Wednesday, November 24, 2021

The Things You See Around Town...

Ultraman and Kamen Rider stand guard against bad guys, and help you tell time! Photo by Brett Homenick.

Here are a couple of fun things I spotted while walking around Shimo-kitazawa last night. Enjoy! 

It's Kanegon! Photo by Brett Homenick.

Lunch with an Animation Legend!

Minoru Kujirai. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Today, I enjoyed a pleasant lunch with animator and tokusatsu veteran Minoru Kujirai, whose career in animation and tokusatsu is quite impressive. He worked on tokusatsu projects for Toho, Toei, Tsuburaya Productions, and beyond.

It was my first time to visit with Kujirai-san since the pandemic, so it had been quite a while. Hopefully, we can do it again much sooner!

Saturday, November 20, 2021

Shibuya Parco Pays Tribute to Hedorah on His 50th Anniversary!

Signage welcoming you to Shibuya Parco's Hedorah 50th anniversary exhibit. Photo by Brett Homenick.

From November 12 until November 23, Shibuya Parco's Gallery X is hosting a special 50th anniversary salute to Hedorah. Shibuya Parco and a pollution monster seem like an odd pairing, but it works for me, especially because the highlight was the diorama of Hedorah filming suit from Godzilla: Final Wars (2004) -- complete with psychedelic lighting.

Another cool aspect was seeing a bevy of production stills on display, many of which showed Yoshimitsu Banno directing a variety of scenes. Most of these shots were new to me, but, unfortunately, photography of these stills was not allowed. There's also a gift shop with some Hedorah goods, but I kept my wallet closed this time. After, the GFW Hedorah suit was the main attraction for me. Anyway, here's what I saw.

Friday, November 19, 2021

'Ultraman: Towards the Future' on Vantage Point Interviews!

Photo © Tsuburaya Productions.

Ultraman: Towards the Future (1992) was the first Ultra-series produced in the West, and Terry Larsen wrote all 13 episodes. For the first time ever, Mr. Larsen shares his experiences of making this memorable series. Read all about it on Vantage Point Interviews!

Saturday, November 13, 2021

Did the Star of 'Alien' Dub a Tokusatsu Movie?

In space, no one can hear you loop!

The 1979 Ridley Scott film Alien is widely considered a sci-fi classic, which has spawned a long-running series of movies. For fans of tokusatsu movies, it turns out that there's a connection between Alien and one of the most celebrated Japanese disaster flicks of all time, Submersion of Japan (1973).

Well, maybe not Submersion of Japan per se but rather its American release, Tidal Wave (1975). According to one of the voice actors who worked on the film, Tom Skerritt (who plays Dallas in Alien) dubs Hiroshi Fujioka's character in the New World Pictures version. The timing actually makes sense, too, as Skerritt was fresh off playing Fred Diller in the Roger Corman-produced Big Bad Mama (1974). (Corman owned New World Pictures at the time.) 

This information comes courtesy of an unlikely source: an article by film critic Peter Rainer in the Los Angeles Herald Examiner, dated August 29, 1985. In his column "Peter Rainer on Film," the critic recounts his experience dubbing a couple of small parts in Tidal Wave after reviewing Godzilla 1985 (1984). The review was published under the headline "Return of 'Godzilla' — and Raymond Burr: His presence makes the '1985' version." (For those curious, his Godzilla 1985 review is mostly negative and condescending.)

In the article, Rainer writes the following concerning Tidal Wave:

Tom Skerritt — just the sort of laid-back SoCal beachfront kind of guy you'd expect to dub a Japanese — was the lead voice. 

I was given a couple of different characters to dub — a bathysphere technician and an office boy — and I also dubbed in a long stretch of narration. (I also dubbed crowd screams; in other words, three or four of us stood around in a circle and hollered the same lines over and over while, on the screen, a building collapsed onto a phalanx of unfortunates.) 

Describing his own experience dubbing the film, he writes:

There I stood before the mike with my script in hand, listening for the aural cue (a beep tone) to begin the dub job. My bathysphere technician is saying something simple, like "It's a nice day, Akiko, don't you think?" and I'm not even close. I sound constipated. After a half-dozen trials, I manage to at least finish the line at the same time as the guy up there on the screen, and it's on to the next line. Dubbing is a line-by-line process. At least it was with me.

Among many other credits, Tom Skerritt plays Duke Forrest in MASH (1970), Viper in Top Gun (1986), Sheriff Jimmy Brock in the TV series Picket Fences (1992-96), and David Drumlin in Contact (1997). 

The relevant portion of Rainer's Godzilla 1985 review, in which he discusses his Tidal Wave memories, is shared below in two parts.

Special thanks to R. J. Kizer for sending me the above article.

Friday, November 12, 2021

Going 'Back in Town' Again After a Long Gap!

Masamitsu Tayama. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Tonight, I returned to the venue Back in Town (near Akebonobashi Station) to take in a performance by singer-guitarist Masamitsu Tayama. Due to a certain virus you may have heard of, his last few scheduled gigs had been cancelled, so it had been quite a while since I last attended one of his performances.

Masamitsu Tayama. Photo by Brett Homenick.

When I walked into the venue (I was fashionably late due to work commitments), Tayama-san pointed me out to the audience and mentioned the interview we did back in April. Since the interview was published all in English, he told the audience that he had to rely on a machine translation to read it, but, because the translation lacked any sort of nuance, it was too difficult to read. 

