For 63 years and still growing, it has always been about the special effects when it comes to Godzilla. From the revolutionary Tokusatsu style from the great creator of Eiji Tsuburaya to the modern technology of Hollywood, the things in special effects has always left us in awe and has given us inspiration, along with fulfilling our dreams.
On September 10, 2016 and October 18, 2016, I had the privilege to have a wonderful interview with Yoko Higuchi who is the up-and-coming filmmaker who worked in Toho's special effects department as a Production Assistant. In our interview, I spoke with him more on his experience on Shin Godzilla and what it was like to be involved with the special effects. Here, we both take a stroll down memory lane about Shin Godzilla. Here is what we talked about in our interview.
B: "Well, it's time. First off, thank you for taking the time to do this interview, Mr. Yoko Higuchi."
Yoko Higuchi: "It's my pleasure, Ben. Thank you for having me."
B: "Let's start at the beginning. Toho announced a new Godzilla film titled Shin Godzilla, the first since 2004's Godzilla Final Wars in Japan. How did you come to know about it?"
Yoko Higuchi: " Around the time the 2014 Gareth Edwards Godzilla film was out in theaters, I heard quiet rumblings in the fan community about a possible Toho Godzilla film. Naturally, I stayed updated on that story and soon enough they announced they would be doing a new Godzilla film. They didn't announce the directors at the time, but it got me very excited. And, naturally I got even more excited when Toho confirmed later on that Hideaki Anno and Shinji Higuchi of Evangelion fame would be co-directing the film."
B: "Like the rest of us. (laughs) It was exciting to hear these two men would take this project in their hands. Being involved with the film, did you strictly apply through Toho, and what was your job title and position?"
Yoko Higuchi: "Yes, hearing that these two geniuses of their craft would be helming the next Godzilla film was very exciting. It was also the sole purpose I decided to reach out to them. I wrote a letter to Toho in the summer of 2015, telling them I knew there was a new film coming out and I would do anything to be a part of the production. Eventually, I got a response from some of the staff members there and, as quickly as you can say Shin Godzilla, I was on flight to Tokyo. To answer your question, production assistant would probably be the most accurate title of my position on the film."
B: " Wow! That's incredible! Little late on the congratulations but, congratulations!"
Yoko Higuchi: "Thank you for the congratulations!"
B: " While working with all of the talents involved with Shin Godzilla, what was it like witnessing all of their craftsmanship be poured out with their hearts and souls into this film?"
Yoko Higuchi: " Seeing everyone working on Shin Godzilla really was extraordinary. As an aspiring filmmaker, it was life changing to see all the passion and hard work that was done by these incredible artists. While still keeping its tokusatsu roots, Shin Godzilla was a revolutionary film for the series because of its seamless blending of old school techniques with modern technology."
B: " Like Shinji Higuchi said during a press conference that he was going for the ‘Hybrid’ technique. Which, there are more practical effects in the film that few people are missing."
Yoko Higuchi: "Yes, the best of both worlds, so to speak."
B: " Indeed. So, after Toho began production, and a few months later, they revealed what Godzilla would look like in the film. What was it like seeing Mahiro Maeda design Godzilla's new look?"
Yoko Higuchi: "Naturally because I was working on set, I saw a lot of Godzilla's new design and, I can tell you, I never felt giddier in my life than seeing the updated look. It harkened back to what Ishiro Honda's original vision of a burnt, horrifying monster that was born out of the atomic bomb. To be honest, the design was off putting at first. Not because it was a bad design, but because it was the first time in my life I was terrified of seeing Godzilla. It was a thrill seeing that beautiful yet haunting reimagining of the big G himself."
B: "Yes! Few people realize the true history of the 1954 original films visioning by Ishiro Honda. To me, it was so cool to see that Mahiro Maeda go for what was originally intended for the 1954 original. This Godzilla actually made the GMK 2001 design look friendly. (laughs)"
Yoko Higuchi: " Precisely! The best Godzilla designs are the ones that reflect his status as a Japanese symbol. Whether it's a symbol for atomic warfare, the friend of the earth, or as you mentioned, the collective angry souls of everyone who perished in 1945."
