Hi guys, it's Victor, chairman of Anime Boston.
This week, we lost one of true giants in Japanese cinema. Actor, Haruo Nakajima passed away at the age of 88 on August 7th.
We may not have seen his face on the silver screen, but we most certainly felt his presence. Haruo Nakajima was best known as the original suit actor for Godzilla. Together with director, Ishiro Honda and special effects director, Eiji Tsubaraya, Nakajima-san created the most recognizable monster in cinema history. Unlike many of his contemporaries in the kaiju genre, Godzilla was written as an actual character that displayed personality that was, at times, angry, annoyed and even protective and playful. This is no small feat, considering that he was a molded rubber suit. However, Nakajima-san’s talent transcended the limitations of special effects technology that reduced many other kaiju to late night television or simple kiddie fare.
Godzilla’s impact and longevity proves that only he is worthy of being called King of the Monsters.
Nakajim-san appeared in the original Gojira in 1954. His final picture, as Godzilla was Godzilla vs. Gigan in 1972, where he retired from suit acting. Few actors can successfully play a role for that long.
In 2015, our theme was Kaiju versus Mecha. It was only right that we invite both Nakajima-san and Akira Takarada. And wonderfully, they both agreed to appear. What an incredible honor!
To some degree, being staff for Anime Boston requires us to put aside our emotions and stop being a fan. However, for only the third time since AB started, I could not prevent myself from “geeking out”! I grew up watching monster movies on Saturday afternoons on the old "Creature Double Feature", and this was what got me started!
We immediately secured the rights to screen the original Gojira. We knew that we had something special, with members of the original cast on hand, namely Takarada-san and Nakajima-san. Audiences get this type of experience so rarely, even with contemporary movies. We were so fortunate for this chance to hear their stories, their memories and their thoughts… this was an historic and once in a lifetime event.
Without Haruo Nakajima and Godzilla, anime may not be where it is today. Gojira opened the world to Japanese cinema and popular culture and proved that a movie featuring an all Asian cast, and spoken in a foreign language, could reach broader audiences (despite Raymond Burr!).
Thank you, Nakajima-san. We are honored to have been able to meet you.