SciFi Japan

    20th CENTURY BOYS Cast and Crew Interviews

    Comments from the Filmmakers Behind the Blockbuster Japanese Sci-Fi Movie series Source: NTV (Nippon Television Network) Official Movie Site: 20th Boys Special Thanks to Asuka Kimura and Tzeling Huang SPOILER WARNING: This article contains plot details for a new movie. The following interviews are courtesy of Nippon Television Network. For more information and images from the movie please see SciFi Japan`s earlier report, 20th CENTURY BOYS Production Notes.

    Interview with Toshiaki Karasawa (Kenji Endo)

    Q: Did you read the original manga? Karasawa: I did. It was so popular. The protagonist of 20th Century Boys is an ordinary man, like the everyman hero of DIE HARD. That`s the point that intrigued me. But when I read the manga, I never dreamed that one day I`d play Kenji. Q: Did you try to act just like the character in the original manga?

    Karasawa: It`s difficult to be a character out of a manga. The clothes and hairstyles were made to resemble those of the manga. The director was also very conscious of getting the same framing as drawn in the manga. I really wanted the movie to appeal to manga fans and to those who hadn`t read the manga. To play the character of Kenji I decided to do my best to breath life into him, or he`d end up a stick figure. I had to become him and live his life to do so. I wanted to emphasize his ordinariness rather than play a perfect hero. Another thing I was careful about was the balance of my performance in this intricate ensemble movie. If Kenji stuck out in a scene, it would put the scene off balance. But the cast has an incredible line of talent so I didn`t have to worry much. The way we used to choose movies to see was by picking ones which feature your favorite star. But now ensemble movies like OCEAN`S THIRTEEN are popular in Hollywood. 20th CENTURY BOYS fits that trend perfectly. Q: What do you think are the most interesting points of the first film in the trilogy? Karasawa: Kenji is an everyman who lives an ordinary life. But his childhood fantasy brings about doomsday. He is forced to accept responsibility and act on it, departing from the loser that he`d been. On the Bloody New Year`s Eve, he confronts FRIEND. In the process he gets involved in many life-changing events. And the way he changes through the process is the most intriguing point of the film. I hope that the audience feels involved in the conspiracy with Kenji and empathizes with his tragedy.

    Interview with Takako Tokiwa (Yukiji Setoguchi)

    Q: How did you first come to know the original manga? Tokiwa: There`s this old friend of mine who I`ve known since elementary school. There are stacks of manga at her place like one of those manga cafes (laughs). That`s where I first read it. I identify with childhood friends maintaining their friendships like my friend and I have. I`m just drawn into the incredible way the story unfolds. It`s a lengthy story but I could read it in a single sitting. I read the pages that would be shot on that day as a reference but I couldn`t stop myself from reading more. Q: What did you think of acting just the way in the manga? Tokiwa: My first scene was where Yukiji visits Kenji at his convenient store, she has one hand on her hip and is standing like a statue. People don`t ordinarily stand like that, you know (laughs)?

    Q: How did you feel about being the only girl in the all-boy group? Tokiwa: My understanding of the Yujiki character is that she isn`t self conscious about things like that. And I`m not either. I feel more strongly about being treated as equal. And these friends don`t treat girls differently. Same age, same friendship and same camaraderie. I think it`s a wonderful relationship. Q: I saw that the actors playing the old friends of the secret base got along well. Tokiwa: When you have first-rate professional people on the set, the atmosphere changes. But it was never tense. We all got in our characters like we were putting on shirts. We become friends with the same objective. It`s a very cool experience. It`s so great working with such a group of people. On many days, the shooting was long but I survived it positively with those acting friends of mine. And our objective was... to save the world! We had no time to be down and blue (laughing). Q: Is there anything interesting about the movie from a woman`s point of view? Tokiwa: All the hunky handsome men (laughs). How can a girl miss it? They`re not just good-looking but they all come with some twist to their personalities and history. And that`s what makes this movie really interesting.