B: "When you got the job with the company, how exciting was it for you to be apart of this wonderful film?"
Yoko Higuchi: "To answer your question, I don't know if I can describe it in words how excited I was to be a part of Shin Godzilla. The word "excitement" doesn't really cut it. Maybe euphoric. I cried tears of pure happiness multiple times on and off set. It was a dream come true for a life-long fan and as an up-and-coming filmmaker to be working on a professional set at the age of 20."
B: " I can only imagine how exciting it was for you. Only 20? Wow! That's even cooler. It's everyone's dream that are hard core G-fans to be able to work a future film at some point, no doubt."
Yoko Higuchi: "It was the coolest thing ever as a 20-year-old to be on that set. Really was a dream come true."
B: "You're from New York correct? When traveling to Japan to work on the film, how long were you there?"
Yoko Higuchi: " Yes, I was born and raised in New York, but I did go to Japan a few times to see my family so, staying in Japan for the duration of the production wasn't too difficult. I left New York I believe in the end of July and returned back home in early December. Roughly 4 months of work, I would say."
B: " Speaking of family, just looking at your last name, I can't recall if I've asked you already in the past but, are you related to Shinji Higuchi, the special effects director and co-director of the film?"
Yoko Higuchi: "You have no idea how many times people have asked me that on set. (laughs) It's purely coincidence that director Higuchi and I have the same last name. Lead to a lot of confusion and equally as many laughs at Toho."
B: " (laughs) It sounds like you and everyone there had a blast with this film."
Yoko Higuchi: "It was a lot of hard work and physical pain, but it was always cheerful and fun. Not a moment of negativity on set, even when things were at its hardest."
B: "Speaking of Shinji Higuchi, what was it like to witness him direct the special effects for this amazing film?"
Yoko Higuchi: " Seeing Higuchi work with the special effects was a blast. Him and Katsuro Onoue did something really special with this film. As a filmmaker, seeing how they construct each set piece and go about creating everything they needed to create each shot was inspiring. It was meticulous, well planned and we'll executed."
B: " A lot like what Eiji Tsuburaya did during his infamous work with Toho. All nonsense aside and pure dedication."
Yoko Higuchi: "Dedication is precisely the word, yes."
B: "Knowing the section of The Art of Shin Godzilla book you wrote and helped make, who gave you the opportunity at Toho and how overwhelming was that for you?"
Yoko Higuchi: "Because I'm an American, they politely asked me if I could help them with some of the English documents. They were already made and done, but they needed some polishing and that was very fun to do. Knowing it may or may not end up in the final cut was exciting. Some of them didn't but it did end up in The Art of Shin Godzilla book, which was great. As for who gave me the opportunity to do that specific task, I don't exactly remember who it was, but multiple staff members have asked me to do some English tweaking here and there on some of the documents."
B: " A lot of the production questions I've had for this interview are exactly provided in that outstanding book. So glad I own it."
Yoko Higuchi: " Awesome! That book is just incredible. Flipping through it reminds me of all the great memories I had from the set."
B: " Is Shin Godzilla the only Toho film you've been involved with?"
Yoko Higuchi: "Yes, Shin Godzilla is the only Toho film I've been involved in. Heck, it's the only film, so far, I've been a part of."
B: "Like you said, a pure dream come true. Not only to be working on the set but also helping out with the book. When Toho decided that Godzilla in Shin Godzilla was all CGI, what were your thoughts about this?"
Yoko Higuchi: " When I heard that Godzilla was going to be full CG, I honestly didn't think much of anything. If Anno and Higuchi thought that going entirely CGI was the answer, then that is the answer. I trust their intuitions and, in the end, I was right. The CG on Godzilla looked incredible in Shin Godzilla."
