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Takeshi Kitano’s History Program to Feature Tokusatsu

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Takeshi Kitano’s History Program to Feature Tokusatsu

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The latest entry in Takeshi Kitano’s program, “This is the Real History of Japanese Performance”, will discuss the history of tokusatsu and filming techniques.


Starting with Ultraman and Godzilla, Japanese tokusatsu (special effects) productions have influenced the world with their unique ideas and devices. In this latest entry of “Takeshi’s ‘This is the Real History of Japanese Performance'” (Takeshi no Kore ga Honto no Nippon Geinoushi), the program will explore the tokusatsu genre through rare footage and testimonies in addition to program-specific experiments. Renowned actor and director Takeshi “Beat” Kitano, who’s currently working on a samurai period film, also has much to say!

Scheduled to air on May 15 from 6:00 PM to 7:30 PM (Japan Standard Time), the program (hosted by Takeshi Kitano, George Tokoro, and Yuki Sugihara) will cover three main points, and Producer Tsuyoshi Enokida has behind-the-scenes commentary to share too.

Point #1: History of Japanese Special Effects

Although it has been popularized by shows like Ultraman, Kamen Rider, and the Super Sentai series, tokusatsu programs have historically contained various stories about human conflict and suffering.

Follow the history of the genre as it moved from the big screen to television alongside director Eiji Tsuburaya who pioneered the early days of tokusatsu. Learn about the groundbreaking techniques that brought us Godzilla (1954), the birth of Moonlight Mask (1958), origins of the composite technology that gave us Ultraman (1966) and Ambassador Magma (1966), and much more. There will even be videotape recordings from that time!

Making guests appearances in the studio are two tokusatsu alumni:

  • Takeshi Tsuruno* (Shin Asuka / Ultraman Dyna, Ultraman Dyna (1997)), and
  • Atsuko Takahata (Maribaron, Kamen Rider Black RX (1988))

*Takeshi Tsuruno is also the singer for the opening song of Kikai Sentai Zenkaiger (2021).

Both will share their experiences of their respective roles, hero and villain, as well as struggles and secrets from their time on their shows.

From the Producer

It’s interesting how they developed Tsuruno’s role. According to Ultraman Dyna‘s director Hirochika Muraishi, Tsuruno wasn’t very athletic. However, Shin Asuka is supposed to be good at baseball, so Tsuruno had to put in a lot of practice for the role. A certain something was added to the casting guide, and we had a lot of fun talking about that.

Point #2: Making Your Own Effects is Surprisingly Easy!

Again and again, scenes of cities, represented by miniatures, being destroyed appear in tokusatsu productions, and Highspeed Para-hero Gundeen, an upcoming tokusatsu program airing on June 26, will be no different. See how to make these explosions that computer graphics can’t recreate. Learn from professionals who don’t accept failure, and learn how these techniques have evolved over time!

A member of productions like the live-action movie Attack on Titan and Shin Godzilla, special effects cinematographer Keiichi Sakurai will be present to discuss recording speeds and other “hidden techniques” to show how viewers can make their own special effects at home. “You really can make convincing tokusatsu videos with things just around your house,” Sakurai tells Takeshi.

From the Producer

We’re always trying new things on this program, and this time it’s tokusatsu. Using drawers and electric fans, we filmed a boat out at sea with our smartphones. It’s so simple yet still very convincing. If you’re interested in this, you should really give it a try. Takeshi took a video too, so look forward to this “latest work by Director Takeshi”.

Point #3: Live-Action Adaptation of Ultraman and Rakugo

People have always been fascinated by tokusatsu, but we’re also going to try something new: combining it with rakugo, a traditional form of Japanese entertainment. Rakugo performer Kyotaro Yanagiya adapts his beloved Ultraman with the classic rakugo story “The Sparrows that Flew Away” (Nukesuzume) to create a new form: Ultraman rakugo.

Summary of “Escaped Gavadon” (Nuke-Gavadon)

A penniless artist draws Gavadon on clay pipes in exchange for lodging in Odawara. However, on the following day, Gavadon leaps from the pipes…

The filming was overseen by Keiichi Sakurai, and for a monster, Gavadon has some cute points. Please enjoy this enthralling rakugo performance.

From the Producer

In addition to Sakurai directing, the staff of “Chonyuumon! Rakugo The Movie” also helped with this adaptation of Ultraman rakugo. Set in the Edo period, the location where the monster appears makes use of miniature destruction techniques to create a very impressive scene. Please enjoy this two-in-one performance.

Producer Enokida’s Final Comments

Computer graphics is the mainstream method to create effects, but some things can still only be done with miniatures. This program highlights people who take that to heart and hold it as the source of their passion. There will be archived footage exclusively seen here, and there are many stories about the professionals who have dedicated themselves to this art. Even if you’re not necessarily a tokusatsu fan, I really think this program is worth watching.

Sources: NHK (1, 2)


Toku fan living in Japan who also enjoys karaoke, papercraft, and dramas.

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