    Interview with Etsushi Toyokawa (Otcho)

    Q: Did you read the original manga? Toyokawa: Yes, and I`ve always been interested in it because there have been rumors about adapting it for a while as well as another masterpiece Monster created by Naoki Urasawa. Naoki Urasawa is a master storyteller. The way he depicts scenes in his manga is very cinematic. I like the way his drawings are dynamic but he doesn`t use bold strokes. I think that`s one of the reasons why the 20th Century Boys manga is packed with action and dynamic yet it has class. To adapt it into a movie, I believe that the director is very conscious of the graphic excellence of the manga. Q: Are there anything you particularly did to play Otcho, the manga character?

    Toyokawa: The original manga goes into Otcho`s background in detail. So I read it over and over. You don`t see it in the movie but in the manga, Otcho goes through zen training like a DRAGON BALL character (laughs). His life is quite extraordinary and in that sense his character is the most fantastic. Most other characters come from regular backgrounds and that puts Otcho in a heroic light. Like Toshiyuki Karasawa said, 20th CENTURY BOYS is an ensemble movie. I figured the character I play could stick out a little. I also postured a lot and positioned my face as Otcho was drawn in the manga. Normally I don`t pay attention to storyboards and camera setup plans. But this time, photocopied pages of the manga came with the screenplay so I diligently checked them for reference. Of course this is going to be very enjoyable for those who haven`t read the manga but I really don`t want to betray the expectations of the manga fans. If we were not truthful to the original manga, it would be meaningless. The principal plan was to follow the manga as close as possible, so I did my best to play the character as closely as it was drawn in manga. Q: How did you like the location shooting in Thailand? Toyokawa: I went there to mainly shoot the action sequence. I had a long partial wig and a long coat on so it was really hot. Otcho never takes off his long coat. I`d like to ask Naoki Urasawa what`s behind Otcho`s look one day (laughs). Q: What do you find most interesting about Otcho? Toyokawa: Otcho is a man who lost something very important in his life. There`s something very sexy about him because of that.

    Comments from Supporting Cast

    Hidehiko Ishizuka as Maruo: In variety shows [which I do a lot of] I tend to be the one who gives the punch lines and gets the laughs. In movies, I concentrate on the emotions of the scene and nothing else. During a scene, the director would give me something to nibble on that always helped make the filming more relaxing. It was very helpful for me. The most memorable scene for me was the one when Kenji visits my Fancy Shop. I heard that the scene was written for the movie. Our performances went really well, it was as if a muse had come down and touched me on my shoulder. Takashi Ukaji as Mon-chan: One thing about the character of Mon-chan is that he remains calm and unagitated although he understands the heavy implication of their situation. He was like that in the original manga, too. People in the wardrobe and makeup departments did their best to make me look like Mon-chan. So I figured that my role was to explore the internal aspects of the character. It became our mission to be as truthful as possible to the original manga, and it was really fun when we got it right. I held a gun just the way Mon-chan did in the manga down to the finger positions. And everyone on the set went wild, screaming "It`s just like in the manga!" Hiroyuki Miyasako as Keroyon: I`ve been a huge fan of Weekly Big Comic Spirits magazine [in which 20th Century Boys manga was serialized], so I couldn`t believe my luck when I was cast in the movie. I was shocked. How would they make a movie out of the 20th Century Boys saga? And who would be in it? After spending time thinking about who`d play who, I was told I was to play the role of Keroyon. It was confusing because I didn`t know why I got that role...But after they applied makeup, I figured I did look like Keroyon. I tried to play him like a regular guy. It`s regrettable that I couldn`t join the operation on the Bloody New Year`s Eve. I wanted to be in that snapshot (laughs).

