"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 26, 2013

Japanese Cult Movie Screenings in August!


Event flyer for the greatest cult movie series in Japan the world!

From August 3rd-30th, Tokyo’s Shibuya Cinemavera theater is hosting, a film festival of 23 incredible outré cult films, featuring a number of fantasy and horror titles not seen in years — and many not available on DVD!

This program includes: Yasuki Chibai’s WILL-O-THE-WISP (Onibi, 1956), Ryosuke Kurahashi's DANCING MISTRESS (Kaidan-iro Zange Kyoren Onna Shisho, 1957), Eisuke Takizawa's ENCHANTRESS OF THE MIDNIGHT SUN (Shiyoru-no Yojo, 1957), Mitsuo Murayama's THE INVISIBLE MAN MEETS THE FLY MAN (Tomei Ningen to Hae-otoko, 1957), Kyotaro Namiki's VAMPIRE BRIDE (Hanayome Kyuketsuma, 1957), Teinosuke Kinugasa's BRONZE MAGICIAN (Yoso, 1963), Hajime Sato’s THE HOUSE OF TERRORS (Kaidan Semushi-otoko, 1965), Kozo Saeki's COMEDY: MANGA IN FRONT OF THE TRAIN STATION (Kigeki Ekimae Manga, 1966), Shigehiro Ozawa’s SEVEN GAMBLERS (Bakuto Shichi’nin, 1966), Hajime Sato’s GOKE: BODYSNATCHER FROM HELL (Kyuketsuki Gokemidoro, 1968), Kinji Fukasaku’s BLACK ROSE MANSION (Kuro Bara-no Yakata, 1969), Takashi Tsuboshima’s WHO AM I!? (Kiki Kaikai Ore-wa Dare da!?, 1969), Michio Yamamoto’s TERROR IN THE STREETS (Akuma-ga Yonderu, 1970), Katsuhiko Fujii's LEGEND OF A SEX THIEF IN EDO (Oedo Seito-den Onnagiri, 1973), Yukio Noda’s THE KARATE 2 (Karate 2, 1974), Kan Murai’s MRS. TOKYO DEEPTHROAT (Tokyo Deppusurotto Fujin, 1975), Yukio Noda’s YOUNG TURKISH BATH DAIRIES: THE SLIDING VIRGIN (Seishun Toruko Nikki Shojosuberi, 1975), Yuji Makiguchi's MIDORI SATSUKI: CONFESSIONS OF LADY MANTIS (Satsuki Midori Kamakiri Fujin-no Kokuhaku, 1975), Kazuhiko Yamaguchi’s WERECAT IN THE TURKISH BATH (Kaibyo Toruko Furo, 1975), Shunya Ito’s CURSE OF THE GHOST DOG (Inugami-no Tatari, 1977), Yoshitaro Nomura’s WRITHING TONGUE (Furueru Shita, 1980), Yoshitaro Nomura’s MIDNIGHT INVITATION (Mayonaka-no Shotaijo, 1981), and Shinobu Hashimoto’s infamous THE LAKE OF ILLUSIONS (Maboroshi-no Mizuumi, 1982).

If you're in Tokyo during August, DO NOT DARE MISS this chance to catch this incredible and insane line-up of movie madness!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013


This image of Oderus was captured by MAT founder Edward Holland.

During Comic-Con 2013, this is what the great Oderus of the noxious and infamous monstrous musical unit known as GWAR, had to say about the all-new issue produced by the "Famous Monsters" Grue Crew: "Pick up MONSTER ATTACK TEAM #10 before it's vapor — if you don't I'll huff and puff and GWAR B-Q your house down!"

Sporting a Bob Eggleton cover and boasting 128 jam-packed, full-color pages, "Monster Attack Team" #10 is the only English-language magazine to cover the spectrum of Japanese Superheroes, Monsters, Pop Culture, and Rock 'n Roll, and copies of the debut issue under the FM banner are burning up fast — so, order yours today (before it's too late) from our friends at the Captain Company!

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

This Year's Kaiju & Tokusatsu-Related Shindigs


Ben von Strawn's crazy, low-brown Shock Monster eyeball logo!

