Monday, November 7, 2016

ULTRA-LEGENDS GATHER! Three Major Figures from the 1970s Discuss Ultraman!

Shigemitsu Taguchi, Eizo Yamagiwa, and Akihiko Iguchi gather to discuss their work on the '70s Ultra-series. Photo by Brett Homenick.

On Sunday, November 6, I was excited to attend an event that focused on the '70s Ultra-series. The guests of honor were three gentlemen who were instrumental in guiding the series in such a direction that they remain popular to this day. They were director Eizo Yamagiwa, writer Shigemitsu Taguchi, and designer Akihiko Iguchi. 

Akihiko Iguchi discusses his kaiju designs. Photo by Brett Homenick.

The event opened with screenings of an episode from three separate Ultra-series: Return of Ultraman (1971-72), Ultraman Ace (1972-73), and Ultraman Taro (1973-74). All three episodes were directed by Yamagiwa-san, written by Taguchi-san, and featured design work by Iguchi-san.

Shigemitsu Taguchi recalls writing the Ultra-series. Photo by Brett Homenick. 

The episodes were enjoyable, though I had already seen the Return of Ultraman and Ultraman Ace episodes that were screened. Following the screenings, a Q&A was held with all three guests in which they discussed their history with the various '70s Ultra-series and beyond.

Director Eizo Yamagiwa listens intently to a question. Photo by Brett Homenick.

When the Q&A wrapped, it was time for autographs. I had two Ultraman Taro DVD sleeves signed by all three guests. While taking pictures of the proceedings, Iguchi-san (whom I've met several times over the years) asked me to e-mail him copies of the photos I was taking. Consider it done!

Yours truly with all three guests of honor.

It was another excellent event. I'd met Iguchi-san and Yamagiwa-san several time in the past, but I met Taguchi-san for the first time. I was very pleased to meet him.

Hanging with Akihiko Iguchi. 

Shigemitsu Taguchi is a television writer whose credits cover most of what made '70s TV as cool as it was. He wrote episodes of Return of Ultraman, Mirrorman (1971-72), Ultraman Ace, Jumborg Ace (1973), Ultraman Taro, Ultraman Leo (1974-75), and many others. Taguchi-san was very friendly and happy to share his ideas that went into the Ultra-series.

With director Eizo Yamagiwa. 

For most of the evening, I sat with Iguchi-san and Yamagiwa-san during dinner. Iguchi-san in particular was a blast to hang out with. He's always has a great sense of humor! Toward the end of the evening, I joined Taguchi-san and got to speak with him about the Christian symbolism in Ultraman Ace.

A first-time meeting with Shigemitsu Taguchi.

I'd imagine a gathering like this won't happen very often again in the future, so whenever there's a chance to attend such events, I do my best to go. This one was another treat. Many thanks to everyone involved!

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