"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

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Crimson Phoenix! "SUPER ROBOT: RED BARON"
Coming to DVD This April From BCI/Ronin!


Awesome jacket design by Dan Wheelan.

At long last, I finally completed work on BCI/Ronin Entertainment's upcoming release of the 39-episode visual effects television series, SUPER ROBOT: RED BARON. Parts of the process were waylaid with personal life issues, which knocked me off the the rails for a couple of months, and caused me to ask — again — how can people can be so self-absorbed that they end up being deeply cruel to others? It still causes me to shout to the Heavens,"WTF!?"

Once I was able to pull myself out and get my head straight, I needed some time to reflect on what's really important. Honesty, integrity and commitment. I still can't understand why people spend so much energy being deceitful, when it's far easier — and respectful for both parties — to just be straight up. Apparently some people just don't have the intestinal fortitude to be honest. They just don't have it in them. So, now that RED BARON is "in the can," so to speak, you think that it would be time for me to take a deep breath and celebrate (or at least, get smashed), right?

Well, maybe I can squeeze in a deep breath, before I start work on the next gigs I've already lined up — more DVD projects — not to mention the upcoming signings of my book at WonderCon this weekend (I will also be hosting a presentation on Sunday at 11:30 am), and the Clay Theater's Toho Double Feature of MOTHRA (1961) and BATTLE IN OUTER SPACE (1959), dedicated to Visual Effects Director Eiji Tsuburaya. Well, what can you do? It's feast or famine. So I guess that I shouldn't be complaining (idle hands are the work of the Devil, after all, no?). Well, I do have a long put-off vacation coming up in the spring — far away from here.

Getting back to the blog at hand, SUPER ROBOT: RED BARON was originally produced by Senkosha & Nippon Modern Planning in 1973, and was a hit on Japanese television. Now, the series is coming to North America for the first time, and I was really excited to jump at the chance to contribute to this presentation. My work included, standardizing names and terms, editing the English subtitle scripts, compiling and translating series credits and episode titles, providing ad copy, and compiling and penning the liner notes booklet.

This liner notes booklet covers the background and production details in bringing the show to life; the personnel involved, as well as biographies for the cast and guest stars who populate RED BARON, all wrapped up in beautiful booklet and packaging design by Dan Wheelan (see accompanying images). What's RED BARON all about? Here's my copy from the jacket:

Terror strikes an international exposition, showcasing giant robots from around the world, when it is suddenly attacked by the mysterious Iron Alliance, who seizes all of the nations’ automatons. But Dr. Deviler (Hiroshi Ikaida), a mad despot who plots to overthrow mankind, fails to capture Red Baron, a super robot built by Kenichiro Kurenai (Nobuhiko Ishida). When Kenichiro is captured, he entrusts Red Baron to his younger brother, Ken (Yosuke Okada), a member of the S.S.I. (Secret Science Investigation) organization. Now, Ken pilots Red Baron to fight against the Iron Alliance’s mechanical hordes to protect the future of the human race!

Super Robot: Red Baron is an action-packed series produced by the same creative team responsible for Ultraman and Iron King, featuring wall-to-wall action, colorful miniature effects, imaginative production design, endless city-stomping excitement, and a wild score by Bob "Gatchaman" Sakuma. Created during the height of the Tokusatsu (special effects) Boom on Japanese television, Super Robot: Red Baron delivers the all of massive spectacle of clashing colossi, in the tradition of Godzilla, in every episode. Presented for the first time in North America, this presentation features all 39 episodes fully subtitled in English!

"SUPER ROBOT: RED BARON The Complete Series" will be streeting on April 8th and with an MSRP of $59.95, or you can order it online from Deep Discount DVD for the super price of $36.44 - that's only 93¢ an episode, so you have no excuse not to pick this one up!

A peek at the 20-page booklet on the series.

I'd like to publicly thank Ronin Entertainment's Cliff MacMillan for the opportunity to work on these releases! Next up, Yasuaki Kurata's 26-episode series FIGHT! DRAGON (1974) and Akio Jissoji's SILVER MASK (1971). There's also a new DVD release coming from Generation Kikaida later this year... I can't divulge the title of the series at this time, but it will be officially announced in May. Stay tuned!


xenorama said...

another great looking set.

i wonder what the new Generation Kikaida set would be? the mind wobbles with possibilities! i'm hoping for Diamond Eye, but i bet that's not it.


Prof. Grewbeard said...

hi! glad you have a blog now, i've been trying to keep up with your efforts for some time(no thanx to SciFiSony)! i was wondering if you happen to know what's become of Light Speed Esper? wasn't it related to Iron King and Red Baron production-wise? i'd love to see that on dvd too! Iron King was awesome, by the way!


Keef said...

Hello! I'm pretty new to the whole tokusatsu scene having mostly watched newer shows. I was a curious about seeing Iron King and was wondering how it would hold up despite it's age. Well, I loved it! I can't wait for more releases like this.

I actually had pre-ordered Super Robot: Red Baron over a month ago from Deep Discount DVD for a mere $22.13!! I can't believe I got it for so cheap!

Keep up the good work August and keep trying to bring us more releases like these!

August Ragone said...

Thanks for the comments! David, the next series from GK is not DIAMOND EYE... Jeffree, ESPER was produced by Senkosha, the same company that made SILVER MASK, IRON KING and RED BARON... Keef, as far as IRON KING is concerned, it's a matter of subjective taste. But, with that being said, a lot of folks who never saw the show before have throughly enjoyed it, as reflected in the positive reviews on Amazon.com!

xenorama said...

i knew it wouldn't be Diamond Eye, just threw that out there. is it a proper toku title (he said questioningly)?

always happy to help promote these!


Prof. Grewbeard said...

concerning Light Speed Esper and Senkosha- that's as i suspected, so i'm just hoping BCI/Ronin will consider putting it out too!

Ancient Flounder said...

New release from GK, eh?

Hmmm....my hopes are for a Himitsu Sentai Goranger set. Guess we'll just have to wait and see.

Unknown said...

Really enjoying SRRB. Wonderful stuff from the pre-CGI(yawn) effects days in Japan. The series is non-stop action, slowing down only when the "Bicycle Inspector" is on-screen (Hey - can't have everything). And ahh the beautiful Mari, fun to watch her karate chop those jobber robots. Kinda strange series - light cussing, people actually die! A kid's parents! I can see why this never made it to the politically correct US as a kiddie show (though I would have loved it...)

But what really impresses me is the frequent an bold use of composite shots including traveling mattes in nearly every episode! And it's not just static simple stuff. Did I just see a car drive /between/ the giant robot's feet? Was that a /traveling/ matte shot? Toho wasn't even doing that kind of stuff in theatrical releases (G vs. Megalon period). And they're nicely executed. But - weirdly, the screen takes on a tint whenever there's any kind of optical effects, including titles. Never saw that before. The robot fights are very nicely choreographed - and long! But they obviously take place on a small set. And, tellin' ya, I don't know how the villan robot and Red Barron costume actors survived. The explosions never stopped and were all over the costumes and sets.

Fun series. I love this stuff. Fireman would be nice - along with others. Prefer the giant stuff to the "normal sized" Toei stuff. Thanks for your efforts.