Your humble blogmeister sandwiched between two of the genre's biggest icons: Bin (Ultraman) Furuya and Akira (Ogata) Takarada at Narita International Airport.
Ultraman and I prepare to go through Customs at Narita Airport. Photo by Akira Takarada.
One interesting side note is that Mr. Takarada discovered that he had misplaced his passport a few days beforehand! He ultimately had to order a new one, which arrived only the day before we left. How's that for luck?
Now how's this for coincidence? With about an hour or so before landing in Chicago, I happened to look at what the Japanese gentleman was watching for his in-flight entertainment. It turns out he was watching a TV drama featuring Akira Takarada! I quickly stopped what I was watching and found the TV drama in question. It also was apparently the drama that Mr. Takarada came to Nakatsugawa to film last December (which was when this year's G-FEST plans were initially hatched). See, folks? It all comes full circle!
Two masterpieces give each other the once-over at the Art Institute of Chicago.
Just outside the Art Institute with the city of Chicago behind us.
The Wolfman meets Ultraman: Danny T. meets a childhood idol of his, Bin Furuya!
About to eat dinner with Tom Korzeniowski, who himself had spent many years living and working in Japan.
Tsukioka swoops in for an autograph from Akira Takarada!
J.D. "Da Chief" Lees hobnobs with his favorite San Fernando Valley kaiju fan, Richard Pusateri. I hope no one reading this is too jealous!
On Friday morning, we organized the toys that Mr. Takarada shipped to G-FEST for sale. While in his hotel room, some obligatory photos were snapped, this time with the webmaster of AkiraIfukube.org, Erik Homenick.
A side of G-FEST's Opening Ceremonies that you usually don't see!
A motley crew joins Akira Takarada and Bin Furuya (not in the shot) as the Crowne Plaza shuttle takes us to Giordano's.
Damon Foster speaks with Akira Takarada, who had fond memories of Damon from two years ago.
Interviewing Takarada-san: Onstage with the Big Boss himself.
Cease and desist? Naw, come and listen! In this session, I discussed my experiences in Japan, using photos I took myself for illustration. All content contained therein was (obviously) my own.
Damon Foster interviews Bin Furuya about Ultraman and Ultra Seven.
Yours truly with Mancow (and Ultraman).
Mancow is a genuine Ultraman (and Johnny Sokko) fan. Once he found out that Bin Furuya would attend G-FEST, he got in touch with the convention to become a part of it. I made sure that Mancow got to interview Furuya-san for his radio show. G-FEST and Mr. Furuya could use some national exposure!
A happy moment: Following the interview, Mancow poses for pictures with one of his heroes.
It's coming! National horror host Svengoolie drew hundreds of fans to G-FEST, helping make this convention the biggest G-FEST of all time!
My attention quickly turned to the autograph line, during which I was placed in charge of hawking the toys Mr. Takarada sent to G-FEST. Most of the toys sold, I'm happy to say.
Hangin' out is what it's all about! Bin Furuya with some of his biggest fans anywhere in the world!
Bin Furuya shows off a replica gun from Monster Zero.
Akira Takarada presents Bin Furuya with the Mangled Skyscraper Award.
A picture is truly worth a thousand words. Mr. Furuya was genuinely touched by the award. It certainly helped that Mr. Takarada, who partly inspired Mr. Furuya to become an actor in the first place, presented him with the award.
That's all, folks! Well, almost. I only touched upon a fraction of what took place. For instance, Mark Jaramillo presented several minutes of the elusive fan film "Wolfman vs. Godzilla" for the first time to a Western audience. (Though I missed the session itself, thankfully Mark showed me the clips he brought the day before his impromptu presentation.) There were plenty of other notable sessions that I missed. For another perspective, I wholeheartedly recommend this report.
G-FEST by any measure was a great success!