B: "Indeed it did. Even on a much lower budget compared to Hollywood. Knowing Shinji Higuchi's team of special effects artists that constructed a giant animatronic puppet for the film, and finding out later it was failing effects shots, were you the least disappointed that it didn't make final cut for the film?"
Yoko Higuchi:" Oh, most definitely. But then you sit back and remember that a lot of things are often cut from films, so it didn't disappoint me as much as some may think. We did hard work on the effects so it was sad for a brief moment to see it not used in the film, but if it doesn't hurt the final product, then let it be."
B: "Well said. People need to appreciate these things better than what they do."
Yoko Higuchi: " Exactly right."
B: " If I may ask, who was it in Toho's department that decided to name the film Shin Godzilla? Was it Hideaki Anno or someone else?"
Yoko Higuchi: " I actually don't know who decided to name it Shin Godzilla, but I assume it was Hideaki Anno because he was the main director and he was also the script writer and he did the screenplay."
B: "That would make sense. I mean, like you said, he was the main director of the film. Speaking of Hideaki Anno, what was it like meeting him and working with him?"
Yoko Higuchi: "Interestingly enough, Hideaki Anno was one of the two men (the other being Christopher Nolan), who pushed me into filmmaking. After seeing The End of Evangelion, I sat in silence and decided I was going to be a film director. And to meet the man in person was unimaginable. And the fact that I was working under his command in his production rather than just meeting him as a fan was even more dreamlike. The first day I crossed paths with him at the studio, I was wearing an Evangelion T-shirt. That was a little embarrassing to say the least. I crossed my arms over my chest, trying to hide the design. (laughs) But, because I worked mostly with the SFX department, I didn't see him too much, but I would occasionally drop by and see him direct the many boardroom meetings and that was extremely fun. The amount of precision and care he puts in every shot is incredible."
B: "His work for this film was outstanding. To incorporate humour and then to make it serious was unreal to witness. To me, this film is the best Godzilla film since the 1954 original. Not everyone is going to agree of course, but to say they hate this film means they hate the original to be honest. I've read so many of Toho's books about Godzilla from 54-Shin, and to see what the production was for the 54 original was like being there at the studio to watch it all become a reality."
Yoko Higuchi: " It may sound a little biased, almost as if I'm promoting the film a little (laughs), but I would say Shin Godzilla is the best film since the 1954 original. It truly is something special."
B: " Agreed. During the film's production, while on the set, were you ever nervous at any point during production?"
Yoko Higuchi: "Yes, many, many times. Tackling a different culture is never a calming thing. Although I am Japanese, I strictly am American raised so, many things about the way Japanese people talk, act, and work was very different and new to me. That first month of working there was very difficult because I had to improve on my oral Japanese skills and correctly follow any instructions I was given in a language that wasn't my first. Once the first month passed, New things began to make me nervous, which was mostly the fear of making a mistake in a production that required full concentration of everyone on board. Film production is like orchestra. If even one player is off, the whole thing goes down."
B: "I hear you there about working with a different culture. As a CMM operator at my job for our quality department, I've worked and continue to work with many Japanese members who are there for support. So, learning their language and stuff was very difficult to do at first. However, week after week, I've learned so much from them in their language that I can talk with new members from Japan that come here to the states. Some of which can be very funny at times. Especially talking about their favorite comedians. (laughs) So, like you said, the minute when one person might make a mistake on set, pretty much the whole team goes down with them. That's insane."
Yoko Higuchi: " It's amazing how much of a new language you can learn just by casually speaking with others of the same language. And yeah, it really is scary. You got to be on point all the time on set. Always."
B: "The film has such a wonderful cast. What was it like to meet Hiroki Hasegawa, Satomi Ishihara, and so many others?"
