Sunday, June 25, 2017

ADDITIONAL SHOTS! Teruyoshi Nakano and Takashi Naganuma!

SFX director Teruyoshi Nakano ponders a question from the audience.

Model maker Takashi Naganuma addresses a question from a tokusatsu fan.

Teruyoshi Nakano speaks to a fan after signing some posters.

Teruyoshi Nakano reenacts his SFX director days.

Yours truly with Teruyoshi Nakano.

IT'S TOHO'S DYNAMIC DUO! Nakano-san and Naganuma-san Are Back in Da House!

Teruyoshi Nakano and Takashi Naganuma talk all things Toho. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Tonight, I attended another special event with former Toho SFX director Teruyoshi Nakano and Toho SFX staff member Takashi Naganuma. The pair talked once again about their respective careers at the house Godzilla built. 

Teruyoshi Nakano. Photo by Brett Homenick. 

Naturally, many fascinating stories from the Toho lot were shared. One such story was that the big house explosion seen at the end of Espy (1974) was the last major explosion that Nakano-san was allowed to do at Toho. After that, the explosions were much more controllable.

Takashi Naganuma. Photo by Brett Homenick. 

Believe it or not, I still had a couple of items for Nakano-san to sign, so I brought them in, and he added his signature to them. When he's been involved in so many projects, it's just natural to have so many relevant items for him to sign!

Teruyoshi Nakano sports a hat very similar to the one he'd wear while directing SFX. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Another fan of Nakano-san brought out a hat that look a lot like the one he'd often wear on the set of his SFX films. It was quite amusing to see, and I realized that I'd never actually seen Nakano-san wear a hat like that in person. I guess he stopped wearing them a long time ago.

Lights, camera, action!

That's all, folks! As usual, it was a lot of fun, and Nakano-san is always a joy to hang out with. Until next time!

Friday, June 23, 2017

TAKING IN SOME LIVE MUSIC! Seeing Tayama-san Live and in Concert!

Singer Masami Tayama. Photo by Brett Homenick. 

Tonight, I attended another live performance by singer Masami Tayama. He performed many of his familiar tunes -- songs I've heard so many times I can almost sing them myself! Tayama-san sings straight from the soul, and you can feel his passion in all his songs.

I last saw Tayama-san in April, and tonight's show was very similar to that one. Still, it was a great time, a perfect way to close out the week. (Well, I have to work tomorrow, but close enough.)

Many thanks for another great evening! Can't wait to do it again soon!

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

FUJIKO HEMMING IN CONCERT! Seeing the Latest Performance of One of Japan's Most Famous Musicians!

Classical pianist Fujiko Hemming shares a photo with the cameraman. Photo by Brett Homenick.

It is no exaggeration to say that Fujiko Hemming is one of Japan's most famous classical musicians. Whenever I meet an actor, director, or anybody from show biz, and the subject of Ulf Otsuki comes up, the person may not know Ulf, but if you explain that he is the brother of pianist Fujiko Hemming, he or she will certainly know who that is. I've never met a person in Japan who wasn't familiar with Fujiko Hemming when her name was mentioned.

Tonight, I had the privilege of attending Fujiko Hemming's concert at the Sumida Triphony Hall. The concert hall holds some 1,800 seats, and nearly all of them were filled this evening. The concert consisted solely of Fujiko Hemming's playing the piano. That's all she needs to give the performance her fans enjoy. It was quite interesting to see how many avid fans she has, and how young many of them are.

Given that I was invited by Ulf to join the concert, I didn't have a ticket, but Ulf invited me to sit on the stage next to him during the concert. Suffice it to say, it was a unique way to see the show! Of course, Fujiko Hemming's performance was perfect, and I enjoyed hearing many familiar classical tunes.

I got to meet and speak with Fujiko Hemming backstage after the concert, and after that, I went to dinner with Ulf, his family, and a couple of friends. A great time was had by all. What an evening!

