Sunday, October 7, 2018

THE WAR IN SPACE! Catching a Rare Screening of This '70s-Era Tokusatsu Extravaganza!

Teruyoshi Nakano blows out the candle on his birthday cake. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Today was quite fun. I attended a slightly early birthday celebration for Toho SFX director Teruyoshi Nakano. The event featured a rare screening of a 35mm print of The War in Space (1977), which I'd never seen on the big screen before. While the print was a bit scratchy, the film looked incredible. The War in Space is not a great film by any means, but it's always fun to watch.

Teruyoshi Nakano and Takashi Naganuma examine the Gohten. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Following the screening, Nakano-san blew out the candle on his birthday cake, but before anyone could eat, it was time for the Q&A event with Nakano-san and Naganuma-san. Of course, The War in Space was a quick shoot, and this came across in their memories they shared. 

One funny story happened over dinner. I asked Nakano-san about whether the Space Beastman was influenced by Star Wars. Nakano-san joked that since The War in Space was released in Japan before Star Wars, it was actually Star Wars that copied the character. That got a big laugh from our table!

Happy birthday, Nakano-san!

BACK IN TOWN! Shinjuku Rocks the Night Away!

 Masami Tayama in concert. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Friday, October 5, saw singer Masami Tayama come "Back in Town" to Shinjuku for another live performance. It's hard to believe that I've been seeing Tayama-san play for more than four years, but time sure does fly!

During the show, I became acquainted with fellow Tayama-san fans, two of whom were quite good at speaking English. Following the show, I got to chat with Tayama-san a bit. I had to miss his last Tokyo performance in July, but I'm grateful to have had the chance to make up for it here.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Godzilla: The Planet Eater!

Godzilla: The Planet Eater advertised at the Shinjuku Wald 9. Photo by Brett Homenick. 

As unexpected as it may seem, Godzilla: The Planet Eater, opening in Japan on November 9, is essentially nowhere to be found at the Toho Cinemas Shinjuku. I mean, if the film is being advertised anywhere in Japan, it would have to be there, right?

Wrong! When I walked into Shinjuku Wald 9 (a movie theater a fairly short distance away from Toho Cinemas), I was quite surprised to see this wall-size advertisement for the film right as you enter the theater. Perhaps the theater's close proximity to the Godzilla Store has something to do with it.

Anyway, it was a nice (but completely accidental) find.

Typhoons Won't Stop the Drama!

 Shoji Mori (left) and Masanori Machida share a laugh as they wrap up the evening's event. Photo by Brett Homenick.

As a typhoon approched Tokyo, I attended another dramatic reading with actors Masanori Machida and Shoji Mori. By the time I arrived, it wasn't even raining, but as I type this, the wind and the rain are in full force.

After the event wrapped, I asked Mori-san to sign my DVD sleeve of Zatoichi and the One-Armed Swordsman (1971), in which he appears. Mori-san was surprised and commented on how nostalgic it was for him to see it.

KAMEN RIDER X REUNION! Forty-Four Years Later, Two Toei Heroes Ride Again!

Suit actor Kazuo Niibori (left) and actor Ryo Hayami strike the famed Kamen Rider pose. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Today, I attended a special Showa Hero event in Nakano, Tokyo, in which two veterans of the Kamen Rider series reunited and hosted a Q&A session, as well as signed autographs.

Suit actor Kazuo Niibori.

Kazuo Niibori is a veteran Kamen Rider and Super Sentai suit actor. He started with both franchises from the very beginning, suit-acting as Kamen Rider 1 and Kamen Rider 2 in the original Kamen Rider (1971-73), as well as Akaranger in Himitsu Sentai Goranger (1975-77). In fact, Niibori-san would go on to don the red suit in the Super Sentai series all the way up through Chojin Sentai Jetman (1991-92).

Likewise, he played multiple Kamen Riders early in the series' history, which includes stints as Kamen Rider 1 in Kamen Rider V3 (1973-74), Kamen Rider X in Kamen Rider X (1974), Kamen Rider Amazon in Kamen Rider Amazon (1974-75), Kamen Rider Stronger in Kamen Rider Stronger (1975), Sky Rider in Sky Rider (1979-80), and Kamen Rider Black RX in Kamen Rider Black RX (1988-89). Along the way, he played the titular hero in Daitetsujin 17 (1977) and even guested on episode 10 of the Toho superhero series Megaloman (1979). (He appears as an out-of-the-suit baddie in that one.) He also played one of Ulrov's henchmen in the feature film Espy (1974).

Actor Ryo Hayami. Photo by Brett Homenick. 

Also in attendance was actor Ryo Hayami. Hayami-san joined Daiei Studios in 1969. Under the stage name Sanshiro Honoo, he portrayed Keisuke Sawada (one of the main characters) in Gamera vs. Jiger (1970). He is much better known these days, however, for starring as Keisuke Jin in Kamen Rider X, which of course was the theme of the day.

The event started off with a fun (but brief) stage show in which Niibori-san did battle with with an event staff member. It was a lot of fun to see one of Toei's most celebrated suit actors do what he does best. Both guests were quite friendly and enjoyed themselves immensely. Despite not being very familiar with Kamen Rider, I enjoyed this foray into the world of Kamen Rider X.

Nikkatsu Night!

Mayumi Shimizu. Photo by Brett Homenick. 

Today, I attended a screening of a 35mm print of Masahisa Sunohara's Kaminari Otemba Musume (1961), produced by Nikkatsu Studios. The film is a lighthearted comedy about a young tomboy who rides a motorcycle and ultimately falls in love with another motorcyclist.

Also at the screening was Nikkatsu actress Mayumi Shimizu. Joining Nikkatsu in 1957, Shimizu-san starred in a bevy of films for the studio. She eventually married fellow Nikkatsu actor Yuji Odaka (of Gappa the Triphibian Monster fame) and is the aunt of Godzilla series actress Megumi Odaka. She even has her own tokusatsu connection, guest-starring in episode 38 of Ultraman 80 (1980-81).

When I presented her with a photo of our first meeting in February for her to sign, she pointed to me in the photo and said in English, "Handsome." Well, I'll let Shimizu-san have the final word on that.

Naturally, it was great to see her again, and the movie was a lot of fun, too. Let's do it again!

Monday, September 24, 2018

Wakako Tanabe Q&A at Vantage Point Interviews!

Actress Wakako Tanabe. Photo by Brett Homenick.

My interview with Toho actress Wakako Tanabe is now live at Vantage Point Interviews. She was Gaira's Haneda Airport victim in War of the Gargantuas (1966), but if you'd like to find out more about her career, check out the interview right now!