Today’s Google Doodle celebrates the 114th birthday of Japanese special effects director Eiji Tsubaraya, who was one of the co-creators of Godzilla and the main force behind Ultraman. In his honor, Google has ten minigames you can play aping all steps required to make the practical effects Tsubaraya was a master of.
Rather than stop-motion animation, Tsubaraya pioneered the use of detailed miniatures and a person in a monster suit. Tsubaraya helped bring Tokusatsu — a genre of live-action entertainment relying heavily on special effects — to prominence, and that’s one of the reasons that Google’s paying tribute to him today. He was born on July 7, 1901 and passed away in 1970. So now, 45 years later, Google is wishing him happy birthday.
Google’s Doodle blog includes some behind the scenes information from Jennifer Hom, who described the trip to Tsubaraya’s studio that inspired the Doodle:
Director Eiji Tsuburaya is best known for the famous characters he brought to life, like Ultraman. After many years in the ‘monster business,’ he set up his own practical effects studio, Tsuburaya Productions, which we were lucky enough to visit for this project! Having grown up as a film fan, I’ve always had a deep love for Tokusatsu, so I was eager to find a way to bring attention to Tsuburaya’s art. It’s fascinating to me how long-lasting the results of his work has been – it’s easy to see remnants of the Tokusatsu style in Benicio Del Toro’s Pacific Rim, Evangelion, and even the Power Rangers.
... We wanted to witness the studio’s production in person to be able to create an authentic filmmaking experience within our Doodle. Their construction process is incredible: all of their costumes and props are made by hand, in a secret studio. The workspace felt organized and messy at the same time, with each member having their own system behind which materials lived where. And there was a palpable respect for the tradition and legacy that they’re upholding through their craft.