Hey everybody! SEEN ANY GOOD MOVIES? I recently returned from our world premiere of Blood of the Samurai 2 and Ninja EX in Japan! Wow…talk about an incredible experience! We were invited to screen at Toei Studios (also known as Eigamura) and at the highly prestigious Ritsumeikan Universty in Kyoto. Having my work play in Japan was such an incredible dream come true. In fact, back in 2004, I visited Toei’s Eigamura Park to be inspired and learn more about ninja/samurai shows before I made my own martial arts action show called “Ninja EX.” So it was quite amazing to have Ninja EX actually SCREEN in an Eigamura theater! Talk about coming full circle yeah? I’m still pinching myself!
It was also a great honor to screen along side a Toei Studios/Columbia Entertainment film called, “Metal Samurai.” You HAVE to check out this cool samurai action/comedy. It was such a blast! Or better yet…it ROCKED!
And what exactly is Eigamura you may be asking? Well, it’s kind of like Universal Studios...but at Eigamura Park in Japan, it’s where they shoot lots of famous samurai and ninja movies. They also make lots of television and Japanese superhero shows…like Kikaida and The Power Rangers! They even have a large museum which showcases all the original props and costumes used in all the shows.
Posing with the Red Rangers!
Speaking of superhero props and costumes…they hold a very special annual grand event at Eigamura called, the “Uzumasa Sengoku Matsuri” or the “Uzumasa Samurai Festival.” It’s a special time of year where people are able to come dressed up as their favorite characters. Visitors come elaborately dressed as samurai or ninja characters from manga (comic books), anime (Animation), video games, television, films, history books, legends, etc. It’s similar to Halloween, but instead, it’s held on a sprawling samurai movie set.
Photos with Samurai!
Pictures of the Set Source: Eigamurai30.com
For foreigners, and also Japanese guests, this was quite a spectacular and fun site to behold! This year’s event was a huge success (with thousands of visitors)…so I’m sure next year it will become even more popular! Dressing up is not required for attendance, but if you like Cosplay (you know how you are!)…I would HIGHLY, HIGHLY, RECOMMEND for you and your friends to make the “Kyoto Sengoku Matsuri” a travel destination for the year 2008! There are lots of fun anime themed special events...and tons of opportunities to take photos of your costume on a real/working Japanese samurai village set. (Would you go as a character from the anime Bleach or from Naruto?)
Ritusmeikan University Source: Ritsumeikan
We were also invited to do a very special lecture at the highly prestigious Ritsumeikan University. All the students and professors were so wonderful…and our hosts made our stay such an unforgettable experience. It was also interesting to see the students’ fascination in learning about Kikaida’s history in Hawaii!
And speaking of the legendary hero Kikaida…
It’s on to my interview with movie actor (Kikaida 01!)…IKEDA SHUNSUKE!
Ikeda Shunsuke signing at Hawaii’s Ala Moana Center/Shirokiya Source: JN Productions
I was absolutely thrilled to have one of my childhood heroes, Ikeda Shunsuke (Kikaida 01/Ultraman) attend to help show support during our Japan premieres! As a kid, I was (and still am) a Kikaida superfan! (Who is Kikaida you may ask? Check out my “Who is Kikaida” column!)
Kikaida 01 and Kikaida Source: JN Productions
So to see a sequel to my favorite Japanese superhero show was an absolute dream come true! It was so awesome to see my favorite hero fight side by side with his older brother in the new show called, “Kikaida 01.” If you were 7 years old, how would you react if you discovered that your favorite superhero had an older sibling and would be teaming up with him or her to fight evil?
I think all of us who experienced that feeling with Kikaida 01 were pretty stoked to say the least. Of course we then HAD to go out and buy all the toys, record albums, books, etc. Wouldn’t you have done the same thing too?
By the way, not only was Ikeda-san the legendary superhero Kikaida 01…but he was also in many other popular shows in Japan. Shows like...Emergency 10:4 10:10, Symbol of Justice Condorman, Himitsu Sentai Gorenja (Go Rangers!), Kaiketsu Zubat…plus samurai shows, police shows and more!
His father worked in Chambara (Samurai swordplay) films, so he was exposed to the film industry at quite a young age.
