Toys from Japan are a huge thing for a certain breed of collector. They combine kitschy-ness with a certain kind of craziness that comes only from Japanese products. These toys can go for hundreds of dollars on the collector market, but aren’t too well-known outside of it. Enter books like So Crazy!, a pictorial introduction to the crazy world of Japanese toys.
The book starts with a gigantic picture of Ultraman. Clearly, the writer knows his audience. From there, we get a short introduction to the world of Japanese toys. We learn about the market they spawned from and a little about the people who design and make them. It’s a nice, quick summary of their history and is a great into for beginners to the genre. We also get a little reminiscing from one of the collectors themselves, which adds a fun perspective to the almost academic first foreword.
From there, the book is divided into five sections: Men in Rubber, Rockin’ Chicks, Cute n’ Cuddly, Motor Heroes, and Freaky Foes. Each section gets a short written introduction that tells a little about the toys and where they fit in Japanese culture. Then comes a series of photos. The photos are a lot of fun. They’re well-lit and artistically shot, but that’s beside the point. Japanese toys really are nuts in an interesting way. If you ever wanted to see a bunny rabbit warrior with a carrot lightsaber, this is the book for you.
The main problem is that the book gets kind of tedious after a while. Yes, it’s fun to look at, and for a collector it’s probably amazing. But for an average person, it’s easy to burn out on the wackiness of it all. Adding to your frustration is the fact that the character’s names and shows aren’t listed till the end of the book. If you’re the curious sort, you’ll be flipping back and forth a lot. The index at the back is nicely organized with little thumbnails of the toy photos, but one wonders why they didn’t just put that information up front.
This book is pretty great, honestly. It’s worth picking up and flipping through. If you love retro, are a Japanophile, or you just want something cooler then the standard coffee table art book, you might want to pick this one up.