Yoko Higuchi: " It was fun! I knew Hiroki Hasegawa and Satomi Ishihara because I saw them both in the live action Attack on Titan films that Shinji Higuchi directed, but almost everyone else I've never seen before. There were often times I would stumble upon an actor and casually have a brief conversation, not knowing who they are, and then later on, a staff member would ask, 'You do know who you were talking to, right?' I guess it was better not knowing most of the cast because I wouldn't have many fanboy type moments on set. I had enough of that going on with Hideaki Anno and Shinji Higuchi. (laughs)"
B: " Yeah, just being at Toho must have been a fanboy type moment anyway. (laughs)"
Yoko Higuchi: "Most definitely. Every day was, "Holy crap, I'm at Toho. How!?"
B: "Godzilla's design in Shin Godzilla is my personal favorite design. It was the 1991 GhidoGoji for the longest time. How do you feel about the design?"
Yoko Higuchi: "As for Shin Godzilla's design, I adore it. From its open, unblinking, glaring eyes to its abnormally long tail, this was a unique design but, at the same time, was recognizably Godzilla. I find it amazing that you can recognize Shin Godzilla's design just by his silhouette. Anno has created his Godzilla. Before laying eyes on it, my favorite design previously was DesuGoji/Burning Godzilla. Pre-Shin Godzilla, my favorite Godzilla film (besides the original) was Godzilla vs. Destoroyah 1995."
B: "Yeah, like Shusuke Kaneko before him, Anno made a remarkable film and his Godzilla. It would be a blessing if both of these men can create more future Godzilla films for Toho."
Yoko Higuchi: " Very much so. Godzilla still has a bright future."
B: "When the film's production was all completed, Toho had the red-carpet event and grand opening before the full theatrical release in Japan. Were you there for the grand opening, even though you've worked on the film, and about how many times did you watch this film while in Japan?"
Yoko Higuchi: " To answer your questions, I wasn't there for the red-carpet event, but I did see the film 3 times before it was released in theaters, and I saw it 4 more times in Japan once it was released."
B: "That's great. I'm more than sure you were very happy to witness all of this hard work pay off for this film. To see it become one of the most attended films of the Godzilla series was unimaginable. I never would have thought it would get as high in numbers as it did. The film was a major success and to this day is being hailed as one of the best in the franchise.
Mr. Yoko Higuchi, I know Eiji Tsuburaya, Tomoyuki Tanaka, Ishiro Honda, and Akira Ifukube are looking down from heaven with smiles on their faces to see you and everyone else pour your hearts and souls into this film."
Yoko Higuchi: "It was one of the most fulfilling moments of my life, as a Godzilla fan and as a young filmmaker. The thought of those great geniuses smiling down on us makes the whole experience worth every thing.”
B: "Looking back on your letter to Toho and getting a response from the staff members, was it the staff members that told you that you would be working in the special effects department?"
Yoko Higuchi: "At first, I was just applying to be a PA. So just do basic things to assistant the production in any way I can. Before filming began, I set up the office spaces and made sure it was clean and that there were enough snacks/beverages for everyone. But once filming began, I was moved to Unit A where they shot scenes with the actors (including that giant scene in Kamata). Then, not too long after, I was moved to Unit B, which handled all the special effects shots in the film and I remained there for most of the shooting time. I occasionally help out with some Unit A shots, but I stayed in the effects studio mostly."
B: "That's extraordinary! If memory serves me right, weren't there two Units in A and B?"
Yoko Higuchi: "Like most productions, they had 3 units: A, B and C. Unit A handled the scenes featuring actors and/or extras. Unit B handled the tokusatsu effects. And Unit C handled, I believe, b-roll footage."
B: "Ah, yes, The Art of Shin Godzilla book explained that specifically. I remember now. Unit B constructed that giant animatronic puppet. Was it like to witness those artists construct that amazing puppet?"
Sadly, I did not get to see them create the animatronic puppet, but I did see them wheel it into the studio for the first time and it was a surreal moment. Words cannot describe the feeling that was going through my body. I don't think it really dawned on me I was working on a Godzilla film until I saw that animatronic."
