Monday, June 30, 2014

LUNCH WITH WATARU MIMURA! The Godzilla Series Scribe and I Share a Meal!

Yours truly and Wataru Mimura at a Japanese restaurant, about to share a meal.

This afternoon I had the privilege of having lunch (and later coffee) with screenwriter Wataru Mimura. Mr. Mimura wrote the scripts for Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II (1993), Orochi the Eight-Headed Dragon (1994), Godzilla 2000 (1999), Godzilla vs. Megaguirus (2000), Godzilla against Mechagodzilla (2002), and Godzilla: Final Wars (2004).

We swapped stories and talked movies. Mimura-san graciously gave me a couple of DVDs. I was ecstatic to receive them. Lunch (and coffee) were on me, of course.

Mimura-san will be attending the Japanese premiere of Godzilla (2014) in July. Suffice it to say, he's very excited, as I am for him. I look forward to hearing his review!

Thursday, June 26, 2014


Katsuhiko Sasaki during an interview on his career, April 2013. Photo by Brett Homenick.

According to the Japanese news site, Mr. Katsuhiko Sasaki, who heads to G-FEST XXI two weeks from now, provides the voice of David Strathairn's character, Admiral William Stenz, in the Japanese dub of Godzilla (2014)! Katsuhiko Sasaki is the star of Godzilla vs. Megalon (1973) and Terror of Mechagodzilla (1975), and he will headline (along with his TOMG co-star Tomoko Ai) G-FEST XXI in Chicago, July 11-13.

Don't miss your chance to meet a (sort of) cast member of the new Godzilla film!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

G-FEST UPDATE: Skype Interview with Yosuke Natsuki Is Cancelled

Actor Yosuke Natsuki in his office, February 2013. Photo by Brett Homenick.

In a very unfortunate turn of events, Toho star Yosuke Natsuki must regretfully cancel his Skype interview at G-FEST. Mr. Natsuki's health no longer permits him to participate in a live interview at the convention. The good news is that his health has been improving, but Mr. Natsuki must fully focus on his recovery.

We are currently discussing other ways in which Mr. Natsuki may offer some form of participation, so if there is any news to report, I will post it here. In the meantime, please take note that the scheduled Skype interview has been cancelled.

Let's all send Mr. Natsuki our best wishes for a speedy recovery.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

GUNDAM AT NIGHT! Views from Odaiba After Dark!

A nighttime view of the famous Fuji TV Building in Odaiba, Tokyo.

The other night I had a chance to visit Odaiba and snap some photos of a couple of locations (including the large Gundam statue). The nighttime atmosphere added a lot to the photos, so I thought I'd post them here. Everything is pretty self-explanatory, so enjoy!


Hanging out with director Shinpei Hayashiya at an izakaya near Tabata Station in Tokyo. 

Last night my friend Yasushi and I had the good fortune to attend a rakugo show with Shinpei Hayashiya. While many of us know Hayashiya-san as the director of Gamera 4: The Truth,  Reigo the Deep-Sea Monster vs. the Battleship Yamato, and The Deep-Sea Monster Raiga (as well as playing a bespectacled newspaper photographer in Godzilla 1985), he is well known in Japan for his raucous rakugo performances.

Hayashiya-san uses his big (and I mean "big"!) voice to his advantage during his performances, so try not to jump out of your seat when he suddenly shouts (as several folks in the audience did!). After Hayashiya-san and other rakugo performers finished the show, a small group of us headed to a nearby izakaya for dinner and drinks.

Many topics were discussed, including G-FEST, at which Hayashiya-san will attend as one of many special guests from Japan. Coincidentally, Hayashiya-san and I will be taking the same flight to the U.S., which is an experience I am looking forward to!

My favorite story of the evening was the one Hayashiya-san told us about meeting Godzilla (1954) actress Momoko Kochi by chance roughly 20 years ago. She was exiting a building at a time when Hayashiya-san happened to be entering. He asked her for an autograph, and she asked him which movie(s) he enjoyed her performance in. When he answered Godzilla, her reaction was less than enthusiastic!

See you in Chicago, Hayashiya-san!

Thursday, June 19, 2014


Yoshimitsu Banno (left) meets Akira Takarada (right) at Tokyo Dome City during Golden Week, May 2011. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster director Yoshimitsu Banno has launched his Japanese-language autobiography, which has been years in the making. An English-language version had been planned as well, but let's wait and see what (if anything) develops.

