Friday, July 21, 2017

I Was There in Spirit ... So Where's My Cut of the Money?

Yours truly with Otius Gojius and ... uh, that's all. Why, does it look like there's someone else in this picture?

So this is funny. I recently discovered that a photo taken on my camera and shared on this blog was offered to purchasers of a Japanese guest's autograph at a convention (emphasis on "con") over the weekend.

The only problem? Permission was neither sought nor granted for the use of my photograph. In fact, I was poorly photoshopped out of my own picture (movie posters were cheaply inserted over my likeness), though you can still see a bit of me in the pic standing next to the guest. The picture at the top of this blog post gives you an idea of what it looked like.

It was so shoddy that when I first saw it, I figured it was something a fan made for himself right before he walked out the door. (Oh, if only...)

Interestingly enough, a similar situation arose last year with this same con promoter, as his website (surprise, surprise!) reproduced a snapshot I took one of his convention guests in order to advertise his appearance there, and of course no one from that group thought it might be appropriate to seek permission first.

You know, folks, it takes more than a collared shirt and long pants to give you class.

The fans who paid to meet the convention guest in question sure deserved a lot better than what they got. I'm not sure if this was some misguided attempt to settle some imaginary old score; if so, the only ones who suffered were the show's customers. Meanwhile, I'm just thankful to be thousands of miles away from this kind of nonsense. I mean, this is the type of childishness I expect from Minya's Place!

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

REVISITING TOHO STUDIOS! Paying My Respects to the King of the Monsters!

Earlier today, I stopped by Toho Studios to photograph the area. I hadn't been by the studio in a long time, so it was overdue. Enjoy!

SCENES FROM ULTRAMAN STREET! Why Go to M78 When M78 Comes to You?

Just outside of Soshigaya-Okura Station on the Odakyu Line is Ultraman Street. The area has been called several names in English (Ultraman Shopping District, Ultra Town, Ultraman Town, Ultra City, etc.), but whatever you choose to call it, it's a great place to soak in Tsuburaya Pro's greatest superhero. More info on the district can be found here, but in the meantime, here are some pics I took earlier today. Enjoy!

Monday, July 17, 2017

THE SYMPHONIC FURY OF KOW OTANI! The Kaiju Composer Holds Court in Japan!

 Composer Kow Otani clowns around with his old pal, Gamera. Photo by Brett Homenick.

I just returned from a great dinner event with Heisei Gamera series and GMK: Giant Monsters All-Out Attack composer Kow Otani and animation director Keiichi Hara. It was my first time to meet both gentlemen, and they were as kind and generous as I expected.

Yours truly with Kow Otani.

While I'm admittedly not the biggest fan of the Heisei Gamera series or GMK, it's always cool to get a chance to meet someone so closely associated with the genre I grew up with. Besides, Otani-san's reputation as a friendly guy was more than enough to convince me to take this opportunity. I'm glad I did.

Anime director Keiichi Hara's take on Godzilla. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Also on hand was anime director Keiichi Hara, who is best known for his work on the Doraemon and Crayon Shin-chan television and movie series. I must admit I'm really not familiar with his work at all. Anime just isn't my bag. But he was one heck of a nice guy, and his talents were quite evident to me.

And that's all for tonight. What a blast it was. Stay tuned to this blog for all the coolest happenings in Japan!

Sunday, July 16, 2017

SENTAI HEROES, ASSEMBLE! A Great Afternoon with Toei Stars!

From left to right: Ryosuke Sakamoto, Juri Miyazawa, Hitomi Yoshii, yours truly, Kihachiro Uemura, Lisa Komaki, Yumiko Tanaka, Kenju Hayashi, Koji Unoki, and Sayoko Hagiwara.

Today, I was privileged to attend another dramatic reading performed by alumni of various Toei Super Sentai and Kamen Rider programs. I've blogged about most of the participants before, but I'll recap their most notable credits here for easy reference. With that out of the way, let's begin.

With Yumiko Tanaka (left) and Hitomi Yoshii (right). 

Yumiko Tanaka starred in Kamen Rider Super-1 (1980-81) as Harumi Kusanami and also appears in Godzilla (1984).

Hitomi Yoshii played High Priestess Bishium on Kamen Rider Black (1987-88).

With Ryosuke Sakamoto, Kihachiro Uemura, and Koji Unoki. 

Ryosuke Sakamoto stars in Choudenshi Bioman (1984-85) as Red One.

Kihachiro Uemura plays Green Flash on Choushinsei Flashman (1986-87).

Koji Unoki portrays Dyna Blue on Kagaku Sentai Dynaman (1983-84).

With Juri Miyazawa, Lisa Komaki, and Sayoko Hagiwara. 

Lisa Komaki plays Peggy Matsuyama on Himitsu Sentai Goranger (1975-77) and is the suit actor and voice for Miss America (as played by Diane Martin) on Battle Fever J (1979-80).

