Destroy All Planets 2010

Destroy All Planets 2010
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Sunday, April 13, 2014

BUSY TIMES IN THE LAND OF THE RISING SUN! Updates on Various Comings and Goings

The cherry blossoms are always a sight to see, especially along Meguro River!

Having just moved to Tokyo from Gifu Prefecture, I've been busy. So I haven't blogged as much as I could have. Plus, not having Internet installed at home yet makes things that much more difficult. So I'm going to do a quick update on some of the things I've done since moving to Tokyo at the very end of March. Enjoy!

One highlight was attending an elaborate Eiji Tsuburaya/Ultraman exhibit in the Shinjuku Takashimaya department store. Plenty of artifacts, props, and even suits were on display. Japan remains the only place to see such cool stuff.

I also visited the brand-new Kaiju Sakaba bar in Kawasaki. After waiting in line for nearly two hours (!), I finally was able to sit down and order food and drinks. Was it worth a two-hour wait? Not really. It lacks the heart of the now-closed Kaiju-ya in Shibuya. Still, once the lines become shorter over time, Ultraman fans will want to check it out.

The biggest highlight so far was visiting Godzilla series composer Riichiro Manabe again. I brought him some Japanese sweets, which he enjoyed. We had a nice chat about things, and he's doing well. I look forward to visiting him again.

Although I didn't go inside, I got to see Atami Castle for the very first time. I'm saving the trek inside for a future visit. Definitely look forward to it!

Saturday, March 22, 2014


Actor/mixed martial artist Don Frye poses with some substantial reading material in preparation for his return to G-FEST. Photo courtesy of Don Frye.

As if G-FEST XXI couldn't get any bigger, the one and only Don Frye (Captain Douglas Gordon from Godzilla: Final Wars) will make his triumphant return to the convention, from July 11 through 13! In 2008, Don Frye was a massive hit with G-FEST attendees, so we've decided the 60th anniversary of the Godzilla franchise was the perfect opportunity for an encore performance.

Mr. Frye is a veteran of UFC, New Japan Pro Wrestling, Pride, and other mixed martial arts and professional wrestling organizations. In recent years, Mr. Frye has turned his attention to acting, landing roles in the Michael Mann films Miami Vice (2006) and Public Enemies (2009), on top of guest spots on shows like It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Although his schedule has been increasingly busy, Mr. Frye is looking forward to reuniting with his fans at G-FEST XXI.

Captain Gordon wants you ... to meet him at G-FEST!


A Kickstarter campaign has been in the works for several weeks, and it's one of which all G-fans should take note. John DeSentis and Chris Oglio are pushing for a concert (with 50-piece orchestra) of Maestro Ifukube's music at G-FEST XXI this summer, July 11-13, in Chicago.

This concert can happen, but it needs your support. Follow this link for all the details about how to get involved, but as the organizers of this campaign like to stress, no donation is too small. This is truly a by-the-fans effort, and even if you have no plans to attend G-FEST, there are several perks being offered for your involvement.

When fans pull together, everyone wins. This is a perfect example of what can happen when like-minded folks pitch in for the benefit of others, not just themselves. Spread the word, offer a donation, get involved. That's what fandom should be about.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

KOICHI KAWAKITA COMES TO TOWN! G-FEST XXI Adds the Famed Toho SFX Director to Its Growing Guest Lineup!

SFX director Koichi Kawakita speaks about all things Godzilla at a talk show event in Tokyo. Photo by Brett Homenick.

G-FEST XXI is pleased to announce the return of legendary SFX director KOICHI KAWAKITA to the growing lineup of celebrity guests from Japan. Mr. Kawakita directed the SFX scenes for every Godzilla movie from Godzilla vs. Biollante (1989) through Godzilla vs. Destoroyah (1995). Mr. Kawakita won the Japanese Academy Award for his SFX work on Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah.

Mr. Kawakita joined Toho in the early 1960s, working on the lavish sci-fi epic Gorath (1962), among many other films. In the 1970s, he worked on a variety of films and television programs, such as Ultraman Ace (1972-73), Zone Fighter (1973), Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1974), The Last Days of Planet Earth (1974), Zero Pilot (1976), The War in Space (1977), and the Shaw Bros.' Mighty Peking Man (1977). In the 1980s, Mr. Kawakita directed the dazzling effects in Sayonara Jupiter (1984) and Gunhed (1989). Following his retirement from Toho, Mr. Kawakita founded his own production company, Dream Planet Japan.

Mr. Kawakita will join Katsuhiko Sasaki and Tomoko Ai in Chicago from July 11 through 13 at G-FEST XXI.

Saturday, March 15, 2014


Actor Katsuhiko Sasaki speaks about his career during an interview in Tokyo. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Terror of Mechagodzilla (1975) remains one of the most popular entries in the Godzilla franchise, and G-FEST XXI has chosen the occasion of the Big G's 60th anniversary to honor this beloved film with the first-ever reunion of its two leading actors in the U.S., from July 11-13 in Chicago. The two Toho stars are looking forward to signing autographs and answering G-fans' questions!

