In 2016, Shinji Higuchi and Hideaki Anno created a terrifying new vision of a classic movie monster with Shin Godzilla. It was belched forth from the ocean and slithered across the usually sleepy neighborhood of Kamata, knocking cars aside effortlessly, and grew to spew lasers across Ginza. At the climax of the film Godzilla is frozen in the middle of Tokyo, with his body in stasis as new, horrific life is emerging from its body. This chilling final scene was the craft-work of artist and sculptor Takayuki Takeya. His maquettes for Shin Godzilla, and more, are featured in the latest collection of his work, Takayuki Takeya: Ifu no Zokei(Awe-Inspiring Modeling).
Takayuki Takeya, a longtime favorite of Hobby Japan and garage kit aficionados, is one of the gods of the Japanese sculpting world, with a career spanning decades. Takeya provided maquettes to act as reference for the CG animators in Shin Godzilla, but the final shot of the film with the frozen closeup of Godzilla’s tail, was a practical effect sculpted by him, which graces the cover of this art book. Every step of the way is shown in the creation of Takeya’s sculptures, from early concept sketches to carefully crafting the individual dorsal fins on Godzilla’s back. In many ways Ifu no Zokeigoes more in depth on the creation of these sculpts than the actual Shin Godzilla making-of book (it's also more affordable and less cumbersome).
Along with Shin Godzilla, this book also collects his work for The Giant God Warrior Appears in Tokyo, the Attack on Titan live action film, the TV series Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit, and his work creating sculptures based on Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. The Giant God Warrior Appears in Tokyo, a 2012 short film, links Takeya’s Ghibli and Godzilla centric work, as it was a short film from Hideaki Anno and Shinji Higuchi that acts as a prequel to Miyazaki’s Nausicaä and basically served as a proof of concept for Shin Godzilla. Typically associated with whimsy, and idyllic panoramas, but the world of Nausicaä is a harsh one, inhabited by colossal insects and poisonous spores as the remnants of humanity struggle for survival. Takeya retains the mystical wonder of Miyazaki’s creatures such as the God Warrior and Ohmu, but gives them a level of tactile detail that is probably due at least a little in part to Takeya’s own life.
Tucked away at the end of the book is a look at Tekaya’s childhood in Hokkaido, which is simultaneously halcyon and blood soaked. The first photo we see of an infant Takeya is him gleefully playing with the carcass of a duck, hunted by Takeya’s fisherman father. Young Takeya’s time with wildlife includes the photos of dead deer, split bellies of birds, and massive tunas hauled onto fishing boats. It may be a little stomach churning for some readers, but it does hammer home how Takeya is able to recreate the organic, skeletal, and sanguine in his own sculpting work. This section is fairly brief, but it speaks volumes about Takeya’s artistic vision and profession. In the delicate details of bone and sinew crafted into Shin Godzilla’s tail, we see the ribs and muscles of fish and game hauled in by hunters. In the delicate curvature of a supernatural Tori gate on the back cover, we can see the multitude of organs and intestines spilling out of a seabird’s carcass. In Takeya’s work we see life, death, organic, and plasticine intertwined.
Being a collection of Takeya’s work going back to about 2012, what you don’t get in Ifu no Zokei is a full retrospective of Takeya’s career. The closest thing to a comprehensive overview of his career is the book Angle of Fishermen, but along with being about 20 years old, that book goes for hundreds of dollars on the secondhand market. The other downside is that there’s pretty much no English text in Ifu no Zokei, but if you keep your Google Translate app on your phone handy you can at least get some of the basic gist of the text. This is still one of the best sculpting and figure related art books I’ve seen in a long time, and I would consider it an absolute must buy for fans of Shin Godzilla.
Takayuki Takeya: Ifu no Zokei comes from Genkosha, the same publishers that brought us Sculptors.
You can buy it from Phantasmic HERE
Article and photos by David Namba
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