Destroy All Planets 2010

Destroy All Planets 2010
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Saturday, April 29, 2017

ZONE FIGHTER REUNION! Two Alumni from Toho Tokusatsu Join Forces in Shinjuku!

Fumio Ishimori holds a Zone Fighter DVD. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Today, I attended a talk given by screenwriter Fumio Ishimori (a.k.a. Shiro Ishimori). Ishimori-san penned many screenplays for Shochiku and Nikkatsu, including Toshio Masuda's Monument to the Girls' Corps (1968). Genre fans might know Ishimori-san as co-screenwriter of the Toho horror film Crest of the Wolf (1973) with Jun Fukuda. He also penned numerous episodes of Kamen Rider (1971-73), along with episodes of Ultraman Ace (1972-73) and Zone Fighter (1973).

Actress Sachiko Kozuki listens intently to Fumio Ishimori's memories. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Also on hand was Takarazuka Revue legend Sachiko Kozuki, who also has made many appearances in film and television over the years. She had a recurring role on Zone Fighter (1973) as Mrs. Sakimori, the mother of the three main characters. She has also appeared in episodes of Mirrorman (1971-72), Ultraman Taro (1973-74), Ultraman Leo (1974-75), and Kamen Rider W (2009-10).


The two seemed to enjoy themselves as they reminisced about Zone Fighter and other topics. It was certainly a lot of fun to see.


Ishimori-san was just as friendly as he always is. After the Q&A session, Ishimori-san invited me to join him and his group at a nearby cafe, which is an invitation I was eager to accept.


And there you have it. I wasn't expecting the extra level of hospitality I received from Ishimori-san, so it was a very pleasant surprise.

HE'S BACK IN TOWN! Tayama-san Returns for Another Excellent Gig!

Masami Tayama addresses the audience. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Tonight, I was privileged to attend another live performance by singer Masami Tayama. He played many familiar tunes, both on his acoustic guitar and keyboard. It was quite enjoyable.


The show lasted two hours, and I was seated next to Tayama-san's friends and family. Having attended several performances in recent years, I'm quite well acquainted with many of them, but I still met some new faces tonight.


Tayama-san's next show will be in the next couple of months, so I'm already looking forward to it. I fully expect him to knock it out of the park again!

YOTSUYA-SANCHOME! Could It Really Be an Android from the Future?


Today's business brought me to Yotsuya-Sanchome Station on the Marunouchi Line. Even though I've blogged about it before, there's something about this station that makes me laugh every time I visit it or pass by. Can you guess what it is?


The image above should be a big hint. Insert your own jokes here. (And there are many to be made!)

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

AN EVENING WITH ULTRAMAN GAIA! Takeshi Yoshioka Rocks!

Ultraman Gaia's alter ego Takeshi Yoshioka. Photo by Brett Homenick.

After a long day at work (can't you tell from the photos?), I made my way to the drinking establishment owned and operated by actor Takeshi Yoshioka, best known for playing Gamu Takayama, Ultraman Gaia's alter ego, on Tsuburaya Productions' Ultraman Gaia (1998-99).  


Yoshioka-san very recently made his return to the world of Ultraman by guesting on the Amazon Prime Video series Ultraman Orb: The Origin Saga (2016-17) as the same character he played in Ultraman Gaia.


I hadn't seen Yoshioka-san since last year, so I enjoyed seeing him again. I really ought to visit more often, but life often gets in the way of those plans. Anyhow, it was a great time, and I look forward to doing it again soon.

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

ULTRA FATHER REIGNS OVER SHIBUYA! He Saved the Galaxy So You Can Save Your Hair!

Ultra Father hawks hair tonic in Shibuya. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Now here's something you don't see every day. Ultra Father appears on a huge (and I mean huge) advertisement for Chap Up hair tonic in Shibuya. Suffice it to say, I was surprised to see it, as Ultraman (and his extended family) rarely make appearances in Shibuya.


I don't know about you, but I feel the need to buy some hair tonic! I mean, who are we to argue with Ultra Father?!

AN AFTERNOON WITH A SHOWA STAR! Having Lunch with a Japanese Icon!

Retired Toho actor Tatsuyoshi Ehara. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Today, I was privileged to have a great Japanese lunch with Toho actor Tatsuyoshi Ehara. Ehara-san was the guest star of episode 1 of Ultra Q (1966), but he has done so much more. He began his career as a child actor at Shochiku Studios in the late 1940s, eventually moving to Toho Studios in the '50s where his career thrived.


Ehara-san can be seen in Akira Kurosawa's Sanjuro (1962) and Red Beard (1965), and he was a fixture in Toho's Young Guy series with Yuzo Kayama. I could write several blog posts about Ehara-san's career. If Toho made it in the 1950s or '60s, there's a good chance Ehara-san is in it.


Many thanks to Ehara-san for spending the afternoon with me. He's a true gentleman in every sense of the word.

Monday, April 24, 2017

A NIGHT AT THE FLICKS! Asagaya Is the Place to Be!

Signage outside the Laputa Asagaya in Tokyo, announcing its two-month-long Toho program. Photo by Brett Homenick.

The Laputa Asagaya is running two concurrent programs of great interest to me (and readers of this blog). The main program (featured above) is the Toho Bungei Eiga ("Toho Literary Movie") program, which will feature all kinds of classic Toho films from the Showa era. No tokusatsu or genre pictures are on tap, but there are several intriguing movies that will be screened that I hope to catch.

The other program only runs at night, and it's called "Into Nightmares." As you'd expect, the focus is on horror and other strange films, covering a 20-year span (1968 through 1988). Everything from Shochiku's The Living Skeleton (1968) to Toho's Bloodthirsty trilogy will be screened in the upcoming weeks at 9:00 p.m.

My tickets for tonight's films on top of a program booklet. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Tonight, I took in two films. The first one is called Zou (Elephant, 1957). It's a Toho drama directed by the legendary Kajiro Yamamoto (who mentored Akira Kurosawa and Ishiro Honda) and helmed The War at Sea from Hawaii to Malaya (1942). A bevy of Toho regulars appear in the film, including Keiju Kobayashi, Momoko Kochi, Sachio Sakai, and several others. The setting is the Tokyo Ueno Zoo, and most of the drama centers around an elephant named Tonki (who's very popular among the locals) and an old zookeeper who's grown attached to the animal. Sadly, the animals at the zoo eventually become casualties of war. It's a real tear-jerker that would make any animal lover a little weepy. An interesting touch was that, in one scene, the elephant starts roaring like Toho's King Kong! Nice to find a tokusatsu connection in a film as far removed from fantasy as this one. Also a shout-out to the cute baby lion featured in the film named Katrina (whom some young schoolchildren repeatedly refer to by name).

The other film I watched was Kinji Fukasaku's Black Lizard (1968), a very bizarre film that almost defies description. I watched it many years ago (circa 2002), and it had such little impact on me that I hardly remembered anything of it! So it was basically like watching a brand-new movie tonight. It was certainly very stylish, perhaps the most stylish Fukasaku film I've ever seen. But it's very campy and outlandish, without being too laughable. Again, it's hard to describe. But it's an entertaining film, and I'm glad I gave it a second look. 

I'll definitely be back for more!