZYURANGER (1992) which will be blasting out onto digital screens across the web on Saturday, January 23, 2016 at 9:00 am Pacific/Noon Eastern at Shout Factory TV!

This new marathon will feature seven episodes of the original series that inspired the "Power Rangers" franchise, presented in Japanese with English subtitles. After fans have watched these first episodes during the "Super Sentai Spectacular", all 50 episodes of ZYURANGER will be available on Shout! Factory TV for free streaming.

As a returning host, I'll discuss the history of the franchise, setting the context as a long-time fan. My first experience with Super Sentai was watching the first show that started it all: SECRET TASK FORCE: GORANGER in 1976 through 1977 on KMUV-31 (Sacramento), KEMO-20 (San Francisco) and KIKU-13 (Honolulu). So, I'm an OF (Original Fan).

As with our previous marathons, this will also be interactive: Join in on the conversation with myself and other Super Sentai fans, using the hashtag #Zyuranger while you watch on Twitter, Facebook, and on Pluto TV (Channel 515), or get the Pluto TV app for tablet and TV devices (Roku, Amazon Fire, Fire TV Stick, Android, Chromecast, and Apple Airplay), mobile (iOS, Android and Amazon), and on the web.


When the sinister witch Bandora is released from her prison after 170 million years, five ancient warriors are woken from suspended animation to once again defend Earth from Bandora and her evil horde. Armed with enchanted weapons and giant mechanical deities known as the Guardian Beasts, it’s up to these warriors to defeat Bandora and her monsters before she can exact revenge upon the Earth for the death of her son.

Schedule of Episodes:*
09:05 am – The Birth
09:30 am – The Revival
10:00 am – Fight in the Land of Despair
10:25 am – Reawaken, Legendary Weapons
10:55 am – Scary Riddles
11:25 am – Arise, Daizyuzin
11:50 am – I Can See! I Can See!

*Times listed are Pacific time, approximate and subject to change.

Grab your Dino Bucklers, fire up the Guardian Beasts, and join us for the "Super Sentai Spectacular" on Saturday, January 23rd!

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)

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Private Photos Taken at Toho Studios Leaked!


A face only a mother Godzilla could love... Clearasil, anyone?

Earlier today, a number of low-res images began appearing on Twitter and Facebook featuring shots taken of the "monster suit" from Toho's upcoming production of GODZILLA RESURGENCE, directed by Hideaki Anno (Evangelion) and Shinji Higuchi (Attack on Titan), bowing this coming July 29th in Japan.

Heavy radiation damage from H-Bombs or the Fukushima disaster?

This will probably be the most divisive Godzilla design since Patrick Tatapolous' deviation for the 1998 Roland Emmerich debacle. Anno's conceit recalls the initial concept for Godzilla by Ishiro Honda, as a literal victim of the H-Bomb — his scales resembling keloid scars — and may not be his only form or mutation.

Might this nightmarish Big G be regenerating or is he decomposing?

Design for this new, nightmarish Godzilla was executed by Mahiro Maeda (Mad Max: Fury Road) and then realized as a maquette by Takayuki Takeya (Attack on Titan). Godzilla will be manifest using several different techniques, puppets, animatronics, and enhanced by digital effects, with the main "suit" operated by three people.

Now, I've been privy to other images and information, but promised to not make them public, and will adhere to that promise. But, now that the cat is out of the bag in regards to today's images (which aren't those I was allowed to see a while back), and there's no way to stop the further proliferation of them to the public.

Personally, I wish that the person who leaked them hadn't, so we could've had authorized, high-res images when the official news eventually came. In that regard, please stay tuned to this blog for further information and news on GODZILLA RESURGENCE as it develops!

Here are my previous reports on GODZILLA RESURGENCE:
December 11, 2015: Meet the"Godzilla Resurgence" Composer
December 10, 2015: The "Godzilla Resurgence" English Poster!
December 9, 2015: Japanese Press Reveals Shin Godzilla's Size
December 9, 2015: Scoop! Teaser for "Godzilla Resurgence"
December 9, 2015: Here's Your Big G in "Godzilla Resurgence"!
November 12, 2015: "Shin Godzilla" Promo Reel Screens at AFM!"
September 22, 2015: Toho Announces Three Principal Cast Members!
September 6, 2015: Shooting Begins on Toho's "Godzilla 2016"!
August 1, 2015: Did These Men Design Toho's New Big G?
April 1, 2015: The Directors of "Godzilla 2016" Speak!
March 31, 2015: "Evangelion" Creator Helms New "Godzilla"!
December 7, 2014: The "Japanese Godzilla" Will Rise Again!

Friday, January 1, 2016

The Original Godzilla: January 1, 1929

お誕生日おめでとう ゴジラさん、中島春雄!

Nakajima prepares to play Godzilla in this publicity shot, 1954.

Read more about the incredible Mr. Godzilla, here!

Toho's Siren of the 1960s: January 1, 1937


Continuity photo taken during the production of MATANGO (1963).

For my biography on Ms. Mizuno, please click here.