BASEMENT BOOK SHELF: “GODZILLA: History of Formative Arts 1954-2016” by Osamu Kishikawa

Godzilla. A childhood obsession that has carried into my adult life. I do not remember a time when Godzilla was not in my life and growing up, watching Godzilla and Gamera movies on the weekend was something I looked forward to every time they were shown. Of course, in the 1970s you had to watch them as they were shown or have to wait until the next rotation. Now, you can watch what you want when you want thanks to digital media. “GODZILLA: History of Formative Arts 1954-2016,” by Osamu Kishikawa, is like a scrapbook of my childhood.

I usually find books like this through random Amazon searches though this one came to my attention thanks to the Rondo Awards, where it was nominated for best book. I immediately looked into this book and quickly realized I needed to see it in person. Though pricey, it was still something I wanted so took the plunge (plus I had an Amazon gift card).

The book is massive, clocking in at 528 pages. The page quality is decent, though I am not sure how well the binding will hold up to the repeated opening and closing of the book. While most of the pictures are in black and white, some are in color or feature tinted pages (such as a black and white photo tinted red). The text, though limited, is in both Japanese and English.

The photos, the whole point of this book, are fantastic. My favorite aspect of the photos are the set photos showing rafters where lighting is hung and with the artists walking in the cityscapes, appearing as large as Godzilla himself. One thing that I do not care for though are when photos are produced so large that they appear over four pages. So, to get the full image, you have to turn the page. Thankfully these do not happen a lot though it is obvious that it was a conscious decision to present these images this way.

Another complaint is the lack of Godzilla’s foes appearing in the book. Though the book is called “GODZILLA: History of Formative Arts 1954-2016” and should concentrate on the king of the monsters, a very big part of Godzilla’s history is the monsters he fought. All of these monsters do appear, I just would’ve liked to have seen more of them.

So, is this book worth having? For me, yes. It is a lot of fun to look through and it does make a great coffee table book. The images are fantastic, with few exceptions, and it is one that I will look at over and over again. Price-wise though, I feel it is a bit overpriced. Yes the book is big but as mentioned before I question the durability of the binding. If you are a Godzilla fanatic like me, then Osamu Kishikawa’s “GODZILLA: History of Formative Arts 1954-2016” is worth having. If you are just a regular fan, who enjoys an occasional viewing of a Godzilla film, then a book like this is probably not your cup of tea.

Don’t forget to read the other blogs in my BASEMENT BOOK SHELF series.

~David Albaugh

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