Godzilla: DNA Exhibition in Tokyo — A Look Back
Author: Edward L. Holland
Special Thanks to Takao Sasai
A SCIFI JAPAN EXCLUSIVE
The DNA Tokusatsu Exhibition held December 19, 2018 to January 27, 2019 in Kamata, Tokyo has come and gone, but plans are already in motion to bring another fantastic showcase of Toho Studios’ prized artifacts from Godzilla films and hero television series to tokusatsu enthusiasts in the not so distant future.
The 8 Zone exhibition, which covered 64 years of special effects filmmaking, showcased one of the largest collection of props, models, art and displays in honor of the treasured past and current masters in the genre like directors and designers Eiji Tsuburaya, Teruyoshi Nakano, Koichi Kawakita, and Shinichi Wakasa, with highlights on SHIN GODZILLA (シン・ゴジラ, Shin Gojira, 2016), directed by Hideaki Anno and Shinji Higuchi.
Lesser known characters like Varan by designer Keizo Murase also basked in the limelight along with heavyweights Mothra, Mechagodzilla 2, and Rodan. Toho TV heroes from ZONE FIGHTER (流星人間ゾーン, Ryūsei Ningen Zōn, 1973) and CYBER COP (電脳警察サイバーコップ, Dennō Keisatsu Saibākoppu, 1988-89) were also represented. For over one month the attendance was brisk, and panels with the makers and movers in the industry drew in big crowds of enthusiastic citizens and foreigners alike throughout the exhibition’s run.
SciFi Japan spoke to one of the chief curators, Takao Sasai, about the success of the event held at the Japan Kogakuin college of technology that incorporated a gift shop and off-site event hall, where exclusive talk shows were held…
SciFi Japan: How many total guests visited the exhibit from December to January?
Takao Sasai: The total number of visitors was 25,000 people.
SciFi Japan: What was the overall response by Japanese and foreigners who attended?
Takao Sasai: Everyone was quite satisfied with the exhibition, particularly the foreigners. Everyone was very excited. They really love Godzilla very much!
SciFi Japan: So, will there be a fifth exhibition?
Takao Sasai: Of course. By all means, yes! We have begun preparations for the next show. We have not decided the exact time, but it is not too far in the future. When it is decided, we will let you know about it.
SciFi Japan: What inspires your group to bring this type of show to fans here in Japan?
Takao Sasai: Tokusatsu is a traditional Japanese technique of special effects filmmaking, and we are extremely proud of the technicians. It is our purpose to help such techniques continue to be remembered for their historical success then, now and beyond.
It was somber, poignant, and moving to see a tribute to the “God of Suit Actors” Haruo Nakajima (1929-2017) next to the “God of Special Effects” Eiji Tsuburaya with the famed Oxygen Destroyer shooting prop used in the first GODZILLA (ゴジラ, Gojira, 1954), directed by Ishiro Honda and produced by Tomoyuki Tanaka. Some American fans, nearly moved to tears, spent upwards of two or more hours looking at the exhibition, with some men, women, and children making return trips.
For those who missed this or other installments of the exhibition, stay positive. There will be additional opportunities to see your favorite kaiju as the DNA group meets to discuss when they will unleash their restored relics again for the public to celebrate the detailed craftsmanship, turning 65 years young this year.
Interestingly, we had a discussion about the possibility of bringing a version of DNA Tokusatsu Exhibtion abroad to American shores and which possible cities to destroy with their collection from personal vaults, most never seen outside of Japan. The next outing overseas is something to look forward to, where fans will be able to get up close again to museum pieces from some of Japan’s most beloved monster films from the Showa and Heisei eras of motion pictures
Edward L. Holland is a public affairs photojournalist working in Japan. He has written for Stars and Stripes, Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine and assisted talented artists at various conventions in the US and Japan.