SciFi Japan
    Fred Ladd, Ray Owens, Billie Lou Watts and Gilbert Mack at a dubbing session for GIGANTOR. Photo courtesy of William Winckler. Author: Bob Johnson Special Thanks to Jennifer Ladd and William Winckler SciFi Japan is saddened to pass on the news of the passing of Fred Ladd. Fred passed away at his home in Southern California. Fred Ladd wrote and directed the Americanization of Osamu Tezuka's ASTROBOY. ©Tezuka Production Fred Ladd was a pioneer in entertainment and the man responsible for introducing Japanese animation or as it is known now anime, to the Western world. Ladd was born in Toledo, Ohio on February 19, 1927. He graduated from Ohio State University with degrees in radio and speech. He soon moved to New York where he worked at an FM radio station and then Cayton, Inc., adapting existing nature documentaries into feature films. Cayton

    Authors: Loren Portillo, Sean Kotz Photos courtesy of Loren Portillo Ray Harryhausen, the pioneering filmmaker and special effects master of such classic films as THE SEVENTH VOYAGE OF SINBAD, VALLEY OF GWANGI, and JASON AND THE ARGONAUTS, passed away peacefully Tuesday May 7th in London England from an undisclosed illness. He was 92 years old. With Ray Harryhausen’s passing came an instantaneous ritual litany of recognizable names testifying to his influence -- Steven Spielberg, George Lucas, Peter Jackson, James Cameron, to name a few. But by the same token, there was practically no real discussion of why he had that impact. That’s predictable, really. For most people, this is just a news sidebar, including the legions of web-bound entertainment beat writers frantically culling fragmentary and unchecked sources to adopt a posture of authority for his impromptu obituary. Harryhausen is simply not familiar to most of the

    Beloved Toho FX Artist Has Died Special Thanks to Steve Ryfle, Oki Miyano and Ed Godziszewski The Japanese special effects community lost one of its true legends with the passing of Yasuyuki `Taiko` Inoue on February 19th. He was 89 years old. In 1954, Inoue was recruited by Toho to create blueprints and build the many of the miniature sets for GODZILLA (???, Gojira). He became the head of Toho`s Special Effects Art Department and worked on nearly all of Toho’s science fiction, fantasy and FX pictures for the next three decades. Inoue and his crew specialized in the hands-on, practical effects work known as "Tokubi", creating the miniature cities and landscapes depicted in such films as RODAN (????? ???, Sora no Daikaijuu Radon, 1956) and MOTHRA (???, Mosura, 1961); the forests of FRANKENSTEIN CONQUERS THE WORLD (???????????????????, Furankenshutain Tai Chitei Kaijuu Baragon, 1965) and WAR

    Prolific Sci-Fi Author Passes Away at Age 80 Authors: Andrew Nguyen and Keith Aiken Source: Nippon 2007, Science Fiction Studies, Mainichi Daily News, various Japan’s science-fiction community lost one of its grand figures recently with the passing of Sakyo Komatsu on July 26, 2011 from pneumonia. Born January 28, 1931 in Osaka, Komatsu graduated from Kyoto University with a degree in Italian Literature in 1954. In 1961 he entered the Hayakawa Science Fiction Competition, a story contest co-sponsored by Hayakawa Library, publisher of SF Magazine (SF Magajin), and the Toho Motion Picture Company. He received an Honorable Mention and 5000 yen for his entry Peace on Earth (Chi-ni Heiwa), a World War II story set in an alternate timeline where Japan did not surrender in the wake of the atomic bombings. The next year, Komatsu won the contest with his story Memoirs of

    Franchise Creator Dies as New Movie Premieres Author: Bob Johnson Official Site: Special Thanks to Tokyo Broadcasting System and Daisuke Ishizuka On Saturday November 6th, the feature film SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO (Uchu Senkan Yamato, 2010)— the latest incarnation of the classic YAMATO saga— had its world premiere screening for potential buyers and guests at the American Film Market (AFM) tradeshow in Santa Monica, CA. Directed by the popular Takashi Yamazaki (RETURNER, the ALWAYS- SUNSET ON THIRD STREET films), the new live action adaptation does for SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO what JJ Abrams` update of STAR TREK did last year; launch a long-running franchise to new levels and new audiences. The AFM screening of SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO was hosted by the film`s international sales agent, Tokyo Broadcasting System (TBS). Among TBS` invited guests were reps from multiple film studios and distributors, a reporter for