KATSUHIKO SASAKI, who starred as Akira Ichinose in Terror of Mechagodzilla, makes his first convention appearance in North America at G-FEST.

The son of actor Minoru Chiaki (Seven SamuraiGodzilla Raids Again), Mr. Sasaki also stars in Godzilla vs. Megalon (1973) as inventor Goro Ibuki.

His work can be seen in numerous other Toho titles like Battle of Okinawa (1971), The Evil of Dracula (1974), The Last Days of Planet Earth (1974), Conflagration (1975), Godzilla vs. Biollante (1989), and Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah (1991). In recent years, Mr. Sasaki has become a prolific voice actor who has dubbed the voices of such American stars as Robert De Niro, Liam Neeson, Alec Baldwin, and William Hurt for various Japanese releases of American movies. Mr. Sasaki is the most identifiable actor from the 1970s cycle of Toho films, and G-FEST is proud to host his debut appearance in the U.S.

Actress Tomoko Ai poses with some substantial reading material in Tokyo. Ms. Ai is excited to make her first North American public appearance at G-FEST XXI in July. Photo courtesy of Tomoko Ai.

G-FEST is also pleased to announce that TOMOKO AI, who played Katsura Mafune in Terror of Mechagodzilla, will make her first convention appearance in the United States. Ms. Ai looks forward to meeting her fans and celebrating the 60th anniversary of the Godzilla series this summer.

Prior to her performance in Terror of Mechagodzilla, Ms. Ai played a recurring role in Tsuburaya Productions' Ultraman Leo (1974-75) as Monster Attacking Crew (MAC) member Haruko Matsuki.

Ms. Ai worked with acclaimed Godzilla series director Ishiro Honda (Godzilla  '54, Godzilla vs. the Thing), and acted alongside such Toho luminaries as Akihiko Hirata (Godzilla '54, King Kong vs. Godzilla), Goro Mutsumi (Godzilla vs. MechagodzillaEspy), and Toru Ibuki (Ghidrah the Three-Headed MonsterGodzilla vs. the Sea Monster). Her starring role in one of the most popular Godzilla movies of all time make her one of the most anticipated guests in G-FEST's history.

Actor Yosuke Natsuki talks shop about his career at Toho. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Adding to the 60th-anniversary excitement is a live Skype Q&A with Toho star YOSUKE NATSUKI. Mr. Natsuki wished to attend G-FEST in person, but unfortunately some long-term ailments prevent him from joining the convention. However, not only will he be at the convention in spirit, he will participate in a live Skype chat with G-FEST attendees, directly from Tokyo!

Mr. Natsuki starred in Ghidrah the Three-Headed Monsters (1964) as Detective Shindo, Dogora the Space Monster (1964) as Inspector Komai, and Godzilla 1985 (1984) as Professor Hayashida. He also appeared in Akira Kurosawa's Yojimbo (1961), Hiroshi Inagaki's Gen and Acala (1961), and Shue Matsubayashi's Attack Squadron! (1963), among many other titles. From Ishiro Honda to Akira Kurosawa, from Toshiro Mifune to Takashi Shimura, from Kumi Mizuno to Yumi Shirakawa, Mr. Natsuki has worked with them all, and he will share his stories at G-FEST in a live Skype session all the way from Tokyo!

G-FEST XXI takes place in Rosemont, IL, at the Crowne Plaza O'Hare from July 11-13. Don't miss it, be there!

Friday, March 14, 2014

SO LONG, STARMAN! Ken Utsui: 1931-2014

Actor Ken Utsui goes where Superman never dared in Shintoho's Starman series.

Starman actor Ken Utsui passed away on March 14, 2014, of chronic respiratory failure. He was 82. Although Utsui was a prolific actor for many decades, he is best known in the United States as Starman (a.k.a. Super Giant), the Shintoho superhero who fought a bevy of outlandish creatures in the late 1950s.

Rest in peace, Utsui-san.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

SNOWY TIMES IN TOKYO: Bad Weather Isn't Enough to Deter This Fan!

Before I begin, I should point out (as the title suggests) that Tokyo was hit by its worst snowstorm in about 16 years just before I made my way to the city. (I was there between February 9 and 11.) Despite that, most of my plans went on without a hitch, and I had a successful stay.

As pictured above, my friend Yasushi and I ate lunch with designer Akihiko Iguchi at an Indian restaurant.

Even though we first communicated circa 2006, I didn't meet Daniel Kahl until February 10. Although he is a well known TV personality in Japan, we Godzilla fans know him as the one and only Major Spielberg from Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah (1991)!

Now here was a major highlight. I got to spend a couple of hours chatting with Toho supporting actor Toru Ibuki on February 9 as well. Ibuki-san played the long-lost brother, Yata, in Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster (1966) and the bearded alien, Tsuda, in Terror of Mechagodzilla (1975), among various other roles during the 1960s and '70s. Ibuki-san was incredibly warm and polite, as so many of the actors I've met have been.

Eating dinner with producer-writer-director Yoshimitsu Banno is almost a required event for me these days, but it's always enjoyable. Banno-san started at Toho during 1955, so the information at his fingertips is nothing short of amazing!