ULF OTSUKI'S STATUE IN NARA! The Godzilla Series Actor Is Immortalized in Bronze!

Actor Ulf Otsuki served as the model for this statue outside the Nara Prefectural Museum of Art. Photo by Brett Homenick.

We all know of the various Godzilla statues and other attractions in and around Tokyo, but did you know there is a statue of a Godzilla series actor in Japan? It's true. Actor Ulf Otsuki (the bearded Seatopian agent from Godzilla vs. Megalon) has his very own statue in Nara.

When Ulf was 19 years old (and a member of the acting troupe Haiyuza), he was selected as the model for this statue by Japanese artist Yasuo Sugawara, an old friend of Ulf's mother. The statue is currently at the entrance of the Nara Prefectural Museum of Art, and one can view the statue without buying a ticket to enter the museum.

When I visited Nara at the end of May, I stopped by the museum to photograph the statue. Ulf had told me about it several times, and it was something I intended to see for myself. Suffice it to say, it is quite interesting!

Tuesday, June 20, 2017

THE GUILALA GUY IN CONCERT! Shinichi Yanagisawa Sings Jazz!

Shinichi Yanagisawa on the drums. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Earlier tonight, I went to the HUB Asakusa after work to catch actor-singer Shinichi Yanagisawa's live jazz show. As always, it was an excellent show, and his All-Stars proved once again that they are a great jazz band.

I mentioned to Yanagisawa-san that I heard several of his announcements he recorded for the Laputa Asagaya, in which he talks about upcoming films that would be playing at the theater. He got a big kick out of that. I'm sure he didn't expect that!

For those of you not in the know, Yanagisawa-san played Miyamoto in The X from Outer Space (1967), which is easily his best-known film in the States. It's always a blast to see him live and in person, and I'm jazzed to do it all over again in the future!

Monday, June 19, 2017

CURSE OF THE DOG GOD! An Oddity from '70s-Era Toei!

A poster for the Toei horror thriller Inugami no Tatari (1977). Photo by Brett Homenick. 

Tonight, I made my way to the Laputa Asagaya for what will likely be the last installment of the Into Nightmares late-night screenings that I will see. (The program will continue, but I'm not particularly interested in the remaining titles.) Tonight's show was a film I'd actually never heard of before. It was a Toei production called Inugami no Tatari (1977), which can be translated as "Curse of the Dog God." The movie is just about as strange as that title would suggest, but unfortunately it's not as entertaining.

The movie has a pretty simple setup. A group of engineers from a mining company searching for uranium in a rural area in Japan (at least when they're not staring at naked female swimmers in a nearby river) accidentally destroys a small shrine in their truck on an unpaved forest road and runs over a dog owned by a young boy. These actions set in motion a series of bizarre events, resulting in the deaths of the protagonists' two colleagues. (One goes crazy and jumps off the Shinjuku Sumitomo Building; the other is killed by a pack of vicious German Shepherds.) The main character's bride (whom he marries shortly after the dog is run over and the shrine is destroyed) even becomes possessed by the dog-god, despite the fact she had nothing to do with the accident.

The man and his wife eventually return to the village where she eventually dies. At this point, the movie loses focus and begins to get bogged down in characters and subplots that just aren't very interesting. The supernatural elements take a backseat to the human drama, and (with few exceptions) they don't return until the last 20 or so minutes of the film.

But those last 20 minutes are a doozy. We're treated to a lot of strange imagery, including (but not limited to) disembodied flying dog heads. While the early supernatural scenes seemed to take things somewhat seriously, there is no such effort made here. It's almost as if writer-director Shunya Ito saw a screening of House (1977) and decided it wasn't outlandish enough for him.

Overall, the movie is a mixed bag. When the movie is supernatural, it's interesting and enjoyable. When nothing ghostly is happening, well, let's just say things can get a little slow. And a lot slow, too. I do love the cinematography of the rural landscapes, though. At least the film is visually appealing when the story isn't.