Sunday, August 30, 2015

AN AUDIENCE WITH SADAO IIZUKA! Meeting the Man Who Gave King Ghidorah His Bad Breath!

Sadao Iizuka talks shop at DeNs Cafe in Sagamihara. Photo by Brett Homenick. 

It's not everyone that you get a chance to meet an SFX staff member who worked on the original Godzilla (1954). Suffice it to say, when such an opportunity arises, any self-respecting Godzilla fan ought to take it. Thus, when my schedule allowed for me to attend this event in Sagamihara, Kanagawa, on Saturday, August 29 (I usually work on Saturdays), I jumped at the chance.

Iizuka-san's illustration of how the lava effect at the end of Rodan was accomplished. Photo by Brett Homenick. 

The guest of honor for the event was Sadao Iizuka, who worked for many years at Toho in optical photography under the supervision of Eiji Tsuburaya. Starting with Godzilla (1954), Iizuka-san worked on numerous SFX films at Toho throughout the golden age. His biggest claims to fame are animating King Ghidorah's gravity ray and Ultraman's trademark Specium Ray. Given that he was born in 1934, he's not quite as old as one might have assumed, but as one of the last surviving links to the SFX side of the original Godzilla, I was naturally excited to meet him.

The event was limited to a small number of people, and one of the attendees was illustrator Yuji Kaida. Iizuka-san has held other talks at the cafe over the last several months, chronicling his SFX work at Toho in the order the films were made. This time, the event focused on Madame White Snake (1956) and Rodan (1956). During the talk, several of Iizuka-san illustration were displayed on a flat-screen TV, detailing how the SFX staff at Toho created several effects on both films. A picture is most certainly worth a thousand words!

After the Q&A, it was dinnertime with Iizuka-san, and he happily answered questions from the fans who gathered to see him. I'm very happy to have met Den-san (his nickname), and I hope to have many other opportunities in the near future.

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