Destroy All Planets 2010

Destroy All Planets 2010
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Monday, September 19, 2016

ULTRAMAN NEXUS IN YOKOHAMA! The Cast and Crew Comes Out for an Ultra-Event!

 Ultraman Nexus star Takuji Kawakubo poses with an Ultra-toy. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Today, I spent a pleasant evening in Yokohama at an Ultraman-related event with several guests in attendance. Each one was friendly and outgoing, and even though I'm not very familiar with Ultraman Nexus (2004-05), after this event, I think I'm a fan for life!

With series director Yuichi Abe.

Yuichi Abe was one of the headlining guests. Abe-san directed many episodes of the series, and he has also helmed episodes of some of the more recent Ultraman outings. In addition, he worked on Godzilla: Final Wars (2004) and early on in his career worked on the special effects side of Gunhed (1989) and Godzilla vs. Biollante (1989).

With series star Takuji Kawakubo.

 Also on hand was star Takuji Kawakubo, who played Kazuki Komon. Kawakubo-san is passionate about learning English, so it was a big topic of conversation for us. He was very friendly and a joy to speak with.

With series writer Keiichi Hasegawa.

I also met Keiichi Hasegawa, who was a writer on Ultraman Nexus. However, his biggest credit in the U.S. is penning GMK: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack (2001). He was also quite friendly to speak with.

What a great way to cap a busy week!

ANTONY AND CLEOPATRA IN TOKYO! A New Take on Shakespeare's Classic!

With longtime Tsuburaya Productions director Eizo Yamagiwa. Photo by Brett Homenick. 

On Sunday, I attended a play written by Hiroyasu Yamaura, a veteran screenwriter who has been involved with many tokusatsu productions on the big and small screen. Also in attendance was Eizo Yamagiwa, a director who helmed episodes of the various '70s-era Ultraman programs.

With Hiroyasu Yamaura.

The play itself was a lot of fun. It was a comedic play-within-a-play, ostensibly about Shakespeare's Antony and Cleopatra, but it was really about the love triangle (quadrangle, really!) involving the actors. Even though there were no monsters anywhere to be seen, it was extremely enjoyable.

CHIBA THE BODYGUARD! He Shall Lay His Vengeance Upon Thee!


On Saturday evening, I was invited to a dinner with Toei action star Sonny Chiba. I was fortunate to sit next to Chiba-san during the evening, and we spoke together in English. I asked him about some of his memories of making classic tokusatsu films, and he aked me a few questions about where I live and life in Japan. We also talked about American food vs. Japanese food. Suffice it to say, it was quite an evening!

Sonny Chiba tells a story to dinner attendees. Photo by Brett Homenick.

The dinner invitation was rather sudden, but what a memorable evening it was. When I mentioned his movie version of Golgo 13, he pulled up the poster image in his smartphone and showed it to me. (He also showed me his personal photos with Samuel L. Jackson and other Hollywood stars.) He also told me about the various Japanese foods we were served that evening. To say the absolute least, this kinds of evenings are rare, and they are never forgotten. Many thanks to Chiba-san and everyone else who helped make this possible!

MASAMI TAYAMA IS BACK IN TOWN! A Great Live Performances Caps a Friday Evening!


On September 16, I attended a live musical performance by singer Masami Tayama. The venue was once again Back in Town, a place I have visited a couple of times in the past. Tayama-san makes his living as a musician, but many years ago, he played Shinji Chujo in the Toho classic Mothra (1961).


Tayama-san was joined onstage by other musicians, but it was truly his show. His vocals were powerful, and even though the lyrics were in Japanese, you didn't need to understand the words in order to feel the emotion of the music.


While waiting for Tayama-san to reemerge from the backstage area, I had a nice chat with some fellow fans, some of whom are familiar with kaiju eiga. We talked about a variety of subjects related to Godzilla, Gamera, and other creatures.


It was cool to see Tayama-san again, especially now that he lives far away from Tokyo. His appearances in the city are limited, but when he does one, I always do my best to be there!

HANGIN' WITH FIVEBLUE! An Evening with Super Sentai Star Kei Shindachiya!


On September 15, I made my way over to the bar owned by the actor who starred as FiveBlue in Chikyu Sentai Fiveman (1990-91). Kei Shindachiya (the actor in question) also made guest appearances on Choriki Sentai Ohranger (1995-96) and Ultraman Gaia (1998-99).


There were several other bar patrons in attendance, and a fun time was had by all. These low-key evenings are truly enjoyable. Many thanks to Shindachiya-san!

Monday, September 12, 2016

SEEING FUMIO ISHIMORI'S NEW PLAY! Asakusa Is the Place to Be!

Fumio Ishimori stands outside the theater in Asakusa. Photo by Brett Homenick.

On Sunday, I had an opportunity to take in the new comedy play written by Fumio Ishimori (a.k.a. Shiro Ishimori). Ishimori-san is a longtime screenwriter who has written numerous films for Nikkastu and Shochiku studios.  

Fumio Ishimori signs my DVD sleeve of Crest of the Wolf. Photo by Brett Homenick. 

For Toho, he wrote the horror film Crest of the Wolf (1973) with Jun Fukuda. He also wrote several episodes of the original Kamen Rider (1971-73), as well as episodes of Ultraman Ace (1972-73) and Zone Fighter (1973).


When I found out about Ishimori-san's play, I knew I had to check it out. Thankfully, my Sunday afternoon was open, and I was able to make it. It was an enjoyable parody with a Lupin III-type character as the focal point, and it had the audience laughing throughout.

With Ishimori-san and many of the cast members.

Afterward, we posed for photos and chatted a bit. I also got to meet many of the cast, and everyone was quite friendly. I look forward to seeing his next play!

A RETURN TO KAPPABASHI! Asakusa's Kitchen Town Is Where It's At!


On Sunday, I made my way to Asakusa, and while there, I decided to photograph the giant chef's head in Kappabashi. The last time I was there, it was nighttime, so I knew I'd eventually come back during the day to take better shots.


Despite there being some overcast, the photos turned out much better than my previous attempt. The sunshine really makes a difference!


It's always fun to see fun, offbeat things in Japan, and while this has absolutely no connections with kaiju, it's about the size of one!