After the show, we posed for the obligatory photos you see here. Tayama-san, his wife, and a few friends then went to the train station together, though we quickly had to part ways, as we had to take different platforms. It was another great time with Tayama-san, who is always a joy to see.

Sunday, November 7, 2021

Brand-New Content on Vantage Point Interviews!

Yours truly in between Stephen Mark Rainey (left) and Brian Thomas in July 2004.

New interviews have just been posted to Vantage Point Interviews. The interviewees are Stephen Mark Rainey and Brad Boyle, the first two editors of the fanzine Japanese Giants. In the interviews, the two gentlemen discuss the formative years of this celebrated fanzine. Read these new interviews to find out why content is king at Vantage Point Interviews!

Legends of Millennium-Era Tokusatsu Gather for a Special Evening!

Toshio Miike, Shinji Higuchi, and Makoto Kamiya pose for pictures. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Saturday, November 6, was a great evening for those who enjoy Millennium-era tokusatsu. Three luminaries who have earned their reputations in the last couple of decades headlined a special event just days after Godzilla's 67th birthday.

The guests in question were Shinji Higuchi, Toshio Miike, and Makoto Kamiya. Higuchi-san, fresh off directing the upcoming Shin Ultraman, was a particularly impressive guest.

Shinji Higuchi poses with a Shin Ultraman poster. Photo by Brett Homenick.

While I wasn't a fan of the film, I felt it was just too good an opportunity to pass up getting a couple of Shin Godzilla (2016) mini posters signed by one of the co-directors. It took me a while to dig them out, but I finally did after a lot of searching!

Higuchi-san was a lot of fun, and I enjoyed asking him about Ultraman: The Ultimate Hero, which he seemed fond of reminiscing about. 

Toshio Miike. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Also on hand was veteran SFX art director and production designer Toshio Miike, who has worked on: Gunhed (1989), Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah (1991), Zeiram (1991), Godzilla vs. Mothra (1992), Gamera: Guardian of the Universe (1995), Gamera 2 (1996), Gamera 3 (1999), GMK (2001), Godzilla against Mechagodzilla (2002), Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. (2003), Godzilla: Final Wars (2004), and Shin Godzilla (2016).

I actually didn't get to spend that much time with Miike-san this time, which was a shame, as he's one of the nicest guys around. I just happened to be seated next to Higuchi-san all evening, so it wasn't in the cards. But there's always next time!

Makoto Kamiya. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Kamiya-san, the remaining guest, was an assistant director of SFX from Godzilla vs. Biollante (1989) through Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla II (1993), 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).

 And that's a wrap! Another night of tokusatsu history in the books. And what an evening it was!

New Sights at the Godzilla Store in Tokyo!

Happy birthday, Godzilla! Photo by Brett Homenick.

November 3 was Godzilla's birthday, and, as expected, the Godzilla Store in Tokyo celebrated it in a big way. Even a few days later, the birthday displays were still out, which was lucky for me. Here's what I saw!

The Shinjuku Sumitomo Building Gets a Makeover!

The new atrium of the Shinjuku Sumitomo Building. Photo by Brett Homenick.

The Shinjuku Sumitomo Building, well-known in Godzilla fandom as the building Godzilla crashes into after losing his first battle with the Super X in Godzilla 1985 (1984), recently completed work on its new atrium. Here are a few recent photos of it taken on November 6. Enjoy!

Wednesday, November 3, 2021

Celebrating Godzilla's Birthday in a Kaiju-Sized Way!

From left to right: Mizuho Yoshida, Toshio Miike, and Akira Ohashi. Photo by Brett Homenick.

November 3 marks Godzilla's 67th birthday, and, while it may seem that celebrations of this milestone are limited to online gatherings, think again! One event was held live and in person and featured no fewer than three kaiju eiga luminaries!

One of the guests was veteran SFX art director and production designer Toshio Miike, who has worked on: Gunhed (1989), Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah (1991), Zeiram (1991), Godzilla vs. Mothra (1992), Gamera: Guardian of the Universe (1995), Gamera 2 (1996), Gamera 3 (1999), GMK (2001), Godzilla against Mechagodzilla (2002), Godzilla: Tokyo S.O.S. (2003), Godzilla: Final Wars (2004), and Shin Godzilla (2016).

Akira Ohashi with a Gamera 2 toy. Photo by Brett Homenick.

Also on hand was suit actor Akira Ohashi. Ohashi-san played Gamera in Gamera 2, Irys in Gamera 3, King Ghidorah in GMK, and a bevy of other characters in both movies and television.

Akira Ohashi, ready for battle! Photo by Brett Homenick.

It was my first time to meet Ohashi-san, but he couldn't have been nicer, and he isn't afraid to mug for the camera, which makes for some interesting shots!

In that sense, he shares a lot in common with Yoshida-san!

Last but cretianly not least was suit actor Mizuho Yoshida. Yoshida-san portrays Zeiram in both Zeiram and Zeiram 2 (1994), Legion in Gamera 2, Death Ghidorah (a.k.a. Desghidorah) in Rebirth of Mothra (1996), Dagahra in Rebirth of Mothra 2 (1997), and Godzilla in GMK, among other suit-acting roles.

We took a few fun photos together, but I decided to go with the more relaxed ones. Maybe someday I'll post the shot where it looks like we're brawling!

What a way to celebrate Godzilla's birthday! I couldn't think of a better way to have done it. I'm so glad to be a part of these events again!