Sunday, March 5, 2017

LEDX MARKS THE SPOT! A Special Screening of a New Tokusatsu Film!

Director Toshihiro Iijima (left) discusses his advisory role on the film LEDX while suit actor Eiichi Kikuchi (right) listens in. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Today, I attended a screening of a new tokusatsu film called LEDX. LEDX is an ambitious film featuring henshin heroes against a deadly giant monster that strives to give the audience old-fashioned tokusatsu effects on a very limited budget. The results in that area were mixed, but no one can deny that the crew gave it their all.  

Eiichi Kikuchi. Photo by Brett Homenick. 

Of particular interest to me was suit actor Eiichi Kikuchi. He played Ultra Seven in the King Joe episodes of Ultra Seven (1967-68), but was the principal suit actor for Ultraman Jack on Return of Ultraman (1971-72). In LEDX, Eiichi Kikuchi appears in the film alongside Ultra-luminaries Susumu Kurobe and Bin Furuya.

Toshihiro Iijima. Photo by Brett Homenick. 

Another major guest was director Toshihiro Iijima. Iijima-san helmed many epsiodes of Ultra Q (1966), Ultraman (1966-67), Ultra Seven, and other Tsuburaya Productions series, in addition to the feature film Daigoro vs. Goliath (1972). He appears briefly (only in photos) in LEDX and served as an adviser to the production.

It's Vabera, the main baddie of LEDX

The Vebera suit was brought along for the festivities, complete with the suit actor. During the Q&A session, the suit actor remained in the suit while the staff members spoke to the audience, but at times it seemed the suit actor was having a bit of trouble remaining in the suit for such an extended period of time. (Who could blame him?) Some audience members expressed concern, so the suit actor was helped out of the room (which took a bit of effort, given the bulkiness of the suit) and got out of the costume with no problem.

Yours truly with LEDX SFX director Yutaka Arai. 

After the Q&A, I got to spend some time with Yutaka Arai, the SFX director of LEDX. Arai-san also talked about his work on Shinpei Hayashiya's more recent kaiju movies. Arai-san, of course, is a longtime tokusatsu fan himself, and we talked about a number of topics in the genre.

 With Eiichi Kikuchi.

I always get a kick out of seeing Eiichi Kikuchi. He's a lot of fun to hang out with, and he's about as friendly as event guests get. His importance in the Ultraman universe speaks for itself.

With Toshihiro Iijima.

Last, but certainly not least, Toshihiro Iijima is a living legend. I've been privileged to see him on several occasions, and it's a treat every time I can. After all, he directed the second episode of the original Ultraman series, the one that introduced Baltan Seijin to the world. How cool is that? To top it all off, he's just as welcoming as he is iconic. I certainly hope to have a chance to see him again soon.

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