Sunday, November 18, 2018

Godzilla Exhibition Diorama on Display in Shinjuku!

During Godzilla's birthday month (November, obviously) a Godzilla exhibition diorama will be on display on the 8th floor of the Hotel Gracery Shinjuku. While it's there, it's well worth checking out (though the display itself is really nothing new). Here are some photos.

Hibiya's Godzilla Statue at Night!

A few nights ago, I was in Hibiya and took some night-time shots of the Godzilla statue in Hibiya Godzilla Square. Enjoy!

Ultraman and Kamen Rider Alums Gather in Nakano for a Showa Hero Event!

From left to right: Toshihiro Iijima, Nana Yanagisawa, and Susumu Kurobe. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Today, I attended a Showa Hero event in Nakano, Tokyo. It featured the cast and crew of the film Homecoming (2011), directed by Toshihiro Iijima and starring (among others) Susumu Kurobe and Nana Yanagisawa.

Of course, all three guests are no strangers to the world of kaiju and tokusatsu, and that's what really drew the folks in attendance to the event.

Susumu Kurobe poses with a Beta Capsule. Photo by Brett Homenick.

The featured guest was actor Susumu Kurobe, who portrayed Shin Hayata (Ultraman's alter ego) in the series of the same name. Before Ultraman, Kurobe-san was a Toho New Face who appeared in a numerous films produced by the studio. Among his most recognizable monster movies are Ghidrah the Three-Headed Monster (1964), Son of Godzilla (1967), King Kong Escapes (1967), Destroy All Monsters (1968), and Latitude Zero (1969). In later years, Kurobe-san returned to the Godzilla series during the Heisei era and can be seen in Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah (1991) and Godzilla vs. Mothra (1992).

Director Toshihiro Iijima. Photo by Brett Homenick.

director Toshihiro Iijima, who helmed episodes of Ultra Q (1966), Ultraman (1966-67), Ultra Seven (1967-68), and Operation: Mystery! (1968-69). He also directed the Tsuburaya Productions children's movie Daigoro vs. Goliath (1972).

Actress Kyoko Yashiro. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Accompanying Iijima-san was his wife, former Shintoho actress Kyoko Yashiro. Yashiro-san worked with acclaimed horror director Nobuo Nakagawa on The Lady Vampire (1959). She also appeared in Vampire Bride (1960) and The Ghost of the Girl Diver (1960). I first met her two years ago but hadn't seen her since then. I was very glad that she appeared at this event.

Nana Yanagisawa. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Also on hand was actress Nana Yanagisawa, who played Phantom Thief Selene on GoGo Sentai Boukenger (2006-07) and Megumi Aso on Kamen Rider Kiva (2008-09).

With Toshihiro Iijima.

The guests were all friendly and a lot of fun to see. I'd met all of them on previous occasions (with the exception of Yanagisawa-san), and I enjoyed seeing them again. Of course, any time you can meet Susumu Kurobe or Toshihiro Iijima is an opportunity not to be missed.

With Nana Yanagisawa.

Of all the guests in attendance, the one I spoke with the most was the unofficial guest, Kyoko Yashiro. Of course, she was never announced to the attendees, and it didn't seem that most folks even knew who she was. I instantly recognized her, and was pleased to find that she remembered me, too.

With Susumu Kurobe.

Suffice it to say, the event was Ultra-good, and I'm already looking forward to the next one. I just hope it isn't too far in the future!

With Kyoko Yashiro.

As always, this blog will be the place to learn about all the coolest happenings in Japan. Stay tuned!

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Ultra Seven Is Back!

Koji Moritsugu (left) poses with actor Hassei Takano. Photo by Brett Homenick. 

On Saturday, November 10, I attended another event with Koji Moritsugu, the actor who starred in Ultra Seven (1967-68) as Dan Moroboshi. It'd been a year since my last visit, and I was long overdue for a return.

Hassei Takano can be seen in Ultraman Gaia (1998-99) as Hiroya Fujimiya (Ultraman Agul), Kamen Rider Ryuki (2002-03) as Miyuki Tezuka (Kamen Rider Raia), Kamen Rider: The First (2005) and Kamen Rider: The Next (2007) as Hayato Ichimonji, Ultraseven X (2007) as Saku's humanSuperior Ultraman 8 Brothers (2008) as Hiroya Fujimiya once again, among other tokusatsu appearances.

Moritsugu-san, as always, was a lot of fun, and my interactions with him were hilarious. He enjoys mingling with the fans and is always quick with a joke.

I think you can see the evidence in my expression in the above photo, as I was reacting to something he said to me. Suffice it to say, he's a blast!

Friday, November 9, 2018

Godzilla: The Planet Eater

Some stuff gets spoiled below.

I just got home from seeing Godzilla: Planet Eater, and at this point, I've really run out of things to say. You've heard it all before, I've said it all before, so what's left to say?