    Toho Leading Man Dies at 92 Author: Ed Godziszewski Source: Variety, Foreign Correspondents Club of Japan Special Thanks to Daisuke Ishizuka, Stuart Galbraith IV, Mark Schilling, and Georges Baumgartner Ryo Ikebe, well-known to fans of Japanese science fiction and fantasy film, died in Tokyo at 1:55pm on October 8, 2010 from complications of blood poisoning at the age of 92. Born on February 11, 1918 to painter and comic artist Hitoshi Ikebe, he graduated from Rikkyu University and started out his film career in 1940 as a screenwriter at Toho, with his ultimate ambition to be a director. However, his handsome good looks were noticed by director Yasujiro Shimazu who suggested Ikebe try performing in front of the camera, and he made his acting debut in 1941’s FIGHTING FISH (Togyo). Shortly after his debut, Ikebe was drafted into the military and served nearly

    Internationally Acclaimed Anime Director has Died Author: Kyle Byrd Source: Tokyo Shimbun, Anime News Network, Polymetrica, Sony Pictures Classics, The Associates, various On Tuesday, August 24, renowned anime director Satoshi Kon passed away from pancreatic cancer at the young age of 46. Along with films like Katsuhiro Otomo`s AKIRA (1988) and Mamorou Oshi`s GHOST IN THE SHELL (1995), Kon’s films such as PERFECT BLUE (1997) and PAPRIKA (2006) helped popularize mature-themed Japanese animation in the United States by showing the West that animated films didn’t have to be for children. Kon’s films were often subversive, complex, and surreal examinations of the human condition. He would prove to be an influence on filmmakers the world over such as Guillermo del Toro (PAN’S LABYRINTH, HELLBOY), Christopher Nolan, (INCEPTION, THE DARK KNIGHT), and Darren Aronofsky (THE WRESTLER, REQUIEM FOR A DREAM). Born Oct. 12, 1963, in

    Legendary Voice Actor and Director Has Died Source: Bill Winckler SciFi Japan was just informed that Peter Fernandez passed away this morning from lung cancer. Long acknowledged as one of the best in the business, Fernandez was a voice actor and dubbing director for the American versions of dozens of films and television series... his long list of credits include such favorites as ULTRAMAN, ASTRO BOY, GODZILLA VS THE SEA MONSTER, THE SPACE GIANTS, SON OF GODZILLA, GIGANTOR, STAR BLAZERS, the Sergio Leone/Clint Eastwood spaghetti westerns... and even a "clean version" of George Romero`s DAY OF THE DEAD. He may be best known for his work on SPEED RACER, in which he voiced both Speed and Racer X and also wrote the English lyrics for the show`s theme song. Our condolences to Peter`s family and friends. SciFi Japan will be following with a full tribute soon,

    Legendary Special Effects Master Celebrates his 90th Birthday Author: Loren Portillo All photos courtesy of Loren Portillo Stop motion animator and visual effects legend Ray Harrryhausen celebrates his 90th Birthday today, June 29, 2010. With a film career that has spanned approximately forty years, fifteen feature films and various short subjects, Ray Harryhausen is a without question a living legend. Ray`s illustrious career has been well documented over the years. His film credits include such classic titles THE SEVENTH VOYAGE OF SINBAD, VALLEY OF GWANJI, ONE MILLION YEARS B.C. and THE BEAST FROM 20,000 FATHOMS, which was a direct inspiration for the original 1954 Japanese film GOJIRA. After his 1981 film CLASH OF THE TITANS, Ray officially announced his retirement from the film Industry to concentrate on his own foundation, which helps preserve his animation puppets and sculpture work. Over the last thirty