Mr. Banno was executive producer of the recent Godzilla (2014), which marks his comeback to the series. It's been a banner year for the man who made Godzilla fly!

UPDATE: I've obtained new information that this is probably not his actual autobiography but a book solely about his involvement with the new Godzilla movie. As a result, I've changed the title of this blog post. Mr. Banno has been busy (understandably so) since the film's release, so confirmation has been slow in coming. More than anything, what threw me was that this book's English title was what he told me he was planning to title his autobiography. So let's wait and see what develops. In any case, congrats, Mr. Banno!

UPDATE 2 (6/21): According to Mr. Banno, the English version is due at the end of July!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

LINDA MILLER SPEAKS! The King Kong Escapes Star Tells Her Story in the New Issue of G-FAN!

Chris Scalf's awe-inspiring cover for G-FAN #106, featuring a lengthy talk with Linda Miller.

G-FAN #106 has been printed and shipped to subscribers (some of whom have already reported getting their copies), but to you poor souls who have not subscribed, please take note that the current issues features my interview with none other than Linda Miller of King Kong Escapes fame. Yes, it's true, the much-sought-after actress from the 1967 Toho favorite has shared her detailed memories of the film, and you can read all about them in this G-FAN exclusive!

G-FAN can be purchased here. Be a part of kaiju history and order your copy today!

Sunday, June 15, 2014

SAYING HELLO: An Afternoon with Composer Riichiro Manabe

Today I spent several hours in the company with composer Riichiro Manabe. My friend Yasushi and I brought him a few gifts (including a box of Japanese sweets, which he really enjoyed) and spent time discussing his career. Mr. Manabe is best known as the composer for Godzilla vs. the Smog Monster (1971) and Godzilla vs. Megalon (1973), but those two films were a drop in the bucket when one considers his entire body of work.

Good times were had by all. I hope to see Mr. Manabe again very soon.

Friday, June 13, 2014

CARLA LAEMMLE, 1909-2014: The Universal Studios Actress Passes Away But Leaves Behind a Tremendous Legacy

An autograph I obtained from Ms. Laemmle in 2009. 

The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed the passing of actress Carla Laemmle, whose career dates back to the silent era. She was 104. Having appeared in Lon Chaney's The Phantom of the Opera (1925) and Bela Lugosi's Dracula (1931), her status as a horror film icon has been cemented for many decades. As if that weren't enough, her uncle was Carl Laemmle, the founder of Universal Studios.

Despite the fact that she was more than a century old, she still regularly appeared at autograph signings, happy to meet and mingle with her fans. Over the years, I had the honor of meeting her twice.

Yours truly with Carla Laemmle at the Hollywood Show in Burbank, July 2010.

Rest in peace, Ms. Laemmle.

Monday, June 9, 2014

AN ACTING LEGEND SPEAKS! Tatsuyoshi Ehara Shares His Toho Memories in an Upcoming Interview!

Actor Tatsuyoshi Ehara peruses a recent issue of G-FAN prior to our interview in Tokyo. Photo by Brett Homenick.

I had the distinct privilege of interviewing actor Tatsuyoshi Ehara this morning, whose career in Japanese films dates back to the 1940s (!) as a child actor. Mr. Ehara has worked with pretty much all the great directors from Japan: Akira Kurosawa, Kihachi Okamoto, Hiroshi Inagaki, Kajiro Yamamoto, Kon Ichikawa, Masaki Kobayashi, Shiro Moritani, Seiji Maruyama, Nobuo Nakagawa, Jun Fukuda, and Ishiro Honda.

The list of actors he's worked alongside is just as impressive: Toshiro Mifune, Akira Takarada, Akira Kubo, Setsuko Hara, Yumi Shirakawa, Momoko Kochi, Izumi Yukimura, Akihiko Hirata, Yuzo Kayama, Keiju Kobayashi, and many others.

That's a wrap! Mr. Ehara poses with yours truly after our four-hour (!) interview.

Mr. Ehara's acting credits include: Outlaw Outpost (1959), Inao: Story of an Iron Arm (1959), Sanjuro (1962), Red Beard (1965), Chushingura (1962), Ultra Q (1966), Samurai Rebellion (1967), Japan's Longest Day (1967), Admiral Yamamoto (1968), and the long-running Young Guy series. Suffice it to say, I learned a lot ... and so will you! Special thanks to Asako Kato.