Destroy All Planets 2010

Destroy All Planets 2010
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Wednesday, July 1, 2015

AN AFTERNOON WITH SHIGEO KATO! The Great Toho Vet Turns 90!

Longtime Toho actor Shigeo Kato salutes the camera in a cafe in Kamakura. Photo by Brett Homenick.

On June 16, actor Shigeo Kato turned 90 years old. I mailed him a birthday card, and to my surprise I received a thank-you card in the mail just a few days later. In order to celebrate his birthday, I called Kato-san up and made plans to visit him in Kamakura.


I spent the afternoon with Kato-san, as he told me more about his life and career. It was a one-on-one meeting, so communication was difficult (to say the least!) at times, I was amazed at how much I understood. I guess it helps enormously when you're already familiar with the context.

Happy birthday, Kato-san!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

CHICAGO COMES TO TOKYO! Director Masaaki Tezuka Hosts a Talk Show Event in Kawasaki!

 Meillennium series director Masaaki Tezuka remembers the late Hiroshi Koizumi during a Q&A event. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Yesterday, an event was held in Kawasaki, Kanagawa, in which director Masaaki Tezuka offered his memories of the great Toho actor Hiroshi Koizumi, who recently passed away. Tezuka-san worked with Koizumi-san on Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. (2003) and had much to say about the beloved actor. Tezuka-san also spoke at length about his career and signed autographs for those in attendance.

Tezuka-san shares a laugh with the audience as the photographer gets a little too artistic. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Despite the lack of self-promoting picture book authors, the event was another success. Tokyo is the undisputed king of the mountain when it comes to movie-related events, and no other place in the world can begin to compare. (Not that that should stop others from trying!)

Tezuka-san signs my DVD sleeve of Godzilla vs. Megaguirus (2000), which was previously signed by screenwriter Wataru Mimura. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Quite a number of other events are planned for the month of July, so keep it here for photos and reports.

YUZO KAYAMA DRINKS COKE! 100 Years of the Iconic Coca-Cola Bottle Celebrated in Japan!

A vending machine in Setagaya Ward, Tokyo, depicts movie star Yuzo Kayama as a Coca-Cola pitchman. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Coca-Cola is celebrating the 100th anniversary of its iconic Coke bottles in a big way, and the party has reached the shores of Japan. Vending machines, train stations, and other locations all have pictures of various celebrities drinking Coke, and the celeb who would appeal most to fans of Showa-era Toho films is Yuzo Kayama.

The son of Ken Uehara (Mothra, Atragon), Kayama-san himself never appeared in a monster movie, but he did dabble in tokusatsu with appearances in Espy (1974) and war films like Attack Squadron! (1963). Otherwise, he is best known to Westerners for his co-starring role in Akira Kurosawa's Red Beard (1965) and for playing the title character in Toho's Young Guy series.

It's certainly nice to see a classic Toho star adorning vending machines throughout Tokyo!

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

SHINICHI YANAGISAWA RETURNS TO THE STAGE! Tokyo's Coolest Jazz Singer Gives It His All!

Actor/jazz singer Shinichi Yanagisawa sings familiar jazz songs to an appreciative Tokyo audience. Photo by Brett Homenick.

As I usually do every other month, I paid another visit to the HUB in Asakusa on June 16 to see actor/singer Shinichi Yanagisawa in concert. He and his jazz band (the All-Stars) always perform at the HUB on a Tuesday every other month.

Although Yanagisawa-san acted in films from every major studio in Japan, he is most associated with Shochiku Studios, for which he played Miyamoto in The X from Outer Space (1967).

Yours truly between Shinichi Yanagisawa (right) and saxophonist Kyoichi Watanabe.

Between sets, saxophonist Kyoichi Watanabe approached me in the audience, and we spoke about a variety of topics. During this time, Yanagisawa-san would greet various members of the audience. This night, I was able to speak with Yanagisawa-san a couple of times. It was great to see him in such great spirits, as always!


I'm looking forward to the next live performance at the HUB. Even though it's quite far from where I live in Tokyo, it is always well worth seeing.

Thank you again, All-Stars!

Thursday, June 11, 2015

FUJIKO HEMMING IN CONCERT! The Celebrated Pianist Performs Live in Tokyo!

With retired Daiei Studios actress Kikuko Nishikawa (left) and concert pianist Fujiko Hemming (center). 

Last night (Wednesday, June 10) I attended a piano concert performed by Fujiko Hemming. Well, actually, I was only able to watch the last two minutes of the performance on a TV screen! Having had worked until 8:00 p.m., it was impossible for me to arrive at the venue (the Sumida Triphony Hall) on time.

Despite that, it was a very enjoyable evening, as I got to see many friends and even reconnected with some old ones I hadn't seen for a few years. After the concert was finished, we all had dinner at an Indian restaurant. A great time was had by all!

Posed between actress Kikuko Nishikawa and actor Ulf Otsuki at the Indian restaurant.

The dinner was so much fun that we all stayed rather late, and I got home past midnight! Given the fun we all had, it was well worth it. Ulf-san always knows how to throw a great shindig!

DAVE FILONI MEETS THE CAST AND CREW OF MECHAGODZILLA! MG's Biggest Fan Enjoys the Japanese Vacation of a Lifetime!