Well, there are a few things. To my eye, the animation in this installment was the best of the three. Having said that, I should point out that I saw The Planet Eater on a much smaller screen than the first two films, so perhaps that has something to do with it. In any event, the little imperfections I've noticed in the past were absent here, and the animation seemed to flow a bit more smoothly.

There is also more monster action than in the previous two entries. In fact, I'd say The Planet Eater comes the closest to being what any Godzilla fan would have reasonably expected from these animated films. However, that's still not saying a whole lot. Ghidorah (minus the "King") leaves a lot to be desired, and its updated designed is a bit of a head-scratcher. Ghidorah is essentially three golden Mandas that work in tandem. What's more, its battle with Godzilla is hardly a battle of any kind.

See that poster at the top of the blog post? Well, picture that scene stretched out over (what felt like) 30 minutes, and there's your epic showdown. In the film, the three Ghidorah heads clamp down on Godzilla's flesh, and, well, that's it. After an eternity, Godzilla eventually breaks free and summarily destroys each Ghidorah head. In any other kaiju movie, the audience would have felt cheated. But in this trilogy? It's interesting enough to keep you from checking your watch. (The bar is quite low here.)

If I had to rank the three films, I'd put The Planet Eater at the top, Planet of the Monsters at #2, and City on the Edge of Battle at the bottom. Planet of the Monsters had a couple of interesting scenes, which elevates it to the middle of the bunch. I literally can't recommend anything about City on the Edge of Battle, which is why it brings up the rear.

Even though The Planet Eater is the best of three, I can't really recommend it on its own merits, either. It's more of the same, just done a bit better this time. Furthermore, the first act is just as boring as anything in the other two flicks. The only way I could recommend it is if you haven't seen either of the previous animated Godzilla movies and just want to see what they're like. In that case, you might as well go with the best one. Otherwise, you're better off picking something else to Netflix and chill with.

Saturday, November 3, 2018

GODZILLA FEST 2018! The Big G Stomps into Hibiya!

Hibiya celebrated Godzilla's birthday (November 3) in a big way. Godzilla Fest 2018, naturally, is the only event in the world authorized to use that name (or any variation thereof), and I was more than happy to support the real deal.

The event was geared mostly for kids, but it was still fun to see. The highlight was the man in the replica Godzilla '54 suit, who shook hands with attendees. (Sure beats the Godzilla suits I've seen elsewhere.) Anyway, check out the photos below. When it comes to Godzilla Fest, I know I won't be accepting any poor imitations.

Friday, November 2, 2018

Japanese Actress Kyoko Enami Passes Away

Kyoko Enami in a recent photo.

Japanese actress Kyoko Enami, best remembered for her starring role in Daiei’s Gamera vs. Barugon (1966) as Karen, passed away on October 27 after a long battle with emphysema. She was 76.

Rest in peace, Ms. Enami.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Idol Business!

Kazuki Omori. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Today, I saw the movie Shoot! (1994) for the first time, and what better way to see it than in 35mm? The film is an idol drama that focuses on the trials and tribulations of a high school soccer team. It wasn't bad, but I'm afraid this type of movie isn't really my bag. Still, it was interesting to see the film in a screening room full of idol worshipers who cheered at everything their idols did.

The main reason for me to attend was to see the film's director, Kazuki Omori, again. He had quite a few interesting things to say about the film, but lacking a frame of reference for these idols, I wasn't interested enough to keep up. Still, I enjoyed seeing Omori-san again.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

ANGEL GUTS! Viewing a Rather Unusual Nikkatsu Flick!

Eri Kanuma. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Today, I went to a screening of Angel Guts: Nami (1979), a Nikkatsu flick with some controversial content (to say the least). The movie was well made, but suffice it to say, it's not for all audiences. This kind of movie isn't usually my bag, but I always find it interesting to check out and explore new things.

The event was headlined by the film's star, Eri Kanuma. In the tokusatsu world, Kanuma-san plays 007/Yoko Kato in Himitsu Sentai Goranger (1975-77), as well as appearing in episodes of Kaiketsu Lion Maru (1972-73), Inazuman Flash (1974), Spider-Man (1978-79), Battle Fever J (1979-80), and Taiyo Sentai Sun Vulcan (1981-82). I'd met her before last April at an event and ran into her at Yumiko Tanaka's event last week. Speaking of...

Yumiko Tanaka. Photo by Brett Homenick.

 Yumiko Tanaka was a surprise addition to the event. Tanaka-san stars in Kamen Rider Super-1 (1980-81) as Harumi Kusanami and also appears in a small role toward the beginning of Godzilla (1984) in a scene with Ken Tanaka.

I had a chance to speak with Tanaka-san about Godzilla. Her scene was shot on Oshima Island, so I asked if all the Oshima Island scenes were shot at the same time. She confirmed that they were, and that they were all filmed in about a week. She also said that Koji Hashimoto was a very kind and easygoing director.

A great time was had by all. Even though I'd seen both ladies only a week before, it's great to see them any time.