Team TokuNet interviews Taka of Kotetsu Toys Japan about his business and his love of tokusatsu!
Please introduce yourself!
Hello! I’m Taka, and I’m the owner of “Kotetsu Toys Japan”, a shop that sells tokusatsu goods all over the world. Pleased to meet you! I’ve been watching tokusatsu since I was a child (so over 30 years now), and I’m a collector just like everyone else. From the DX toys to the miscellaneous to collectors’ items, from classic series to modern series, I collect them all! If you’re looking for Japanese tokusatsu toys and goods, please check out my store!
What got you interested in tokusatsu?
My first tokusatsu series was Jetman. I was only 2 or 3 years old so I don’t remember it well, but according to my father, I became interested in the Super Sentai series after by chance seeing the finale to Fiveman. Jetman would begin the following week, and I watched Super Sentai without fail every week after that. In high school, I studied abroad in Switzerland, and at my request, my parents recorded the broadcasts and mailed them to Switzerland for me to watch. (laughs) My favorite series has to be Jetman. Sure, it’s my first series, but I do really like Ryu (Red Hawk) and Gai (Black Condor). The show goes on and on about love, but I think it’s a story of Ryu and Gai’s friendship. It’s partly my generation, but Jetman to Kakuranger is my favorite period. Outside of that, there’s Liveman, Boukenger, Gokaiger, Zyuohger… There are many Sentai series I like from every period.
Around when I started Jetman, when I started watching tokusatsu, that was the time the Kamen Rider series had stopped airing, right after Kamen Rider Black RX ended. So I didn’t watch much Kamen Rider as a kid. But my father liked Kamen Rider #1, so every so often, we’d watch it together from VHS tapes. I think it was around when I entered elementary school that I started watching Kamen Rider on my own. I’m not completely sure, but I think the first series I watched from start to finish was Kamen Rider Super-1. I was doing karate, so I was very into the kenpo-focused action scenes. After that, I started watching Skyrider, Black, and other Showa-era series. When Kuuga started in 2000, that’s when I really got deep into Kamen Rider. It might be because it’s the first series I watched from the start when it was on TV, but Kuuga is probably my favorite Kamen Rider series. I don’t think I can tell you if I like either Kamen Rider or Super Sentai more though. I love all of it. (laughs)
My father also loves Godzilla, so growing up, whenever a new movie would come out, we’d go together to the theater to watch it. I like Gamera too, but if I have to choose, I’m probably picking Godzilla. I really liked Godzilla vs Space Godzilla and Godzilla vs King Ghidorah as a kid. The most recent one I liked was Godzilla vs Biollante. I was too scared to look at Biollante when I was small, but watching it again as an adult, I can sense the deep themes in the movie, and I really like it now. Even now, I distinctly remember asking Santa for a Godzilla toy. When I saw Godzilla Final Wars in theaters, it made me sad wondering if we couldn’t watch Godzilla films in theaters after this. It seemed like there’d be a new movie every year during that time, and it was something I looked forward to every year. But with Shin Godzilla, Godzilla SP, and the USA Godzilla movies [the Monsterverse movies], it makes me happy to see Godzilla making a comeback.
I also watched Solbrain and Exceedraft from the Metal Hero series growing up. I especially like the Rescue Police series and Blue SWAT. Even now, I think Blue SWAT’s Dictator toy is one of the best made gun toys in tokusatsu history. While I’m on the topic, I really want to see another Space Squad movie soon. When I saw Fire [from Winspector] in Kyuranger vs Space Squad, I was so excited that the Rescue Police series was finally joining the fight. Surely, there are a lot of people reading this who think so too, right? I see that the Tokusatsu Network interviewed Director Koichi Sakamoto before, so please tell him that there are people looking forward to his next work. (laughs)
Why do you like tokusatsu? What keeps you interested?
Why I like tokusatsu… It’s probably the wide variety of themes. Particularly in Kamen Rider, every year the theme is completely different, and I enjoy watching the world view develop. Some people say that tokusatsu has been getting stale, but Kamen Rider Build dealt with a difficult theme like war in a children’s program. Kamen Rider Zero-One too on the topic of A.I. and work in the present era. I’ve said this many times on my YouTube videos, but they can’t just make what they want because of TV restrictions. And now because of the corona virus, filming is also harder. Even in these hard times, new episodes still come every week, and I think it’s amazing to see the enthusiasm in attempting new things.
I don’t think Sentai is in a bad place either. Sure, there are a lot of episodes that are similar to each other, but the themes are done from different perspectives, and each series has their own answers. For example, with the classic “hero’s limits” themes, limits are meant to be surpassed in Ryusoulger, but it’s the complete opposite in Kiramager. And neither answer is wrong at all! It’s so interesting how each person’s thoughts and background lead to different answers. In my mind, Kiramager’s answers are very relevant to this pandemic time. It’s important because everyone is in a tough situation and fighting the pandemic in their own way. Even within a single Sentai series, different characters answer a theme from their perspectives, and I think Sentai can accomplish this because it has continued for so long.
