No, your eyes aren't deceiving you; that's me interviewing Sonny Chiba, just before the start of his dinner banquet.
First, I had the distinct honor of interviewing Chiba-san. When he came out for the interview, he shook my hand and told me (in English), "Nice to see you again!" We didn't have a lot of time for questions (understandably so), but Chiba-san was quite energetic during our talk. He gave me a great quote about director Hajime Sato (Terror Beneath the Sea, The Golden Bat) which I can't wait to share!
Greatest of all, however, was seeing the interview reported on Chiba-san's blog after it was over! Seriously, folks, how cool is that?
Sonny Chiba addresses the banquet hall in style.
Interestingly, during this time, Celine Dion's "My Heart Will Go On" from Titanic was played on a constant loop, which inspired the title of this blog post. I found it a little amusing, seeing that Chiba-san's filmography is the very antithesis of that song!
Father and daughter: Sonny Chiba shares the stage with his daughter, actress Juri Manase.
In the above photo is Yumi Kinoshita. She became a Sonny Chiba fan with the hit series Key Hunter. She speaks great English, and we got along very well.
Tsuburaya Productions suit actor Kazuya Shimizu was in the house, too, as were a number of Japan Action Club members.
Suffice it to say, Chiba-san was mobbed everywhere he went. Still, he handled it like the pro he is and treated his fans respectfully. He cheerfully posed for pictures and signed autographs.
Would you like to look this good when you're 74?
Toward the end of the evening, I got to chat with Chiba-san's daughter, Juri Manase, who's best known to fans in the U.S. from her role in Tarantino's Kill Bill Vol. 1. She speaks quite good English, and I enjoyed having the chance to speak with her.
All in all, it was a very enjoyable event. I did more networking at this celebration than at any other time since I've been in Japan. I'd like to extend my thanks to Sonny Chiba, Seiji Iwahori, Yumi Kinoshita, and everyone else who helped make this event one for the ages.