    Katsuhisa Namase as Donkey: Donkey`s character leaves a strong impression as a child but he only makes a brief appearance as an adult. Brief but crucial because Donkey is the beginning of the mystery and I`m honored to play him. His childhood presence was so distinctive that all his classmates remember him as adults. I played Donkey thinking about his childhood: an innocent, fast runner. The scene in which Donkey gets attacked by FRIEND believers was shot on a rooftop with a safety harness. The attackers Kenichi Endo and ARATA gave realistic performances so the result is pretty scary (laughs)! Fumiyo Kohinata as Yamane: When I was performing in the stage production, Okepi (Orchestra Pit), we all read 20th Century Boys manga in the green room. I read it, and found it interesting but also chilling. Chilling, not like in a ghost story but because of the uncertainty of the future and the dread of people`s fate. My character Yamane appears as a child and as an adult after the year 2000 in the manga. But in the movie Yamane is in 1997, too. I had a wig on to look younger. You`d better pay attention or you might miss me! Kuranosuke Sasaki as Fukube: I`ve been feeling excited ever since the production of the movie was officially announced. Everybody tells me that I`m perfect for the role of Fukube. It makes me wonder what they really mean (laughs)... I`ve worked with the director many times before and one of the things I always enjoy is how he adds interesting things for the actors to do and say before a take. He does the same in this movie, but he doesn`t do it with me. I don`t get to add anything! It`s a bit of a disappointment for me (laughs). Renji Ishibashi as Inshu Manjome: To read the whole 20th Century Boys manga, I went to a Manga Cafe for the first time in my life. The 1970s that the film depicts is my time. I was a young and passionate man in those days. It`s about my generation. I experienced it real time so I know how people started to feel lost and how things ended up. I`m confident that I can portray a man who lived through that time. The original manga is incredible but I tried not to be restrained by it so I could make my contribution. I did my best so that the audience would think that the movie version expanded even further the potential of the story. Hitomi Kuroki as Kiriko Endo: I couldn`t stop reading the whole 24 volumes of the original manga because I was so intrigued by the story! It`s not just for boys. Women would also find the story engaging if they read it. My character is Kenji`s elder sister and baby Kanna`s mother. It`s a very important role. Kiriko`s character regrets the choices she`s made but she`s also a very responsible person who wants to correct the things that she`s caused to go wrong. All the scenes involving my character are serious but I`m very happy to work with a director who tries so hard to make a good movie for the audience. Katsuo Nakamura as God Kami-sama: I was quite nervous about making a mistake and deviating from the original manga. I did my best but it`s still difficult. In one scene my character talks at length about the subtle difference between a strike and a gutter in a bowling game. I had a hard time doing that scene. My interpretation is that he tells the anecdote because he feels apprehensive about telling everybody the truth. So he tells them this as a metaphor, it`s the same thing he has told his homeless friends over and over again.

    Interview with Director Yukihiko Tsutsumi

    Q: Were you familiar with the original manga?

    Tsutsumi: I had read it and found it thoroughly entertaining. I can identify with many elements of the story because I come from the same generation as the characters. The way kids played back then and the way they were excited by new music... The first electric guitar Kenji ever owned was the yellow Greco Telecaster given to him by his sister. He plays it as an adult to put him back in the mindscape of his youth. It`s the same guitar as my very first guitar! Q: Did you have a credo when you made this movie? Tsutsumi: To be the Original Manga Fundamentalist! The manga was so good that I figured I`d be better off duplicating it rather than changing anything. I want you to watch the movie with the manga in your hand for comparison. I guess you can`t because it`s too dark in the cinema (laughs). I used manga pages as storyboards and even duplicated the camera angles of each frame. We selected scenes from the manga and photocopied the pages. The crew carried those pages around to know what kind of shots we wanted for the scene. When I was a kid, there was a manga magazine called Adventure King (Boken-O) and at one time it had a free attachment that came with it. It was called "The Moving Monsters." It was really just monsters drawn on a sheet of paper but you could create the illusion that the monsters were moving with your hands. It was such a low-tech gimmick but breathtaking. I was aiming at a similar kind of surprise with 20th CENTURY BOYS, the movie. Q: Your movies are known for their unique style and off-beat humor. Did you have to restrain yourself in this film? Tsutsumi: I`m doing my thing, too. But these shots get in the way in the editing room (laughs). The world woven in the original manga on which the whole movie is based on is like an impenetrable fortress. Just by changing a little thing may result in a disastrous misdirection. The whole story is tightly spun like an intricate web. For example, if a finger in the manga was pointing this way, it has to point the same way in the movie. Or the meaning of the action might change. So I had to diligently follow the manga. The original manga is very cinematic but manga language is different from movie language so I had to sometimes change things to make it more cinematic. Q: The original story has an undercurrent of the Rock spirit. Is it something you feel close to? Tsutsumi: The underlying theme of this movie is Rock. It`s a Rock`n`Roll movie in disguise. I put much energy in the FRIEND`s Concert scene and the scenes in which Kenji plays his guitar. The story revolves around a man who`s rock-star dream never took off. A man who is living a disillusioned life. He`s not sure which way he should go. He soon remembers what used to fuel his passion. The scene of Kenji playing the guitar on the shopping street on the eve of destruction is symbolic. The guitar that appears in the scene is a Martin guitar, a very famous instrument. It`s actually my guitar. I always wanted one so I bought it a couple of years ago.