Another charm of tokusatsu is that it’s one of the rare series in Japan that is worked on by both Japan and the USA. As Super Sentai in Japan and as Power Rangers in the USA, series are made distinct from each other. I haven’t seen every Power Rangers series yet, but it’s so rare in the world to find something changed so much that you can enjoy it a second time. For example, the comedic Engine Sentai Go-Onger to a serious story like Power Rangers RPM where the plot, characters, and world are entirely different! Even for a show like Power Rangers Time Force which I saw years ago, it isn’t very different from Mirai Sentai Timeranger, but I could still enjoy Time Force for its different charms. The Quantum Ranger is my favorite character in Power Rangers.
And on the topic of franchises made by both Japan and the USA, similar can be said now of Godzilla. In watching both the American and the Japanese series, I think it’s interesting to see how the countries interpret Godzilla differently. This is just my opinion, but in Japan, Godzilla is a menace that must be faced but can’t be overcome whereas the USA-produced Godzilla must be overcome. (Though this may differ from production to production, of course.) That the idea of “Godzilla” can be interpreted differently in two different countries is another charm of tokusatsu, I think. The developments in Godzilla vs Kong also took me by surprise. I believe that Godzilla as a franchise still has many possibilities.
Please tell us about your business! How did it start?
Kotetsu Toys Japan started from the concept of “a store where you can find the tokusatsu items you’re looking for.” I try to provide a wide variety or product, things you wouldn’t be likely to find at other online shops. I want tokusatsu fans in other countries to enjoy all kinds of tokusatsu toys too.
My shop’s been open for six years as of this year, but before that I did business through eBay, so I’ve been doing this for 10 years altogether. In the beginning, I really liked the Kamen Rider arcade game Ganbaride, and selling duplicate cards was what sparked the business. It was only the Ganbaride cards at first, but little by little, sales expanded to capsule toys, SG toys, and DX items. I was working as a jewelry designer during that time, so I hadn’t planned on seriously running a shop. I had just thought it’d be nice to make a little extra on the side. The major turning point was hearing from a customer about how hard it was to get tokusatsu toys from overseas and how it’d be great if there was a store where fans could easily acquire merchandise. I thought to seriously run a store from that customer’s words. This is just how I feel, but I think tokusatsu shows are more enjoyable with merchandise from those shows. I want overseas fans to be able to enjoy tokusatsu even more, so I run my shop so fans can acquire goods more easily.
I’ve been uploading to YouTube recently, but making videos is another way for overseas fans to further enjoy tokusatsu. There isn’t really a place to hear Japanese tokusatsu fans’ opinions and feelings, so it makes me really happy to hear that people are grateful for the videos.
What do you love most about your work?
Probably finding toys I’ve never seen before. I go around the country to search for items as part of my work, so I’ve been able to find lots of items I hadn’t seen before. I get especially excited when I find things from shows I saw a long time ago like Jetman.
Besides that, it has to be seeing the thank you’s from customers sharing their purchases on Twitter and Instagram. I don’t do this for the thanks (and really, I’m the one who should be thankful), but I’m very happy to hear it. Those words are one of the biggest motivators for me to continue doing my best and to continue my business.
I also like how much easier it is now to hear people overseas talk about tokusatsu. In Japan, it’s hard to hear opinions from fans from abroad. I probably wouldn’t be able to communicate with fans so easily if it weren’t for my work.
How can people follow you?
People can follow me on:
- Twitter: Kotetsu-Toys-TAKA @kotetsutoysjp
- YouTube: Kotetsu Toys Japan Secret Base
- Facebook: Kotetsu Toys Japan
- Instagram: KTJ Kotetsu Toys Japan @kotetsutoys_taka
Twitter and YouTube get updated the most, so I recommend following those accounts/
A message for the readers/tokusatsu fans, please!
Tokusatsu is one of Japan’s sources of pride in the world. So many heroes, heroines, and charming surrounding characters have come out of its long, grand history to create magnificent stories. Isn’t it rare to find something with such a long history and with so many fans from all over the world? I run my store because I want many more people to know about and to enjoy this amazing thing that is tokusatsu. Together, I want us to enjoy the world of tokusatsu more and more.
Currently, my goal is to be invited to Power Morphicon as a Japanese tokusatsu fan. (laughs) I look forward to meeting my fans from Twitter and YouTube at Power Morphicon someday. Forever Tokusatsu! Tokusatsu is my life!
Taka, thank you so much for letting us interview you and for sponsoring The Tokusatsu Network! And thank you for graciously providing a prize for our 10K Follower Giveaway!
The Tokusatsu Network has almost reached 10,000 followers on Twitter! Help us hit 10K for a chance to win a 30 USD coupon to Kotetsu Toys Japan!
- Follow and retweet TokuNet’s campaign tweet: +1 entry
- Follow Taka on Twitter at @kotetsutoysjp: +1 entry
- One lucky winner will receive 30 USD coupon for Kotetsu Toys Japan (eligible for use on orders above 50 USD before shipping)
Thank you for your continued support! – Team TokuNet
We've reached 10K followers, so Taka (@kotetsutoysjp) and TokuNet are teaming up to hold this giveaway for a 30 USD coupon to Kotetsu Toys Japan! See image for more details on how to enter.
GIVEAWAY ENDS OCTOBER 9, 8:29pm (USA Eastern) pic.twitter.com/YGoN21CkoW
— The Tokusatsu Network (@TheTokuNet) September 25, 2021