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The last of the model monster makers keep a Japanese film tradition alive

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Pacific Rim draws liberally from the tradition of Japanese monster movies, but there's one thing it hasn't brought back: tokusatsu, the tradition of model-heavy, live-action special effects used to create icons like Ultraman and Godzilla. As The New York Times writes, only two companies still work with tokusatsu rather than easier, cheaper CG effects. Daisuke Terai, who has played Ultraman for 16 years, says it's worth it to be able to meet fans without feeling like a conterfeit. "Children know a CG is fake," he says. "They want a human Ultraman." But Shinichi Okathe, head of Ultraman production company Tsuburaya, thinks tokusatsu's days are numbered. "If [studio founder] Eiji Tsuburaya were still alive," he says, "he would use CG. We have no choice."