Monday, October 12, 2015

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, TERUYOSHI NAKANO! The Toho SFX Giant Celebrates His 80th in Style!

Teruyoshi Nakano holds his Godzilla-themed birthday cake for the paparazzi. Photo by Brett Homenick.

October 12 saw a small gathering of Godzilla fans gather in Yokohama to celebrate the 80th birthday of legendary SFX director Teruysohi Nakano. Nakano-san helmed the SFX for the Godzilla series from Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster (1971) through Godzilla 1985 (1984), as well as effects-laden movies like Submersion of Japan (1973) and Espy (1974).

A close-up shot of the birthday cake. Wouldn't you want one for your birthday? Photo by Brett Homenick.

A screening of Nakano-san's first SFX directorial outing, The Crazy Cats' Big Explosion (1969), was held at the beginning of the event. The film print was rather rough-looking, but it's always a treat to see a fun Toho romp in 35mm. The movie features many familiar faces, such as Akihiko Hirata, Hitoshi Ueki, Ayumi Ishida, and even Andrew Hughes. It was certainly amusing, even without the aid of subtitles.

Teruyoshi Nakano is all smiles as he recalls working on his first SFX film. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Following the screening, Nakano-san sat down for a Q&A that focused primarily on the movie. Overall, the interview session was a bit briefer than usual, which is because the schedule called for us to leave the venue and head over to a nearby bathhouse. More on that a bit later.

First we stopped by a shrine to offer some prayers. Nakano-san was the last of the group to offer a prayer. (There's nothing like saving the best for last!)

After that, we made our way to the bathhouse. This is actually the second time I've done this with Nakano-san. Attendees were invited to wash Nakano-san's back during the event, which I happily did. I consider it a great honor, and I hope to have another chance to do so in the future.

Teruyoshi Nakano with Toho model-maker Takashi Naganuma. Photo by Brett Homenick.

We returned to the venue and were joined by veteran Toho model-maker Takashi Naganuma. Naganuma-san built many miniatures familiar to Godzilla fans, such as the miniature version of Rokuro's dolphin contraption in Godzilla vs. Megalon (1973) and the maser tanks in Godzilla 1985. Naganuma-san is extremely friendly and told a couple of fascinating stories.

One was that he ended up giving the original Super X prop from Godzilla 1985 to an American he worked with on Tokyo Disney theme parks. Another funny story was that he ended up leading some fans from Chicago around Toho Studios in the early or mid-'80s, and when the Americans came across the monster suits hanging in the studio, they stood there in awe for at least five minutes.

Meeting Takashi Naganuma, Toho model-maker extraordinaire! 

It was another great event, and Nakano-san was in great spirits. You'd never guess he's 80 years old! I look forward to seeing Nakano-san and Naganuma-san in the future very soon.

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