There's probably not a single human being invading San Diego and its environs this weekend, for Comic-Con International, that doesn't know Godzilla is leading the pack — via the mega-media push by Legendary Pictures for the highly-touted and much-hyped Gareth Edwards creature features set to open worldwide next May. This includes the wildly-anticipated "Godzilla Encounter" exhibit in the Gaslamp District, in which fans will become immersed in a Kaiju-riffic experience covering the entire history, including displays of original monster suits and props. But, there are other Japanese-related events over the weekend at the show.

Here's a list of my picks for Japanese Fantasy Film events at this weekend's convention:


Legendary Pictures' amazing kaiju experience is located at the corner of 7th & J Streets in the Gaslamp Quarter — but you'll need a pass to get inside. Pick up your ticket from the Legendary booth in the Exhibitor's Hall @ #3920


Tommy Yune, director of "Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles" and Steve Yun, screenwriter of "Robotech: The Shadow Chronicles" showcase all the latest live-action and animated "Robotech" projects in production. Thursday July 18, 2013 8:15pm - 9:15pm  Room 6DE


Did you know that in 2008 the late Shotaro Ishinomori was named by Guinness World Records as the world record holder for the most comics published by one author? It's true! He created 770 individual stories that were collected into 500 volumes of manga, including "Kikaider," "Kamen Rider," and "Cyborg 009." In a celebration of his legacy, Archaia Entertainment and Ishimori Production Inc. have teamed up to produce a groundbreaking new graphic novel that re-imagines "Cyborg 009" for a new generation! Moderator Stephen Christy (Archaia's editor-in-chief) talks with writers F. J. DeSanto and Bradley Cramp and artist Marcus To (Red Robin, Adventures of Superman) about the process of bringing this graphic novel to life while also diving into Ishinomori's incredible legacy with manga/anime expert Deb Aoki (manga.about.com). Every attendee will receive a free copy of the "Cyborg 009: Chapter 000" preview issue. Friday July 19, 2013 2:00pm - 3:00pm Room 9

Just as Jack Kirby, Moebius, and Robert Crumb influenced Western comics, many great Japanese manga artists have influenced many who have followed them. Yes, there's Osamu Tezuka, but there are many more worth discovering, such as Shigeru Mizuki, Shotaro Ishinomori, Go Nagai, Gengoroh Tagame, Taiyo Matsumoto, Moto Hagio, Takehiko Inoue, and much more. Christopher Butcher (director, Toronto Comic Arts Festival and manager, The Beguiling), F. J. DeSanto (Cyborg 009 from Archaia Entertainment), Giorgio Tsoukalos (Ancient Aliens), Graham Kolbeins (editor, The Passion of Gengoroh Tagame from Picturebox), Deb Aoki (MangaComicsManga), and possibly a surprise guest or two introduce you to some manga legends you may not know, including many that have recently released or soon-to-be-released works in English, and some that are long overdue to be recognized by Western comics fans. Friday July 19, 2013 7:30pm - 8:30pm Room 28DE

Join Famous Monsters publisher Philip Kim and executive EDitor Ed Blair in celebrating the world's oldest monster fan magazine. This year will feature some of FMF's most monstrous announcements to date, including special panelists Frank Frazetta Jr. (son of the legendary artist), Jeff Moore (VP of ESP Guitars), August Ragone (author and kaiju expert), Giorgio Tsoukalos (Ancient Aliens), actors Kathryn Leigh Scott and Lara Parker (Dark Shadows) and much, much more. Friday July 19, 2013 7:45pm - 8:45pm Room 5AB


An epic rebirth to Toho's iconic Godzilla, this spectacular adventure pits the world's most famous monster against malevolent creatures who, bolstered by humanity's scientific arrogance, threaten our very existence. Gareth Edwards directs "Godzilla," which stars Aaron Taylor-Johnson, Ken Watanabe, Elizabeth Olsen, and Juliette Binoche, with David Strathairn and Bryan Cranston. The screenplay is by Max Borenstein, Frank Darabont, and Dave Callaham. Thomas Tull and Jon Jashni are producing with Mary Parent and Brian Rogers. Alex Garcia and Patricia Whitcher are the executive producers, alongside Yoshimitsu Banno and Kenji Okuhira. The film is from Warner Bros. and Legendary Pictures. Saturday July 20, 2013 10:45am Hall H

