Thursday, April 18, 2013


This is one of several film versions of  Tsuruya Nanboku IV’s story, Tokaido Yotsuya Kaidan. Nanboku wrote this tale in 1825, originally for a kabuki play. Shochiku’s 1949 film version was directed by acclaimed filmmaker, Keisuke Kinoshita (Carmen Comes Home, Twenty four Eyes, and The Ballad of Narayama) and released in two parts. 
Iemon Tamiya (Ken Uehara)(Mothra and Atragon), is a master-less samurai who is offered a better life by a marrying a rich girl named Oume (Hisako Yamane). Things are complicated because, Iemon must first divorce his, very devoted wife, Oiwa (Kinuyo Tanaka)(Ugetsu and Sansho the Bailiff). Meanwhile, Kohei (Keiji Sada)(Equinox Flower), a love obsessed ex-con shows up pleading for Oiwa’s affection irritating the situation. Iemon asks Oiwa for a divorce, but things don’t go very well.  Oiwa’s faced is accidentally burned by boiling water. Naosuke (Osamu Takizawa)(Kaidan and Fires on the Plain), an escaped gangster, gives Iemon an ointment that ends up disfiguring Oiwa‘s even face further. The horror progresses when Iemon and Naosuke decide to poison Oiwa to end this nightmare. Iemon’s conscience gets the best of him and starts to believe he is being haunted by Oiwa’s ghost. Unfortunately, Iemon later finds he has been manipulated by Naosuke, so the greedy gangster can steal Oume’s fortune.

Yuri Kobata (Sumiko/Katsugo Wakasugi)(Tokaido Yotsuya Kaidan and Ghost Story of the Woman Diver) is the main suspect of a murder/arson case. School friend Mimi Simikai (Teruko Akatsuki) and her boyfriend Ryousuke Akashi (Keiju Kobayashi)(Birth of Japan and Godzilla 84’) start an investigation to prove Yuri’s innocence. Yuri’s alibi leads to the mysterious Maya house located in the middle of nowhere. The creepy Maya family who lives there consists of a deranged painter, a cat lady, and a man researching spectral lights. Slowly people begin dying while yelling the words “rainbow, rainbow, rainbow!” The mystery unravels into more than Mimi and Ryousuke bargain for.
Filmed in black and white, but in a unique sequence, a rainbow appears in color before each murder in the movie. Based on a 1947 story by romance/detective novelist, Kikuo Tsunoda (Tsubanari Ronin and Dokuro-sen). Special visual effects were provided by cinematographer, Tatsuyuki Yokota and the legendary Eiji Tsuburaya. All topped off with a music score by Akira Ifukube!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012


1987 was a special year for Japan’s Toei Company. The anime and tokusatsu giant had several defining television programs that year. The sixth installment of their Metal Hero series Chōjinki Metalder, the eleventh Super Sentai series Hikari Sentai Maskman, and the international hit Saint Seiya are to name a few. To top off the year, Toei would debut a brand new Kamen Rider series by legendary manga artist, Shotaro Ishinomori. The hero had not been on the airwaves in five years, with the last broadcast being a special, titled Birth of the 10th! Kamen Riders All Together! starring Kamen Rider ZX. 

Kamen Rider Black and Battle Hopper

Kotaro Minami (Tetsuo Kurata)

October 4th, 1987 marked the television premier of Kamen Rider Black 仮面ライダーBLACK (Masked Rider Black), the eighth installment of the mega-popular series that originally began in 1971. The new series not only showcased state of the art special effects, but also realistic monsters by Rainbow Industries. Kamen Rider Black would stand out for it’s dark, heavy, atmosphere and drama that would never be topped. On the other hand, Kamen Rider Black was highlighted by super fast paced action and some of the Japan Action Club’s best fighting choreography. Kamen Rider Black’s soundtrack is one of the best in any Japanese TV series to date. The songs really moved the program along much like Toei’s Uchu Keiji Gavan, hyper and exhilarating. Like the U.S. kid’s program Captain Power, Kamen Rider Black also integrated an interactive toy line called the TV Power Series.
The Gorgom Priests (Bishum, Darom and Baraom)

The story begins when, during their 19th birthday party, stepbrothers Kotaro Minami (played by Tetsuo Kurata) and Nobuhiko Akizuki (Takahito Horiuchi) and kidnapped by three evil priests, Darom, Baraom, and Bishum, who are members of the Darkness Society Gorgom. Kotaro and Nobuhiko undergo biogenetic surgery and are fitted with the legendary King Stones, which will turn them into high level cyborgs of the dark age, known as the Century Kings, Black Sun and Shadow Moon. Every 50,000 years, two Century King’s must battle to the death to become the next era’s Creation King who will rule the world. 
Shadow Moon