    The main characters of Naoki Urasawa`s 20th Century Boys manga. © 2008 Naoki Urusawa, Studio Nuts/ Shogakukan Inc.

    Q: The film deals with many other cultural elements. Tsutsumi: There are so many sub-themes. The story describes the process of a religious cult taking over the nation in a similar way to Nazism. It deals with the theme of lost childhood and a loss of innocence in a manner similar to the movie, STAND BY ME. It examines Tokyo around the turn of the century. It forecasts the future to come and it looks back at the past, that of the 70s. Each element makes a good movie by itself. The original manga is drawn frame by frame and reflects a tremendous, fantastic imagination. It`s like a tapestry mural on an epic scale. I wanted to pay homage to the original manga and shoot the movie with as much imagination as I could. Q: So much happens in the first film of the triology. What are your thoughts on that? Tsutsumi: The first film is inconclusive but without it, there would be no second or third film. The first cut of the first film came at about 2 hours and 50 minutes. It was edited down to its barest minimum and at this stage it`s about 2 hours and 22 minutes. It`s a trilogy with a monstrous budget and it became also monstrous in length. Q: What was your response to such a huge budget? Tsutsumi: I figured that I`d never have another chance to be involved in such a big project. So I decided to make the best of it and have as much fun as I could with this huge undertaking. Q: How about the star cast? Tsutsumi: I remember Rob Reiner commenting on his experience directing THE BUCKET LIST. He said he was very satisfied with the performances of Jack Nicholson and Morgan Freeman. I feel just the same. But I also felt very tense because there were always new actors to deal with every day. Q: Any special opinion about "20th Century Boy", the T.Rex song? Tsutsumi: T.Rex was responsible for the entire genre of glam rock and I think they were like fantastic flowers that could have only bloomed in those days. Q: If T.Rex are the fantastic flowers of Rock history, what do you think your movie will be? Tsutsumi: It`ll be the biggest event movie of its time. The way it so perfectly duplicates the brilliant original manga is something new. I can reflect a lot of my personal history in this movie and I believe that it will stimulate the memories of the audience. Q: How significant is the 20th Century to you? Tsutsumi: It`s very important... How important? About 90% of me is made of it!

    Interview with Naoki Urasawa, Original Manga Artist/Screenwriter

    Q: What inspired you to create the story of 20th Century Boys?