The legendary "Star Blazers" TV series is coming back! Join the crew to learn more about "Star Blazers 2199" at this exciting and riveting panel! You'll have a chance to witness the screening of the first episode of the new show as well as be able to ask questions. Panel guests include producer Hiroaki Ikegami and a guest Cosplayer from Japan playing Yuki Mori. Saturday July 20, 2013 2:00pm - 3:00pm Room 25ABC

To be sure, there are a lot of other panels and presentations on manga and anime during the convention, but these are just my best picks for this year's show — for further information, please visit the official Comic-Con International website — and have a great con! I know that I will!

Monday, July 15, 2013

English-Dubbed Episode Screening on Saturday


Voyager Entertainment USA's Comic-Con announcement.

Back in April, during the online hosting for the television broadcast of SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO: 2199, the Yamato Crew cosplayers held up a sheet announcing that the overseas promotion for the series, under the title "Starblazers 2199" (sic) would be commencing. The following week, they held up another sheet apologizing for speaking too soon. Then, a few weeks ago, they held up another sheet heralding the world-wide promotion for "Star Blazers 2199" at four conventions across the globe in July: Japan Expo (Paris), Anime-Expo (Los Angeles), Anime Friends (São Paulo), and Comic-Con Int'l (San Diego).

The lovely Cosplaying hosts of the Nico Nico Douga simulcast.

Needless to say, while I didn't make it to three of the aforementioned events, I will be attending Comic-Con, and will most definitely will be attending this screening and presentation. Early reports from Anime-Expo, thanks to Andrew Nguyen, revealed that the English Dub was executed by Bang Zoom! Entertainment. He stated, "I recognized the voices from their previous projects. Okita and Dr. Sakezo Sado were the strongest of the cast. Yuki Mori still needs a bit of work (her briefing of the kids felt very stiff) as well as Susumu Kodai, although his scenes where he shows anger, particularly when he confronts Okita, is good enough."

Reportedly, Kodai is dubbed by Johnny Yong Bosch of PR-fame.

On the negative side, he reported, "There are instances where the voice acting made me cringe, especially when the crew of Mamoru Kodai’s ship started singing as they flew to their deaths, which made the audience laugh out loud." This was something I was afraid of: my favorite scene ruined by the director and his cast's lack of experience with such a Japanese scene, a very naniwabushi moment, thereby undermining the most emotional scene of the episode. For more on this sequence, go here: Galactic Passage.

The Yukikaze gallantly flies into the proverbial jaws of death...

The new SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO: 2199 series is now being prepped for overseas sales as STAR BLAZERS 2199. During this panel and presentation, there will be a screening of the first episode, dubbed by Bang Zoom Entertainment, which will include highlights from upcoming episodes, and a Q&A session. Guests include producer Hiroaki Ikegami and a special Cosplayer from Japan playing Yuki Mori. You're not going to want to miss this presentation! Saturday, July 20th • 2:00 - 3:00pm • Room 25ABC

Go here for more details on this screening, and stay tuned to this blog and the Cosmo DNA website for more news and information on SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO: 2199 as they develop!

Friday, July 12, 2013

Guillermo del Toro's Epic Made a Grown Man Cry


Limited edition Japanese poster for Guillermo del Toro's mecha epic.

Yes, I had to see PACIFIC RIM on opening day... I grew up watching everything from ULTRAMAN to MOTHRA, and all that was in-between — including anime series such as BRAVE RAIDEEN and VOLTES V. Yes, PACIFIC RIM made a grown man cry. That man was me. Throughout, we were laughing with the funny bits, clapping and shouting during the amazing battle scenes, and we all left the theater buzzing... And those tears were tears of joy.