B: "I think I would have asked to take it home if I had the money for that animatronic puppet. Seeing the many pictures of it and seeing it in action on the special features for the 3 disc set I own, I would have never left the studio. (laughs)"
Yoko Higuchi: "Oh believe me... The urge to just wheel that thing out of the studio and magically stuff it into my suitcase was always there (haha). And seeing it move is a whole other story. It was unique and different. Didn't move like any other Godzilla we've seen before. And seeing it every day at the studio, really did give me strength during the toughest days on set."
B: "Yeah, the puppet was very clearly operational. Like we talked about, I mean, it was disappointing to see it not make the final cut."
Yoko Higuchi: "It was disappointing, but ultimately it turned out fantastic so no complaints there."
B: "Indeed. The tokusatsu element still remained however. I mean, even though it was motion capture, it still required an actor to play the role of Godzilla."
Yoko Higuchi: "Yes, it did. Somehow the old techniques survived."
B: "It was Mansai Nomura who played the role of Godzilla for this film. Could you tell me what it was like to see him perform as Godzilla?"
Yoko Higuchi: "I sadly was not able to see any of Mr. Nomura play Godzilla because that was up to the visual effects department while we were the special effects department. I have only met the CGI team just the one time, but they have done some incredible work."
B: "Well, that stinks. I take it you didn't get to see Katsuro Onoue work in the visual effects department much then?"
Yoko Higuchi: "I actually worked closely with Director Onoue because he was in charge of the special effect unit where I was in. I saw him almost every day in my time at the studio. He's a great man and he's been very generous to me over the past 2 years."
B: "Most excellent. While he was the VFX director, there was the VFX supervisor Atsuki Sato and VFX producer Tetsuo Ohya. Were any of these gentlemen strict on this production?"
Yoko Higuchi: "Yes, although Mr. Sato was not there every day, I did see him quite often. He, too, has been very kind to me and is a great guy. I actually don't think I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Ohya on set."
B: "It's really incredible that you not only got to work with everyone there and to meet the cast, but that you got to make friends with them."
Yoko Higuchi: "I am so grateful to have been around a crew that was passionate about the craft but also kind as well. I am privileged to call these great artists and craftsmen my friends. It really is an honor."
B: "I think I'd say the same if I were to ever work on a Godzilla film myself. Looking back while this film was still in production, Takayuki Takeya designed the maquette of Shin Godzilla to be displayed for the public. Did you by chance get to see him design the maquette and were you there for the release of it?"
Yoko Higuchi: "I sadly haven't had the chance to see/meet Mr. Takeya and I wasn't there when they debuted the maquette but we did see different version of it on set at the studio. There was one maquette for each evolution form."
B: "Yeah, they were all so amazingly detailed."
Yoko Higuchi: "That was my first glimpse at this new Godzilla and it was breathtaking. Seeing that maquette for the first time, I'll never forget it."
B: "Yeah, it really captured the eye of everyone. It matched Mahiro Maeda's artwork in imagery and brought it to life."
Yoko Higuchi: "It is a remarkable design; on the page and in person."
B: "Indeed. You know, when Toho announced who the directors were going to be, I remember Shinji Higuchi said he was going to give us the greatest worst nightmare. I think he succeeded don't you?"
Yoko Higuchi: "Oh, most definitely. Seeing the animatronic Godzilla for the first time shocked me, to be honest. It really did frighten me. It was almost hard to step close to it. This truly, without a doubt, the most frightening Godzilla we've ever seen."
B: "It really is. It is what Ishiro Honda had envisioned with 54. A pure nightmare. A monster that resembled the atomic warfare and a creature that had a meaning."
Yoko Higuchi: "Yes, pure evil."
B: "Like you said, you would occasionally drop by and see Hideaki Anno direct the many boardroom meetings. Can you tell me more about the precision and care he put into this work?"
Yoko Higuchi: "As for Anno's direction for the board room meetings, he was very meticulous. Setting up the shots was an entire process in of itself. If the camera was even a millimeter off, he would go and change it. He is a visionary director who almost has the entire film in his head already mapped out. As an aspiring filmmaker, it was incredible seeing this man work."
