Thursday, November 23, 2017

P-LABO FILMFES 2017! Toho Alums Converge on Chofu!

Godzilla scribes Wataru Mimura (left) and Hiroshi Kashiwabara. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Tonight, once I was finished at work, I headed over to the Chofu City Cultural Center in Chofu, Tokyo, to attend Wataru Mimura's P-LABO FILMFES. I always try to make an effort to attend each this, and this time I was just barely able to make it in time! 

Hiroshi Kashiwabara. Photo by Brett Homenick.

By the time I had arrived, the last short film was being screened. I took my seat and watched the remainder of it. It was a surreal story with a bizarre (and horrific) twist ending. Despite the low production values, it held my attention.

 Wataru Mimura. Photo by Brett Homenick.

When the lights came up, former Toho president (and Godzilla series producer) Shogo Tomiyama got up and made his way toward the exit. I was able to greet him before he left. 

I hope the fine folks of Itasca, IL, aren't too jealous.

My main purpose of attending the film festival was to reunite with the Godzilla series personalities in attendance, particularly Wataru Mimura and Hiroshi Kashiwabara. They are veterans of the Heisei and Millennium series and are also some of the nicest guys you'll ever meet.


And that's all for tonight! Although my lateness caused me to miss most of it, I certainly enjoy my time at this year's P-LABO FILMFES. Short and sweet, as they say.

GAMERA AND DAIMJIN TAKE CHOFU STATION! Daiei Characters Rule the Railway!

Gamera gets his rematch against Guiron at Chofu Station! Photo by Brett Homenick.

There's a lot of movie history near Chofu Station, as Nikkatsu and Daiei (now Kadokawa Daiei) movie studios have operated nearby for decades. Chofu Station has embraced this heritage by giving itself a movie theme. Best of all, silhouette figures of Daimajin, Gamera, and Gamera's greatest foes adorn the station near the ticket gates! How cool is that? Check it out for yourself!













CHRISTMAS AT KADOKAWA! Daimajin Gets into the Yuletide Spirit!

Daimajin stands guard at the entrance of Kadokawa Daiei Studio. Photo by Brett Homenick. 

Earlier tonight, I stopped by Kadokawa Daiei Studio and snapped some photos of the Daimajin statues decked out in their Christmas gear. Enjoy!





Sunday, November 19, 2017

ULTRAMAN SAGA! Key Crew Members Reunite to Discuss This Millennium-Era Ultraman Movie!

Screenwriter Keiichi Hasegawa. Photo by Brett Homenick.

After the Ultraman Taro event, I attended a special dinner event that was preceded by a screening of Ultraman Saga (2012). I saw Ultraman Saga theatrically when it was released in Japan, and since I didn't have a lot of motivation to see it again, I decided to skip the screening.

Editor Akira Matsuki. Photo by Brett Homenick.

On hand were Ultraman Saga screenwriter Keiichi Hasegawa and editor Akira Matsuki. As readers of this blog know, I've met Hasegawa-san on several occasions, and he's always a lot of fun to hang out with. In fact, his appearance at this event was the main reason I attended.


The highlight for me was talking Godzilla with Hasegawa-san. Not only did he write GMK (2001), but he also grew up a fan of Godzilla. He saw Godzilla vs. the Sea Monster (1966) in real time, which was his first Godzilla movie. I also had a blast talking about Godzilla vs. Megalon with him, everything from Jet Jaguar to Seatopia.


While a bit more soft-spoken, I also enjoyed meeting Matsuki-san for the first time. It's rare to meet film editors at such events!

What a busy weekend it was. Now it's time to catch up on sleep!

ULTRAMAN TARO COMES TO BLU-RAY! A Special Event in Shibuya Helps Promote the Release!

Writer Shigemitsu Taguchi (left) and actor Toyoyuki Kimura pal around with an old colleague onstage. Photo by Brett Homenick. 

In order to help promote the upcoming Blu-ray release of Tsuburaya Productions' Ultraman Taro (1973-74), a special event was hosted by Cast Co. in Shibuya that was all about the sixth Ultra-series.


Two episodes from the series were screened, and after that, Ultra-series scribe Shigemitsu Taguchi and actor Toyoyuki Kimura (who played ZAT member Tadao Nambara) took the stage to answer questions about their work on the program.


After that, audience members could pose for photos with Ultraman Taro and get autographs from the two guests. In particular, Kimura-san was surprised to see an American at this event, and even though the signings were a bit rushed by the staff, he made took the time to ask me some questions about myself. That gesture was truly appreciated.


Aside from his regular appearances on Ultraman Taro, Kimura-san acted in several Toho movies during the 1960s and '70s, especially ones directed by Kihachi Okamoto, namely Fort Graveyard (1965), Epoch of Murder Madness (1967), Red Lion (1969), and Battle of Okinawa (1971).He can also be seen in The Crazy Cats' Big Explosion (1969), which was Teruyoshi Nakano's first work as special effects director.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

ULTRA SEVEN 50TH ANNIVERSARY CELEBRATIONS CONTINUE! Koji Moritsugu Looks Back with an Ultra Eye!

Actor Koji Moritsugu poses for the paparazzi. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Ultra Seven celebrates its 50th anniversary in 2017, and who better to celebrate it with than Koji Moritsugu, who starred on the series as Dan Moroboshi, the human form of Ultra Seven. Moritsugu-san held another event at his restaurant, and for the first time in a long time, the timing worked out in my favor.

Koji Moritsugu: Then and now! Photo by Brett Homenick.

Because there was no other guest (as there usual are at the shindigs), the focus was on the fans to ask questions of Moritsugu-san. When my turn came, I asked him whom he thought was the best director on Ultra Seven. He answered that Kazuho Mitsuta was the best. However, he said that Akio Jissoji was also quite good, even though he was a bit strange!


It was another fun evening at Moritsugu-san's restaurant with many friendly people. I hope it's not another several months before I'm able to return!

Celebrating 50 Years of Greatness

With actress Mie Hama. 

Today, I had the privilege of attending a special event with actress Mie Hama, the retired Toho star who appeared in the films King Kong vs. Godzilla (1962) and King Kong Escapes (1967), which is currently celebrating its 50th anniversary. Of course, Hama-san's other international hit film, You Only Live Twice, is also celebrating 50 years.


The event itself was quite enjoyable. There was a rakugo performance followed by a lunch made with local cuisine. The highlight, of course, was meeting Hama-san again, who is always incredibly friendly.