In short, PACIFIC RIM made me feel that my boyhood dreams of piloting a super robot were brought to thrilling, vivid life. I'm not saying that this was like the first time I saw STAR WARS when I was a kid, but if I were the same age seeing PACIFIC RIM for the first time, now, that's exactly how I'd feel (sans the John Williams fanfare). You'll laugh, you'll cry, you'll thank Guillermo for being alive. I mean it. Really.

Del Toro's epic is the best, most satisfying American-made genre blockbuster in years. While the STAR WARS prequels left me cold, this bringing the SHOGUN WARRIORS to life made me feel like a kid again —best yet, PACIFIC RIM is not remake, a sequel or a video game, but an original creation. It sheds the usual, cliched negative cynicism for a refreshing humanitarianism and a true sense of wonder.

Never mind the so-called critics blasting the film, with pat allusions to POWER RANGERS and TRANSFORMERS, which only reveals their ignorance, and proves that they know not of what they speak — don't listen to these idiots. Ignore them. As Harlan Ellison said, "Without research, without background, without understanding, it's nothing. It's just bibble-babble. It's like a fart in a wind tunnel, folks."

If you've ever cheered the heroic actions of JOHNNY SOKKO AND HIS FLYING ROBOT or was riveted to the battle royale of DESTROY ALL MONSTERS, then PACIFIC RIM was made for you — and it was made to introduce a whole new generation to the sheer joy those films and television shows brought us. So, go see PACIFIC RIM this weekend —sure, it's not Japanese, but it's the closest anyone's ever come — it's truly more than meets the eye.

Thank you, Guillermo.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

JULY 10, 1901 - JANUARY 25, 1970


Tsuburaya inspecting the original Ultraman suit, 1966.

The “Father of Japanese Special Visual Effects” was born on July 10, 1901 as Eiichi Tsuburaya in the town of Sukagawa, Fukushima. 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 celebration of Tanabata (meaning “Seven Evenings”), a Japanese star festival derived from the Obon (a celebration of ancestors). Tanabata is usually celebrated on July 7th or August 7th, to commemorate 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 in Japan.

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).

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Premiering on Japanese Television July 10th


Introducing the latest member of the Ultra Family: Ultraman Ginga!

On July 10, Tokyo TV is celebrating "Ultraman Day" with the premiere of Tsuburaya Productions' NEW ULTRAMAN BIOGRAPHIES, which will feature the adventures of ULTRAMAN GINGA, with a subsequent DVD and Blu-ray release to follow on October 25th. The July 10th date is significant, since it's both the birthdate of visual effects pioneer Eiji Tsuburaya in 1901 and the public debut of the original Ultraman in 1966. The moniker "Ginga" is the Japanese word for "Galaxy."

Click to see the first Promotion Video for ULTRAMAN GINGA!

ULTRAMAN GINGA is the first series to feature teenagers as the main protagonists, focusing on 17 year-old Hikaru Raido (Takuya Negishi), a passionate High School Sophomore, who dreams of adventure. The protagonists learn to grow as they draw "memories of summer" to help those wounded between dreams and reality. Guided by a mysterious dream, Hikaru returns to his country home where he is reunited with his old schoolmates, to await a series of mysteries.

Tsuburaya's official image poster for the new ULTRAMAN GINGA!

Meanwhile, he encounters Ultraman Taro, who has been turned into a doll, and comes into the possession of the "Ginga Spark," an object of worship found in the shrine on scared Mt. Hoshiyama. Taking the Ginga Spark in his hand, and only when his courage reaches its peak, Hikaru can transform into Ultraman Ginga! By combining with a series of "Spark Dolls," representing heroes and monsters of the past, the Ginga Spark can bring them to "Ultralive" in order to combat evil!


As Ultraman Ginga's battle begins, what mysteries will unfold, and what is the secret behind the Spark Dolls? While the use of Bandai's Ultra Hero and Ultra Monster vinyl figure lines may seem like one big toy commercial, it also recalls the Capsule Monsters first employed in ULTRA SEVEN (1967). The series will also be the first to not feature a scientific defense organization or the Self Defense Forces to counter the monsters and extraterrestrials that threaten the Earth.

Super Combibeast Thunder Daranbia vs. Ultralive Monster Black King!