B: "Interesting. I take it he was very strict as well?"
Yoko Higuchi: "Yes he was. Of course, not to the point where the set was completely devoid of fun, but serious enough."
B: "I see. Well, knowing Hideaki Anno was your biggest influence into filmmaking, do you feel like working with him has helped you have a better understanding of how filmmaking works?"
Yoko Higuchi: "That's a great question. I wouldn't say that watching him specifically made me understand how filmmaking worked, but I would say that watching this entire production function as one unit did help me. Being part of a whole made me see the big picture. I've always been more comfortable directing, writing and shooting but being a small wheel in this massive production put it all into perspective. Of course, seeing a master class director work did help me just for personal reference, but it was everyone coming together to make Shin Godzilla that made me realign my preconceived notions of filmmaking."
B: "That's great. You have a bright future ahead of you. I hope that Toho will contact you for a follow up."
Yoko Higuchi: "Thank you! If they were do a sequel to Shin Godzilla, I'll be there."
B: "You're welcome. The Shin Godzilla OST was orchestrated by Shiro Sagisu. Did you get the chance to see him and watch the orchestra perform these songs?"
Yoko Higuchi: "I've actually seen Mr. Sagisu at the Shin Godzilla vs. Evangelion concert where they performed the entire soundtrack live this year. I was also at the after party so I got a chance to see him again there. As a huge Evangelion fan, I adore his work and the music he composed for Shin Godzilla was just incredible (especially "Who Will Know")."
B: "Who will know, persecution of the masses, and my personal favorite, defeat is no option are just remarkable. Like Akira Ifukube and Kow Otani before him, he's joined the ranks of those guys as a great composer."
Yoko Higuchi: "Most definitely! This is one of my favorite scores of recent memory and you can see why. Every track he has composed is just something else. Something unique."
B: "Truly. Is there anything else you could tell me about your experience in working in the special effects department?"
Yoko Higuchi: "Well, I can say that the experience was hellish but not in the bed sense. I worked long shifts at the studio and returned back to my aunt's house where I was staying super tired. The job was physically tasking but emotionally rewarding. Seeing all the small things that everyone was doing on set was just incredible. As you probably have already seen in The Art of Shin Godzilla book, these amazing artists have done so many awe-inspiring things and it really opened my eyes more to the art of tokusatsu filmmaking. At first, I was a little skeptical as to why Japan felt the need to continue tokusatsu filmmaking with the advent of CGI. I thought they could save more money and make things look more realistic with computer generated monsters or destruction, but I soon began to realize that they aren't doing it just to do it, they're doing it because they love it. Everyone wants to keep the tokusatsu art style alive and that was something that really touched my heart."
B: "My God, that is fascinating. The thought that they wanted to continue the roots of tokusatsu and keep that tradition holy is beyond words if you ask me. And, yeah, looking at the special effects section of The Art of Shin Godzilla really does make me appreciate what the artists have done with their craftsmanship. I'm also more than sure it has been this way since Eiji Tsuburaya first gave life to this style of Japanese special effects that we all call tokusatsu. I'm also very proud of Shinji Higuchi. He has learned so much about tokusatsu from Teruyoshi Nakano who in my mind was the greatest successor to Eiji Tsuburaya."
Yoko Higuchi: "It is a special art form that is unique to Japan and it was inspiring seeing these guys keep that tradition alive. Everyone from Anno to Higuchi to Onoue to everyone at the studio with us all had the spirit of Tsuburaya within them and that kept them going through the film's production."
B: So, while working on that set, and now knowing it was pure Hell on everyone, did any of these artists complain at all while in the process of production?"
Yoko Higuchi: "To answer your question, sure there was a few mumbles and grumbles here and there, but overall, we had a good time. This is one of the few jobs in the world where we get to be little kids. Playing with giant monster animatronics, blowing up stuff, making miniature sets and them destroying them... We do this because we love the work and to complain means you don't love the work."
