Saturday, August 10, 2013

"Tokusatsu: Special Effects Museum" at MoMA Tokyo | Seattle Asian Art Museum presents "Monster Attack! Japanese Creature Feature Classics": Aug 23 - 30

Now this doesn't happen every day, or year, or decade... a major western news source has a feature on Tokusatsu, and not in the New York Times art pages, but the front page International section. The article's attention focused on the current traveling exhibit, assembled by special effects director and animator, Shinji Higuchi with aid from Studio Ghibli and Japan's Agency for Cultural Affairs for MoMA Tokyo. The exhibit, Tokusatsu: Special Effects Museum featuring among other things, decades of painstakingly elaborate sets, costumes, aircraft models, sci-fi devices and technology, designs, schematics, storyboards and monsters of course, no shortage of monsters. The stunningly executed trailer for the exhibit, a set piece for Hayao Miyazaki's apocalyptic God Warrior as featured in his post-Ecological Collapse manga "Nausicaa of the Valley of Wind" received attention on BoingBoing and Twitch earlier this year, and rightly, as the headline suggests, it features a "Giant God Warrior Appearing In Tokyo". Director under which the exhibit's curator Shinji Higuchi collaborated, the work of Shūsuke Kaneko will be gracing screens in Seattle, with the Asian Art Museum's summer film in the park showings of some of the finer contemporary examples of the Tokusatsu arts, the pyrotechnic and physical, "Godzilla, Mothra & King Ghidorah: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack" and the stunning urban landscapes, destruction and scale of "Gamera 3: The Awakening of Iris". Both films providing spectacle competing on a level with what CG could offer at the time, and in the sense of physicality, often eclipsing it. As to be expected in the digital era, the industry is shrinking, with few young directors coming in to advance it's arts, and only two major studios making regular Tokusatsu features, which is the focus of the previously mentioned New York Times' "Rubber-Suit Monsters Fade. Tiny Tokyos Relax."