Saturday, August 16, 2014

ULTRA-COOL! Koji Moritsugu and Hiroko Sakurai Rock Fujisawa!

Ultra-icons Koji Moritsugu and Hiroko Sakurai recall their Tsuburaya days at Joli Chapeau in Fujisawa. Photo by Brett Homenick.

On August 16, the Joli Chapeau cafe in Fujisawa, Kanagawa, played host to two of the biggest icons in the history of Tsuburaya Productions. Koji Moritsugu (Dan Moroboshi in Ultra Seven) and Hiroko Sakurai (Yuriko Edogawa in Ultra Q and Akiko Fuji in Ultraman) held a talk show and signing event at the cafe. And what a perfect location it was, considering that it's owned by Moritsugu-san himself!

I had a bit of trouble finding the cafe, but with an assist from Moritsugu-san's daughter, Aya, I was able to make it to the venue just in time. The autograph session was first, so I brought a couple of Ultra Seven items (a DVD sleeve previously signed by Yuriko Hishimi and a magazine) for Moritsugu's signature. For Sakurai-san, I brought a Japanese book on the heroines of the Ultra-series (already signed by Yuriko Hishimi and Keiko Nishi), as well as a DVD sleeve of 3 Gents in Hawaii (1963).

What is 3 Gents in Hawaii, you ask? It's an entry in the long-running Shacho series, with Hisaya Morishige, Keiju Kobayashi, and Daisuke Kato. In the film, she plays one of the daughters of Morishige's company-president character. Sakurai-san laughed when she saw the DVD sleeve and was amazed that I knew about the film. She showed the DVD sleeve to Moritsugu-san, who was just as surprised as she was! Sakurai-san asked me where I was from in America, and when I mentioned San Diego, she recalled that she attended the San Diego Comic-Con several years ago.

I last met Moritsugu-san at a special talk show event at Ultra Festival two years ago. Our meeting at that time was very brief, but Aya explained to me that Moritsugu-san remembered me from that event! I was quite surprised, to say the least. I told him that I also admired his performance in Zero (1984), which he was surprised (there's that word again!) I had seen it.

Overall, it was a fantastic event, and I'm very glad I went. I had never met Hiroko Sakurai prior to this occasion. Even though she had been a staple on the fan-event circuit in Japan for many years, I just never had the opportunity to meet her. I'm so glad to have finally changed that.

When she was leaving, she sought me out and shook my hand. Naturally, I was very honored. Sakurai-san and Moritsugu-san are the real deals. I hope to attend another event at Joli Chapeau in the future!

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