ULTRAMAN Source: Ikeda Shunsuke Official Homepage
Have you heard of a Japanese superhero called “Ultraman?” That character is HUGE! In Japan, mentioning the name Ultraman is probably the equivalent of mentioning Superman in the United States. Ikeda-san starred in the show “Kaette Kita Ultraman" aka "Return of Ultraman!”
He’s known in Hawaii for being Kikaida 01, but in Japan he’s also recognized as being an actor in many other shows, like Ultraman.
In Hawaii, people light up with excitement and joy when they meet the actor who played Kikaida 01. So it was cool to see that it was the same in Japan! The people of Japan also expressed that same excitement and joy when they met Ikeda-san. It was great to see eyes light up when he was introduced to people.
Ikeda Shunsuke appearance at Ala Moana Center/Shirokiya Source: JN Productions
Now onto the interview with this wonderful actor!
ACTOR SHUNSUKE IKEDA
AARON: What are some of your favorite movies?
IKEDA SHUNSUKE: I like Hollywood movies. I really enjoy the films of Steven Spielberg…like A.I.: Artificial Intelligence and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. I enjoy Steve Mcqueen movies…like Bullitt.
I also really like Harrison Ford (Indiana Jones) and Johnny Depp films…like the Pirates of the Caribbean series. I really dislike movies with too much CGI (computer graphic imagery), since it makes a movie feel fake.
24 DVD Box Set Source: Amazon.com
AARON: What are some of your favorite TV shows?
IKEDA-SAN: Documentaries. And movies made for television…like "24" and "Prison Break."
AARON: What kind of music do you enjoy listening to?
IKEDA-SAN: I LOVE Hawaiian music and Jazz oldies. I like to listen to Hawaiian music everyday!
AARON: What are your favorite foods?
IKEDA-SAN: I enjoy… 1. Fried chicken 2. Cake 3. Ramen
AARON: What do you enjoy about Hawaii?
IKEDA-SAN: Hawaii's natural beauty, especially the ocean. I love the pure-hearted people of Hawaii.
AARON: What would you recommend for people to do if they visit your hometown?
IKEDA-SAN: I live 5 minutes away from the Tama River. Across the river is Tsuburaya Productions and the Toho Movie Studios, which is near Seijo Gakuen (a well-known, high-class residential area). I would recommend visiting Tsuburaya Productions if you are in town.
AARON: What would be a dream project of yours?
IKEDA-SAN: 1) I would like to do a Tokusatsu (Japanese Superhero) series in Hawaii with young people and actors. 2) A serious drama based in Hawaii such as "Father Knows Best" and "Route 66"…which were popular in the 60's.
Ikeda Shunsuke (left) at HMV Ultraman DVD launch Source: Ikeda Shunsuke Official Homepage
AARON: What is an experience that you will always cherish?
IKEDA-SAN: 1) My very first appearance in Hawaii, which was in 1975. 2) That I was chosen for "Kikaida 01" and "Kaette Kita Ultraman" aka “Return of Ultraman.”
Ikeda Shunsuke (left) and Mayor Tavares (right) May 19th, 2007- The Mayor of Maui declares “Kikaida Brothers Day” in Hawaii Source: JN Productions
Ban Daisuke (Kikaida) and Ikeda Shunsuke (Kikaida 01) with Proclamation Kikaida Brothers Day in Hawaii Source: JN Productions
AARON: What are some things that irritate or upset you?
IKEDA-SAN: Kikaida has existed in Hawaii for over 30 years, and hundreds of fans still come out to cheer us on. Yet, this Hawaii phenomenon is not widely known in Japan.
AARON: What advice would you give to aspiring artists?
IKEDA-SAN: I don't really have any advice.
Ikeda-san is a sincere gentleman and truly wonderful to talk to. It was such an incredible honor to meet with him in Japan and be able to do this special Q & A.
Kikaida 01 Source: JN Productions
By the way, to hear and see even more of Ikeda Shunsuke…
Check out the NEW Kikaida 01 DVD box set! It has a wonderful interview in which he talks at length about his exciting career in the Japanese film industry. For more information and links on Ikeda Shunsuke, please visit these cool websites!
PS. Please feel free to share all your thoughts and comments below!
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Ultracool! Thank you for the latest! And...just wondering... Which character would YOU dress up as at the Uzumasa Sengoku Matsuri?