Produced as a mini-series, ULTRAMAN GINGA will run for two months, with a theatrical film following on September 7th, and more episodes to come in the Winter. Volume 1 of Blu-ray and DVD,  streeting on October 25th, will feature Episodes 1-3 and Volume 2, streeting on November 22nd, will feature Episodes 4-6. While only containing three episodes each, there will be several special features to round out each volume. MSRP: Blu-ray 5,040 yen and DVD 3,990 yen.

DVD jacket art for Volume 1 of ULTRAMAN GINGA.

Among the special features content will be a special full-CG mini series, made up of three-minute episodes, under the banner "Giant Monster Rush: Ultra Frontier" (Volume 1 will feature "Red King Hunting," while Volume 2 will feature "Neronga Hunting"). Each volume will also contain Staff and Cast interviews, a series of behind-the-scenes making of featurettes called "Ginga Live" (tentative title), as well as clean opening and ending titles, and a six-page booklet.

Here's four minutes from Episode 1 "The Town of Falling Stars."

For more information, check out the official ULTRAMAN GINGA website (Japanese only)!

Monday, July 1, 2013

Upcoming Projects Unveiled Today In Tokyo

新シリーズ『ガンダム ビルド ファイターズ』登場!

Teaser art for the new series: "1/44 Gundam, Mobilize!"

On July 2nd at 11:59 am (Japan Time), Bandai/Namco streamed a special press conference — live — announcing the next wave of MOBILE SUIT GUNDAM projects to herald in the upcoming 35th Anniversary of the long-running anime franchise. While it was the usual pomp and circumstance, including a visit from Rena Matsui of the pop group, SKR48, a promo reel for the first new project, an anime series entitled GUNDAM BUILD FIGHTERS, was screened.

Just released image art for GUNDAM BUILD FIGHTERS. ©Sunrise/Sotsu

Set in the near future, premise of the new series follows the exploits of young Gundam Model (Gunpla) fighters, who meet for virtual tournaments, where their Gunpla come to life in virtual battle-fields. The protagonist is Leiji, one of the stop Build Fighters, and his partner, Sei Iori, who is his Gunpla Builder. The keyword of the new series is "All Gundam," meaning that mobile suits from every iteration of the long-running Gundam Saga will be playable characters.

Bandai's Katsumi Kawaguchi and Rena Matsui of the pop group SKR48.

While this may sound more like an expansion of similar series, such as the perennial POKEMON or YU-GI-OH! (or even MOBILE FIGHTER G GUNDAM), swapping pocket monsters and magic cards for Gunpla, a valid assumption, the new series actually recalls a much older, mostly forgotten manga-cum-anime series: PLAWRES SANSHIRO (1983-84) created by Jiro Gyu. Directed by Kenji Nagasaki (GUNDAM AGE), GUNDAM BUILD FIGHTERS will begin broadcast on Tokyo TV this October.

Scene from the upcoming series GUNDAM BUILD FIGHTERS.

While the other announcements concerned some new lines of their 1/44-scale customizable Gunpla, to tie in with the new series, as well as a new arcade card video game, "Gundam Triage Build MS," and a new PlayStation 3 fighting game, "Gundam Breaker," there were also some further news teasing productions for the upcoming 35th Anniversary that will debut between 2014-2015. These will include GUNDAM UNICORN: EPISODE 7 and the most exciting of all: GUNDAM: THE ORIGIN.

Cover for the first tankobon volume of "Gundam: The Origin."

The latter will be an animated remake of the first 1979 series, based on the manga written and illustrated by Yoshikazu Yasuhiko, who was the character designer and storyboard artist on the original series. While there have been conflicting rumors whether GUNDAM: THE ORIGIN will be a series or a feature film, this is still very exciting news for me — a huge fan of the 1979 series — and I'm keenly looking forward to what develops as far as this project is concerned.

While the kids can knock themselves out watching GUNDAM BUILD FIGHTERS, I'll be waiting to see the return of Amro and Char directed by Yoshiyuki Tomino!

Bandai's BUILD FIGHTERS Hobby Website