    Toei Hero Dies at Age 59 Author: Keith Aiken and Oki Miyano Translations: Oki Miyano and Hiro Sono Source: Yahoo Japan, various Special Thanks to JR Lipartito SciFi Japan is sad to report the passing of actor Yusuke Natsu, one of the stars of the 1976 Toei Co., Ltd. television series SPACE IRONMEN KYODYNE (Uchu Tetsujin Kyodain), who died at a Tokyo hospital from stomach cancer on January 27th. He was 59 years old. Natsuki had been feeling ill last so he visited the hospital for a checkup last Fall. He was diagnosed with cancer, and doctors removed a portion of his stomach that November. Natsu had remained in the hospital since then. Recently, until his hospitalization, Natsu had worked for the Theater Japan company where he performed and also instructed young actors. His last stage performance was in June, 2009. He was

    SPECTREMAN Star Passes Away Author: Bob Johnson Additional Research and Translations: Daisuke Ishizuka Source: Yahoo Japan, various Special Thanks to Oki Miyano and Keith Aiken 2010 got off to a sad and shocking start with the loss of the star of one of Japan’s more unique superhero series. Actor Tetsuo Narikawa died of lung cancer on January 1 in Tokyo, Japan. He was 65 years old. Narikawa is best known for his leading role as Joji Gamou (aka; George) in the P Productions TV series SPECTREMAN (Supekutoruman) from January 2, 1971 through March 25, 1972. Tetsuo Narikawa was born in Iidabashi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo on April 15, 1944 during a very turbulent time in Japanese history. He attended Hosei University where he studied in the Economics Department but dropped out before graduation. During his time at the University, Narikawa also attended a performance school run by Toei

    Source: Bay Area Film Events Bay Area Film Events, Creatures at Large, and The San Francisco Giants present Creature Features Night at AT&T Park on Saturday August 29, 2009! During the 1970s and 1980s, KTVU Channel 2 in Oakland, California had a ratings-busting duo as they featured both the San Francisco Giants and CREATURE FEATURES. Now, both Bay Area legends are reuniting for one fright-filled night of baseball, zombies, and fun! The batty evening begins with the San Francisco Giants and Colorado Rockies as they continue this season’s battle for the Wild Card. Between innings, classic clips from CREATURE FEATURES will be shown featuring both Bob Wilkins and John Stanley. After the game, fans can make their way onto the playing field for a special showing of the iconic horror film NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD on the HD scoreboard screen. Also on the field will be

    We have received the following message from the family of Bob Wilkins... Fans of Bob Wilkins, Saturday`s memorial service is for family, invited friends and co-workers. The church is small with limited parking and the Wilkins family is concerned that hundreds of people will show up only to be turned away. There will be a couple of fan tributes in March that you won`t want to miss. SciFi Japan will provide details on the March fan tributes as soon as they become available.

    Top Toho Special Effects Designer has Died Authors: Ed Godziszewski with Oki Miyano Special Thanks to Yasuyuki Inoue Mutsumi Toyoshima, widely regarded as one of the best production designers on Toho special effects movies from the 1960s through the 1980s, died November 17. As a key member of Toho`s special effects art department, Toyoshima designed and created blueprints for many of the most famous vehicles, props, and machines seen in the studio`s monster, science fiction, and war films. Among his designs are the popular Maser Cannon (introduced in THE WAR OF THE GARGANTUAS in 1966), the Solgell Island silver iodide towers from SON OF GODZILLA (Gojira no Mosuko, 1967), the UN submarine Explorer from KING KONG ESCAPES (Kingu Kongu no Gyakushu, 1967), the Moonlight SY-3 from DESTROY ALL MONSTERS (Kaiju Soshingeki, 1968), the Black Shark from LATITUDE ZERO (Ido Zero Daisakusen,1969), and the

    Source: Classic Horror Film Board, various We`re sad to report that Forrest J Ackerman, founder of Famous Monsters of Filmland and inspiration to generations of monster fans and creators, has died. From Forrest Ackerman`s friend and caregiver, Joe Moe: "Dearest friends. At 11:58 last night. Thursday Dec. 4th. Forrest J Ackerman passed away quickly and peacefully. I am struggling to give you this information between bouts of profound grief of the sort that you will all be experiencing at the sight of this news. I will give you more details as I`m able. For now, trust me when I tell you he left us gently, in complete lucidity and with as much dignity as any of us could have wished for our beloved Uncle. Thanks for all of your support. We`ll talk again soon. Love, Joe Moe" From AP News: Sci-fi`s grand old man, Forrest J

