"There is so much writing in English on Japanese cinema that can't be accepted at face value — not because the writers are careless, but because the differences in culture and language are just too intricate. When I see August Ragone's name on a piece of writing, it gives me permission to place my faith in it completely. Among Japanese fantasy film historians, he's the best working in English." —Tim Lucas, Video Watchdog


Friday, July 22, 2016

"SHIN GODZILLA" IS COMING TO THE AMERICAS!
Plus Listing of Other Countries Getting Stomped

さて、『シン•ゴジラ』をアメリカに来ています!


Funimation's tweet from Comic-Con International, yesterday.

After much speculation on who and when Toho's upcoming GODZILLA RESURGENCE would come to America, it was announced on Thursday at Comic-Con International in San Diego that the distribution rights were acquired by Dallas-based Funimation Entertainment. Instead of just North American rights (US and Canada), the agreement includes North America, Central America, South America and the Caribbean. They noted the film will begin NA screenings before 2017.

Officially, Funimation noted that the Hideaki Anno's monster movie will be distributed under the title SHIN GODZILLA, dropping Toho's overseas sales title, GODZILLA RESURGENCE. Now, as is customary in current distribution deals, the 31st Big G film will be theatrically distributed by Funimation Films, with the agreement also including home entertainment, video on demand and broadcast rights for all of the Americas. These will follow the initial theatrical releases.

In a press release issued today, Gen Fukunaga, the CEO and President of Funimation said, "Funimation is extremely pleased to be working with Toho to bring SHIN GODZILLA to audiences across the Americas." While not specified at this early juncture, it's unknown whether these screenings will be English Subtitled or English Dubbed.

Following up on my earlier story on Toho's press conference, in which SHIN GODZILLA was sold to 100 countries and territories, daily Nikkan Sports, published a map of the localities in question, and listing all of the countries the film has been sold to, so far. Then, I compiled a list of these countries and territories, but have excluded those already announced in the Funimation Films deal, since it would be redundant and self-evident. I've broken them up by region:

EUROPE: Ireland, Scotland, England, The Netherlands, Germany, Switzerland, Spain, and Belgium.

AFRICA: Mauritania, Western Sahara, Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Chad, Sudan, Egypt, South Sudan, Eritrea, Djibouti, Ethiopia, and Somalia.

MIDDLE EAST: Israel, Beirut, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Afghanistan, and Pakistan.

ASIA: India, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, Hong Kong, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Vietnam, Cambodia, Hainan, Taiwan, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, East Timor, New Guinea, The Philipines, and South Korea.

OCEANIA: Papua New Guinea and Australia.

Please keep in mind that this list is not "final" by any means, as more countries and territories are likely to follow, such as France and Italy. Stay tuned to this blog for further news on GODZILLA RESURGENCE as it develops! Check out the official website (Japanese only).

Here are my previous reports on GODZILLA RESURGENCE:
July 20, 2016: "Godzilla Resurgence" to Hit 100 Countries
July 18, 2016: New Theatrical Trailer for "Shin Godzilla"
April 28, 2016: "Shin Godzilla" Stationary Maquette No. 1
April 16, 2016: Bandai's Quartet of "Shin Godzilla" Sofubi
April 14, 2016: Behold! First "Shin Godzilla" Retail Figure
April 13, 2016: Toho's Upcoming "Shin Godzilla" Revealed
January 3, 2016: Toho's New "Godzilla Resurgence" Exposed
December 11, 2015: Meet the"Godzilla Resurgence" Composer
December 10, 2015: The "Godzilla Resurgence" English Poster!
December 9, 2015: Japanese Press Reveals Shin Godzilla's Size
December 9, 2015: Scoop! Teaser for "Godzilla Resurgence"
December 9, 2015: Here's Your Big G in "Godzilla Resurgence"!
November 12, 2015: "Shin Godzilla" Promo Reel Screens at AFM!"
September 22, 2015: Toho Announces Three Principal Cast Members!
September 6, 2015: Shooting Begins on Toho's "Godzilla 2016"!
August 1, 2015: Did These Men Design Toho's New Big G?
April 1, 2015: The Directors of "Godzilla 2016" Speak!
March 31, 2015: "Evangelion" Creator Helms New "Godzilla"!
December 7, 2014: The "Japanese Godzilla" Will Rise Again!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

"GODZILLA RESURGENCE" TO HIT 100 COUNTRIES
Toho's Greatest Global Distribution of All Time

シン・ゴジラ、史上最大規模100の国と地域で上映


Anno and the cast at the press conference. Photo: Sports Hoichi

With Hideaki Anno's GODZILLA RESURGENCE less than ten days from release, Toho held a new press conference on the film earlier today in Tokyo. On stage were Director Anno, producer Akihiro Yamauchi, and the film's three leads, Hiromi Hasegawa, Yutaka Takenouchi, and Satomi Ishihara. RESURGENCE has been sold to 100 territories across the globe as of July 19th, with more pending. Conversely, 12 years ago, GODZILLA FINAL WARS was sold to 67 territories, worldwide.

Toho announced at the press conference that the film will open in Taiwan on August 12, the Philippines on August 24, Hong Kong and Macao on August 25, and Thailand on September 8th. Toho said that after 12 years since the last production, this new Japanese-made Godzilla is likely to cause a whirlwind overseas, as RESURGENCE is released throughout Asia, Africa, Europe, and North America. Yes, inside sources say a NA release may be announced shortly.

No further dates or territories were announced, but stay tuned to this blog for further news on GODZILLA RESURGENCE as it develops! Check out the official website (Japanese only): shin-godzilla.jp

Here are my previous reports on GODZILLA RESURGENCE:
July 18, 2016: New Theatrical Trailer for "Shin Godzilla"
April 28, 2016: "Shin Godzilla" Stationary Maquette No. 1
April 16, 2016: Bandai's Quartet of "Shin Godzilla" Sofubi
April 14, 2016: Behold! First "Shin Godzilla" Retail Figure
April 13, 2016: Toho's Upcoming "Shin Godzilla" Revealed
January 3, 2016: Toho's New "Godzilla Resurgence" Exposed
December 11, 2015: Meet the"Godzilla Resurgence" Composer
December 10, 2015: The "Godzilla Resurgence" English Poster!
December 9, 2015: Japanese Press Reveals Shin Godzilla's Size
December 9, 2015: Scoop! Teaser for "Godzilla Resurgence"
December 9, 2015: Here's Your Big G in "Godzilla Resurgence"!
November 12, 2015: "Shin Godzilla" Promo Reel Screens at AFM!"
September 22, 2015: Toho Announces Three Principal Cast Members!
September 6, 2015: Shooting Begins on Toho's "Godzilla 2016"!
August 1, 2015: Did These Men Design Toho's New Big G?
April 1, 2015: The Directors of "Godzilla 2016" Speak!
March 31, 2015: "Evangelion" Creator Helms New "Godzilla"!
December 7, 2014: The "Japanese Godzilla" Will Rise Again!

Monday, July 18, 2016

NEW THEATRICAL TRAILER FOR "SHIN GODZILLA"
2nd Theatrical Trailer Teases Purple Death Ray!

新しい『シン・ゴジラ』予告2が上陸!


From the new, impressive trailer for GODZILLA RESURGENCE.

This past weekend, Toho released the first round of TV Spots for Hideaki Anno's upcoming feature film, GODZILLA RESURGENCE (Shin Gojira), which was also uploaded online. Then, on July 18th at 3:00 PM (Japan Time), the studio's YouTube account, Toho Movie Channel, posted the second and final, full-length theatrical trailer for the movie opening July 29th.


Three 15 Second TV Spots for GODZILLA RESURGENCE.

This new trailer features mostly all-new shots, scenes of destruction, some impressive visuals, and a completely new track of Shiro Sagisu's score, different from all of the previous trailers. Strictly for hardcore G-Nerds, the trailer — at the very end — reveals the Big G's signature radioactive death breath power-up, which looks a princely purple... So, what are you waiting for? Watch it, now:


2nd Full-length theatrical trailer for GODZILLA RESURGENCE.

Stay tuned to this blog for further news on GODZILLA RESURGENCE as it develops! Check out the official website (Japanese only): shin-godzilla.jp

Here are my previous reports on GODZILLA RESURGENCE:
April 28, 2016: "Shin Godzilla" Stationary Maquette No. 1
April 16, 2016: Bandai's Quartet of "Shin Godzilla" Sofubi
April 14, 2016: Behold! First "Shin Godzilla" Retail Figure
April 13, 2016: Toho's Upcoming "Shin Godzilla" Revealed
January 3, 2016: Toho's New "Godzilla Resurgence" Exposed
December 11, 2015: Meet the"Godzilla Resurgence" Composer
December 10, 2015: The "Godzilla Resurgence" English Poster!
December 9, 2015: Japanese Press Reveals Shin Godzilla's Size
December 9, 2015: Scoop! Teaser for "Godzilla Resurgence"
December 9, 2015: Here's Your Big G in "Godzilla Resurgence"!
November 12, 2015: "Shin Godzilla" Promo Reel Screens at AFM!"
September 22, 2015: Toho Announces Three Principal Cast Members!
September 6, 2015: Shooting Begins on Toho's "Godzilla 2016"!
August 1, 2015: Did These Men Design Toho's New Big G?
April 1, 2015: The Directors of "Godzilla 2016" Speak!
March 31, 2015: "Evangelion" Creator Helms New "Godzilla"!
December 7, 2014: The "Japanese Godzilla" Will Rise Again!

Monday, July 11, 2016

REST IN PEACE: YUMI ITO OF "THE PEANUTS"
APRIL 1, 1941 - MAY 18, 2016

ザ•ピーナッツの伊藤ユミさん死去


Yumi (right) and Emi from the Weekly Yomiuri, September 9, 1972.

The sad news was just released that the former singer has now been reunited with her twin sister Emi, who passed away four years ago. Japanese media traditionally respects the privacy of the families of celebrities when it comes to their passing, so the media withheld this from the public until the family agreed to make a formal statement, and was issued by a representative of Watanabe Productions, their former management company.


One of their first magazine covers, Mainichi Graphic (June 28, 1959).

Yumi Ito (born Tsukiko Ito) was the melodic vocalist of The Peanuts, while Emi, held down the harmonies. When they started out, the sisters sang the melodies together, until they signed with Watanabe Productions. Even though they were technically identical, the twins could be readily told apart as Emi had distinctive, trademark moles by her eyes. During their early career, Yumi would have false moles applied, so they would appear more identical.


Their debut 45 Single, "Kawaii Hana", released April 1959.

From the years 1959 through 1975, they were known as the world-famous pop duo, "The Peanuts". Discovered as "The Ito Sisters" in a Nagoya restaurant, they released their first hit single, "Kawaii Hana" (Pretty Flower) in April 1959, a lyrical version of Sidney Bechet's "Petite Fleur". Between that July and December, they appeared in five films for as many studios, debuting in THE WONDERFUL AGE OF 19 for Shochiku and BASTARDS IN A CAGE for Toho.


The original Single for "The Daughters of Infant", issued in 1961.

While they are perhaps best known in the States for Toho's spectacle, MOTHRA (1961), by the time Ishiro Honda's film went into production, The Peanuts were already veterans of seventeen feature films, two weekly television variety shows, and a weekly radio show. They would reprise their role as the "Little Beauties" for MOTHRA VS. GODZILLA and THE GREATEST BATTLE ON EARTH, both released in 1964. Further appearances of the "Little Beauties" employed pale substitutes.


First issue of "The Song of Mothra"/"The Daughters of Infant", 1978.

While the song, "The Daughters of Infant", was the first Single release in conjunction with MOTHRA, back in late 1961, it wasn't the original recording from the movie. The Single was arranged and conducted by Hiroshi Miyagawa, their constant collaborator, who went on to world fame for his music to the Space Battleship Yamato franchise. Both of the songs from the film, by Yuji Koseki, weren't issued on any release until 1978 — three years after The Peanuts retired.


With the cast of "Rawhide" (Brinegar, Fleming, and Eastwood), 1962.

The Peanuts were my first introduction to Japanese pop music, which was only reinforced by my Aunt Camille, who gifted me a big stack of colored wax of early '60s J-Pop, bought while she and her husband were stationed in Japan. She saw my obsession with Japan and made it grow with these 45 Singles. But, The Peanuts are magic, their vocal harmonies during the final curtain in MOTHRA, still raises goosebumps on me to this day. Now, I can't believe they're gone.


Yumi (left) and Emi in Daiei's musical LEAPING LADY DAIMYO, 1961.

After retiring from singing in 1975, Yumi turned her career towards another passion: fashion design. And while the women whose voices sang, beautiful, wondrous melodies and harmonies, have left us to be joined together in the next world, those of us left behind still hold now the incredible gift of their lovely voices recorded for all and our posterity to come. Yumi Ito was 75 years old.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

"THE BIRTH OF ULTRAMAN": JULY 10, 1966
The Episode of ULTRAMAN You Never Saw!

お祝いウルトラマン前夜祭『ウルトラマン誕生』とは


The completed final draft script for the half-hour preview special.

Before the scheduled premiere of ULTRAMAN on July 17, 1966, the TBS network proposed to bump up the broadcast date of the first episode ("Ultra Operation: No. 1") a week early, since the rival Fuji Television network were debuting their own color kaiju series on July 4th: AMBASSADOR MAGMA (which would beat Tsuburaya Productions’ show to the airwaves by nearly two weeks).

Eiji Tsuburaya told TBS that there would be no way to get the first episode on-air by the 10th, since the episodes were being shot out of sequential order and ULTRA Q was set to air its final episode on July 10th. Unfortunately, since it featured nary a monster, TBS already decided to pull the final episode of ULTRA Q, "Open Up!" (eventually broadcast in rerun on December 14, 1967).

So, at the beginning of June, TBS began considering options to cover the gap and give the Tsuburaya Productions the time needed to finish the premiere episode of ULTRAMAN. Then, after meetings between the network, Tsuburaya, and the sponsor, Takeda Pharmaceuticals, it was decided to produce a live, nationwide relay broadcast on July 10th and introduce Ultraman to the Japanese public.

Tentatively titled the "Ultraman Eve Festival", TBS Producer Takashi Kakoi, director Akio Jissoji (of "Modern Leaders"-fame), and writer Yuzo Higuchi (who was in charge of production on Ultraman from the TBS side), were appointed to supervise this live television special. The producers chose Tokyo’s Suginami Public Hall to host this television event.

Through a number of brainstorming sessions, Kinjo completed a preliminary teleplay, in which the three characters from ULTRA Q would appear on stage to bid their farewells to the audience. They planned to have actor Koji Ishizaka (Ultra Q's narrator) and popular singer Judy Ong appear as hosts, with the vocal group, The Bony Jacks, as the chorus singers for the special.

Tetsuo Kinjo wrote a revised second draft from the first, entitled "Ultraman: A Children’s Jamboree". Finally, after a third draft, dropping most of the early ideas (due to scheduling conflicts), the script was completed with the final title, "The Birth of Ultraman: An Ultraman Premiere Celebration". This new version, however, was more akin to a strange, high school production.

"Doctor Monster" devises a machine to bring back the monsters from ULTRA Q. kaiju are shuttled back and forth, then revolt, and joined by creatures appearing in ULTRAMAN. Anarchy ensues and Doctor Monster calls in the Science Investigation Agency. Even Eiji Tsuburaya was on hand, sitting in the audience like everyone else, before making his on-stage appearance with the cast of the new show.

While this was something of a mess, it served its purpose. The first episode of ULTRAMAN was delivered to TBS on July 13th, only four days before the initial broadcast, so it can be said that the decision to produce "The Birth of Ultraman" was a success, promoting the start of the series and introducing the characters of ULTRAMAN to the Japanese public, and striking back at Fuji Television.

ULTRAMAN's premiere the following Sunday, was a colossal success, and 50 years later, Ultraman kith and kin are still going strong as Japan’s foremost superhero — here's to another 50 years!

Now, watch the entire kinescope-captured special (no subtitles):


(By the way, Fuji Television's Ambassador Magma was later exported and broadcast in the US as The Space Giants.)

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, EIJI TSUBURAYA!
JULY 10, 1901 - JANUARY 25, 1970

お誕生日おめでとう、円谷英二様!


Eiji Tsuburaya, the Father of Ultraman was born 115 years ago!

The "Father of Japanese Special Visual Effects" was born on July 10, 1901 as Eiichi Tsumuraya in Sukagawa, Fukushima (according to the family register). As with his life, even his date of birth is steeped in legend — official sources have often listed that Eiji Tsuburaya was born on July 7th — a date of fortune in the tradition of Tanabata (meaning "Seven Evenings"), a Japanese star festival derived from the celebration of ancestors, know as Obon. Celebrated on July 7th or August 7th, Tanabata commemorates the meeting of Orihime (Vega) and Hikoboshi (Altair).

Tanabata originated from the Chinese Festival to Plead for Skills (Oi Xi), which came to Japan in the Heian Period (795-1192), and spread to the public during the Edo Period (1603-1867), where it was then combined with Obon traditions. From the Edo Period, girls wished for better sewing and craftsmanship skills, while boys wished for better calligraphy skills, by writing wishes on strips of tanzaku paper, which were hung on bamboo trees. This tradition is still practiced today.

A Japanese claiming they were born on the Tanabata, was akin to an American saying they were born on Independence Day. So, even if Eiji Tsuburaya was not born on July 7th, the myth of being born on the Tanabata certainly was apt, because Tsuburaya would become famous for his multiple artistic and practical skills, which he had in spades — and eventually, the name Tsuburaya would become world-renown with the production of GODZILLA (1954).

For more on the Old Man, order your copy of "Eiji Tsuburaya: Master of Monsters" (Chronicle Books), today!

Saturday, July 9, 2016

TAMASHII LAB'S SCIENCE PATROL "SUPERGUN"!
Screen-Accurate Replica from Ultraman, 1966

Tamashii Labの「科学特捜隊光線銃 スーパーガン」も初お披露目!


First reveal teased by Bandai Collectors' Twitter account on July 8th.

Tamashii Nations, part of Bandai's Collectors Division, which has had great success with such adult-aimed products in the Tamashii Nations line, has launched a new division, announced at this very weekend's "Ultraman Day in the Suginami Public Hall" (where the "Ultraman is Born" premiere pre-show was held a half-century ago), under the moniker: Tamashii Lab.


Tamashii Lab's unveiling of the upcoming Science Patrol Supergun!

The first project out of their docket was unveiled at the "Ultraman Day" event, the trusty sidearm of the Science Investigation Agency, the "Supergun"! In the photos taken by fans attending the event, and Bandai Collector's Twitter account, this screen-accurate edition of the Supergun will come with two attachments seen in the series: Anti-Gravity Shell and the Balloon Marker.


Tamashii Lab's replica of the Supergun with special attachments.

With a number of garage kits and cottage industry outfits producing screen-accurate versions of the Supergun over the last few years (most out of resin, fiberglass, polystone, and even metal), and with various attachments, Tamashii Lab's over-the-counter product will most likely be the definitive (and perhaps cheaper) version. Although they'd better make the rest of the attachments, too.


Tamashii Lab's Special Attachments for their pending Supergun.

According to the freshman Tamashii Lab's website, "Based on years of advanced modeling techniques that Collectors Division has acquired, Bandai also adds its know-how to develop "most wanted items" from live action productions, exhaustively researched down to the most minute detail.


Original metal Supergun prop with all of the paint details worn off.

"And each and every time, the concepts will also change. Sometimes using the latest technology, and sometimes employing traditional methods. We aim to make products that will prove more surprising than the real thing."


Previous polystone version issued by Stealth Tanaka and A-Toys.

As of this writing, the release date for Tamashii Lab's Supergun was announced for December 2016, with the manufacturer's suggested retail price set at ¥12960 ($122 USD). This new Supergun will feature sound effects of the ray emitter, as well as the cries of 40 monsters from the show, and sound effects activated by the attachments. Stay tuned for more information as it develops!


Demo video featuring actor Susumu Kurobe who played Hayata!

Friday, July 8, 2016

CRUNCHYROLL HAS PREMIERED "ULTRAMAN ORB"
50th Anniversary Ultra Series Is Now Streaming!

新シリーズ『ウルトラマンオーブ』が日本と米国に放送スタート!


Here's the main English image art for the all-new ULTRAMAN ORB.

Crunchyroll, the mighty anime streaming service, which announced its aim to expand into more live action titles (or tokusatsu, the term for special effects productions), has already unleashed a plethora of Ultraman upon the US, Europe, and Latin America over the last two years. And on July 8th at 7:00 pm PDT, will begin simulcasting the latest series, ULTRAMAN ORB, in a tandem with the series' premiere on Japanese television for the 50th Anniversary of the franchise.


Orb's Spacium-Zephyrion form combines Ultraman & Ultraman Tiga.

Bowing on July 9th in Japan, ULTRAMAN ORB, produced by Tsuburaya Productions and broadcast on TV Tokyo, will be the first of the recent "Ultra Series" to not produced under the "Ultraman Retsuden" banner. Returning is director Kiyotaka Taguchi (Ultraman X), who promised in an Uchusen magazine interview, that the new series would return the franchise's roots and the themes of traveling a noble path, while still being a fun story. ORB is slated to run 25 episodes.


The Hurricane-Slash form combines Ultraman Jack & Ultraman Zero.

Once upon a time, the Earth was saved from total destruction when Ultraman and Ultraman Tiga sealed away a horde of demonic beasts. Since childhood, Naomi Yumeno, has sensed these terrible monsters, and as a young woman launches the SSP investigation site. When she is threatened by one of the kaiju, and is saved by Gai Kurenai, who is in reality the warrior known as Ultraman Orb! But, a mysterious, evil figure is lurking in the shadows to challenge Orb...


The Burn-Mite form combines Ultraman Taro & Ultraman Mebius.

Be sure start watching ULTRAMAN ORB tonight on Crunchyroll at 7:00 pm Pacific Daylight Time, and then join them each and every week for this special simulcast presentation of the latest in the Ultraman franchise — available worldwide (excluding Asia) — same Ultra Time, same Ultra Channel!

Check out the official Ultraman Orb wesbite (Japanese only), here.

Monday, July 4, 2016

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SATOSHI "ULTRAMAN" FURUYA!
JULY 5, 1943

お誕生日おめでとう、古谷敏!ウルトラマンとアマギ隊員よ永遠に!


At a fit 73, Satoshi "Bin" Furuya still has the right "Ultra Stuff"!

On the eve of the 50th Anniversary of the seminal ULTRAMAN series, read more about the man who played the red and silver hero from the stars, here! This July 15th-17th, Mr. Furuya will be appearing at G-Fest XXIII in Chicago, along with his co-star Hiroko Sakurai, who played Akiko Fuji. If you're a fan, its your duty to come by and wish Mr. Ultraman a very happy ultra birthday!

Read about my thoughts on Mr. Furuya, here.

Friday, July 1, 2016

"ULTRAMAN" TURNS 50 THIS MONTH: JULY 2016!
From "Weekly TV Guide" #199, June 24, 1966

お祝い『ウルトラマン』放送50周年記念


"TV Guide" full-page color preview (Tokyo News Service, Ltd.).

Bowing on Japan's TBS television network on July 17, 1966, Tsuburaya Productions' ULTRAMAN was not only an instant and colossal success at home, but also abroad, as it was syndicated to North America and Latin American countries through United Artists Television. Creating generations of fans across the globe, with new incarnations appearing on television and cinema screens, as well as the originals, thrilling both old and new, alike.

As a five year old, I was captivated by those daily doses of ultra kaiju action which flooded into my living room every weekday, and left an permanent mark upon my young psyche. A malady from which I never recovered. Despite vanishing from local airwaves, this wondrous sci-fi action series remained in my mind. In those days, there was little or no merchandise to be found in the US, until a fateful school field trip to San Francisco's Japantown changed everything.

Toys, books, magazines, records, and more were laid before me in now-defunct shops such as Goshado, Nichibei Bussan, and Mikado. Not only was there an entire Ultra Family, an entirely new world superheroes and monsters flooded into my consciousness, and so my fate was sealed. It was not long afterwards that ULTRAMAN returned to Northern California television, and this time, we would not be separated ever again.

While I live and breathe the vast pantheon of Japanese superheroes and kaiju, both great and small, my favorite series and my eternally favorite savior from the stars will always be the original Ultraman — protector of the world! In honor of this anniversary,  I will be posting a number of Ultraman-related pieces all month, so happy anniversary to ULTRAMAN, one of the greatest television series of all time! And remember, it's all your fault (just kidding).

You can stream all 39 episodes of the original, uncut ULTRAMAN, with English Subtitles, for free at Shout Factory TV!

Friday, May 20, 2016

RAGONE HOSTS "SUPER SENTAI SPECTACULAR" 2!
Shout Factory Marathon Streaming on May 21st

DISCOVER THE SECRET ORIGIN OF THE "POWER RANGERS"!


Dynamic ad for Shout! Facotry TV's new Super Sentai Spectacular!

For our fourth marathon with Shout! Factory TV, I'll be back hosting a three-hour streaming event featuring the original Japanese episodes of FIVE STAR TASK FORCE: DAIRANGER (1993), which will be blasting out onto digital screens across the web this Saturday, May 21, 2016 at 9:00 am Pacific/Noon Eastern at Shout Factory TV — for free!

This new marathon will feature the first seven episodes from one the original series that inspired the "Power Rangers", in Japanese with English subtitles. After fans have watched these first episodes during the "Super Sentai Spectacular", immediately following, all 50 episodes of DAIRANGER will become available on Shout! Factory TV.

As a returning host, I'll discuss the history of Super Sentai, setting the context as a long-time fan. My first experience with Super Sentai was watching the one that started it all: SECRET TASK FORCE: GORANGER in 1976 through 1977 on Sacramento's KMUV-31, San Francisco's KEMO-20 and Honolulu's KIKU-13. So, I'm a real OF (Original Fan).

As with our previous marathons, this will also be interactive: Join in on the conversation with myself and other Super Sentai fans, using the hashtag #Dairanger while you watch on TwitterFacebook, and on Pluto TV (Channel 515), or get the Pluto TV app for tablet and TV devices (Roku, Amazon Fire, Fire TV Stick, Android, Chromecast, and Apple Airplay), mobile (iOS, Android and Amazon), and on the web.

So, what's FIVE STAR TASK FORCE: DAIRANGER about?



The three Tribes of the Daos Empire — Shura, Dai and Gorma — were peaceful until the Gorma set out to conquer the planet, launching a magical war between the Gorma and Dai Tribes that lasted for 5,000 years. In the end, both civilizations were lost… until now. The evil Gorma have returned. Now, it’s up to Master Kaku to assemble a team of kids with high levels of Qi to become the protectors of the Earth known as the Dairangers!

Schedule of Episodes:*
09:05 am – L-e-e-et’s Tenshin!!!
09:30 am – I-i-i-it’s Qi-Power!!!
10:00 am – Your Souls, Please!
10:25 am – We’re Naïve!
10:55 am – The Jewels Have Come!
11:25 am – Wind, Cut Through!
11:50 am – Traito-o-or!

*Times listed are Pacific time, approximate and subject to change.

Charge up your Aura Changers, prepare to Qi Power Changeover, and join us for the "Super Sentai Spectacular" on Saturday, May 21st!

Thursday, May 19, 2016

KRAKEN RELEASING "THE RETURN OF GODZILLA"
First Time On US Home Video September 13th!

『ゴジラ』(1984)は米国のDVD&BLU-RAYに上陸!


The original, uncut Japanese original finally coming to US video!

Today, Houston-based Kraken Releasing (a label of Section23 Films, formerly ADV Films), having previously issued GODZILLA VS. THE SEA MONSTER (1966), GODZILLA VS. HEDORAH (1971) and GODZILLA VS. GIGAN (1972), announced their forthcoming release of THE RETURN OF GODZILLA (1984) for the first time ever on home video in North America this coming September 13th — and will be available in both DVD and Blu-ray editions!

While Koji Hashimoto's film was "Americanized" as GODZILLA 1985 by New World Pictures, featuring Raymond Burr reprising his role from GODZILLA, KING OF THE MONSTERS (1956), opening in the summer of 1985 at theaters nationwide (followed by record home video sales), the original, uncut Japanese version of Hashimoto's 1984 version has never been issued on home video in the US.

Kraken's press release mentions, but does not name GODZILLA 1985, which has been embroiled in an on-going dispute between Michigan-based home video label, Anchor Bay, who grandfathered the rights to the localization, and Toho International, which disputes those rights. Previously, Anchor Bay released that version on VHS, but subsequent plans for DVD and Blu-ray have been stymied by Toho.

In Kraken's press release, GODZILLA 1985 is downplayed as a "highly edited version that cut over twenty minutes of original footage and effects, changed key plot points and altered the dark dramatic tone and narrative by inserting additional scenes and humor in an attempt to 'Americanize' the film." And without addressing it directly, intimate that this version will not be included in their release.

Conversely, Kraken also trumpets their release with feature "both the original Japanese version with English subtitles, as well as an English dubbed version", which might lead one to believe that there are two, separate versions of the film in this release; one being the original Japanese theatrical release, simply titled GODZILLA, while the other being the export version, titled THE RETURN OF GODZILLA.

So, this is a case of six of one, a half dozen of the other. On the one hand, we finally have an official release of Hashimoto's uncut 1984 revival, including Toho's English dub commissioned for overseas sales; while on the other, we lose the R.J. Kizer Americanization, which was completely a product of the self-effacing, self-referential low-budget exploitation sensibilities of the '80s, which hasn't aged well.

And while both versions have been illusive on the home video front over the years, perhaps its best that Hashimoto's uncut original will finally have its time to shine and be evaluated outside of the shadow of it's American counterpart — for better or worse — and be allowed to stand on its own. It's time for THE RETURN OF GODZILLA.

Monday, May 16, 2016

ACE OF SPACE! "ULTRAMAN ACE" BLU-RAY BOX
Standard & Editions Dropping September 27th!

待望の『ウルトラマンA』がBLU-RAY BOXとなって登場します!


Jacket design for the latest HD 2.0 Remaster of the Ultra Series!

On September 27th, Tsuburaya Productions and Bandai Visual will be issuing the latest in their "HD Remaster 2.0" roster with ULTRAMAN ACE (1972) for the Japanese market in two editions. ULTRAMAN ACE was the fifth in the long running "Ultra Series", starting in 1966 with ULTRA Q, and the fourth featuring a titular "Ultraman" character.


Slipcase for the Blu-ray box of the 5th Ultra Series from 1972!

"Under the slogan, 'The Ultra Bottom Line: All-Out War', ULTRAMAN ACE made revolutionary turns, with Seiji Hokuto (Keiji Takamine) and Yuko Minami (Mitsuko Hoshi) merging into a singular Ultra Hero, the solidarity of the 'Ultra Brothers', and a powerful leader in the 'Father of Ultra', creating a show with great appeal."


Ultra Rings included with Special Edition (actual product may differ).

ULTRAMAN ACE is an exciting series that captures the transition from the classic giant monster scenario into the "Henshin Heroes" boom, exemplified by Kamen Rider. Showcasing bizarre creatures, colorful action, as well as a man and a woman forming a singular superhero, ULTRAMAN ACE is among the best of the '70s Ultra Series!

STANDARD EDITION
52 half-hour episodes/1319 minutes
9 Discs (All Region)/Linear PCM (Stereo/Mono)
AVC/BD50G/1080p HD/4:3
Subtitles: Japanese
MSRP ¥29800 ($273.70 USD)

SPECIAL EDITION: Amazon Japan Exclusive (First Printing)
52 half-hour episodes/1319 minutes + 60 min. (Bonus Disc)
10 Discs (All Region)/Linear PCM (Stereo/Mono)
AVC/BD50G/1080p HD/4:3
Subtitles: Japanese
Bonus Disc (Staff & Cast interviews, etc.)
Replica "Ultra Rings" pair set
Special 78-page Booklet
MSRP ¥49800 ($457.38 USD)