Review: Toho SFX DVD Collection by DeAgostini
Author: Ed Godziszewski
Official Site: KK DeAgostini Japan
One of the recent trends in Japan is take movie and TV series that have long been marketed on video, LD, and dvd and repackage them a new way to sell them yet again to the public. The preferred approach is to produce a bare bones DVD, bundle them with an A4-size booklet, and introduce a new volume every 3-4 weeks, thus bypassing video sales arrangements and allowing the product to be sold as a book in bookstores.
Always one to look for ways to sell the same movies to collectors many times over, Toho jumped on this bandwagon recently and intends to sell 55 titles from their special effects film catalog. Sold by a company named DeAgostini starting in September of 2009, the Toho SFX DVD Collection has been a huge seller in its first few months, moving well over 200,000 units of each of the 11 titles released to date. Not bad for films, many of which have had at least at least 6 different home video releases over time.
So what do you get for your ¥1990 (roughly $22 at today’s exchange rate) per volume? Well, since the DVD is really supposed to be the whole point of this package, let’s look at that first. Not surprisingly, for this low price you get a single layer DVD which comes in a standard amaray case with the poster used as cover art. Of the titles released so far, the video quality has been okay, without noticeable artifacting, but certainly not reference quality by any means. These discs have the movies only— no special features included.
If you are looking to get the original Japanese versions and not spend too much for them, these are an excellent value. But if you already have video versions of these films, then the book becomes the decisive factor. The first 4 volumes of the series were sold with the DVD sealed inside of a clamshell that was attached to the outer sleeve of the booklet. The benefit of this setup is that you can leaf through the booklet before you buy so you can see what you are getting. However, for anyone wanting to preserve the packaging, your only option would be to never remove the DVD from the clamshell; not an optimal situation at all.
Starting with MOTHRA (Vol. 5), the packaging was changed to a more sensible setup where the DVD is sandwiched in shrink wrap between a cardboard insert in front and the booklet in back. You can’t look through the booklet before buying, but that’s a small price to pay for discarding the annoying clamshell.
The booklets themselves are somewhat of a letdown…except for the original GODZIILLA, they are all 16 pages (including the covers). The standard format is that the inside front cover contains a foldout of the theatrical Japanese poster, and inside this gatefold there is a series of publicity photos. While nicely reproduced, the problem is that these images are almost universally ones that have been seen and printed countless times. There is nothing fresh or interesting visually unless you just don’t have anything with images from these films.
The next two page spread is generally better, showcasing the monsters and/or special vehicles of that particular film, but usually with pictures that have been printed many times over. Even more disappointing is the next 2-page spread, which features almost every conceivable cast member in a film. Rather than show them off in interesting photos, outside of the main cast, usually cast photos consist of tiny frame blowups of extreme closeups.
The next photo spread is arguably what makes or breaks the booklet…the behind the scenes photos. While a good number that are used have been printed before, all things considered, most stills used are visually interesting and these pages hit the mark. This is followed by a 2-page spread of publicity materials that is a mixture of the frustratingly familiar and the pleasingly unusual.
The final page (covers notwithstanding) contains a superfluous interview with Koichi Kawakita about each film.
To further grab even more money from hopelessly addicted customers, DeAgostini offers special binders for sale which will hold up to 14 of the booklets, meaning you need to buy 4 binders if you are planning on getting the entire series. In addition, for anyone who does buy the whole series and who sends in a set of proof-of-purchase tabs, a special display case (made of what is no doubt the highest quality pressboard or plastic) for the DVDs can be obtained by mail (for a shipping charge, of course).
What’s the verdict? If you want to get low cost DVDs (by Japanese standards, that is) of the Japanese versions of each film, this series is for you. If you already have these films on video or if you are more interested in the booklets, you are bound to be disappointed. Booklet-wise, this series is only for the hopeless completists or the odd individual for whom one unique photo makes the whole thing something they can’t pass up.
And with that being said, I guess that means I’ll be getting them all…
Toho SFX DVD Collection Release Schedule
1. GODZILLA (1954)- 9/29/2009
2. MOTHRA VS. GODZILLA (1964)- 10/13/2009
3. GHIDORAH, THE THREE-HEADED MONSTER (1964)- 10/27/2009
4. ATRAGON (1963)- 11/10/2009
5. MOTHRA (1961)- 11/24/2009
6. SUBMERSION OF JAPAN (1973)- 12/8/2009
7. GODZILLA RAIDS AGAIN (1955)- 12/22/2009
8. KING KONG VS. GODZILLA (1962)- 1/04/2010
9. RODAN (1956)- 1/19/2010
10. THE MYSTERIANS (1957)- 2/2/2010
11. WAR OF THE GARGANTUAS (1966)- 2/16/2010
12. THE HUMAN VAPOR (1960)- 3/2/2010
13. INVASION OF ASTRO-MONSTER (1965)- 3/16/2010
14. GODZILLA VS. MECHAGODZILLA (1974)- 3/30/2010
15. MATANGO (1963)- 4/13/2010
16. BATTLE IN OUTER SPACE (1959)- 4/27/2010
17. FRANKENSTEIN CONQUERS THE WORLD (1965)- 5/11/2010
18. DESTROY ALL MONSTERS (1968)- 5/25/2010
19. GORATH (1962)- 6/08/2010
20. RETURN OF GODZILLA (1984)- 6/22/2010
Upcoming Titles (Release Dates tba)
INVISIBLE MAN (1954)
THE H-MAN (1958)
THE THREE TREASURES (1959)
THE SECRET OF THE TELEGIAN (1960)
THE LAST WAR (1961)
GODZILLA VS. THE SEA MONSTER (1966)
KING KONG ESCAPES (1967)
SON OF GODZILLA (1967)
LATITUDE ZERO (1969)
GODZILLA’S REVENGE (1969)
SPACE AMOEBA (1970)
GODZILLA VS. HEDORAH (1971)
GODZILLA VS. GIGAN (1972)
GODZILLA VS. MEGALON (1973)
TERROR OF MECHAGODZILLA (1975)
THE WAR IN SPACE (1977)
GODZILLA VS. BIOLLANTE (1989)
GODZILLA VS. KING GHIDORAH (1991)
GODZILLA AND MOTHRA: THE BATTLE FOR EARTH (1992)
GODZILLA VS. MECHAGODZILLA II (1993)
OROCHI, THE EIGHT-HEADED DRAGON (1994)
GODZILLA VS. SPACEGODZILLA (1994)
GODZILLA VS. DESTOROYAH (1995)
REBIRTH OF MOTHRA (1996)
REBIRTH OF MOTHRA 2 (1997)
REBIRTH OF MOTHRA 3 (1998)
GODZILLA 2000 (1999)
GODZILLA VS. MEGAGUIRUS (2000)
GODZILLA MOTHRA AND KING GHIDORAH: GIANT MONSTERS ALL-OUT ATTACK (2001)
GODZILLA AGAINST MECHAGODZILLA (2002)
GODZILLA: TOKYO SOS (2003)
GODZILLA: FINAL WARS (2004)