    Urasawa: I had an idea for a manga that was based on some mysterious symbol. I was in the bath on the day I finished drawing Happy! [a series Urasawa drew before 20th], and a passage of a speech flashed in my head. It goes, "Without them we wouldn`t have lived to see the 21st Century. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you the 20th Century Boys!" I faxed the idea to the [Big Comic Spirits] editor right away. The memory of playing a T.Rex song, "20th Century Boy" on the P.A. at my junior high school also came back to me. The episode of Kenji playing T.Rex is based on my own experience. Q: What happened when you played T.Rex on the school P.A.? Urasawa: Like I drew in the manga, "Nothing changed" (laughs). In those days the only music you`d hear on the school P.A. would be some mellow easy listening stuff. I thought something hard as T.Rex would be revolutionary... But I guess many kids had similar experiences. Shiro Sano who plays both Yanbo and Mabo, told me that he thought it was about him when he read that scene. Many readers identify with 20th Century Boys. For me about 1/10 of it is autobiographical. Q: You once said in an interview that you wanted to examine the 20th Century with your manga. Urasawa: Let me elaborate on that. What I meant was that history is a chain reaction of events and anything we have now is the outcome of what happened in the past. I wanted the readers to have that notion because if we ignore what connects past and present and only look at a fragment, we miss something important. After the war, something new started in our culture. Some things matured and some things decayed, so to speak. I thought it would be important to re-examine those things. Q: As a screenwriter, what elements did you want to keep in the adaptation? Urasawa: The sense of strangeness the original manga has. "What`s going on?" is often the most important reaction to 20th Century Boys. If the obscurity was lost in adaptation, it would be one dimensional. I wanted to keep it multi-dimensional. I have faith in the way Director Tsutsumi handled the movie.

    Q: The director`s intention is to perfectly duplicate your manga on the screen. Urasawa: It`s kind of funny that one of the most original directors around is trying to duplicate a manga. And when I saw the footage, I thought it was perfectly his movie (laughs). I hope this movie project gives creative people the opportunity to interact and stimulate each other. Q: What do you think about the cast? Urasawa: They are all exactly right for their characters. It`s very unusual. I can tell that each of them studied the manga closely and portrayed their characters in a way that gives life and breath to the 20th Century Boys world. Q: What do you hope for the movie adaptation? Urasawa: It`s a trilogy with a big, 6 billion yen budget. It sounds like a big event and a grand saga. But really, it`s a very personal story. In other words, we can say that anybody`s life can be turned into a grand saga. I hope that the movie becomes something that reaches the very private microcosm of the audience.

    Interview with Takashi Nagasaki, Producer/Screenwriter

    Q: Tell us what you remember about the time you and Naoki Urasawa started the 20th Century Boys manga back in 1999. Nagasaki: I remember thinking that Urasawa was a surreal manga artist. In the beginning, he said he wanted to draw a story of a man who dreamed of the end of the world and he had this symbol mark design as a title of the manga with no name. He was thinking about having a big monster as the agent to end the world but I suggested a religious cult. Urasawa is one of a few manga artists who can draw both adults and children. We put a lot of our childhood episodes into the story. I had a feeling that 20th Century Boys would be the manga to summarize Urasawa`s career at that point. Q: Would it be accurate to assume that your relationship as an editor with Naoki Urasawa is kind of symbiotic, similar in the way Fujiko Fujio and Yudetamago are? [*Fujiko Fujio is a manga creating team, consisting of Abiko Motoo and Hiroshi Fujmoto. Yudetamago is also a manga creating team, consisting of Yoshinori Nakai and Takashi Shimada.] Nagasaki: That`s how I see ourselves, too. I believe that it was possible because we share a similar kind of morality and sentiment about society. Our level of tolerance is the same. Even if we deal with an evil character we both want justice to win in the end. Urasawa`s recurring theme is a struggling retribution of unsuccessful men. My contribution is to suggest more complex plots. Urasawa comes up with a bad guy who has an interesting human quality, like Manjome in 20th. The villains I come up with are cold-blooded and evil. I think our difference is the key to us creating interesting manga because one person`s imagination is usually quite limited. Urasawa is incredible in the way he can digest any suggested idea and make it completely his own.

    The villainous FRIEND. © 2008 Naoki Urusawa, Studio Nuts/ Shogakukan Inc.

