Friday, December 10, 2010

Ultraman Zero The Movie

I saw the latest Ultraman movie at a press screening over at Shochiku last night; a great demonstration of how infrequently I update my blog seeing that my coverage of last year's movie is only a few posts down this page!

Having not followed any of the hype surrounding this year's movie, I went in with few expectations and very limited knowledge of what the movie was about. In the age of internet spoilers, and simply due to the work that I do, it's very rare that I get to see an Ultraman film in this way for the first time. It's definitely a much nicer experience!

Overall I was pleased with the film. Rather than rehashing what we saw in last year's movie, it draws upon it's strengths and takes it to new places. The shift from straight action to fantasy adventure is a welcome one, and while I was expecting to miss Mike Verta's howling score from last year, Kenji Kawai's music perfectly compliments the fantasy atmosphere of this year's venture.

If you're a fan of ULTRAMAN NEXUS like myself, there are also a couple of fun surprises in this film for you! Perhaps no surprise considering this film was penned and directed by former NEXUS director Yuichi Abe.

I'm currently working on translating the official press notes into English, which will be published on SciFi Japan later today (in which we will also announce the official English title of the movie). My proper review of the film will follow as soon as I've had enough coffee to drag myself back to the keyboard!

(Picture: Movie press book and flyer)

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Mada ikiteiru

It would seem I am still alive. I am sure you are all relieved.

My visa expires at the end of September, but I'm hoping to renew it for another six months and continue studying here. But the decision is naturally in the hands of Japanese immigration... so fingers crossed!

Brad Warner was in Japan last month, so we went out with friends Norman England, Takeshi Yagi, and Ultraman designer Hiroshi Maruyama. Me and Brad had emailed each other in the past, and I'd read his first book "Hardcore Zen" several years ago, but this was the first time we were both in Japan at the same time to be able to meet properly. A very cool punk rocker who later worked for Tsuburaya Productions on Ultraman, who is now a Buddist monk leading the Dogen Sangha International.

After dinner we all found the coolest Showa-style bar littered with vintage toys and posters, playing Japanese pop music from the 80s. This place was freaky. I want to go back soon! During the evening, Muruyama also designed Brad his very own Godzilla.

Last night I went to a drinking party in Shinjuku with friends Takeshi Yagi, Shusuke Kaneko (director of GAMERA and the DEATH NOTE films) and Jiro Kaneko (writer on MAX and SEVEN X). I was also happy to meet for the first time actress Mitsuko Hoshi (who played Yuko in 1972's ULTRAMAN ACE) and her daughter Shiko (who appeared in Yagi's SUPER 8 ULTRA BROTHERS movie), as well as Ultraman writers Kiyoto Takeuchi and Takurou Fukuda.

I hadn't seen Shusuke or Jiro since last year, so it was great fun to catch up. I'm a big fan of Fukuda's ULTRASEVEN X episode "Hopeless", so we talked about this for a while, and the episode's comparison of the "hopeless" to the homeless of Japan.

Unfortunately I got very drunk towards the end of the evening, and am pretty sure I said some dumb stuff. I can't even remember how many beers I drank. Hopefully I didn't embarrass myself too much!

Life continues...

Saturday, April 03, 2010

Long Overdue Update...

It's been almost four months since I last updated my blog. I would like to say it's because I've been busy, but in truth it's the reverse - I haven't much of interest to talk about.

Earlier in the week, I went to the FIAT CAFFE in Aoyama with Yagi-san. The name is quite literal - it's a club run by the car manufacturer. This was a fun night with a lot of great music and live performances (including the fabulous "Tokyo Panda"!) I also had the opportunity to meet Kuniaki Haishima for the first time, who was the music composer for the TV series ULTRAMAN MAX, KAMEN RIDER KABUTO and SH15UYA, among many others. I've always liked Haishima's music, particularly SH15UYA, so it was great fun to have a chance to talk to him. Haishima also performed on keyboard and served as host for the night.

(Haishima's song "Play" from the SH15UYA soundtrack)

I'm also currently in the middle a long and tedious process of getting a new apartment. For the last six months I've been living in a guest house in Chiba-ken which, while adequate, has a lot of drawbacks; nothing around the area, 40 minutes away from my school by train, sharing a kitchen and bathroom with about 30 other residents.

Me and my best friend Coline have found a nice place in Asakusa with two bedrooms, our own kicthen/dining, bathroom and even a balcony. The rent is also less than what we're both paying now. We visited the place on Thursday and will hopefully be signing the contracts this coming Monday. I'm just hoping no one else gets there first, as there are a lot of other people interested!

Last week, me and Coline were also scouted on the street to appear in a short segment for the TV show ZOOM IN!! SATURDAY for Nippon TV, which aired this morning. We were invited to have a free meal in a train-themed restaurant in Akihabara. We're students, and thus in no position to pass up free food, so we went along. For better or worse, all shots of me were eliminated from broadcast (although Coline did appear in a brief shot). This is probably a blessing really, as I later discovered most of this segment of the show is primarily about laughing at foreigners and the dumb things they say. But now the world will never see me talking into a toy train like a mobile phone (yes... glad I was cut.)