Monday, December 24, 2018

THE SAMURAI! Attending a Reunion of This Early Japanese TV Classic!

In between Koichi Ose (left) and Shunsuke Omori.

Today is Christmas Eve, and what better way to spend the day than attending a small reunion of a classic Japanese TV show?

Koichi Ose was the event's guest of honor. Ose-san starred in Moonlight Mask (1958-59) as the titular hero. He later starred in another Senkosha-produced series called The Samurai (1962-65) as the heroic Shintaro Akikusa, the samurai of the program's title. Also in attendance was Shunsuke Omori, who played the boy Shusaku Baba in The Samurai

The Samurai has quite a following in Australia where it was broadcast in the mid-1960s. Being American, however, today was the first time I'd ever seen it. Three episodes were screened, and I enjoyed the show.

I was impressed when Ose-san recognized me from the previous event. Omori-san asked me if I was Australian, but I answered that I'm an American who's a fan of Moonlight Mask. But after today, I like both shows.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

GO, GO, POWER RANGERS! Showa Hero Hosts a Rare Reunion of the Japanese Power Rangers!

From left to right: Yuuta Mochizuki, Reiko Chiba, and Hideki Fujiwara. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Today, I attended a special reunion of Kyoryu Sentai Zyuranger (1992-93), which was repackaged by Saban as Mighty Morphin Power Rangers. On hand were Yuuta Mochizuki (who played Geki), Reiko Chiba (who played Mei), and Hideki Fujiwara (who played Dan). Admittedly, my knowledge of Zyuranger and Power Rangers is extremely limited, so with that said, I'll let the photos do the talking. Enjoy!

Reiko Chiba. Photo by Brett Homenick. 

Yuuta Mochizuki. Photo by Brett Homenick. 

Hideko Fujiwara. Photo by Brett Homenick. 

Celebrating the End of the Year!

Sadao Iizuka. Photo by Brett Homenick.

On Saturday night, December 22, I attended a special birthday celebration for former Toho optical effects master Sadao Iizuka.

Iizuka-san is a gentleman I've blogged about before, but his history with Toho makes him a true VIP in the world of tokusatsu.

Keiko Suzuki. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Also on hand was former Toho SFX script supervisor Keiko Suzuki (born Keiko Hisamatsu). Her career at Toho dates back to the late '50s (!), and it came to a close about 10 years later. It's always nice to see Suzuki-san at these events.

But wait ... I saw Iizuka-san again today for an end-of-the-year party! It's a rare treat to see such a legend in person on back-to-back days, but when you get an opportunity, take it!

See you all next year!

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Tokusatsu DNA!

The Tokusatsu DNA exhibit opened in Kamata, Tokyo, today, and I paid a visit. Honestly, I've never had more fun at any other exhibit. The sheer number of original, screen-used props on display was incredible, many of which I'd never seen before at similar exhibits. There was a Q&A event featuring Kazuki Omori, Megumi Odaka, and Kenpachiro Satsuma, which I attended. Suitmaker Fuyuki Shinada was also on hand for the festivities (having participated in a separate interview session earlier in the day). Pictures are truly worth a thousand words, so here are just a few.

Getting into the Christmas Spirit, Asakusa-Style!

Shinichi Yanagisawa. Photo by Brett Homenick.

On Tuesday evening, I attended the last performance by Shinichi Yanagisawa and His All-Stars. I particularly enjoyed Yanagisawa-san's rendition of classic Christmas tunes. It's the season for them after all.

In February, the HUB Asakusa will be undergoing renovation, so there won't be any performance that month by Yanagisawa-san. I was disappointed by the news, but he and his band mates will be back in action in April. I'll just have to wait a little longer until then.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Super Festival 79

Today I attended Super Festival 79. I attended earlier than normal (partly to attend Bin Furuya's Q&A session, but also because I had several other appointments later on in the day), so I ran into more familiar faces than I usually do. Anyway, I'll let the photos do the talking.

After the After-Party!

 Hiroyasu Yamaura. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Even though I completely missed the performance, I was pleased to be invited to the after-party of a Christmas show written by Hiroyasu Yamaura. The group was small (there were only six of us), and we had dinner for an hour and a half. It was a traditional Japanese dinner, and it was quite delicious. 

The conversation was lively and often hilarious. I had a great time with Yamaura-san and the others and can't wait to see him again. Hopefully, I'll be able to actually see his next stage play!

Seeing Aoki-san Perform Live!

Hidemi Aoki. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Today I attended a special live performance by actress/singer Hidemi Aoki. I'd first met Aoki-san in April at Yosuke Natsuki's memorial party, making today the first time I'd seen her perform.

Hidemi Aoki plays Sumi in Seven Nights in Japan (1976), co-starring Michael York and Charles Gray (directed by Lewis Gilbert of You Only Live Twice fame). She also portrays Kyoko Osawayama in episodes 2-7, 9, 11-13 of Toho's Diamond Eye (1973-74).

As for today's show, I thought Aoki-san was far and away the best singer who performed (in my unbiased opinion, of course). Aoki-san was very kind, and even though I had to leave early, she followed me out (without any prompting from me) and spent a few moments talking with me. She also patiently signed the Diamond Eye DVD sleeves I brought and posed for photos. Suffice it to say, she really made my day.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Celebrating Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II for Its 25th Anniversary!

 Makoto Kamiya. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Last night, I attended a special gathering of SFX alums from Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II (1993) in Shibuya. In previous years, there were similar gatherings devoted to Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah (1991) and Godzilla vs. Mothra (1992), but due to my schedule at the time, I was not able to attend those events.

Several members of GvsMG II's SFX crew were on hand, but the evening's VIP had to be Makoto Kamiya.

Kamiya-san was an assistant director of SFX from Godzilla vs. Biollante (1989) through Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II, then served in the same capacity on Gamera: Guardian of the Universe (1995) through Gamera 3 (1999). After that, he became SFX director on GMK (2001) and Shinji Higuchi's Sinking of Japan (2006). Suffice it to say, he's enjoyed plenty of success during his SFX career.

The event was enjoyable, if a bit cramped at times. I made some new friends and rekindled a few old friendships. The event marked the end of a particularly busy week for me, so now I can finally get some rest!

An Ultra-Good Evening!

From left to right: Masao Nakabori, Sojiro Uchino, and Hiroko Sakurai. Photo by Brett Homenick.

On Friday, December 7, I attended a follow-up event that likewise focused on the late director Akio Jissoji. Cinematographer Masao Nakabori returned to the event, as did former child actor Sojiro Uchino, who appeared in episodes of Ultra Q (1966) and Ultraman (1966-67). Uchino-san was directed by Akio Jissoji in episode 15 of Ultraman. Headlining the event was actress Hiroko Sakurai, who starred as Yuriko Edogawa in Ultra Q and Akiko Fuji in Ultraman.

Sojiro Uchino holds up the box for a limited-edition Akio Jissoji figure. Photo by Brett Homenick.

During the Q&A session, I was most interested in hearing Sakurai-san talk about becoming a Toho actress, which is a part of her career so often glossed over in interviews and articles about her career. Naturally, the conversation quickly moved on to Ultra-related topics, particularly her work with Akio Jissoji.

Between Masao Nakabori and Hiroko Sakurai.

Sakurai-san was very friendly and approachable as usual, and despite not having seen her in about two years, she remembered me from our previous encounters at various events. As expected, the event was at capacity to her presence, but she made sure everyone in attendance got what they needed. She's a true pro and a class act.