What makes toku?

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What makes toku?

Post by Ishmael » Mon Oct 04, 2010 6:57 pm

In your opinion, what makes a tokusatsu show tokusatsu? The official definition is just a show, usually with superheroes, that makes use of a ton of special effects. Is there any other additives you have in mind?

A lot of people I know consider toku to be purely Japanese, and while I agree that the term fits Japanese shows the most, surely there's shows from other countries that fit in. I'm thinking works like Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, or Hawaii's attempt at making Dragon Fly, the Kikaider-inspired hero (Whatever happened to that?), or even the old Wonder Woman TV show would fit in with that definition as well, wouldn't they?

What do you think?

Are there any 'foreign' toku that spring to mind, or should it be a Japan-only title?
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Re: What makes toku?

Post by Kaiju » Tue Oct 05, 2010 3:00 am

Tokusatsu (特撮?) is a Japanese term that applies to any live-action film or television drama that usually features superheroes and makes considerable use of special effects (tokusatsu literally translates as "special filming" in Japanese).

Tokusatsu entertainment often deals with science fiction, fantasy or horror, but movies and television shows in other genres can sometimes count as tokusatsu as well. The most popular types of tokusatsu include kaiju monster movies (the Godzilla and Gamera film series), superhero TV serials (the Kamen Rider and Metal Hero Series), and mecha dramas (Giant Robo). Some tokusatsu television programs combine several of these subgenres (the Ultraman and Super Sentai series). Tokusatsu is one of the most popular forms of Japanese entertainment, but most tokusatsu movies and television programs are not widely known outside Asia. - wikipedia

It's basic meaning is "special photography" , which is translated as special effects basically. Many movies have SFX , but pretty much it became more of a staple label for certain films since Toho started making Godzilla. And from that/those films the "tokusatsu" tv series genre was born. (Kaiju praises and lights incense for Eiji Tsuburaya) I personally like to leave calling tokusatsu only on Japanese shows, but that's me. Even though its real definition is 'special effects'.

I watch Supernatural, a great show with a bunch of SFX, BUT I don't sit at home and say Wow! what a great tokusatsu! It, wasn't made in Japan. I leave it for Japan-made films/tv .

Kaiju feels eyes burning him with evil thoughts right about now :evil:
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Re: What makes toku?

Post by Fizzgig » Wed Oct 06, 2010 4:51 pm

Personally, i find it better not to think too deeply about questions like this. Not advocating dumbness, but hey, it's a genre label as much as a technical label, so it's more or less a matter of opinion. It depends not just on the content of the show or the techniques used, but also how it's packaged and marketed, who it's aimed at, et cetera.

Like the other week i was at my friend's place and her partner got embarrassed about some track that came on (we were listening to a shuffled playlist). After he told me like three times how he doesn't like that band or even that sub-genre of metal, i had to laugh and tell the guy: "Mate, i'm not into metal, if you told me this list was all by the same band i wouldn't have known any better!"

I lean more towards Kaiju's "purist" definition, but i admit that's mainly because i'm not into most US sf-related shows... so when i say "I like tokusatsu" that's hardly going to include shows i'm not interested in. But on the other hand, Ishmael mentions Wonder Woman, which is like the sister-show of Toei's Spiderman in some ways, so i kind of half-agree with both of you.... or maybe i'm just indecisive?
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Re: What makes toku?

Post by KamenRiderKnives » Thu Oct 14, 2010 7:39 pm

i agree with both sides to a certain extent (what about 60s Batman, surely the most toku of western shows?) but i think toku should just apply to japanese shows, if we start calling Wonder Woman (which i love) etc toku, we might as well start calling Scooby Doo anime!


what about the chinese 'toku' Armor Hero???? how does that fit in? :?
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Re: What makes toku?

Post by Kaiju » Thu Oct 14, 2010 7:57 pm

KamenRiderKnives wrote:what about the chinese 'toku' Armor Hero???? how does that fit in? :?
They probably have their own Chinese term for it. China doesn't make very many things of this nature in film or tv. Think it may be a first or just a huge rarity really to do this sort of thing for television. It's an obvious attempt and 'borrowed' idea from tokusatsu. They have their own history and how they present their "heroes" in film/tv. Usually relegated to martial artists and the ilk.
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Re: What makes toku?

Post by DerGolem » Tue Jul 26, 2011 7:35 pm

This topic is always coming up on the Tokusatsu Fan page on Facebook, since some of the mods seem to feel that in addition to stuff like Godzilla, Kamen Rider, Ultraman and Super Sentai, that shows like Star Trek should also count as Toku.

I personally champion the same criteria that Kaiju (above) does. Tokusatsu shows and movies are Japanese SFX shows and movies. They have to have been made in Japan by the Japanese.

Now you do have shows like Power Rangers and movies like Godzilla King of the Monsters (1957) which are adaptations of Japanese Toku in which the SFX footage is kept and American actors are added in, as well as shows like Australia's Ultraman: Towards the Future and the American Ultraman: The Ultimate Hero which are essentially remakes of Japanese Toku. So you have adaptations and remakes.

But then there is also the interesting issue of shows and movies which are made and designed to look like Japanese Toku. but aren't. Examples include Saban's Mystic Knights of Tir Na Nog (98-99), the UK's Gorgo (1961), South Korea's Yonggary (1967) and the Chinese Metal Hero shows mentioned above. In these instances I suppose that one could say these movies and shows are basically knock-offs but that has an awfully negative ring to it.

But in the end I think the clearest definition one can set up is that Tokusatsu movies and TV shows are ones that are made in Japan.
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