Big Wow '14: Godzilla, Ultraman, and Kikaida Team-up

The biggest thing at Big Wow '14 was Godzilla, both the Kaiju and Kenpachiro Satsuma, the man in the Godzilla suit from 1984 - 1995. Satsuma was basically in most of my favorite Godzilla movies, so it was pretty amazing to meet him. It wasn't just about Godzilla though, as Satoshi 'Bin' Furuya and Ban Daisuke were also there. Furuya was in the Ultraman suit in the original series and played Officer Amagi in Ultra Seven. Ban Daisuke was the original Kikaida and Inazuman. It would have been great if Big Wow got just one of these actors, but they were able to get all three, which was incredible. The 2014 Godzilla movie had premiered the same weekend, so it was a perfect timing for Big Wow to have these three legendary actors in attendance.

Three of Japan's greatest monster and superhero actors together. Daisuke Ban (Kikaida), Satoshi 'Bin" Furuya (Ultraman), and Kenpachiro Satsuma (Godzilla).

The three were at the Famous Monsters booth willing to sign autographs and take photos with fans. Most fans were in the line for them to get things signed by Satsuma, but it looked like Furuya and Ban were able to do a good amount of signings, too. These three were a huge draw at the show. Some fans even attended Big Wow just to meet them. I know of a couple people who went to Big Wow just to get Satsuma's autograph and left. There was a lot more going on at the show, so they could have at least stayed to check out the dealers and artists, but they didn't. It just seems odd to me to spend the money for admission just to be there for one thing and leave immediately afterwards. Anyway, at the Japan's Heroes and Monsters panels, the three talked about their experiences in the movies and TV shows that they helped make great. I could have listened to these three talk the whole day.

Kaiju expert August Ragone was the panel moderator with Jason Varney translating as the three actors talked about their experiences. Kenpachiro Satsuma was very animated when he talked and got into doing the motions as he did back when he was Godzilla.

Kenpachiro Satsuma was very animated when recounting his times as Godzilla.

-Kenshiro Satsuma wore the Godzilla suit from Godzilla 1985 to Godzilla Vs. Destroyah, but was also Hedorah and Gigan in the years before.

-The Godzilla suit was over 200 lbs and he needed five people to help him get into it. He could not move in it. He was tied to a rope and was pulled for a lot of scenes. He kept losing his balance. Eventually he got used to it and the the director said it was ok. Whenever he would punch the buildings, they wouldn't fall apart. He couldn't move his arms, they would be hurting so much. The suit ended up being lightened him before filming so that he could move.

-Satsuma doesn't have any favorite monsters that he fought, but he has one he hated: Mothra. "Why did Godzilla have to lose to him?" he asked. Godzilla being be brought down by pollen was not a good way to be defeated. During the filming of this, the pollen coming from Mothra would get in the suit and would change the color with his skin and become a paste that would be stuck to his skin. He was was unable to breathe as the pollen would fall through the suit's air holes. That was the one time he felt Godzilla was actually in a lot of trouble.

-Satsuma's scariest moment was in the big pool at Toho, when the rockets were firing at him from the defense forces. They would always aim the rockets at his throat, where his eyehole were. Falling and drowning in the big pool was a fear of his.

-Satsuma said that the strongest monster he fought was King Ghidorah, but there are no weak ones and Godzilla is the strongest.

-The 1998 Godzilla infuriated Satsuma, so he was not looking forward to the new 2014 Godzilla. He was extremely disappointed with the 1998 movie and was demonstrative toward it in the Chicago theater he saw it in, so everyone knew that he was not happy with it.

-When he saw the 2014 Godzilla, he had to take a piss in the middle of the movie, but held it in as best he could. Because he was liking the movie so much, it cured him of having to use the bathroom. He was really surprised to see that Godzilla was a hero, as he thought he would be seen as a villain. At the end of the movie he wanted to see Godzilla to let out a roar as he went out to sea, for Godzilla to look back at what happened to the city and to let out a roar of apology. He said with CG you can't express as much when in a suit.

-Satsuma was also on the TV show Thunder Mask. He played Thunder Mask in the suit and was the stunt coordinator. The rights for the show are tied up even in Japan, so the only way for fans to see it is through bootlegs.

-Satsuma also played Tiger Jyu Jr. in Fuun Lion-Maru. Satsuma had even forgotten about the show until it was mentioned at the panel. The shooting went very badly every time they were shooting; there was one mistake after another. He had to wear a thick blanket, fur-lined with a fur costume with body armor, when filming scenes during the middle of summer. He really liked the mask, though. It was like a Mardi Gras mask as a tiger. Even though the actors would try to make the scenes better, the director would say no and they have to do it his way.

