Sunday, December 16, 2018

Super Festival 79

Today I attended Super Festival 79. I attended earlier than normal (partly to attend Bin Furuya's Q&A session, but also because I had several other appointments later on in the day), so I ran into more familiar faces than I usually do. Anyway, I'll let the photos do the talking.

After the After-Party!

 Hiroyasu Yamaura. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Even though I completely missed the performance, I was pleased to be invited to the after-party of a Christmas show written by Hiroyasu Yamaura. The group was small (there were only six of us), and we had dinner for an hour and a half. It was a traditional Japanese dinner, and it was quite delicious. 

The conversation was lively and often hilarious. I had a great time with Yamaura-san and the others and can't wait to see him again. Hopefully, I'll be able to actually see his next stage play!

Seeing Aoki-san Perform Live!

Hidemi Aoki. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Today I attended a special live performance by actress/singer Hidemi Aoki. I'd first met Aoki-san in April at Yosuke Natsuki's memorial party, making today the first time I'd seen her perform.

Hidemi Aoki plays Sumi in Seven Nights in Japan (1976), co-starring Michael York and Charles Gray (directed by Lewis Gilbert of You Only Live Twice fame). She also portrays Kyoko Osawayama in episodes 2-7, 9, 11-13 of Toho's Diamond Eye (1973-74).

As for today's show, I thought Aoki-san was far and away the best singer who performed (in my unbiased opinion, of course). Aoki-san was very kind, and even though I had to leave early, she followed me out (without any prompting from me) and spent a few moments talking with me. She also patiently signed the Diamond Eye DVD sleeves I brought and posed for photos. Suffice it to say, she really made my day.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Celebrating Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II for Its 25th Anniversary!

 Makoto Kamiya. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Last night, I attended a special gathering of SFX alums from Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II (1993) in Shibuya. In previous years, there were similar gatherings devoted to Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah (1991) and Godzilla vs. Mothra (1992), but due to my schedule at the time, I was not able to attend those events.

Several members of GvsMG II's SFX crew were on hand, but the evening's VIP had to be Makoto Kamiya.

Kamiya-san was an assistant director of SFX from Godzilla vs. Biollante (1989) through Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II, then served in the same capacity on Gamera: Guardian of the Universe (1995) through Gamera 3 (1999). After that, he became SFX director on GMK (2001) and Shinji Higuchi's Sinking of Japan (2006). Suffice it to say, he's enjoyed plenty of success during his SFX career.

The event was enjoyable, if a bit cramped at times. I made some new friends and rekindled a few old friendships. The event marked the end of a particularly busy week for me, so now I can finally get some rest!

An Ultra-Good Evening!

From left to right: Masao Nakabori, Sojiro Uchino, and Hiroko Sakurai. Photo by Brett Homenick.

On Friday, December 7, I attended a follow-up event that likewise focused on the late director Akio Jissoji. Cinematographer Masao Nakabori returned to the event, as did former child actor Sojiro Uchino, who appeared in episodes of Ultra Q (1966) and Ultraman (1966-67). Uchino-san was directed by Akio Jissoji in episode 15 of Ultraman. Headlining the event was actress Hiroko Sakurai, who starred as Yuriko Edogawa in Ultra Q and Akiko Fuji in Ultraman.

Sojiro Uchino holds up the box for a limited-edition Akio Jissoji figure. Photo by Brett Homenick.

During the Q&A session, I was most interested in hearing Sakurai-san talk about becoming a Toho actress, which is a part of her career so often glossed over in interviews and articles about her career. Naturally, the conversation quickly moved on to Ultra-related topics, particularly her work with Akio Jissoji.

Between Masao Nakabori and Hiroko Sakurai.

Sakurai-san was very friendly and approachable as usual, and despite not having seen her in about two years, she remembered me from our previous encounters at various events. As expected, the event was at capacity to her presence, but she made sure everyone in attendance got what they needed. She's a true pro and a class act.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

Meeting an Icon of the Showa Gamera Series!

Kon Omura. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Tonight, I attended a gala event at the Hotel New Otani Tokyo headlined by actor Kon Omura. Omura-san remains a familiar face in Japan, but Westerners most likely only know him from his two appearances in the Showa Gamera series. He played comic-relief characters in Gamera vs. Guiron (1969) and Gamera vs. Jiger (1970). 

I was amazed at just how popular Omura-san was at the event, as he hardly seemed to get a moment's rest. He was constantly taking photos with attendees and never seemed to tire. Not bad for a gentleman who has just turned 87 years old.

I had a brief chat with Omura-san but made sure not to take up too much of his time. I'd been looking forward to meeting Omura-san ever since I got to Japan and am finally glad I had the opportunity.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Toho SFX Veterans Gather to Celebrate the Publication of a New Book!

Takashi Naganuma. Photo by Brett Homenick. 

Earlier today, I had the honor of being invited to attend a launch party for a new book written by former Toho SFX master Takashi Naganuma. The book is another chronicle of Naganuma-san's decades of work at Toho Studios.

Toshio Miike. Photo by Brett Homenick. 

The event attracted several Toho SFX luminaries, such as Teruyoshi Nakano, Tom Kotani, Toshio Miike, and Nobuyuki Yasumaru. All the invited guests addressed those in attendance.

Nobuyuki Yasumaru addresses the audience. Photo by Brett Homenick. 

I was able to strike up some new friendships at the event with my table mates. I had a great time chatting with the folks seated next to me. I hope we have a chance to meet again in the future.

Teruyoshi Nakano (left) and Nobuyuki Yasumaru. Photo by Brett Homenick.

I purchased a copy of Naganuma-san's book at the party, and I was impressed with the photos contained in it, most of which I'd never seen before. And given how many books have been published in recent years regarding Toho SFX, that's quite an accomplishment.

Teruyoshi Nakano. Photo by Brett Homenick.

All in all, it was a wonderful event. I attended a similar party almost exactly two years ago, and while that one was much bigger, this one was still quite enjoyable. I hope another book gets published soon!