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Toku
"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 genrenote . 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, particularly Wire Fu.

Tokusatsu had two major periods, dubbed the "Monster Boom" and the "Henshin Boom". The Monster Boom was started by Godzilla and famously saw the rise of many daikaiju pictures in the film industry. Henshin Boom was started by Kamen Rider, and it greatly influenced how action heroes worked and its effects can still be seen today in the superhero and action-adventure genre.

Like Anime and Manga, Toku is one of those terms that means slightly different things in Japan and the West. While Westerners use it to refer almost exclusively to the Japanese superhero shows, in Japan it simply refers to any live-action production which makes extensive use of special effects. This means that, to the Japanese, things like Smallville, Stargate SG-1, Doctor Who, Knight Rider, and Red Dwarf count as Toku. This list also includes shows that use puppetry, like Gerry Anderson's Supermarionation series Thunderbirds and Terrahawks, and even Thomas the Tank Engine. 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.

Toku series and franchises include:

Super Sentai, Metal Heroes and Kamen Rider franchises on this list were adapted, with varying degrees of success, by Saban Entertainment 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. As for the original Japanese shows, good luck finding official releases outside of Asia....

Tokusatsu Tropes have their own page.

Names To Know In Tokusatsu:

Major Companies producing Tokusatsu:
Two-Fisted TalesFictionWidget Series
Two-Fisted TalesShow GenresThe Western
The SweeneySeries of the 1970sKamen Rider

alternative title(s): Tokusatsu
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