"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, July 27, 2010

Daisuke Ban's So Cal Autograph Sessions!


Los Angeles' own Anime Jungle, purveyors of everything from anime to tokusatsu in Little Tokyo, is proud to be presenting two autograph sessions with Mr. Daisuke Ban, popular star of KIKAIDA, KIKAIDA 01, INAZUMAN and BATTLE FEVER J, for the upcoming 70th Annual "Nisei Week Japanese Festival". Back in the mid-1970s, the local broadcasts of KIKAIDA took Hawaii by storm, and the series was subsequently aired on Japanese language stations in San Francisco, Los Angeles, and other US cities. KIKAIDA made a strong return to Hawaii back in 2001, and is still going strong — even outside of the Islands — due to the successful release of the English subtitled DVDs produced by JN Productions and Generation Kikaida.

Created by mangaka Shotaro Ishimori and creative producer Tohru Hirayama, JINZONINGEN KIKAIDA (Android Kikaida) debuted on the Nippon Educational Television network on July 8, 1972, and received outstanding viewer ratings. This colorful, exciting and outlandish superhero series was produced by Toei Television Productions on the heels of the ratings successes of KAMEN RIDER, SUPERHUMAN BAROM-1 and TRANSFORMING NINJA ARASHI, during the "Henshin Boom" on Japanese television in the early 1970s. The popular 43-episode series was quickly followed by KIKAIDA 01 (starring the late Shunsuke Ikeda).

Riding astride his sidecar superbike, Jiro (Daisuke Ban), a young man clad in blue denim, with a guitar slung across his back, swings his arms and transforms into a red and blue combat android known as Kikaida. The yin-yang patterned android, with exposed circuitry flashing under his glass-domed head, smashes through hordes of monstrous automatons in order to save Mitsuko (Jun Mizunoe) and Masaru (Masahiro Kamiya), the children of the scientist who created him, Dr. Komyoji (Hajime Izu).

Kikaida's mission: to reunite Mitsuko and Masaru with their fugitive father, and bring down the sinister secret group known as the "Dark". This underground organization composed of monster androids, is masterminded by the evil Professor Gill (Mitsuo Ando), who plots to take over the world through subversion and violence. Only Kikaida stands in his way. But, like all legendary heroes, Kikaida has a flaw: an incomplete "Conscience Circuit", which keeps him from being the "perfect android" — a flaw that Professor Gill can exploit...

On Saturday, August 14th, Daisuke Ban's first appearance in Los Angeles will have him signing autographs at the Anime Jungle Shop at the Japanese Village Plaza, 319 E. 2nd St. #103, from 3:00-4:00pm (admission and autographs are free), followed by a Dinner & Talk Show at Focus, Salon de Cafe at 319 E. 2nd St. #202. Tickets are $40 (including dinner and tip) and must be ordered through Anime Jungle (in-store pick-up only). Seating is limited to 30. For further details and information, call Anime Jungle directly at 213-621-1661.

On Sunday, August 15th, Daisuke Ban will be participating in the Nisei Week Japanese Festival's Grand Parade through Little Tokyo at 5:30 pm, replete with Cosplayers. This will be followed by the final Autograph Session at the Anime Jungle Shop at the Japanese Village Plaza from 8:00-8:30pm (admission and autographs are free). Copies of all of JN Productions/Generation Kikaida's DVDs for KIKAIDA, KIKAIDA 01, INAZUMAN and KAMEN RIDER V3, and other Japanese Superhero goods, will be available for purchase at Anime Jungle.

Come down and welcome KIKAIDA's Daisuke Ban to the Jungle!

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Kill Them All, Let Godzilla Sort Them Out!