    Q: Both you and Urasawa`s names are credited as screenwriters in the movie version of 20th CENTURY BOYS. How did that happen? Nagasaki: We both felt strongly responsible for the material whether or not the movie was a hit or a flop. The story in the film is different in some places and the same in other places. The way the movie deals with FRIEND is different, which resulted in different dialog. We think FRIEND`s identity isn`t really important (laughs) but it is for the movie, so we wrote it differently. Q: Last question. What kind of movie do you think 20th CENTURY BOYS will be? Nagasaki: Urasawa and I are waiting with interest and anxiety to the reaction of the fans of the original manga. The movie and the manga are different entities but we want them to have a link. We`re all serious about making a good movie so I`m confident that it`ll be an enjoyable one. I hope those who have never read the manga will see it, too. In one interview Urasawa did when he started to draw the manga, he said something like, "I don`t want to reminisce about the 20th Century nostalgically, I want to examine it." Much of the story is the answer to the question, What was the 20th Century? The sentiments expressed in the movie are those of people who lived through half of the 20th Century. I guess it`ll be an intriguing movie to see in the 23rd century, too! _________________________________________________________________________________________________________

    The Faces of the 20th Century in Japan: A 20th CENTURY BOYS Glossary

    Japan World Exposition 1970

    The motto for Japan`s first world exposition was, "For the progress and harmony of mankind." Pavilions representing various countries and themes were constructed on the vast hills of Senri, Osaka. Participating countries included Canada, China, the Great Britain, and Czechoslovakia (now Czech Republic and Slovakia) etc. Large corporations like Mitsui, Panasonic (then Matsushita), Hitachi and Toshiba came up with fantastic ideas for the realization of tomorrow`s world with its hopes and dreams. The most eye-catching exhibit was Tower of the Sun, a monument designed by Taro Okamoto, and the Fabric Pavilion designed by Tadanori Yokoo. Visitors lined up every day for The Moon Rock exhibition at the U.S. Pavilion. Japan continued to host world expositions at Tsukuba and Aichi but the phenomenal success of Expo `70 has yet to be matched. There are two Time Capsules installed at the Matsushita Pavilion. One was opened in 2000 and another is due to be opened in the year 6970 to reveal 2,098 memorabilia and paraphernalia from 1970, including a Heibon Punch pictorial magazine. Weekly Shonen Sunday A weekly manga magazine was first published in 1959 by Shogakukan Inc. Its rival Weekly Shonen Magazine went on the racks on the same day. Fujiko Fujio`s Q-Taro the Ghost (Obake no Q-Taro) and Fujio Akatsuka`s Osomatsu-kun were two of the more successful stories in the early days of Sunday. These stories have been followed by many more successful mangas. Heibon Punch A magazine for men (like Playboy magazine) published by Heibonsha Publishers (now renamed as Magazine House, Ltd.) from 1964 to 1988. It was extremely popular for its erotic pictorials, fashion and lifestyle related articles.

    Harenchi The word harenchi (used to express shameless and immoral behavior) was commonly used in the liberal late 60s. Go Nagai`s manga, The Shameless Academy (Harenchi Gakuen, 1968 - 1972) symbolized the times with its use of the word. The avant-garde nature of the manga was itself referred to as being harenchi by intellectuals of the era. "Koi no Kisetsu" (Season of Romance) A hit song of 1968 by the pop group, Pinky and the Killers. Popular with both young and old, Pinky was an androgynous woman who dressed in an outfit like Charley Chaplin`s. She sang and danced with the Killers, an all-male backup chorus. Gebageba Peep "Gebageba Peep" is a gag made popular by the comedy-variety TV program GEBA GEBA 90 MINUTES (Geba Geba 90 pun), which aired from 1969 to 1971. Just before commercial breaks, a Gebageba Peep jingle would play over a memorable cartoon. It`s said that "Peep" of Gebageba Peep is the Beep taken from the transmission of the Apollo 11 mission. Ninja Hattori-kun A popular manga serialized in the monthly magazine, Shonen (Boys) published by Kobunsha Publishers from 1964 to 1968. It was later resumed from 1981 to 1988 in a Shogakukan magazine. Drawn by Motoo Abiko of the Fujiko Fujio manga team, Hattori-kun is a contemporary boy ninja who moved to Tokyo from his hometown ninja village. A self-claimed descendent of the famous ninja Hattori Hanzo, wherever he goes he has crazy adventures. He always wears a mask. He hates frogs and loves omelets. He uses an archaic, strange ninja dialect and addresses all men formally as dono (e.g. Kenichi-dono). It was made into a live-action TV drama in 1967 and showed for one year. Hattori-kun was played by two actors, taking advantage of the mask he always wore. After enjoying a phenomenal success as a popular anime in the 80s, Hattori-kun made a debut on the big screen in NIN x NIN: NINJA HATTORI-KUN THE MOVIE in 2004.

