I tried getting my hands on this book years ago. At the time, it was long OOP and was going for prices north of $100. Well, it was hard to drop that kind of cash on a used book, so I decided to hold off. I’m glad I did. Now the book is in print again and going for far more reasonable prices.
Among Godzilla fans, August Ragone’s book on Eiji Tsuburaya is considered one of the best books in the English language ever written about the genre and the men who created it. If you don’t know who Eiji Tsuburaya is, he’s the grandfather of Japanese special effects, the man who’s credited for creating suitmation among other techniques. Along with director Ishiro Honda and producer Tomoyuki Tanaka, Tsuburaya helped bring Godzilla to the screen, thus creating the kaiju genre. He also created Ultraman, a superhero who fights kaiju on a weekly basis. The special effects wizard passed away in 1970 at the age of 68 but his legacy lives on in the imagination of fans and in the classic films he helped create.
Ragone’s book Master of Monsters is a great, exhaustive look at the life and work of Eiji Tsuburaya. Full of interesting info and hard-to-find photos (so many great photos!), it’s a well-written biography for an important figure in film. And I always feel like a book that draws more attention to an artist like Tsuburaya is something to celebrate – there will always be books about Scorsese, Welles, Chaplin, Harryhausen, and Hitchcock (as there should be!), but names like Tsuburaya deserve some recognition as well. For Godzilla fans wanting to know more about the series, you should be aware that this book has a laser focus on Tsuburaya, and does not continue to give much insight on the Godzilla films made after his death. Those looking to know more about one of the most important creators of their favorite genre will find lots to like and even more to learn, as Ragone gives info about Tsuburaya’s early beginnings, his rise to fame, and his charming techniques that brought monsters to life. Along with David Kalat’s A Critical History and Filmography of Toho’s Godzilla Series, August Ragone’s book Eiji Tsuburaya: Master of Monsters is one of my favorites on the subject of kaiju cinema.
Writer of horror, science fiction, and dark fantasy. Lover of fiction and film. Lifelong Godzilla fan. Reluctant blogger.
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