Sunday, December 11, 2011

Akira Kubo to Kyoto: 'Veni, vidi, vici'

Toho star Akira Kubo (Matango, Destroy All Monsters, Monster Zero) answers questions about his career during an all-night film festival in Kyoto, Japan.

Text and photos by Brett Homenick

On December 10, 2011, the Kyoto Minami Kaikan hosted an all-night film festival that celebrated the Golden Age of kaiju eiga. On tap for the evening were special showings of Monster Zero (1965), Majin Monster of Terror (1966), and Gamera vs. Gyaos (1967). The first film began at 1:10 a.m. (technically on December 11), with the final film screening at 4:50 in the morning. Truth be told, all-nighters aren't my idea of a good time (I love sleep too much), so when I initially received the tip from August Ragone that this film festival would be taking place, I was a little unsure. However, one thing sealed the deal for me.

Can you say "game-changer"? Akira Kubo's appearance at the film festival immediately put to rest any doubts I may have had.

By far, the biggest draw of the evening for me was Akira Kubo's advertised appearance. As any good G-fan knows, Mr. Kubo has headlined such Toho classics as Destroy All Monsters, Gorath, Matango, and Son of Godzilla, among others, and he remains one of Toho's most popular actors of all time. That he would be signing autographs and pressing the flesh was all the motivation I needed to hop on the shinkansen bound for Kyoto.

Toho tales: Akira Kubo shares his experiences at Japan's greatest movie studio with an enrapt audience.

Having attended the Shinepatosu Mechagodzilla film event in Ginza last month, I thought I knew what to expect. However, I must say that the Kyoto Minami Kaikan's staff far exceeded my expectations. Fans in attendance were allowed to have more face time with Mr. Kubo than with any of the guests at the Ginza event. (In some instances, we didn't get any face time with the guests!) Also, a staff member ensured we could get photographed with Mr. Kubo. (This touch was painfully absent from the Shinepatosu event.) What can I say? I came away overwhelmed!

Now that's what I call a memento! Yours truly with one of his childhood idols, Akira Kubo.

After Mr. Kubo was finished signing autographs, composer Yasuhiko Fukuda took the stage to do some live demos of his (and other composers') monster movie music. (For more on that, go here.) Following the live music, it was on to the flicks!

Naturally, it was a treat to see three great mid-'60s kaiju eiga on the big screen. I made it all the way through Monster Zero without any problem. As we got into Majin Monster of Terror, however, my eyelids got a little too heavy, and -- yes -- I had to conk out for a while. I was back up in time for the climax, so at least I got to see the good stuff. By then, I felt more awake, and watched Gamera vs. Gyaos in its entirety.

A happy moment...

I must give the Kyoto Minami Kaikan full marks for a job well done. If they do a similar event in the future, I'll do what I can to go. Let's just hope their next event is an all-day film festival! (I sure would appreciate the sleep...)

For an even better idea of what Mr. Kubo's appearance was like, please watch the videos below. It's almost as good as being there!



  1. Congratulations Brett on meeting Akira Kubo! That's great! Thank you for sharing your experience with the excellent write-up and videos. Mr. Kubo has always been a favorite of mine as well. He must be a very nice man. No doubt it was well worth sacrificing a night's sleep to attend that festival.

  2. It certainly was, Mike. Mr. Kubo seemed to be in very good health, which was a relief to me, as I had heard he's been in ill health. It was a blast, and I'm very glad I went!

  3. I'm very glad you wrote that Mr. Kubo seemed to be in very good health. We are fortunate to still have a few of the stars from Toho's Showa era films still with us.

  4. Saw this after seeing your YouTube video meeting him. Very very cool, what a legend!