Anime Boston, the largest anime convention in New England, announced its fifth group of guests of honor today. Actors Haruo Nakajima and Akira Takarada will attend Anime Boston at the Hynes Convention Center, Boston, Mass. on April 3 through April 5, 2015.
The duo’s visit to Anime Boston will only be the second time in which the two remaining actors from the original Godzilla movies appear together in the United States.
Legendary monster suit actor Haruo Nakajima is known the world over for having portrayed the screen’s most famous monster, Godzilla — a role which he pioneered throughout the first 12 films of Toho’s long-running science fiction series.
It was following the performance of a dangerous stunt as a fighter pilot in Ishiro Honda’s Eagle of the Pacific (1953) that Nakajima was recommended to play Godzilla in the original 1954 film, since donning the heavy costume beneath sweltering studio lights required an unusual amount of strength and endurance from the suit actor.
Special effects master Eiji Tsuburaya was so impressed by Nakajima’s skill as a stunt performer and choreographer that he featured the actor in nearly every science fiction, horror and fantasy film produced throughout his own illustrious career. In addition to Godzilla, Nakajima would also embody an unprecedented number of notable movie monsters including Rodan (1956), Mogera in The Mysterians (1957), Varan the Unbelievable (1958), Mothra (1960), Matango (1963), Baragon in Frankenstein Conquers the World (1965), Gaira in War of the Gargantuas (1966) and even King Kong in King Kong Escapes (1967).
His impressive body of film work also includes appearances in Akira Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai (1954) and The Hidden Fortress (1958). In 1966, Tsuburaya once again tapped Nakajima’s talents when the effects director first brought his giant monsters to the small screen in the ground-breaking television series Ultra Q and Ultraman.
Nakajima finally retired as the reigning champion of monster suit actors with 1972’s Godzilla vs. Gigan.
Akira Takarada is instantly recognizable to generations of moviegoers around the world as the face of Japan’s long-running series of Godzilla films from Toho Studios. With a career greater than the King of Monsters himself, Takarada has been there from the birth of Godzilla, through many key points in the franchise’s history, including the Golden Era of Japanese cinema.
Fresh out of high school, Takarada joined Toho’s “New Face” program in 1953, and just one year later, would be given the starring role of Hideto Ogata in the original Gojira, appearing together with renowned Kurosawa film star Takashi Shimura, and classmate Momoko Kôchi portraying his character’s love interest.
Takarada and Kôchi would reprise similar roles in Toho’s Abominable Snowman (1955), better known in its truncated Americanized form, Half Human (1958). But it was the breakout success of Gojira which led to its being exported worldwide as Godzilla, King of the Monsters in 1956, with Takarada subsequently cast as the romantic lead in many feature films, thus earning him the endearing nickname “Mr. Handsome.”
It wasn’t until nearly 10 years later that Takarada would return to fighting giant monsters at the start of Godzilla’s worldwide rise to superstardom with Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964). Portraying a brash yet heroic news reporter, it was this role that would epitomize that type of character that Takarada would become best known for as Japanese cinema, and giant monster films in particular, peaked in popularity at the outset of the mid-1960s “kaiju boom.” Takarada also became famous closer to home for his comedic flair through roles such as super spy Hoshino Andrew in the 007 spoof, 100 Shot 100 Killed (Ironfinger, 1965), together with Toho starlet and future Bond girl Mie Hama.
The 1970s and the decline of the motion picture industry in Japan due to the increasing popularity of television saw Takarada leaving feature films for the stage, where his stellar work in musicals became widely known–an area where he continues performing to this day. He returned to motion pictures more than a decade later, eventually appearing in Godzilla vs. Mothra (1992) and 2004’s Godzilla Final Wars, which was the 50th anniversary offering from Toho and the last film in the famous franchise to be produced by the studio.
Takarada’s career came full circle with the 2014 release of Legendary Pictures’ Godzilla as the only star from the original 1954 film to make a cameo appearance in the mega-budget Hollywood reboot of the world’s most famous monster franchise.
Previously announced Guests of Honor include Greg Ayres, Christine Marie Cabanos. Richard Epcar, Kazuhiro Furuhashi, Lauren Landa, Cherami Leigh, LiSA, Cassandra Lee Morris, Yoko Shimomura, Ellyn Stern and Koki Uchiyama.
View all of our Guests of Honor here.
About Anime Boston:
With nearly 25,500 attendees in 2013, Anime Boston is an annual three-day Japanese animation convention held in Boston, Mass. Anime Boston 2015 is scheduled for Friday, April 3 through Sunday, April 5 at the Hynes Convention Center and Sheraton Boston Hotel. More information about Anime Boston can be found at www.animeboston.com.
About New England Anime Society:
The New England Anime Society was founded in 2001. Based in Massachusetts, The New England Anime Society, Inc. is parent organization of Anime Boston and is dedicated to furthering public education and understanding of the Japanese language and culture through visual and written media. More information about The New England Anime Society is available at www.neanime.org.