"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, 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!