Today, Hom achieves that artistic union by helping create a Google Doodle to mark the 114th birthday of late Japanese cinematic legend Eiji Tsuburaya.
As an interactive ode to the special-effects pioneer, the Doodle allows the user to build a film, step by monster-loving step.
“Director Eiji Tsuburaya is best known for the famous characters he brought to life, like Ultraman,” Hom says in Google’s “making of” peek behind the scenes. “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” [特撮], so I was eager to find a way to bring attention to Tsuburaya’s art,” continues Hom, a Long Island native in her 20s. “It’s fascinating to me how long-lasting the results of his work [have] been – it’s easy to see remnants of the Tokusatsu style in Guillermo del Toro’s ‘Pacific Rim,’ ‘Evangelion,’ and even the Power Rangers.”
The Google Doodle team visited Tsuburaya’s “secret studio” for insight and inspiration on how to create an animation that lets the user “build” a film, from assembling model sets to the harnessing of a “suitmation” actor in monster costume.
Tsuburaya was a foundational pillar in Japanese filmmaking, a cinematic giant who looms taller over the industry than even his postwar “kaiju” monsters like Godzilla and Mothra.
Tsuburaya was born on this day in 1901 in Sukugawa, north of Tokyo, and developed a keen passion for building model airplanes and then filming them. He first worked as a professional cameraman while still a teenager, but it wasn’t until he was in his 30s that, after seeing Hollywood’s “King Kong” and the visual-effects mastery of pioneers like Willis O’Brien, he literally saw a way to change Japanese cinema. He soon headed up the special effects at Toho Motion Picture Co.
It would be two decades, though, before Tsuburaya would create his kaiju visions within the physical and cultural climate of radioactive fallout, leading to towering irradiated monsters like 1954’s Godzilla and, a decade later, Godzilla’s epic showdown with Mothra — the kinds of creatures that continue to inspire filmmakers today.
Mr. Tsuburaya died in 1970, at age 68. But his influence on global cinema is immortal.