It's that time of the year... The fandom miasma that is the San Diego Comic-Con International! I've returned to one of my favorite towns to sign the last remaining copies Chronicle Books has of my first book, EIJI TSUBURAYA: MASTER OF MONSTERS, which is almost entirely sold out — which is amazing, considering that the original print run was 15,000, bumped up from 10,000 when it became the most coveted book previewed at Comic-Con 2007 (at least, that's what my editors told me). This doesn't include copies that are on the shelves of bookstores around the world — from Tokyo to Paris — or those remaining with distributors. But, if you're at Comic-Con this weekend, I'll be happy to sign your copy, and destroy any resale value it could have had! But, that's up to you!

Aside from EIJI TSUBURAYA, I'm also hosting a presentation celebrating Shout! Factory's acquisition and release of the eight original Gamera films, produced between 1965 and 1980, spearheaded by the late director Noriaki Yuasa. I was hired as a Special Features Producer for this series of releases, and the first two have already been unleashed on an unsuspecting populace: Yuasa's GAMERA, THE GIANT MONSTER (1965) and Shigeo Tanaka's GAMERA VS. BARUGON (1966), the later of which featured visual effects helmed by Mr. Yuasa. These first two releases will also be available during Comic-Con at the Shout! Factory booth (#3749), and those who pick up either title will receive a free set of eight postcards, reproductions of the original Japanese hand-tinted lobby cards, representing scenes from each of films.

Here's the rundown of what's going down with me at Comic-Con 2010 (besides the usual off-duty chaos):

Thursday, July 22nd

12:00-1:00pm GAMERA, THE INVINCIBLE! — Author August Ragone (Chronicle Books' Eiji Tsuburaya: Master of Monsters) presents a visual tribute to Godzilla's No. 1 rival, the original Mutant Flying Turtle himself: Gamera! This program celebrates the first official DVD release of the original 1960s–1970s film series from Shout! Factory, with commentary on how Gamera was created and how the films were made, as well as rare, behind-the-scenes photographs and clips. Find out if Gamera is really full of turtle meat in the Q&A and win copies of Shout!'s latest release Gamera vs. Barugon — all in one colossal presentation guaranteed to knock you right out of your shell! Room 32AB

Friday, July 23rd

2:00-3:00pm EIJI TSUBURAYA: MASTER OF MONSTERS Book Signing — Author August Ragone will be on-hand once again to sign copies of his life and career biography of the man who brought Godzilla to life and created Ultraman, visual effects pioneer Eiji Tsuburaya! This session will be taking place at the Chronicle Books booth (#1506-1508), one day only!

Through this event that feels like one is riding on a tidal wave of terror, I hope to see some old faces and meet some new ones at this year's overwhelming psychotic cavalcade of electrifying horror known as the San Diego Comic-Con International! SEE! Dynamic Violence! SEE! Savage Action! SEE! Spectacular Thrills! It is seriously more fantastic than any written by Jules Verne! Seriously.

For more information on Comic-Con 2010 and to see this year's full schedule of events, click here!

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Thursday, July 1, 2010

San Francisco Tokusatsu Event on July 9, 2010


From the press release: Ultraman! Kamen Rider! The Power Rangers! These and many other colorful crusaders of justice are now recognized the world over as essential icons of Japanese pop culture. But where did they come from? Who created them? And what is it really like battling rubber monsters and the forces of evil on a regular basis? At 7:00 pm, July 7th, the new installment of "TokyoScope" will reveal the staggering truth about Japanese Superheroes!

Join hosts Patrick Macias (editor, Otaku USA magazine), August Ragone (author, Eiji Tsuburaya: Master of Monsters), and Tomohiro Machiyama (founding editor, Movie Treasures magazine) as they explore the fascinating history and origins of Japanese superheroes using rare film clips and images from numerous tokusatsu, sentai, and henshin hero productions including ULTRA SEVEN, KIKAIDA, SPACE SHERIFF GAVAN, and many others! Admission is $10.00. For more details and screening times go to: www.vizcinema.com

1746 Post St,
San Francisco, CA 94115
Tel: 415-525-8600