On July 10th Ultraman Connection Live: Ultraman Day took place, all in celebration for Ultraman’s 55th anniversary.
Ultraman Connection Live: Ultraman Day, was a four hour event that took place on Ultraman Day, July 10th, in celebration of the 55th anniversary. This event featured the return of Sean Nichols (Sean White, Ultraman Max) hosting the event, with three actors from the original Ultraman series coming on the show as guest speakers. Joining Nichols were Susumu Kurobe (Shin Hayata, Ultraman), Hiroko Sakurai (Yuriko Edogawa in Ultra Q, Akiko Fuji in Ultraman), and Bin Furyua, the original suit actor for Ultraman.
The beginning of the event started off with a trailer celebrating the 55th anniversary, with clips from the original Ultraman series. After the trailer viewers were taken through a virtual convention center, in the theming of being set on the Land of Light itself. Once the walkthrough of the convention hall was completed, Nichols appeared on screen, welcoming guests to Ultraman Connection Live. After speaking he introduced the first segment of the event, bringing it over to a talk show about Marvel’s Ultraman comic series.
The portion of the event covering Marvel’s Ultraman series was hosted by EJ Couloucoundis, Editor in Chief of Ultraman Galaxy. Guests during this portion were as followed:
- Marvel Editor-in-Chief C.B. Cebulski
- Editor Tom Brevoort
- Writer Mat Groome
- Writer Kyle Higgins
- Artist Francesco Manna
During this portion viewers had the opportunity to listen in from the creators of Marvel’s Ultraman comic series on what comes from making the series. Viewers of this portion of the event were also greeted with a new teaser of the comic, revealing a new page of the upcoming issue. Nearing the end of this segment C.B. Cebulski revealed he had a “Top Secret” box with someone inside it. After opening it it was revealed to be the new Jirahs figure by Seismic Toys.
Once the Marvel talk show was completed, it was then brought over to artist Matt Frank who introduced, Kaiju Rumble Pinball, a new Ultraman pinball machine by Spooky Pinball. This pinball machine features clips and music from the original Ultraman series, artwork by Matt Frank, and additional music by Matt “Count D” Montgomery. This pinball machine is currently on sale, with only 500 units being produced world wide.
The event was then brought to Tsuburaya Productions, where Sean Nichols was with Susumu Kurobe, Bin Furuya, and Hiroko Sakurai. Going forward the event was a mix of question and answers for the guests, and playing select episodes of the original Ultraman series. Sean Nichols first spoke to Kurobe and Sakurai, who appeared with him on Ultraman Max.
Answers said by the guests were translated for the audience by Sean Nichols.
Q: What were your thoughts on returning to the series in Ultraman Max?
Kurobe: As the original Ultraman you don’t really come back to play a new character but since Ultraman Max was different he got asked by the director to join and enjoyed the experience on set.
Sakurai: One of the directors asked her to return as a professor so there was a lot of interactions with the cast and it was a great time on set.
Q: What was it like to be a suit actor playing Ultraman for the first time?
Furuya: Since there was no model to base the character on, it took a lot from Ultra Q and other works to make things work for Ultraman. He remembers Eiji Tsuburarya’s words “Remember Ultraman is the hero that gives children their dreams,” and remembered that every day while shooting.
Once the first round of questions were completed, they played an episode from the original Ultraman series. Kurobe, Sakurai, and Furuya all picked out an episode to air, and the first one to pick which episode was Furuya. His episode selection was Episode 10 – The Mysterious Dinosaur Base. He commented on the episode, saying that this episode was special for him because he got to work with Haruo Nakajima, the original suit actor for Godzilla. Furuya was taught by him and it was special to see the “tokusatsu god” work with them.
When the episode finished Nichols then asked the guests to comment and give their thoughts on the episode.
Kurobe: Remember how Ultraman ripped off the frill from Jirahs. Putting the frills back on Jirahs shows how ultraman has a lot of heart and has feelings for the Kaiju.
Sakurai: It looks like Godzilla but its Jirahs!
Furuya: The fight scene with him and Nakajima in the suits were intense, but also shows the fun nature that comes across the scene as well thanks to the communication between the Kaiju and Ultraman.
The next round of questions were selected from Twitter, and those who had their answer selected received a prize as well.
Q (For Kurobe): As an actor how does it feel to know that people are still enjoying the Ultra series 55 years later?
Kurobe: Its an amazing result – 55 years. This is a Japanese national treasure and its something he has been proud of and say how happy he was being a part of it. The human side of it is one thing but the whole Ultraman feeling is something that is an amazing treasure.
Q (For Sakurai): How do you think the personality of Akiko differed from that of Yuriko and how did you try to show that difference?
Sakurai: There wasn’t much difference between the two but with Ultraman there was a hair stylist and costumes that helped differentiate the characters but in reality they were very similar.
Q (For Furuya): What was the difference between the three suits you wore in 66-67?
Furuya: With the mast it was at first formed by his face but it was hard to breathe, but over time it got better. As he performed on Ultraman he had difficulty fitting into suits with the muscles he was building, so they had to make the suit thinner to adjust for that.
Sakurai’s episode was next to be played, which was episode 23 – My Home is Earth. Sakurai also said to pay attention to the sorrow and sadness expressed by Jamila at the end of the episode.
Guest speakers thoughts on the episode:
Kurobe: Looking at the story now we hope we can continue to just make stories as impactful as this.