-Now here's a crazy story. Godzilla 1985 had just come out and Satsuma was kidnapped and forced to make a Godzilla-like movie in North Korea. In North Korea they wanted to make a new monster movie and South Korean director Mr. Shin was also kidnapped and forced to make the movie. Satsuma was stuck there filming for two months with no contact to the outside world. When the movie was finished, people from Toho were saying that the movie was more entertaining than Godzilla 1985. The director and his wife had to escape after making the movie. Satsuma wrote a book called Godzilla Goes to North Korea about his experiences. He was absolutely terrified that he wouldn't go home.

Satoshi 'Bin' Furuya talks about being Ultraman in a super pimp jacket.

SHWA!!!

-Furuya had roles in other Toho productions other than Ultraman. He was one of the natives and one of the reporters in the Mothra movie. A lot of the early Toho films had the same actor playing 3 - 4 different roles.

-In Ghidorah, The Three-Headed Monster, Furuya had at least four roles in the movie, playing four different cops. He would put his helmet over his eyes so it was harder to tell it was him.

-The Howling Convicts was the first movie Furuya had a screen credit.

-Furuya's dream is to have a movie of Godzilla, Ultraman, and Kikaida fighting together; the Japanese Avengers as he put it.

-In an episode of Ultraman, the Godzilla suit was used for the monster Jiras. They didn't have money to make a new monster, so they added a frill to Godzilla's neck. His mentor Haruo Nakajima, then man who was Godzilla before Kenpachiro Satsuma, wore the Godzilla costume. When filming, the fight between Ultraman and Jiras had seemed to turn into a real fight and Furuya had blisters all over his body afterwards.

-The most difficult part about being Ultraman was being able to breathe with the mask on. There were very tiny holes in the eyes and mouth. When filming scenes in the water, he felt like he was going to drown because there was nowhere for the water to go but in his mask.

-A the second Japan's Heroes and Monsters panel, Furuya said, "It's very nice to see so many beautiful women today. First time I've seen this since I was born".

-It was wonderful for him to not be behind a mask in Ultra Seven. Officer Amagi was extremely popular with women in Japan and the U.S. He had tons of letters come from both countries. When he had visited in New Jersey, he had lots of 60-year-old women coming up to him and crying because they were so happy to meet him.

-Furuya wants an Ultraman movie made in the U.S. and wants a role as a grandfather type. However, he does not want to see a CG Ultraman.

Daisuke Ban talks of his experiences with the masks of two most famous heroes with him.

The Famous Monsters booth where Kenpachiro Satsuma, Satoshi Furuya, and Daisuke Ban signed and took photos with fans young and old.

-Daisuke Ban played Jiro in the TV series Kikaida. In a way it was a precursor to the Power Rangers. The half red half blue look was to show the conflict of good and evil within him.

-Kikaida was a huge hit and caused a craze in Hawaii in the '70s. He was proud of how popular Kikaida was in Hawaii, but regrets the show not catching on in the rest of the U.S. Kikaida was just as popular in Hawaii as the Beach Boys and Elvis. Hawaii would fill stadiums with live shows with Ban and the other actors from the show. Ban also had a hit song on Hawaii radio, in the top 3 of the music charts. Kikaida is multi-generational in Hawaii, as parents continue to show their kids the show they loved.

-In Ringu, Ban was the doctor trying to help Sadako.

-In the new Kikaida Reboot film, Ban is playing the man trying to help Kikaida complete his circuit.

-Ban's biggest worry was about how he could make everything entertaining for the audience.

-Ban had an accident where he dove into the water and hit his head on a rock. The take where he got hurt was the one used in the episode, but the part where he got hurt got cut out.

-Ban is glad the new 2014 Godzilla was done right. We all are.

-Ban was also in Battle Fever J, one of the original Super Sentai / Power Rangers shows that was only shown in Hawaii.

The Inazuman mask...

...and the Kikaida mask.

After the second panel, Satsuma instructed a Godzilla cosplayer the right way to roar and be Godzilla. It was amazingly entertaining and a great photo op. At one point in both panels, Furuya asked everyone to pose like Ultraman, and posed with an Ultraman cosplayer, which you can see above.

Kenpachiro Satsuma instructs a cosplayer on the right way to be Godzilla.

Even tough this was probably a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to see these three, I really hope Big Wow can get all of them again. Big Wow may be the artist friendly convention and one that features lots of cosplayers, but it was easy to see that the biggest draw were these three Japanese actors.

Kenpachiro Satsuma hard at work signing for his many fans.

Satoshi Furuya signing for his fans.

- Shawn - 6/22/14

Photos by Shawn and additional photos by Heidi.