Tokusatsu (Japanese: 特撮, "special filming") is a Japanese term for live action film or television drama that makes heavy use of special effects. Tokusatsu entertainment often deals with science fiction, fantasy or horror, but films and television shows in other genres can sometimes count as tokusatsu as well. The most popular types of tokusatsu include kaiju monster films such as the Godzilla and Gamera film series; superhero TV serials such as the Kamen Rider and Metal Hero series; and mecha dramas like Giant Robo and Ambassador Magma. Some tokusatsu television programs combine several of these subgenres, for example the Ultraman and Super Sentai series.
Tokusatsu is one of the most popular forms of Japanese entertainment, but despite the popularity of films and television programs based on tokusatsu properties such as Godzilla or Super Sentai, only a small proportion of tokusatsu films and television programs are widely known outside and inside Asia.
Kaiju (怪獣, kaijū, literally "mysterious beast") productions primarily feature monsters, or giant monsters (大怪獣, daikaijū). Such series include Ultra Q, the Godzilla film series, the Gamera series, the Daimajin series, and films such as Mothra, War of the Gargantuas, and The X from Outer Space (宇宙大怪獣ギララ, Uchu Daikaijū Girara).
Kaijin (怪人, literally "mysterious person") productions primarily feature supervillains as their central character. This includes films such as The Secret of the Telegian, The Human Vapor, The H-Man, Half Human, and Tomei Ningen.
Various movies classified as tokusatsu actually work like generalized science fiction films. These include Warning from Space (宇宙人東京に現わる, Uchūjin Tokyo ni arawaru, Spacemen Appear in Tokyo), Invasion of the Neptune Men (宇宙快速船, Uchū Kaisokusen, High Speed Spaceship), The Green Slime (ガンマー第3号 宇宙大作戦, Ganmā daisan gō: uchū daisakusen, Ganma 3 Space Mission), The Birth of Japan (日本誕生, Nippon Tanjō), The Last War (世界大戦争, Sekai daisenso, Great World War), Japan Sinks (日本沈没, Nihon Chinbotsu, Japan Sinks), Virus (復活の日, Fukkatsu no Hi, Day of Resurrection), Sayonara Jupiter (さよならジュピター, Sayonara Jupitā), The War in Space (惑星大戦争, Wakusei Daisensō, War of the Planets), and Sengoku Jieitai 1549 (戦国自衛隊1549).
Kaiju and tokusatsu films, notably Warning from Space (1956), sparked Stanley Kubrick's interest in science fiction films and influenced 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968). According to his biographer John Baxter, despite their "clumsy model sequences, the films were often well-photographed in colour ... and their dismal dialogue was delivered in well-designed and well-lit sets." Steven Spielberg cited Godzilla as an inspiration for Jurassic Park (1993), specifically Godzilla, King of the Monsters! (1956), which he grew up watching. During its production, Spielberg described Godzilla as "the most masterful of all the dinosaur movies because it made you believe it was really happening." Godzilla also influenced the Spielberg film Jaws (1975).