"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, May 4, 2010

Actor and Star of KIKAIDA and INAZUMAN


Photo: Ban Daisuke Official Website

Born on May 5, 1947 as Kiyonori Saito in Kawaguchi City, Saitama Prefecture, Ban became interested in acting while attending Meiji University and working a low-paying job in a local teahouse, Saito joined the NLT Acting Troupe, which cast him in stage plays based on the works of French playwrights. When casting KIKAIDA (1972-73), Toei producer Susumu Yoshikawa and his wife came across the headshot for the young actor, with Mrs. Yoshikawa proclaiming, “He’s the one!” After being christened “Daisuke Ban” by series architect, mangaka Shotaro Ishimori, his screen career was launched. But, after forty years in acting, he is best remembered as Jiro, the incomplete android in KIKAIDA—a role that he will be forever beloved for—not only in Japan, but also in the US (where the series was aired during the mid-1970s on Japanese-language stations).

When the production of INAZUMAN (1973-74) was delayed, the producers had Bad join Shunsuke Ikeda in the early episodes (and the series finale) of KIKAIDA 01. One of the few actors to play three lead roles in a tokusatsu series, Ban also starred as Daisuke Izumo/Ka’nin Captor 7 in NINJA CAPTOR (1976-77), before becoming Makoto Jin/Battle Cossack, one of the main characters in BATTLE FEVER J (1979-80). But, not being typecast, Ban soon was appearing in a number of other television series, including ZENIGATA HEIJI (1966-84), EDO DRAGNET (1970-92), THE YOUNG DETECTIVES (1971-76), HOWL AT THE SUN! (1972-86), THE BODYGUARDS (1974), THE GORILLA 7 (1975), SPECIAL INVESTIGATION: FRONTLINE (1977-87), HELLO! GOODBYE (1989), TRUE SCARY STORIES (1990-92), SUZURAN (1999), and SUPER QUEEN (2007).

Ban also guest starred in several tokusatsu series, as Lt. Colonel Tetsuya Yokota in Episode 81 of SECRET TASK FORCE: GORANGER (1975-77), Professor Kazuhiko Kawamei in Episode 28 of VIGILANTE ZUBAT (1977), Interpol Agent Kuroki in Episode 12 of SPIDER-MAN (1978-79), Tashiro in Episode 16 of SUKEBAN DEKA (1985), Professor Katayama in Episode 34 of MONSTER INVESTIGATOR: JUSPION (1985-86), Professor Hoshi in Episode 1 of SUPER BEAST TASK FORCE: LIVEMAN (1987-88), Ijin in Episode 11 of PSI TASK FORCE: MASKMAN (1988-89), Takayama in Episode 9 of MOBILE COP: JIBAN (1989-90), Detective Koyama in Episode 9 of SPECIAL POLICE: WINSPECTOR (1990-91), Dr. Aizawa in Episode 22 of ICARUS TASK FORCE: JETMAN (1991-92), Dr. Hideyo Inoue in ELECTRONIC SUPERHUMAN: GRIDMAN (1993-94), and Episode 34 of ULTRAMAN DYNA (1997-98).

The prolific actor’s film roles include Shintaro Katsu’s ZATOICHI (1989), Shuei Matsubayashi’s THE VICTORS (1992), Macoto Tezuka’s THE INNOCENT (Hakuchi, 1999), and Tsuruta Norio’s PREMONITION (2004). He is best known outside of Japan as Dr. Heihachiro Ikuma in Hideo Nakata’s RING (1998), Joji Iida’s SPIRAL (1998), Nakata’s RING 2 (1999), and Tsuruta’s RING 0: BIRTHDAY (2000). Ban has also appeared in several independent productions in including GRAVITY-SPEED PHANTOMS (2005) and Aaron Yamasato’s BLOOD OF THE SAMURAI (2001) and the spin-offs BLOOD OF THE SAMURAI: THE SERIES (2004) and NINJA EX (2004). He recently co-starred with fellow tokusatsu star, Hiroshi Miyauchi (KAMEN RIDER V3), as Big John Jack in Kiyohide Matsumura's GAME ACTION (2009).

In 2001, Kadokawa Publishing released Ban’s autobiography, Switch On! Android Kikaida: My Journey With Jiro.

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