Furuya: The star of the show is Jamila and it’s a different story of humans betraying humans and Ultraman did not want to be the one to defeat Jamila. As soon as he read the script he was emotional and was even crying while inside the suit.
Sakurai: Some of the shots and how the director created it (night shot with the night light) were at Lake Kawaguchi near Mt. Fuji. The director took them there during that episode and did not even show the lake. With how many close up shots there were and how little you see them she hopes viewers appreciated the camera work in this episode.
Another round of Twitter Q&A’s took place next.
Q (For Kurobe): How do you want the legacy of the Ultra series to be carried into the future?
Kurobe: This is the number one topic that is going around Tsuburaya Productions since Ultraman is a global product now. “How is this going to answer everyone’s expectations?” Ultraman will continue to be bigger and better so look forward to the future and see.
Q (For Sakurai) : What was it like filming on the set of Ultraman Max with your former cast members?
Sakurai: Now she’s a professor in the series and Kurobe has become the top ranking official in team dash, she looked at the rest of the cast and had comments of “ah its good to be young” seeing how well they remembered their lines.
Q (For Furuya): How was it working with Eiji Tsuburaya and do you ever wish you could get back into the suit for one more run as Ultraman?
Furuya: Tsubruraya was a god in the film industry and to be able to come to Ultraman to tackle the challenge was one of the greatest things he’s done in life.
Of course he wants to get back into the suit, at the 60th anniversary he will be 83 years old – what better time to get back into the suit at that time?
The final episode to air was selected by Kurobe, which was Episode 28 – Human Specimens 5 & 6. This episode was important to Kurobe because of Alien Dada and how unforgettable he is.
Guest speakers thoughts on the episode:
Furuya: This is one of the nicest put together fight scenes in the Ultra series and both sides were able to perform their choreography well.
Sakurai: Akiko did not appear much in that episode so she did not have many memories of the episode
Kurobe: Shin did not appear much in the episode but one thing to remember that Alien Dada is his favorite Kaiju from the entire series and always will remember it.
After this, a final round of Q&A’s took place.
Q (For Kurobe): Looking back at the last 55 years, what was your biggest takeaway from playing this role?
Kurobe: Its kind of like the golden rule that is the key to what Ultraman is about. Treat others the way you want to be treated.
Q (For Sakurai): Do you feel like a role model to the girls who watched the show and have any of them become heroines of the series?
Sakurai: Of the heroines who played in Ultraman in Japan – not many said they looked up to her however, traveling outside of japan she gets a lot of comments on how her role as Akiko got them into acting. She was not popular with the women but was with the men.
Q (For Furuya): What kind of advice do you have for anyone going into the stunt business side of the acting industry?
Furuya: The most important thing is understanding that your role is making children’s dreams come true
Once the Q&A’s were completed Sean Nichols revealed that the audience in the event all have an opportunity to win a Blu-Ray DVD set of the original Ultraman series, signed by the cast who attended the event. Afterwards Nichols speaks on Ultraman Trigger, and cuts to a video of Raiga Terasaka (Kengo, Ultraman Trigger) greeting the audience of the show and to look forward to what’s to come of Ultraman Trigger.
In the process of closing the show, much like the last event, a Kaiju comes to attack the guests. This time it was Alien Dada, who begins to attempt to attack the speakers, after all leaving Kurobe transforms into Ultraman to fight Alien Dada. Before transforming Kurobe takes out a spoon, much like the gag that was done in the series. Furuya joins in with Ultraman to perform a beam attack together, defeating Alien Dada. This segment ends with Ultraman and Furuya bowing to each other.
Suddenly a Kyrieloid apprears on set, attacking Ultraman. Ultraman Tiga then shows up to defeat the Kyrieloid. Continuing on Ultraman Mebius appears on stage to fight off two Kaiju but is proving to have some difficulty fighting them off. Sean Nichols then calls upon Ultraman Max to help Mebius to defeat them.
Once that fight is over Alien Baltan appears on stage, announcing that everything is going as planned to take over the broadcast and to call his people to earth. A scene of Raiga Terasaka transforming in the background plays, and Ultraman Trigger himself appears on set. He begins to fight Alien Baltan, until Alien Baltan summons the Kaiju Tyrant onto the stage. The rest of the Ultra Heroes then team up to try and defeat Tyrant, but begin to lose power during the fight. Using the power of the audience Sean Nichols asks the audience to yell “Ultra Charge!” and place their hands on their chest, then point their hands to the screen and offer their energy to the Ultra Heroes. The Ultra Heroes then use a combined beam attack to defeat Tyrant.
The stage show ends with Ultraman Trigger and Ultraman giving each other a hand shake.
Sean Nichols and the guests of the show return, and they begin to close off the event. Kurobe hands Nichols the Beta Capsule he used to transform during the stage show, revealing that it is signed by Kurobe, and will be given away to one audience member attending the event. Nichols also reveals that a signed poster by the cast will be distributed by lottery over at The Yetee.
Nichols then asks the guests to leave closing remarks to the audience.
Furuya: Thank you very much, we had a great time today and keep watching Ultraman. He hopes to visit everyone in America soon.
Sakurai: Thank you very much for watching. Sakurai also declares she will come to America soon as well.
Korobe: Thank you for staying for the entire show and hope to see you again next year.
Nichols ends the broadcast with saying that the Ultraman Galaxy web page will soon be getting an overhaul, with it taking on the Ultraman Connection name.
Source: Ultraman Connection