Executive producer/supervising director Dave Filoni meets two Godzilla series legends: screenwriter Hiroyasu Yamaura (left) and designer Akihiko Iguchi (right). Photo by Brett Homenick.

The film Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1974) has no bigger champion than Dave Filoni. But Dave is no ordinary fan. He skyrocketed to success by helming the movie Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008), as well as the subsequent Emmy® Award-winning TV series (2008-2014). Dave is now executive producer/supervising director of a new critically-acclaimed TV series, Star Wars Rebels (2014-), which has quickly become a fan favorite.

Hiroyasu Yamaura and Akihiko Iguchi show off their newly-acquired artwork, personally drawn by Dave Filoni. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Taking his first vacation since 2008, Dave has come to the Land of the Rising Sun and embarked on a journey that would be a dream come true for any fan of Godzilla's greatest mechanical foe. A few weeks before arriving in Japan, Dave contacted me, and my friend Yasushi and I began working on introducing Dave to several Toho alumni who had worked on Mecagodzilla.

Dave Filoni proudly shows his Akihiko Iguchi Mechagodzilla rendering for the camera. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Over time, we successfully arranged meetings with four personalities: designer Akihiko Iguchi, screenwriter Hiroyasu Yamaura, SFX director Teruyoshi Nakano, and actor Masaaki Daimon. Yasushi and I had met the first three gentlemen at previous events and gatherings, but Daimon-san would be brand-new for us, too, increasing the excitement that much more.

The first meeting was scheduled to take place on Sunday, June 7, which coincidentally also happened to be Dave's birthday. I met Dave at Shinjuku Station, and we made our way to Shin-Yurigaoka Station to meet Iguchi-san and Yamaura-san for lunch at a French restaurant. On the way, we talked about Godzilla and some of our early childhood memories of watching the movies for the first time.

Two Mechagodzilla legends reveal their true feeling about the spacemen from the Third Planet of the Black Hole! Photo by Brett Homenick. 

Yasushi and Iguchi-san met us at the station, and Yamaura-san joined us at the restaurant. We spent a few hours together, and Dave got to ask many questions (all of which were translated ahead of time by Yasushi) about their respective careers. Dave gave each gentleman a woodblock with original King Seesar art on it, and Iguchi-san returned the favor by giving Dave a drawing of Mechagodzilla. Talk about an awesome birthday gift!

When the time came, we said our goodbyes and headed back to Shinjuku Station. Dave, Yasushi, and I hung out at a cafe for a while and chatted until Dave had to leave.

Dave Filoni meets SFX director Teruyoshi Nakano at Shinjuku Station. Photo by Brett Homenick.

We met again at Shinjuku Station the following day with SFX director Teruyoshi Nakano. We went to a Japanese restaurant for a few hours, and Dave and Nakano-san swapped stories about working in the movie biz.

Teruyoshi Nakano reflects on his decades-long special effects career over lunch. Photo by Brett Homenick.

After that, we immediately made our way to a nearby cafe and met with actor Masaaki Daimon and his manager. Daimon-san played Keisuke Shimizu in Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla and Kusakari in Terror of Mechagodzilla (1975). Daimon-san has also appeared in Return of Ultraman (1971-72), Lady Snowblood (1973), Cockroach Cop (1973), G-Men '75 (1975-82), Ultraman 80 (1980-81), and Zero (1984). We were all very excited to meet Daimon-san, and I'm pleased to report that he exceeded our expectations. He was a very open-minded gentleman who appreciated that we were interested in his career.

Actor Masaaki Daimon poses with Dave Filoni and his new Star Wars artwork. Photo by Brett Homenick.

After about an hour and a half, I had to leave to go to work. (Gotta make a living!) As I was going to the elevator (in a bit of a rush, as I was already a little late), Dave followed me out and gave me a gift, thanking me for helping to organize these meetings. Suffice it to say, I was touched by the gesture.


That's a wrap! Yours truly with Dave Filoni, a real Godzilla fan!

Many thanks to Dave for being such an energetic and enthusiastic fan of Godzilla. It's always refreshing to know that people who truly understand fans and fandom are in important positions in the entertainment business. Hollywood could certainly use a lot more folks like Dave Filoni!

Arigato gozaimasu, Dave-san!

Monday, June 8, 2015

MEETING MECHAGODZILLA'S MEN! A Two-Day Adventure with Mecha-G Alumni Comes to a Close!

 Yours truly in between screenwriter Hiroyasu Yamaura and designer Akihiko Iguchi.

On June 7, I had a special lunch at a French restaurant in Shin-Yurigaoka with Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla  (1974) staff members Hiroyasu Yamaura and Akihiko Iguchi. I was joined by a couple of friends for this lunch, but the details will follow in a future post.

With SFX director Teruyoshi Nakano at Shinjuku Station/

On June 8, we met up with Teruyoshi Nakano for a Japanese lunch in Shinjuku. After that, we met actor Masaaki Daimon for drinks and a chat. It was our first time meeting Daimon-san, and he couldn't have been friendlier.

It was truly exciting to meet the star of one of my favorite Godzilla films, Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1974)!

So why did we meet so many Mechagodzilla alumni, and who was with us? For the answers, stay tuned to this blog!