B: "Wow! It's heart-lifting to know that the spirit of Eiji Tsuburaya flowed within you all to make this production. I'm more than sure he's very happy with what you all did. All of this hard work and dedication has paid off big time for you all."
Yoko Higuchi: "Thank you. I hope we've done right by him by continuing his legacy and mixing it with the latest technology."
B: "Was there ever a time you had to work double shifts to get all of the work done?"
Yoko Higuchi: "Oh, of course. My entire job was to do multiple things at one time. I would make coffee, tea, water and set the snacks up every day, but in between I'd do so many other tasks depending on the day. Sometimes I slated for the camera, other times I dabbed the explosives with water, other times put on rain boots and dealt with fake blood. It all depended on what we were doing on set, but I'd do double, triple, maybe even quadruple shifts a day. Because Japanese films don't have the luxury of having hundreds and hundreds of people working on set, the crew members are tasked to do multiple things at one time to finish the work. It's daunting at first but you get used to running around the set rather quickly."
B: "Damn, dude. You stayed busy."
Yoko Higuchi: "Yeah, I stayed very busy over there. Did a lot of things in a small amount of time. Thankfully, it all went smoothly."
B: That's good. Re-reading one of your statements about being shifted to Unit B, knowing that you helped out with the special effects of Shin Godzilla, and knowing Unit B constructed that giant animatronic puppet, what was it like to see all of these effects shots come to life on the big screen?"
Yoko Higuchi: "It was so satisfying. Being able to point at the screen and go, “I remember doing that shot,” was very fun. Although not many of the tokusatsu elements made it into the film, it all turned out to be a glorious mix of practical effects and CGI."
B: "Yes. The best of both worlds. I recall that Two meter tall statue being released to the public as well. Who was it that made that statue if you don't mind me asking?"
Yoko Higuchi: "I actually don’t know exactly who made it but it’s super cool."
B: " Yes, it is. While working with Shinji Higuchi, is there anything else you could tell me about this tokusatsu master as far as how strict or fun it was working with him?"
Yoko Higuchi: "Director Higuchi is a very chipper man overall. He really does elevate the mood and gives us the proper motivation. He cracks jokes and makes us laugh, but when he has to be serious, he's serious. Definitely the kind of man you want to work with and the kind of director I'd like to be: fun but will get things done efficiently."
B: "Very cool. What about the precision and care he puts into directing the special effects?"
Yoko Higuchi: "Of course, he was involved with both Unit A and B so he wasn't already all the time at the studio but when he was, he would review everything carefully and made sure everything went according to plan. He definitely has a keen eye for special effects after his work on the Gamera trilogy and the Attack on Titan films so it was a very smooth process."
B: "Indeed. A lot of his visuals in Shin Godzilla can be identified with the Gamera trilogy of the 90's. Even a much smaller budget with the Gamera trilogy he was able to pull off some of the best tokusatsu effects ever. When I heard that Toho hired him as the special effects director, I knew this film was in good hands."
Yoko Higuchi: "Yes, he really is a master of the craft and I'm so glad they brought him on board for Shin Godzilla. Having both him and Anno was a blessing."
B: "Was there anything in the special effects department that you were not allowed to be involved with?"
Yoko Higuchi: "No, not really. It's not that I wasn't allowed. I was just simply not placed there. For example, the CGI department, I was not a part of. If I stayed in Japan longer or if I asked, maybe I could've been."
B: "I see. The CGI team really worked hard with the visuals. I was really impressed and pleased with the effects of this film. Although Godzilla itself in Shin Godzilla is entirely CGI, the way it was handled with the CGI looked practical, and I think that says a lot about making good CGI."
Yoko Higuchi: "They did a phenomenal job on Shin Godzilla. Although they, of course, cannot compare to the visual effects we see in $100+ million Hollywood blockbusters, the CGI in Shin Godzilla are spectacular for the resources that they had. Very pleased with how the film turned out."
