Zerai Naoi makes his living by keeping gore hounds fed on a shoestring budget. If you want to sample his work, it helps to have a strong stomach.

The special effects artist began his career in high school and has crafted rotten body parts and blood spurts for everything from Australian B-movies to stage plays and maid cafes. His home studio looks like someone set off a bomb in a graveyard, while the bookshelves are a mad scientist's mix of horror movie magazines and Renaissance-period anatomical texts. He takes a seat under the entrails strung on the wall to discuss the history of Japanese visual effects with The Japan Times.

Born in 1972, like most boys from his generation Naoi grew up watching "Godzilla," "Ultraman" and other rubber-suited kaijū beasts. When VHS tape decks brought Hollywood creature features into Japanese living rooms for the first time in the mid-1980s, a teenage Naoi was spellbound. He knew he wanted to make monsters.