Sunday, June 9, 2019

Chargeman Ken! in Concert!

This concert was a just a bit tongue-in-cheek. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Really, I just wanted to hear some Tsuburaya Productions theme songs. That's all. I really didn't expect to be sucked into the world of Chargeman Ken! (1974) so completely. Chargeman Ken! is a low-budget anime from Knack Productions, which in the last 10 or so years has become something like The Room for anime fans. I was totally unaware of this cartoon or its reputation prior to the concert. As I said, I just came for the Tsuburaya stuff, so suffice it to say, I was caught off-guard by what was to come.

Despite the humorous presentation, there was nothing funny about the quality of the music. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Today's concert was held at Shibuya Cultural Center Owada's Sakura Hall. The show started off with a performance of the theme songs from Ultraman (1966-67), Ultra Seven (1967-68), and Mighty Jack (1968). Admittedly, that was the sole reason I came. The concert also included several cues from Gundam and Dragon Ball Z, which were well performed, but I didn't recognize them at all. Hey, I'm just not into cartoons. Chumei Watanabe's "Laser Blade Medley" from Toei's Space Sheriff series was also performed, and in the house was Watanabe-sensei himself. I was pleased that I got a chance to greet him at the concert.

Chargeman Ken stands guard at the entrance of the concert. Photo by Brett Homenick.

The real fun started when it switched to Chargeman Ken! The concert suddenly became almost Rocky Horror-esque in its presentation. Voice actor Noboru Sato, who voiced the villainous General Maou and other characters in the series, voice-acted live from the stage during the concert, as episodes of the series played on a giant screen. Then various cosplayers would come onstage and perform various bizarre antics that left the audience howling with laughter. I was mostly bemused, but certainly interested. 

The evil General Maou attempts to block tokusatsu fans from entering the concert. Photo by Brett Homenick.

And yes, it was quite interesting. Another tokusatsu luminary in the house was director Minoru Kawasaki. As I was looking for my seat, I passed his and exchanged a brief greeting with him. I was expecting a pretty straightforward concert of tokusatsu and anime music, but things didn't quite turn out that way. I'm still digesting what I saw. The juxtaposition of seeing an orchestra decked out in fine evening wear performing alongside yelling and screaming cosplayers in funny outfits was not what I had in mind. It was fun, for sure.

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