    Apollo 11 On July 20, 1969 the first manned space mission landed on the Moon, in the Sea of Tranquility basin via the lunar module Eagle. Commander Armstrong spoke his famous line, "That`s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind," Figure-Four Leglock A devastatingly effective lock hold made popular in Japan by an American masked wrestler, Dick "The Destroyer" Beyer in the 70s. Vacuum Knee Kick A special kickboxing technique invented by the legendary kick boxer, Tadashi Sawamura. The semi-autobiographical manga that depicted Sawamura`s life, The Kicking Devil (Kikku no Oni), made his signature kick popular among children. The manga was serialized in Shonen Gaho by Shonengaho-sha publishers, 1969-1971. Shotaro Kaneda

    The hero of a popular manga, Iron Man No. 28 (Tetsujin 28-Go), drawn by Mitsuteru Yokoyama from 1956 to 1966 in Kobunsha Publishers` monthly Shonen magazine. The popular manga was turned into a TV drama and animated series, known overseas as GIGANTOR. The boy genius Kaneda fights villains with a remote-controlled robot with the number 28. Shikishima The name of the scientist who invented and constructed the Tetsujin 28-Go robot mentioned above. The mysterious man who made the robots number 26 and 27 wears a mask, reminiscent of our FRIEND... Yanbo and Mabo In 1959, a TV weather segment began with a cartoon featuring twin boys as its mascots. The twins were named Yanbo (slightly older) and Mabo, after the show`s sponsor Yanmar Diesel (currently Yanmar, Co, Ltd.). The weather forecast was and still is accompanied by a popular Yanbo and Mabo song. Blue Three or Bruce Lee

    Blue Three is the submarine featured in a popular manga series drawn by Satoru Ozawa in the weekly Shonen Sunday, Submarine Blue 6 (Ao no Rokugo), in 1967. Submarine Blue Three was also known as the Maracott. Bruce Lee is the kung-fu legend of THE BIG BOSS (1971) and ENTER THE DRAGON (1973). Haneda International Airport The first international airport built in Japan in 1931. After WWII it was temporarily under the control of the U.S. Military Forces. Narita International Airport started operations in 1978, and Haneda became a domestic airport except for flights to and from South Korea. Expansion is planned in 2010. Chicken Ramen A popular food created by Momofuku Ando, the inventor of instant ramen-noodles and the founder of Nissin Food Products Co., Ltd. Chicken ramen was invented in 1958 and is still loved and eaten nationwide.

    Bob Dylan Born Robert Allen Zimmerman in 1941 in Minnesota, U.S.A. His record debut was in 1962 and he became a legendary folk singer/songwriter. Surviving the Electric Dylan Controversy and aging beyond the age 30 despite his famous quote, "Don`t trust anyone over thirty," Dylan is still active in his 60s, ever inventive and versatile. In 1999 he was chosen as one of Time magazine`s 100 most influential people of the 20th Century. His songs include "Blowing in the Wind", "Like a Rolling Stone", "Knocking on Heaven`s Door" and many more. He starred in and wrote music for the 1973 movie, PAT GARRETT AND BILLY THE KID. Naoki Urasawa, a Dylan fan, published a book called Let`s talk about Dylan (Dylan o Kataro) with Koji Wakui. Group Sounds Also known as the GS, this terminology defined all-male rock/pop bands of the late 1960s in Japan. Popular groups include The Spiders, The Tempters and The Tigers. Musicians who died at the age 27 Those who have joined the 27 Club are, Brian Jones of The Rolling Stones in 1969, Janis Joplin in 1970, Jim Morrison of The Doors in 1971, Jimi Hendrix in 1970 and many others. The mysterious phenomenon has extended to include Kurt Cobain of Nirvana and Yutaka Ozaki, a Japanese rock star.

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