Tokusatsu (特撮 Tokusatsu) is a Japanese word that literally means "special effects." It is primarily used to refer to live-action Japanese film and television dramas that make use of special effects.
The term "tokusatsu" is a contraction of the Japanese phrase "tokushu satsuei" (特殊撮影 tokushu satsuei), meaning "special photography". In production, the special effects director is given the title of "tokushu gijutsu" (特殊技術 tokushu gijutsu), Japanese for "special techniques" or "tokusatsu kantoku" (特撮監督 tokusatsu kantoku), which is Japanese for "special effects director", the title usually used by English language productions.
Tokusatsu entertainment is often science fiction, fantasy, or horror, but movies and TV shows in other genres can sometimes be classified as tokusatsu as well. The most popular types of tokusatsu are kaiju monster movies (the Godzilla and Gamera film series), superhero TV serials (the Kamen Rider and Metal Heroes series), and mecha dramas (Giant Robo). Some tokusatsu television programs combine several of these subgenres (the Ultraman and Super Sentai series).
Tokusatsu is one of the most popular forms of Japanese entertainment, but most tokusatsu movies and television programs are not widely known outside Asia. In recent years, however, tokusatsu has begun to develop a small but loyal and growing fanbase outside of Japan.
Japanese Tokusatsu movies often use daikaiju, or giant monster suits, as well as similar, suits to represent Kyodai Heroes and humanoid aliens . Suitmation (スーツメーション, Sūtsumēshon, a portmanteau of "suit animation") is a filmmaking technique initially developed by Eiji Tsuburaya for use in Godzilla films and then used for his Ultraman productions. The suit actor, often moving through scale model scenery to give the impression of large size, is filmed at a higher framerate to make them appear slower. In addition, the suit actor performs their movements slowly and deliberately to emulate a slow moving creature.