Toku

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"I know I should be excited and scared and all but I--all I think of is sweaty Japanese guys..."

"Tokusatsu", often shortened to just "Toku", is the Japanese live-action effects genre. Though the overlap is not total, it can, at least casually, be considered the live-action analogue to Anime (at least, to the subset of anime best known to casual viewers in the west).

Originally, Toku differentiated itself from western visual effects genres by its preference for "live" effects (ie. People in Rubber Suits) over the equally phony special effects created during editing (at the time of the genre's birth, specifically the stop-motion techniques pioneered by Ray Harryhausen, now CGI). Modern Toku uses both forms of effect, but "live" effects are still preferred. Toku is closely identified with Wire Fu.

Far and away, the most popular early example of Toku is the Godzilla film franchise, which exemplifies many of the genre's tropes: people in rubber suits smashing scale model cities, and an abundance of squibs.

Most of the examples of Toku series are actually franchises of the Sentai and Henshin Hero variety, producing many separate but related series. Notable Toku series and franchises include:



Super Sentai, Metal Heroes and Kamen Rider franchises on this list were adapted, with varying degrees of success, by Haim Saban to produce the U.S. series Power Rangers, VR Troopers, Big Bad Beetleborgs and Masked Rider. Kamen Rider Ryuki was later adapted into Kamen Rider Dragon Knight, which considered better than Masked Rider. Toku series use many of the same tropes often associated with Anime, though have become synonymous with others.

Interestingly, a number of Western television programs are considered Toku by the Japanese due to their use of special effects and certain themes; this list includes such names as Smallville, Stargate SG-1, Doctor Who, Knight Rider, and Red Dwarf. This list also includes shows that use puppetry, like Gerry Anderson's Supermarionation series Thunderbirds and Terrahawks, and even Thomas the Tank Engine.

Tropes common to this genre include:

Names To Know In Tokusatsu:

Major Companies producing Tokusatsu: