"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

Wednesday, May 20, 2020

I'VE GONE FISHING TO PONDER MY NEXT MOVE Now is the Time to Embrace the Winds...


Over the last year, 2018-2020, I decided to take a break on this blog, as it was coming to a crossroads of sorts. Between commissioned projects, work, and social life, there just didn't seem to really be enough time to devote to this blog. Perhaps, this is an opportunity for a change - a metamorphosis.

Increasingly, news from Japan started dominating all the content - which had to be verified, translated, cross-referenced, edited, and further expanded with detail and context for the benefit of the non-Japanese, English reader. Doing so would consume hours, giving me time for little else, especially pursuing what I wanted.

All of which was generally exhausting, as the exacting, nit-picking perfectionist, I am. The alternative, merely translating and posting press releases, as is, is not only the laziest form of online journalism, it's also a disservice to your readers. Why bother doing what every other access media monkey with a Wordpress page is doing?

There's more that could be digressed, but that would only amount to winds much better aimed at newly-hoisted sails of possibilities. So, here I am in 2020 - pandemic be damned - with innumerable choices in which to express my passions near and dear to my heart. A higher-profile, online presence is certainly key in this on-going voyage.

Another route along this expedition will most certainly berth physical publishing, including more books. Three have been sketched out for years - it's a matter of time and the very delicate management of those precious granules of sand. Most days, I receive compliments on my writing and/or my work, in general. It's gratifying and warm.

Nevertheless, I shouldn't rest on any laurels - despite the fact that I have been at this for the better part of four decades, an unbroken chain being peddled forward since I was a kid - not that there would be anything wrong with that. However, there are volumes more to be done - lots of ideas and projects to be realized.

This means moving forward, no matter the direction, but onward must I go. This doesn't mean the end of this blog. If anything, it will lead to a metamorphosis - whether that leads to a transformation or a rebirth, will all depend on where this voyage takes me on this journey across the present and into the future.

For that is where we will all spend the rest of our lives!

(In the meantime, you can find me active on Facebook and Twitter, which is enough to keep me busy, under my real name. Go figure.)

Tuesday, March 19, 2019


1975年: ハワイに『ゴジラ対ガイガン』に上陸 !

Ad run in the March 20, 1975 edition of the "Honolulu Star-Bulletin."

Remember the time we went to go see GODZILLA VS. GIGAN at the Toho Theater in Honolulu back in March 1975?" Western journalism of Japanese fantasy films in North America tends to emphasize the obvious theatrical "wide releases" by Mainland film distributors, major and minor.

In doing so, they are either unaware or dismissive of releases in Japanese-American movie theaters across the States - especially those in Hawaii - which were as legit as a grindhouse in Utah booking an AIP offering. There were Toho films booked into theaters in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, and Honolulu - months or years before a Stateside distributor.

Jun Fukuda's GODZILLA VS. GIGAN (1972) first opened in the US at the Toho Theater in Hololulu, Hawaii on March 19, 1975. Interestingly, the print booked was Toho's International English-dubbed version, as opposed to an English-subtitled print; likely to attract more children to the play dates due to matinee performances. So, this should count as the legit US premiere.

Some might argue that the Cinema Shares release was wider. While this was true, they never opened in more than a handful of cities at a time, over a long period - as there were only so many prints in circulation. While it played in some Southern states as early as the fall of 1977, following on the heels of "Godzilla vs. Megalon," other states didn't see the film until 1980.

Therefore, these Japanese theaters, and/or repertory houses, in larger urban centers (that includes Honolulu), were just as legit as any 42nd St. fleabag, suburban drive-in, or neighborhood theater in rural America. It's been long overdue to start looking at the bigger picture and to engage in some deep-dive microfiching through newspaper archives to find more. Or less.

Thursday, December 6, 2018


新番組『ウルトラマン ニュージェネレーションクロニクル』2019年1月5日にて放送開始!

Ultraman New Generation Chronicles Blog
The promotional poster for "Ultraman: New Generation Chronicles."

This all-new overview series will run condensations of popular episodes and movies from "Ultraman Ginga" (2013) through "Ultraman R/B" (2018), the latter is currently being broadcast. Each episode will also feature all-new segments, including last March's "Ultraman Geed" feature film, as well as an overview of all 25 episodes of "Ultraman R/B."

Serving as the show's Navigators are the classic character of Booska, the Friendly Beast (who was brought back to appear in "Ultraman R/B"), and Asakura Riku's best bud, Pega the Pegassan, voiced by Miina Tominaga and Megumi Han, respectively. Additionally, there will be guest appearances by actors such as Tatsuomi Hamada, who played the lead of Riku in "Ultraman Geed."

The next all-new feature film, "Ultraman R/B Select! The Kizuna Crystal," will be released nationwide in Japan on March 8th. "Ultraman: New Generation Chronicles" will air every Saturday from 9:00-9:30 am via TV Tokyo starting on January 5th. Produced, as always, by Tsuburaya Productions!

(Translation ©August Ragone, all rights reserved.)

Monday, November 19, 2018

ISHIRO HONDA CELEBRATED ON DC's "LEGENDS" "Godzilla" Director Played by Actor Eijiro Ozaki!

俳優 尾崎英二郎に『ゴジラ』の本多猪四郎監督で役演じる !

Eijiro Ozaki Blog Size
Ozaki plays director Ishiro Honda on "DC's Legends of Tomorrow."

Expat Japanese-born actor, Eijiro Ozaki (“Letters from Iwojima”), currently working in Hollywood, was recently cast as the famous director Ishiro Honda (“Godzilla”) for this season’s fifth episode of “DC’s Legends of Tomorrow,” which airs tonight, November 19th, on the CW network.

Ozaki told the press that he was extremely honored to receive this role, “I worked very hard on this part, so that this director of the Golden Age of Japanese Cinema, and the genealogy of the kaiju world, won’t be tarnished.”

Directed by Alexandra La Roche, “Tagumo Attacks!!!” is set in Japan right after the Pacific War and firmly entrenched in the theme of the “kaiju eiga” (Japanese Monster Movie). The story features a young Ishiro Honda (Ozaki) before he takes up the megaphone as the director of “Godzilla.”

“This drama, based on popular US comic book characters, with Japan and a Japanese character as the central plot, is a rare opportunity, so I felt very honored when I gained the role of Ishiro Honda,” said the actor who began his career in the 1990s and starred on Broadway in a production of “The Winds of God.”

Relocating to the States in 2007, Ozaki has been featured in the US productions of “Heroes,” “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D,” “Heroes/Reborn,” “Extant,” “Altered Carbon,” and “The Man in the High Castle.”

The actor took pride in maintaining accuracy with production team on the Japanese setting and elements, and his opinions were encouraged and respected. “Its necessary to have to courage to speak up, regarding the set dressings, props, art, costumes, etc., before the first day of shooting."

Ozaki emphasized, “Since the setting is Japan, and Japan will be reflected on screen, I spoke up; especially the scenes with the Japanese movie crew, and how they deal with shooting [Japanese movies].”

“In places where something felt incongruous, I consulted with the production staff, and also corrected and rewrote all of the Japanese signage and notations, as much my eye caught on set during the production,” Ozaki beamed.

“I would also like to draw attention to the period costumes of the 1950s, which were almost completely made from scratch, not to mention the color and design sensibilities from that era.”

“Legends of Tomorrow” Executive Producer Keto Shimizu, former Showrunner and Producer on “Arrow,” co-wrote this episode (with Ubah Mohammed), executed the research on the life of Ishiro Honda, and insisted on casting a native Japanese actor.

“During his scenes, Eijiro Ozaki tackled the role with amazing creativity and enthusiasm,” she said. “Especially where Honda recounts seeing the burnt-out ruins of Hiroshima after the war, is a touching and heartbreaking scene, expressed beautifully by his wonderful performance.”

Shimizu concluded by saying, “Our team hopes that Japanese fans will enjoy this episode, and that they’ll see we’ve done everything to invoke the spirit of the ‘kaiju eiga’ for present day.”

Excerpted and expanded from a Niconico News story, translation copyright ©August Ragone, all rights reserved.

Tuesday, April 24, 2018

THE FINAL CHAIYO VERDICT: TSUBURAYA WINS! Mr. Sampote's Most Bitter Tea Has Gone Cold...


Ultraman Tsuburaya Victory 2018

Ultraman and Seabozu celebrate Tsuburaya's victory over Chaiyo!

ULTRA SCOOP: Almost as if it were some kind of "Ultra Kismet," after this past weekend's Shout! Factory TV/Twitch marathon of the 1974 ULTRAMAN LEO series, in association with Tsuburaya Productions, whose business manager, Ryota Takahashi, staged a press conference on April 24th, in which the Tokyo-based company announced the final verdict in the recent legal showdown over the on-going "Ultraman" franchise licensing dispute had been rendered by a California Federal Court declaring an alleged contract held by a Thai businessman as null and void (read more from TPC's US attorney, here). Tsuburaya Productions summarily published an English press release on their own website at 10:00 pm PDT:

Masanobu Hara Attorney TMI Lawfirm
Corporate attorney Masanobu Hara at the press conference.


In the copyright-related lawsuit that took place in the United States between Tsuburaya Productions Co., Ltd. (“TPC”) and UM Corporation (“UMC”), the United States District Court, Central District of California, entered a final judgment on April 18, 2018 affirming the entire claim of TPC, including that the supposed agreement dated March 4, 1976, claimed by UMC as the basis for its alleged rights in “Ultraman,” was not an authentic contract.

In addition to confirming that TPC possesses all the rights to develop and expand any audio-visual or other creative works or products based on “Ultraman” characters or stories, the judgment required UMC to pay damages for its infringement of TPC’s rights.

1. Court and Date of Judgment Given
U.S. District Court, Central District of California
April 18, 2018 (local time)

2. Developments Thus Far
On May 18, 2015, UMC filed a lawsuit against TPC in the above court, seeking confirmation of its alleged rights to use the “Ultraman” series and characters created by TPC.  On September 11, 2015, TPC filed a countersuit against UMC and its licensees to confirm TPC’s exclusive worldwide rights in “Ultraman” and to recover damages from UMC and its licensees for their infringements.

In support of its assertion of rights, UMC claimed that there was an agreement signed in 1976 (the “Document”) by Noboru Tsuburaya, who was the representative of TPC, which gave Mr. Sompote Saengduenchai, a Thai businessman, rights to use and exploit “Ultraman” worldwide, excluding Japan, and that UMC had succeeded to Mr. Sompote’s alleged rights.

TPC asserted that the Document was a forgery, such that UMC had no rights to use “Ultraman,” and that UMC infringed TPC’s copyrights by doing so. Therefore, the principal point of dispute in this lawsuit was whether the Document was an authentic contract signed and sealed by Noboru Tsuburaya, or whether it was forged.

The dispute between TPC, UMC and Mr. Sompote has continued for more than 20 years.  The background of the dispute is as follows.

In 1996, the year after Noboru Tsuburaya passed away, Mr. Sompote suddenly presented to TPC a copy of the Document that was supposedly signed by Noboru Tsuburaya in 1976, and claimed that he possessed in perpetuity the right to use the “Ultraman” series worldwide excluding Japan. The Document presented by Mr. Sompote was a mere one-page document, and the original was not disclosed.

There were many misstatements in the Document regarding basic matters that would never have been made, had Noboru Tsuburaya actually prepared the Document, such as errors in TPC’s company name and the names and episode numbers of the works of the “Ultraman” series. In addition, specific licensing fees were not provided, and there were no provisions for matters that would certainly be provided in genuine licensing agreements.

Additionally, during the 20-year period between 1976, when the Document was supposedly prepared, and 1996, the year after Noboru Tsuburaya died when it was first presented to TPC, Mr. Sompote had not exercised his alleged rights based on the Document, nor referenced the existence of the Document even once. 

During this 20-year period, Mr. Sompote never developed a global business for the “Ultraman” series, as he later asserted he was entitled to do.

On the other hand, even after 1976, including while Noboru Tsuburaya was the representative of TPC, TPC made considerable investments to produce and globally distribute the “Ultraman” series and build an international brand. In response to those activities, neither Mr. Sompote nor anyone affiliated with him ever claimed the existence of the Document or Mr. Sompote’s alleged rights.

Based on such facts and others, TPC firmly believed that the Document was a forgery, and it has therefore been in dispute with Mr. Sompote and UMC. Whether or not the Document was forged has been disputed in the courts of Japan, Thailand and China in the past.

In Japan, TPC requested a handwriting analysis by the court regarding the Document, but an analysis was not conducted, and a decision that the Document was an authentic document was therefore rendered without a confirmation of the original Document being made.

In Thailand, handwriting analysis procedures were conducted, and, as a result thereof, the TPC’s claim of forgery was recognized and TPC won the lawsuit. In Thailand, the forgery of the Document was not only decided in a civil case, but also became a criminal case, and Mr. Sompote was convicted of forgery.

In China, while TPC won the lawsuit in the first instance, the judgment was reversed at the higher court so it would be consistent with the judgment from Japan.

In the Chinese and Japanese judgments, it was recognized that the Document, even if not a forgery, granted only limited rights to use “Ultraman” works from the early-Showa era series (mid 1960s to mid 1970s).  In the judgments of all of the countries, it has been recognized that, regardless of the outcome of the lawsuits, the copyrights in “Ultraman” belong to TPC.

3. U.S. Judgment
In the lawsuit in the U.S., enormous amounts of documents, materials and communications that both parties had in their possession were disclosed and analyzed over a long period of time through a procedure called “discovery,” which was not available to the parties in any of the other lawsuits.

As a result thereof, new facts and evidence, which had not become apparent in the lawsuits in each of the other countries, were revealed.In addition, depositions (testimonies conducted under oath before trial) and witness examinations of numerous witnesses from both parties and of handwriting analysis expert witnesses were conducted.

Furthermore, Mr. Sompote, who is the alleged recipient of, and the only living alleged witness to the creation of, the Document, refused to accept service of the complaint for the U.S. lawsuit without reason, and refused to appear in court as a witness.

In November 2017, a trial was held before a jury of 8 members of the community.  On November 20, 2017, the jury returned a unanimous verdict in favor of TPC on its claim that the Document was not an authentic or valid contract that had been signed and sealed by Noboru Tsuburaya.

After the jury reached its verdict, UMC filed motions to try to overturn the verdict on the grounds that it had been reached through error and was not supported by evidence.  On March 28, 2018, the district court denied UMC’s motions and maintained the jury’s verdict.

On April 18, 2018, the district court entered a Final Judgment which, consistent with the jury’s verdict, states that the Document is not an authentic agreement that was signed and sealed by Noboru Tsuburaya, and that the Document is invalid, and which prohibits UMC and its licensees from using “Ultraman.”

We believe this victory in the U.S. lawsuit solidifies TPC’s decades-long efforts to fully and finally resolve this dispute and confirm its worldwide rights in “Ultraman.”

4. TPC Comments
The above judgment recognizes TPC’s claim in its entirety.

This complete winning judgment was rendered after numerous witness testimonies and analytical opinions of handwriting analysis experts, in addition to the detailed evidentiary disclosure proceedings that lasted a long period of time and required enormous efforts. We believe that the credibility of such judgment is extremely strong. Based on this judgment, TPC intends to actively proceed with the further overseas expansion of the “Ultraman” works.

We are grateful for the continuous supports of all our customers, stakeholders, and fans of the “Ultraman” series.

-End Quote-

And so, our saga comes to an end... Finally, the first six of Tsuburaya Productions' "Ultra Series," ULTRA Q, ULTRAMAN, ULTRA SEVEN, RETURN OF ULTRAMAN, ULTRAMAN ACE, and ULTRAMAN TARO, are truly free to be distributed in North America and beyond!

So, while we might want to shout from the rooftops, perhaps we should cross our fingers, not hold our collective breath, and hope that we don't hear much from Sampote "Sands" Saengduenchai, TIGA International, or UM Corporation ever again.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

31 DAYS OF HALLOWEEN: BEFORE BOB WILKINS How Terrence's "Shock!" Became a "Nightmare"

Meet the San Francisco Bay Area's First Horror Host... Terrence!

Terrence KRON-4 Nightmare 02
Terrence (Russ Coughlin) and "friend" on the set of "Nightmare"!

Scores of those from Monster Kid Generation in the San Francisco Bay Area still exalt (and rightly so) our beloved horror host, Bob Wilkins, who haunted the airwaves emanating out of Oakland's Jack London Square at KTVU-2 on "Creature Features" during the 1970s (and even longer out of Stockton-Sacramento area). Fewer still have only but dim memories - if at all - of Castle Noir's "Asmodeus" on KEMO-20's "Shock It To Me! Theater." But, they had a predecessor who conjured up nightmares over at KRON-4 now 60 years ago: "Terrence."

In October 1957, Screen Gems (the television subsidiary of Columbia Pictures) released a package of 52 classic Universal Pictures horror titles for syndication to stations nationwide, promoted as "Shock!". These local broadcasts on stations across America created monster ratings in markets with 38% and far more, conjuring new legions of monster kids, as well as creating creatures that would become the fabric of local television for decades to come... The "Horror Host," led by Philadelphia's legendary "cool ghoul," Zacherley.

Meanwhile, in the San Francisco Bay Area, the "Shock" package was picked up by the then-NBC affiliate, KRON-4, marketed to viewers as "Nightmare," hosted by seasoned native broadcaster Russ Coughlin (whom later became the general manager of our local ABC affiliate KGO-7). As Terrence, Coughlin bowed "Nightmare" with James Whale's FRANKENSTEIN on October 3, 1957. The tall, slender Coughlin wore a regular suit, cracked wry monster jokes, broke ratings records, and incited lycanthropic student riots on the campus at UC Berkeley...

It's true - and there's much, much more to the story, so read all about it - beautifully and painstakingly documented in the pages of Michael Monahan (American Scary) and the late Lon Huber (UHF Nocturne)'s exhaustive - and currently out-of-print - history of San Francisco Bay Area Horror Hosts, "Shock It To Me! Golden Ghouls of the Golden Gate" (2011, UHF Nocturne). I harbor an unnatural love for Micheal and Lon's book and I still demand a reprint!

Thursday, September 21, 2017

BANDAI'S FRANKENSTEIN CONQUERS THE WORLD Premium Online-only figure of Giant Frankie!


Frankie Bandai title
Here comes Bandai's first vinyl figure of the Colossal Frankenstein!

COLOSSAL GARGANTUAN BREAKING NEWS! A correspondent of mine in Japan tipped me off to this news (which I promised not to publish 'til today, September 21st), that following in the footsteps of the online-only Bandai Premium figures of "Gaira" and "Sanda" from THE WAR OF THE GARGANTUAS (1966), comes their predecessor - the titular titan from FRANKENSTEIN CONQUERS THE WORLD (1965).

Surely, a face only a Mama Frankenstein's Monster could love...

As with the previous pair in Bandai's "Kaiju Bangaichi" line, this will be the first time the company as issued any soft vinyl figure of the character, which will measure 18 cm (7.08"). Unlike Sanda and Gaira, Frankenstein is being touted as limited to 2,500 pieces "nationwide" (as this is a domestic Japanese release). Preorders will begin later today in Japan during this weekend's Super Festival 75 in Tokyo.

While the world burns, Frankie's posed to fight - but with whom?

The figure will be publically unveiled - and if my sources are correct - along with a companion figure this weekend - of the Giant Octopus (aka "giant devilfish"). This cephalopod was shot for the climax of the US version, ultimately ending up on the cutting room floor (although gaining a cameo in THE WAR OF THE GARGANTUAS (as well as Episode 23 of Tsuburaya Productions' "Ultra Q" teleseries). But wait, is there another? Yes, there was another monster planned...

Soon, we can relive those childhood monster matinee memories...

Baragon was originally planned for "Kaiju Bangaichi" but was canceled since Bandai had previously issued a figure of the popular burrowing beast to their "Godzilla Series" line back in 1992. Those behind the scenes are still hoping to push the idea that Baragon is due a new in this line - perhaps a "crawling version" of the critter? While Bandai's position is understandable, the earlier figure was issued 25 years ago. Let's cross our claws, but not hold our collective radioactive breath.

Frankie searches for his opponent... One of our Baragons is missing.

While more details (and photos, hopefully) of the Giant Octopus (can it be true?) have been promised to be unveiled this weekend at Super Festival 75 (if my sources are correct) - this amazing, colossal Frankie will retail for ¥4,400 ($39.50 USD) and is set to ship this January 2018 - with preorders through Bandai Premium's website starting at 11:00 am, September 22nd (Japan Time). Now, we can finally roll the seven wonders of the world into one!

Because Frankenstein's heart can never die, Frankie will be back...

This announcement also happily coincides with Toho Video's first-ever release of Frankie's creature feature to Blu-ray on November 3, 2017. Stay tuned for more monstrous information as long as Frankenstein's undying heart keeps beating...

Friday, August 18, 2017

ANIME GODZILLA DISPLAY MODEL IN KAWASAKI! Promotion for "Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters"


DHju4lRUMAA1VLb (1)
A 2-meter tall model unveiled in Cinecitta' Theater, Kawasaki.

Rear view with tail shows off amazing detail on this model.

Left side shows distinctly different design than Legendary's Big G.

GODZILLA: PLANET OF THE MONSTERS will premiere November 17th in Japan, while the exclusive worldwide rights are being handled via Netflix, which will stream the picture in 190 territories following the Japanese opening (date yet to be announced). Please stay tuned to the official website - and this blog - for more details as they become available about this exciting trilogy of animated features!

Photos by @catmode2010 on Twitter.

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

FULL TRAILER REVEALS ANIMATED "GODZILLA"! Preview for "Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters"

アニメ『GODZILLA -怪獣惑星-』ゴジラの顔と姿がついに明らかに!

New poster with tagline: "Who Will Be Eradicated? Man Or Godzilla?"

Before this new trailer, scheduled to bow in Japanese cinemas this Friday, August 18th (Japan Time), absolute secrecy on specific details concerning the story of GODZILLA: PLANET OF THE MONSTERS were prohibited from the public - only a basic story outline and character biographies of this animated trilogy were released (read here). Now, more of these details have been unveiled in this new trailer - just released online by Toho Animation via their YouTube Channel and the film's official website. Featuring some of the action and the reveal of the King of the Monsters, himself.

Set the trailer to 1080p and turn up the sound as high as it can go!

The new trailer begins with a monologue by the protagonist, Haruo (Mamoru Miyano), "There came a day in the last summer of the 20th Century when mankind discovered that as rulers of the planet called Earth, they were not alone." After abandoning their homeworld, the humans return only to find, due to space-time dilation, 20,000 years have passed - and now Godzilla is the summit of all life on Earth. He's told, dispassionately, by his friend Metphies (Takahiro Sakurai), that "It doesn't miss the human race," as the ecosystem has since radically transformed because of the monster.

Godzilla Planet Boom
Mankind returns to a hostile Earth to wage war against Godzilla!

GODZILLA: PLANET OF THE MONSTERS will premiere November 17th in Japan, while the exclusive worldwide rights are being handled via Netflix, which will stream the picture in 190 territories following the Japanese opening (date yet to be announced). Please stay tuned to the official website - and this blog - for more details as they become available about this exciting trilogy of animated features! The fateful battle between the human race and Godzilla is about to begin...

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

TSUBURAYA SPEAKS OUT ON ILLEGAL ULTRAMAN Open Online Letter Unloads on China Knock-off!


So Long Ultraman 4x6 blog
Unauthorized Ultraman "licensed" via Chaiyo's ally UM Corporation.


The following is my own translation of an open letter, published on Tsuburaya Productions' official website, from their President Shinichi O'oka, concerning the surprising news issued last week in the Chinese media, concerning the latest feature film in the on-going and popular Chinese-produced CG Animation series, "Dragon Force", now featuring Japan's greatest superhero, Ultraman. The renown character was first created and produced by Tsuburaya Productions in 1966, creating an extremely successful, long-running franchise.

In 1997, a Thai film producer and director, Sompote Saengduenchai, produced a contract stating that he owned the rights to the first six Ultraman Series, allegedly signed by the late Tsuburaya Productions CEO, Noboru Tsuburaya, who passed away - coincidentally - two years earlier. For a decade, battles were fought and won, but Sampote and his agents (including UM Corporation, Golden Media Group Inc., Tiga Entertainment Company, Ltd., and Ultraman USA) persist in breaking Thai and Japanese court decisions (read about this history, here).

Founded by the visual effects master, Eiji Tsuburaya, with financial investment from Toho Co., Ltd., Tsuburaya Productions opened for business on April 12, 1963, and today is under the umbrella of the entertainment giant, Fields Corporation, which owns a 51% share of the company, while toy mega juggernaut, Bandai, owns the remaining 49%. Starting with the company in 1969, as a camera operator, O'oka was elected President in 2008. Now, after years of silence, Tsuburaya Productions has finally spoken out publicly in this open letter posted at 8:00 pm Pacific, US Time):

About Unauthorized Chinese Ultraman Production Announcement

On July 10th, 2017, Guangzhou Bluearc Animation Studio, a Chinese corporation based out of Shanghai, China, issued an announcement for their latest production using "Ultraman Series Characters", and entitled "Dragon Force: So Long Ultraman" [Mandarin title: Gāngtiě fēilóng zhī zàijiàn àotèmàn, scheduled for release this October].

Regarding this announcement, we were completely unaware of their production, and the picture was made without our authorization or supervision. Also, use of various Ultraman characters and footage in this presentation/trailer seriously damages the Ultraman brand, so these actions should be resolutely condemned, and likewise deemed as absolutely unacceptable.

Now, vis-à-vis the handling of usage rights concerning the original Ultraman series productions ("Ultra Q", "Ultraman", "Ultra Seven", "Return of Ultraman", "Ultraman Ace" and "Ultraman Taro"), outside of Japan; these long-term disputes are still being pursued in several territories. Regardless, in each and every judgment, so far, we have been persistently declared the legitimate producers of the Ultraman series, and holders of all respective copyrights, therein.

Furthermore, all associated rights to create new productions, such as this aforementioned [Chinese] production, or any modification or adaptation of the Ultraman Series Characters, new or existing, still belongs solely to our company.

Based on the above, we intend to take decisive measures, including vigorous legal action, against the Chinese companies who willfully participated in and made this presentation trailer, and additionally, all parties involved in the production of the picture, itself.

We are deeply remorseful if this situation has been the cause of any concern and/or inconvenience; we also sincerely apologize from the bottom of our hearts to our valued clients, shareholders, and the fans of the Ultraman Series, as we look forward to your continued patronage and support. Thank you for your consideration.

July 19, 2017

Shinichi O'oka
President and Representative Director
Tsuburaya Productions

View the trailer, here, and stay tuned for more news as it develops.

Friday, July 7, 2017

"ULTRAMAN GEED" PREMIERES ON CRUNCHYROLL New Series Begins Simulcast Tonight: July 7th!


Ultraman Geed Blog
The latest in the Ultra Series premieres tonight on Crunchyroll!

Just before yesterday's Japanese television premiere of the all-new ULTRAMAN GEED, Crunchyroll, the titanic anime streaming juggernaut announced that it would be simulcasting this latest series in the long-running superhero franchise to territories outside of Asia. The San Francisco-based company dropped notice that the new series would begin it's simulcast tonight at 6:30 pm Pacific, with the intro Episode 00 Preview Special, followed by the series premiere, "Welcome to the Secret Base".

The new series concerns the saga of the most vile creature in the cosmos, Belial, a former member of the Cosmic Guard (introduced in Koichi Sakamoto's Ultra Galaxy Legend: Mega Monster Battle). This evil Ultraman's pogeny's human form lives on Earth as Riku Asakura (Tatsuomi Hamada), who regains the memory of his father, after the event known as the Crisis Impact, which destoryed his homeworld, and gives him the power to transform into "Ultraman Geed".

ULTRAMAN GEED will be simulcast for 25 weeks on Crunchyroll every Friday evening at 6:30 pm Pacific starting July 7, 2017. Stay tuned to this blog for more news and information as it becomes available!

Thursday, July 6, 2017

FIRST TEASER! "GODZILLA: MONSTER PLANET" Toho Animation Drops Trailer for All-New Film

アニメーション映画『GODZILLA 怪獣惑星』特報 1 !

Click the official YouTube video to see the first exciting trailer!

Toho Animation uploaded our first glimpse of the initial entry in a trilogy of animated motion pictures featuring the first animated Godzilla adventure produced in Japan. GODZILLA: MONSTER PLANET (foreign promotional title Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters) is being produced in conjunction with Polygon Pictures (Tron: Uprising), written by Gen Urobuchi (Aldnoah: Zero) and co-directed by Kobun Shizuno (Knights of Sidonia) and Hiroyuki Seshita (Ajin: The Demi-Human). The first film will be released in Japan this November.

But fans across the globe will not have to wait as long as they did to see Hideaki Anno's SHIN GODZILLA (2016), which had a very limited North and South American release via Funimation Films (an another year before home video). According to the Japanese movie news site, Cinema Today (this past March), the exclusive worldwide rights to GODZILLA: PLANET OF THE MONSTERS has been picked up by Netflix, the monolithic streaming service, which will premiere the picture in an astounding 190 territories, following the Japanese bow.

Please stay tuned to the official website - and this blog - for more details as they become available for this exciting trilogy of animated features! Get ready for GODZILLA: PLANET OF THE MONSTERS! 

Thursday, June 15, 2017

BANDAI UNLEASHES THE "GREEN GARGANTUA"! Vinyl Display Figure Breaks Loose in September


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Bandai issues it's first vinyl figure of Gaira, the Green Gargantua!

COLOSSAL GARGANTUAN BREAKING NEWS! Announced earlier today via the Twitter feed of the journal, Tokusatsu Hi-Ho (Special Effects Treasures), the online-only Bandai Premium service of the eponymous global toy juggernaut, will be issuing a 18 cm (7.08") soft vinyl figure of the fan favorite Green Gargantua, Gaira, from the popular Toho spectacle THE WAR OF THE GARGANTUAS (1966).

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Iconic aggressive pose developed by suit actor Haruo Nakajima!

Coinciding with this announcement, Tokusatsu Hi-Ho’s latest issue will feature an article on the upcoming figure as well as an interview with legendary monster suit maker Eizo Kaimai, who had created the very man-eating mutant this sofubi (soft vinyl figure) is based on – so, we can imagine that this has passed his snuff. Tokusatsu Hi-Ho Vol. 6 is available from bibliopolists in Japan, starting tomorrow.

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Run to the hills... Run for your lives... Gaira's looking for dinner!

The Bandai Premium website followed suit with four very important, key, details, and lots of images; which have transposed to this report (Bandai states that the actual product will differ from these intended for illustrative purposes). Most of the text on Bandai’s page for this figure is nothing more than a stream of colorfully hyperbolic points, such as “Beware! Run from this man-eating monster!”

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My Green Gargantua's back... and you're gonna be in trouble!

But, as mentioned above, there are four key pieces of information, the first being the size of the figure, which is 18 cm - which fits in with the original Bandai "Godzilla Series", to better appeal to adult collectors (relative movie sizes notwithstanding) - and the ad copy exclaiming, "This is the figure [we] always wanted to see in stores - now, at last, it's available via the Web!"

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Sideview of the unpainted prototype for the upcoming release!

While, we've got the size of this thing nailed down, there's the matter of release date and - most importantly to all of you hyperventilating, nail-bitting, vinyl-sniffers out there - price. Each unit will be retailing for ¥3,999 JPY or $36.00 USD. Preorders through Bandai Premium's website go live at 11:00 am, June 16th (Japan Time). Scheduled for shipment this September, Gaira will be ready to  eat  meet you...

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Kenji Seki's details pop in this shot of the unpainted prototype!

Last, but not least, the graphics and press features what appears to be a series line moniker, "Kaiju Bangaichi" (which can/may be roughly translated as "Monster No-Man's Land" or transliterated as "Monsters of Unknown Realms"). Even though we haven't stopped breathing into our paper bags, yet, could we soon see the Brown Gargantua, Sanda? And... Other giant monsters Bandai had previously passed over?

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Monstrous angled view of the popular bad guy from the 1966 movie!

Stay tuned for more gargantuan information as it comes up from the darkest depths to devour you! Or will you devour it?