Sayoko Hagiwara essays the role of Ryoko Hoshi, Yullian's human form, on Ultraman 80 (1980-81) from episode 43, as well as Dyna Pink in Dynaman. She also appears on Flashman as the villain Leh Nafel.

Juri Miyazawa plays Ginga Pink on Seiju Sentai Gingaman (1998-99).

With Kenju Hayashi, Koji Unoki, and Sayoko Hagiwara. 

Kenju Hayashi plays Prince Megiddo on Dynaman.

With Yumiko Tanaka, Juri Miyazawa, and Sayoko Hagiwara.

This photo, of course, is my favorite. Hagiwara-san asked me what kind of pose I wanted. I said that any pose would be fine. This was her suggestion, and the other actresses followed suit. It doesn't get any better than this!

Saturday, July 15, 2017

A HEISEI CELEBRATION! Toho Alums Gather for a Dinner Event!

Suit actor Hurricane Ryu. Photo by Brett Homenick. 

I just returned from a great dinner event with some great people.

First, Hurricane Ryu was on hand as a guest of honor. Ryu-san portrayed  King Ghidorah in Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah (1991), Battra in Godzilla vs. Mothra (1992), Baby Godzilla in Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II (1993), and Godzilla Junior in Godzilla vs. Destoroyah (1995). Ryu-san also played Kumasogami in Orochi the Eight-Headed Dragon (1994) and Guilala in Monster X Strikes Back: Attack the G8 Summit (2008).

Screenwriter Wataru Mimura. Photo by Brett Homenick.

The other major guest was Godzilla series screenwriter Wataru Mimura, who penned the scripts for Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II (1993), Orochi the Eight-Headed Dragon (1994), Godzilla 2000 (1999), Godzilla vs. Megaguirus (2000), Godzilla against Mechagodzilla (2002), and Godzilla: Final Wars (2004).

Hurricane Ryu uses his impressive manga skills to sign copies of his new book. Photo by Brett Homenick. 

Of course, it was a wonderful event with much to talk about. Mimura-san talked about writing the script for Mechagodzilla II, which he wrote between January and April of 1993. Despite the obvious references to dinosaurs in the story, there was no influence from Jurassic Park. (The timing is off for there to be any sort of inspiration, anyway.)

Suffice it to say, it was a fun evening...

... and let's do it again soon!

Wednesday, July 12, 2017

GODZILLA: MONSTER PLANET! The Hype Begins in Shinjuku!

If you want to see the trailer to Godzilla: Monster Planet play on an endless loop, you've come to the right place! Photo by Brett Homenick.

While going to the movies at Toho Cinemas Shinjuku today (to see the new animated film Mary and the Witch's Flower), I noticed a display in the lobby that plays the trailer for Godzilla: Monster Planet on a loop. There's nothing too groundbreaking about it (after all, the trailer is already online for all to see), but it certainly is interesting to see something like this several months before the movie comes out. 

While seeing Mary and the Witch's Flower, the trailer for Godzilla: Monster Planet played before the feature, so it was nice to see it on the big screen, as well.


The latest Transformers movie won't get released in Japan until next month, but that hasn't stopped the hype from kicking in high gear. The Toho Cinemas in Shinjuku is already heavily promoting it, which should be rather obvious from these photos I snapped today. Enjoy!

SHIGE-SAN IS BACK! Talking with the Actor About His New Book!

Actor Shigeo Kato poses with his new book, Shige-san: The Early Days of Hase, Kamakura. Photo by Brett Homenick. 

Today, I paid a visit to Kamakura and met with actor Shigeo Kato, who (at the age of 92) is still going strong. Kato-san is a former Toho actor who began working for the studio in the early 1950s and appeared in movies as varied as Ikiru (1952) and Godzilla vs. the Thing (1964). We talked about Kato-san's new book, which is only available in a few bookstores in the Kamakura area. The book recalls Kato-san's memories of growing up in the city.

We also talked about the movies and cartoons Kato-san grew up watching, everything from Mickey Mouse and Popeye animated shorts to the comedy films of Charlie Chaplin. During our conversation, I was surprised to find out that Kato-san was friendly with Shochiku director Kazui Nihonmatsu, who directed The X from Outer Space (1967) and Genocide (a.k.a. War of the Insects, 1968).

Nihonmatsu was also from Kamakura, and in the years after World War II (around the time both began their respective film careers), they would go out drinking together in the evening. Apparently, Nihonmatsu was a handsome guy who resembled Nikkatsu heartthrob Yujiro Ishihara, making him rather popular with the ladies. Moreover, Nihonmatsu grew up in California in the years prior to World War II and returned to Japan sometime before the war began. He could apparently speak English like a native speaker. (This could explain why his two genre films had large roles for American actors.) His family also had an elite background.

Nihonmatsu had a long career at Shochiku as an assistant director, but his career as a director didn't last very long. I was quite surprised to find that Kato-san knew Nihonmatsu, especially since very little information about the director is available anywhere.

It was a great afternoon to spend with Kato-san, despite the sweltering heat. I certainly look forward to seeing him again soon!