Published in 2009. Written by Ivan Vartanian. Featuring the Strange Beasts of Japanese Film!
It is that sub title that really hurts the book. That implies this entire book will showcase Godzilla, Mothra, Gamera, along with all of their friends and foes. Even lesser known but still beloved characters in other movies. Maybe a look at related creations like TV shows, comics, toys, and more. And that is there but ultimately incomplete, without needing to be.
The book opens with so much potential. A handy guide to Kaiju. Write ups on the major monsters. Lists of movies they appear in. Wait a minute. Starting at the movies it becomes obvious something is amiss here. One page has a list of every Godzilla movie, year of release, and monsters that appear in the movie. Later some of the monsters reveive their own pages with a list of movies they appear in. The two lists don’t match. Later lists omit some of the movies. Either list all of the movies the monster appeared in, or none of them. Half a list does no one any favors.
Ultimately, that’s what the book feels like. Half. The more well known monsters get write ups but so many are missing. King Kong, King Ceasar, Mecha anything. None receive their just due. In their place are pages on made up monsters and crafts.
Now the half problem is mine. I would enjoy this book immensely at half my current height. This would be a great book for young monster kids. Cut out the paper craft to make your own kaiju. See the insides of monsters with the transparent overlays. Check out toys and drawings that fans who started out just like you created. Giant crazy city destroying monsters are for everyone and the only limit is your own imagination.
For a kid just discovering this world the book would be loads of fun. Cut out the pictures, bang around the sturdy hard cover. Use it as a guide for searching streaming media or old DVD and VHS bins. Ask mom or dad for paper, pens and markers of every color. Maybe even some glue and clay.
(Alright, there were a couple things that I learned, but not enough to justify the book for myself. One, the Matsuzakaya building was destroyed in the original Godzilla. The store inside complained to the studio about this but in a surprise turn, sales increased as fans wanted to visit the same place from the movie. Now building owners ask to be in the movies. Two, in a foreign release of Rodan there is more than one flying beast. Whole flock of Rodans. Three, I really need to track down the cult TV show, Godzilla Island.)
As an adult though, there are better books for either education or escape. This was a couple hour read and I’ll probably never touch it again. But an affordable copy would be a great surprise for a kid home sick from school.