Koichi Sakamoto & Yuji Kobayashi Give Tokusatsu Special Talk at Tokyo University
On November 9th, director Koichi Sakamoto (Kyoryuger, Space Sheriff NEXT GENERATION, Kamen Rider Fourze, Ultraman Ginga S) and writer Yuji Kobayashi (Garo, Ultraman Ginga S, Space Sheriff Gavan) gave a special talk show at Tokyo University about their various works on tokusatsu.
The talk focused on the production side of tokusatsu, where the guests reflected on their own personal experiences.
Sakamoto started with his history of working on Power Rangers both in the United States and New Zealand. While filming in New Zealand, he worked with Toei to help film the opening for Magiranger, which used wire work. He would go on to bring this style back to Japan when he worked on the movies Mega Monster Battle: Ultra Galaxy Legend and Kamen Rider W Forever: A to Z/The Gaia Memories of Fate.
Yuji Kobayashi, the main writer for Garo and sequel Makai Senki, was unemployed at the time of the original shows’ pre-production. He said that he emailed creator Keita Amemiya who liked his work and gave him the job. One of the first problems with writing for Garo was, unlike Kamen Rider or Super Sentai, Garo wasn’t an established show, so Kobayashi was unsure how to write for it.
Sakamoto would have a partial direction role in Garo: Makai Senki episode 3 “Wheels”. His schedule was too busy to direct the episode himself, but he gave advice on the episode’s bike chase scene due to his experience in other productions.
Sakamoto had a certain image of what he expected Kamen Rider to be when he initially signed on to work on Kamen Rider Fourze, but was shocked when first looking at concept designs.
My first thoughts were very similar to the first impressions around the internet. I thought, “what do I do?” I was initially very worried. But after seeing seeing [stunt actor, Seiji] Taikawa in action doing stunts in test footage and knowing that Gentaro (Kamen Rider Fourze) was going to be written as a goofball, it made sense.
Bandai told the staff members to use space as a theme. However, it was producer Tsukuda that brought in school setting and the friendship theme because of the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake. The event had a large scale effect on the population and he wanted kids to go out and make some friends.
Fumika Shimizu got her role almost immediately after the audition. The staff members agreed that her personality was practically the same as her character, Yuki Jojima’s. During filming, Sakamoto even told her to stop trying to act and just be herself instead.
When Unofficial Sentai Akibaranger: Season Tsuu went into production, Sakamoto called Ryuta Tasaki, who he had worked with for a number of years on Power Rangers, and asked to be a part of it, even if it was an extra. He agreed and asked him to come down to the set one day. When he arrived, they asked Sakamoto to sit down at the desk and one by one, asking him to put on glasses, a wig and then a hat, until he realized they had pranked him and actually written him a speaking role in the show.
Moving the discussion onto Space Sheriff series, Sakamoto said that Toei was interested in making more additions. They were unsure whether or not to create a movie or TV show at first, eventually going with V-Cinema route, so that if fans wanted to see it, they would need to buy it.
The focus of the NEXT GENERATION movies was on adult fans who were already aware of the characters and universe, so that there was no need to dumb it down for children. The new Space Sheriff movies take inspiration from Kamen Rider W V-Cinemas, where Geki (Gavan Type-G) is used as a bridge between the Next Generation movies in the same way that W was used in Mega Max.
The discussion then moved onto audience questions.
When asked about choice of monsters in Ultraman Ginga S, Sakamoto stated that they were solely based on the quality of already existing suits.
Another question asked about Kamen Rider × Kamen Rider Fourze & OOO: Movie War Mega Max. Sakamoto said he included the Showa Riders in Mega Max purely because he likes Showa heroes. Stronger received a primary focus as he was one of Sakamoto’s favorites.
Lastly, someone asked what older show or character they wanted to remake/reimagine, Sakamoto wanted to tackle Kikaider, Henshin Ninja Arashi and a live action version of the current Ultraman manga. As for Kobayashi, he wants to write a new original Kamen Rider story.