    Thanks and Best Wishes to the Ultimate Fan Author: the SciFi Japan Staff Friends of Forrest J Ackerman have reported that "Uncle Forry" is in ill health. The 91 year-old is battling pneumonia and has also been diagnosed with congestive heart failure. Forrest Ackerman has gone by many nicknames over the years... 4E, FJA, 4SJ, Uncle Forry, Dr. Acula, and so on. Another word often linked to him is "legendary", a word that gets tossed around much too often, but anyone who knows or has heard of Forry Ackerman would agree that in his case it absolutely fits. He is best known for the legendary (there it is again) magazine Famous Monsters of Filmland, but his impact extends far beyond FM.... the man has influenced literally generations of fans, artists, writers, and filmmakers. Forry has given an amazing gift to his fellow fans

    Renowned Author and Professor of East Asian Languages and Literatures Has Passed Away Author: Mike Walters Special Thanks to Doreen Hernandez and the Asian Studies Center of the University of Pittsburgh Keiko Iwai McDonald, professor of East Asian Languages and Literatures at the University of Pittsburgh and an esteemed scholar of Japanese cinema, passed away following a fishing accident on September 14, 2008. She was 68 years old. Dr. McDonald authored eight books (including Cinema East: A Critical Study of Major Japanese Films, Mizoguchi, and Reading a Japanese Film: Cinema in Context) as well as more than forty articles and book chapters. She was also the recipient of a number of awards, such as the Asian Studies Teaching Excellence Award (1998), the Tina and David Bellet College of Arts and Sciences Teaching Excellence Award (2002), and was three times named a Fulbright fellow. What follows is

    Creatures and Zombies Invade Santa Cruz in an Exclusive South Bay Premier! Source: Bay Area Film Events Santa Cruz, CA - October 23, 2008 – Bay Area Film Events proudly presents the exclusive South Bay premier of a new feature-length documentary on one of the most popular local shows in Bay Area television history, CREATURE FEATURES! Taking its title from the show’s famous catch-phrase, WATCH HORROR FILMS, KEEP AMERICA STRONG! A JOURNEY INTO CREATURE FEATURES looks back at the showcase of classic horror, science fiction, and monster movies. Included in the evening’s events will also be the 40th anniversary screening of cult classic NIGHT OF THE LIVING DEAD, a Zombie Fashion Show, special guests, displays, and more. The festivities start at 7:00pm on October 23, 2008 at the Del Mar Theatre, 1124 Pacific Ave, Santa Cruz, CA 95060-4415. (831-469-3220) More information on the show and

    Reiko Yamada Plays Ifukube`s "Ritmica Ostinata" Author: Ed Godziszewski Japanese Giants On the evening of March 28, 2008, a rare performance of one of Akira Ifukube`s classical works, "Ritmica Ostinata", was held in the city of Kalamazoo, Michigan. Seldom performed stateside, on this night Ifukube’s "Ritmica Ostinata" was tackled by the Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra, featuring former Ifukube pupil Reiko Yamada as the orchestra`s principal pianist, as part of a program titled `Japanese Garden`. Held on the campus of Western Michigan, the evening’s program consisted of: “Dream/Window” by Tohru Takemitsu “The Birds” by Ottorino Respighi “Ritmica Ostinata” by Akira Ifukube “Symphonic Metamorphosis on Themes of Carl Maria von Weber” by Paul Hindemith Having played with the Kalamazoo Symphony since 1995, Reiko Yamada began her career in music by taking a bachelor’s degree from the Tokyo College of Music during the 1980’s during which time she studied for four

    Author: Robert Biondi and John “Dutch” DeSentis Special Thanks to Robert Troch, Mike Temple, and David Milner A Remembrance By John “Dutch” DeSentis My first Godzilla convention ever was G-Con ’97 in New York City. That date was August 31st, 1997. I never had the fortune of going to any of the early (and by all accounts incredible) G-Cons including the trailblazing G-Con 1996. Luckily for me, New York City was a much more reasonable location for a twelve year old kid from Pennsylvania to convince his mom to take him to for something she had already been tired of for many of those 12 years. My only concern walking into that convention that day (besides acquiring some Bandai figures and the soundtrack to Godzilla 1954 from the dealer room) was meeting the men who played Godzilla: Haruo Nakajima and Ken Satsuma. Upon walking

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