B: "Truly. This is my final question for this interview. Is there anything else about your experience with this film that you feel like sharing that I haven't asked?"
Yoko Higuchi: "That's a good final question. I don't think there is much else that we haven't talked about already. What I can't emphasize enough is how lucky I was to be a part of Shin Godzilla. It really was a dream come true, much like the title of our previous interview. I know that the world can be unfair to many of us, but just sometimes, if you work hard enough, your dreams may just come true. You just need to work hard at it and never let an opportunity slip past you. I was lucky enough to be a part of Shin Godzilla’s production and I will not take it for granted. As a Godzilla fan and as an aspiring filmmaker, I intend to use everything I've learned from my experience on set to my future career. The feeling I felt everyday walking into Toho Studios is something I cannot describe in words. It was an emotion that was unlike anything I've felt. I've wept tears of pure joy numerous times and I could not believe what I was seeing, hearing and feeling. Although it was, on many occasions, a hard, difficult, grueling experience being a PA on a real film set, I've never felt so much joy as I did on that set. So, my final thought is, to anyone out there reading this, your dreams can come true and I hope my story will inspire you to achieve your dreams and do something great. Something you're proud of. I have many more dreams I have yet to fulfill and I hope I can go on to accomplish them in the future."
B: "Yoko, very generous of you to speak out like this to everyone who has big dreams. You've been on the most incredible journey in your life and to do something some of us have yet to accomplish. Working on a Godzilla film.
Your future is very bright. Toho knows who you are and what you're able to do while on the job. Sequel, no sequel, new live action film, I hope the next one when the time comes that they will contact you and get you back into filmmaking. You have helped inspired many to want to fulfill their dreams the way you did.
Yoko, my friend, thank you ever so much for this wonderful interview we've had together. Words can't describe how appreciative I am of you for taking the time of day to allow me to interview you. Everything we have talked about has not only led me to love the film even more than I already have and has made me have a lot more respect for you and everyone involved with this production. Keep your head high. Your dreams will come true. With the experience you've been given by working with your first film will lead you to higher grounds in the near future. Thank you once again for all of this info and for sharing your experience on Shin Godzilla."
Yoko Higuchi: "Thank you so much for everything. It's been great to talk about my experience on set. I'm glad our conversation has given you more love for Shin Godzilla because I can't love it enough. Thank you, thank you, thank you for your time!"
B: "It was my pleasure, Yoko. Have a good night and good luck in your future. Sayonara."
Yoko Higuchi: " Have a great night and thank you!"
I hope everyone who is reading this has enjoyed the interview that we had. We took a big leap into memory lane of Shin Godzilla and Yoko's experience with the film. We have opened a large door for fans of Shin Godzilla.
(Yoko Higuchi at Toho Studios)
(Yoko Higuchi and his mother at the world premiere of Shin Godzilla in 2016)
This has been Huge-Ben, signing out.
More about upcoming Godzilla movies
Godzilla 2: King of the Monsters is the sequel to Gareth Edwards' Godzilla (2014) and is being directed by Michael Dougherty. The film will introduce Rodan, Mothra, King Ghidorah and more monsters to the Warner Brothers / Legendary Monsterverse cinematic universe. For information on Godzilla 2's cast, plot, release date and to download the film's official movie posters, please visit the Godzilla: King of the Monsters about page here!
Godzilla vs. Kong (2020) is the sequel to Michael Dougherty's Godzilla 2: King of the Monsters and will be the fourth and final installment in the Monsterverse movie quadrilogy. It will also bridge both the Godzilla movies and Kong: Skull Island by bringing Godzilla and Kong face-to-face for an epic match-up. To learn more about Godzilla vs. Kong, check out the Godzilla vs. Kong about page here!
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With the release of Godzilla: King of the Monsters and eventually Godzilla vs. Kong, now is a great time to represent Godzilla and expand your Godzilla memorabilia collection. Check out some products below and click here for even more options!