Takarada Returns to G-FEST 2016
• The Godzilla fans’ gathering “G-FEST” took place from July 15 to 17 at the Crown Plaza Hotel in Rosemont, and about a thousand fans across the U.S. and other countries participated. Many events were prepared for the convention, such as kaiju film screenings, costume parades, video games, tokusatsu filming dojo, and kaiju craft classes.
• This year, Godzilla-movie-star Akira Takarada returned to G-FEST with Ultraman Bin Furuya and Hiroko Sakurai, who was the heroine in “Ultra Q” and “Ultraman”. Hiroshi Sagae, a master maquette sculptor and model maker for the film and toy collectible industries, also returned to the Godzilla convention with Sojiro Uchino, who had appeared in the Ultra series as a child role. Both Ultra Q and Ultraman mark the 50th anniversary this year.
• G-FEST was initiated by a Godzilla fan, J.D. Lees, who is a high school
teacher in Canada. Lees first published a newsletter G-FAN for his friends
in 1993. When he ran a small ad in a science magazine, many G-fans applied
for a subscription.
• Photographer Carleton Bailie, who took many rocket-launch scenes, remembered
his interests in kaiju started with dinosaurs when he was six years old.
One Sunday afternoon, he returned to home from a church, turned on the
T.V. and chose watching Godzilla. He said that amazingly his mother was
also watching it. The first movie he saw at a theater was King Kong vs.
Godzilla. He returned to the theater and watched it for several times.
• Todd Paul of Indiana met a Godzilla fan in Chicago through social media
and participated in G-FEST for the first time. His step mother took him
to a movie theater where he fell in love with Godzilla when he was seven
years old. “I’m 46 now, so 40 years later I’m still a fan,” he said.
• One of the most popular programs was talks and Q&A sessions with
the special guests. D. J. Lee welcomed Akira Takarada saying “He asked
me that he wanted to come back again, so we should be very honored that
he was interested in us.” Takarada has taken care of tour groups from
G-FEST in Tokyo and made it possible for them to experience the Toho Studio
• Takarada talked about many episodes in the Toho shooting studio and
induced the audience’s laughter. He said that the first Godzilla movie
was made by trial and error because no one could imagine what Godzilla
looked like. When the cast had to look at an imaginary Godzilla over the
mountain, they didn’t know where to look, and director Honda gave them
a clue saying, “Look at the cloud over there.” During the shooting tests,
the cloud moved away, and each cast looked at a different direction.
• Takarada went on about the purpose of the first Godzilla movie, which was released in 1954 in Japan and 1956 in the U.S. He said, “The Toho Studio made the movie to push for nuclear abolition after Hiroshima and Nagasaki were hit by instant deaths of 280,000 people, followed by Daini Fukuryu-maru ship’s irradiation incident in Bikini Atoll. The Godzilla movie, which carries this message, has been supported by the people of the U.S. and many other countries. I think that it is a very health phenomenon.”
• In the Q&A session, a fan asked Takarada’s opinion about the American version of the first Godzilla movie released in 1956. He said, “In my personal consideration, the important messages such as the nuclear threat and warning were all cut. It would be rude to say, but I think that it was a bad patchwork,” and he thanked the audience for watching and understanding the meaning of Japanese version of the first Godzilla movie. The audience sent a loud round of applause to him.
• “If I could play a role in a future Godzilla movie, I would like to be a person, who is able to communicate with Godzilla through eye contacts. I would ask him to destroy bases in the Japan’s neighboring country, which has been developing nuclear bombs,” Takarada said, and the audience gave him a rousing cheer.
Akira Takarada (R) poses for a photo with his fans
Photographer Carleton Bailie
Founder J.D. Lees
Todd Paul of Indiana
Godzilla fans listen to Takarada's talks.