The Gorgom are interrupted by Professor Akizuki, who allowed this tragedy to happen to his sons, by thinking he was helping them avoid an age of dictatorship. Realizing his mistake, Professor Akizuki tries to stop the priests, but only Kotaro narrowly escapes, before his mind is tampered with, on a bio-engineered living motorcycle, Battle Hopper. During his pursuit by the Gorgom priests, Kotaro is severely beaten and is subjected to a high voltage electrocution which forces his body to react and activate the King Stone within his body. Black Sun is born, but Kotaro renames himself Kamen Rider Black and vows to destroy the Gorgom and protect the world. 

Eagle Kaijin

Lizard Kaijin

Rock Turtle Kaijin

Through out the series, Kamen Rider Black battled the Gorgom’s Kaijin (Humanoid-Monster), which were everything from bats, spiders, lizards to a wooly mammoth and even a cactus. Kotaro became Kamen Rider Black by doing a combination of arm movements and saying the word “Henshin” (change or transform) to activate his Henshin Belt and transform. Kamen Rider Black would defeat his enemies by using his “Rider Punch” or “Rider Kick” which usually causes them to explode. With the arrival of a new enemy, the Gorgom’s Sword Saint Birgenia, Kamen Rider Black inherit’s a second motorcycle Road Sector, which has super speed to aid him in battle. Eventually everything leads to the unavoidable conclusion, Black Sun vs. Shadow Moon to decide the next king of all creation.

Kamen Rider Black And Road Sector

Dai Kaijin Darom, Kamen Rider Black, and Shadow Moon

Every fan has that defining movie, TV program, or character that sticks with them for the rest of their life. Whether you’re into Star Wars, Star Trek, Dr. Who, Buffy, or an anime fan, we’re all guilty of watching those episodes or movies over, over, and over. Kamen Rider Black is my guilty pleasure. Nothing since has given me that feeling I had in those golden days of driving to JBC Video every week in 1987 to rent that VHS and see the next episode. You memorize every music note and even remember the all the commercials that played with it. Back in those days it was a little tougher getting merchandise of your favorite show. In Chicago there was no G-Fest, Anime Central conventions or Pony Toys yet. So everything you found in small Japanese grocery stores were treasures. One of my best friends, Frank Kurtz owned a comic shop  back in the day and was able to snag a few toys for me. I was lucky enough to be able to order CD’s from good ol’ JBC Video as well. Yep I’m geek personified when it comes to Kamen Rider Black. I still have one pack of unopened Kamen Rider Black gum, which I think is now petrified. One day I'll hopefully be lucky enough to get a  to get a Tetsuo Kurata autograph. Oh yeah, in case you didn’t notice, this is the show where my blog got it's name “Black Sun”.

Kamen Rider Black CDs
Kamen Rider Black Hit Collection and Original Soundtrack
Tetsuo Kurata sings the title track.
Black Action is the best Rider song ever period.

Kamen Rider Black Songs & Drama
This CD kicks ass! You get Kamen Rider Black, talking and fighting between song tracks. Shadow Moon even shows up.

Kamen Rider Black Laser Discs, DVDs, and the Video Hero Promo VHS
Yep I double dipped.

Weekly Shonen Sunday #41 1987
The manga premiere of Kamen Rider Black.
A lucky day at the Japanese bookstore. This was on the shelf.

Digest versions of the manga.

October, November, and December 1987 issues of TV Land and TV Kun.

January through Semptember 1988 issues of TV Land.

January through September issues of TV Kun.
Believe it or not, I haven't missed an issue of TV Magazine or TV Kun since 1986.
Yep I still get them today. TV Land is no longer published.

Miscellaneous Kamen Rider Black books.

Kamen Rider Black Deluxe Henshin Belt

Battle Hopper!!!
This was the first item I ever got on Ebay.

Kamen Rider Black TV Power Series

Kamen Rider Black snap together models.

Inside my display case. Notice the pack of gum on the bottom.

More display case.

RAH 450 Kamen Rider Black
One day I'll get the Shadow Moon.

SIC Kamen Rider Black and Black RX

SIC Kamen Rider Black and Shadow Moon

Sunday, September 23, 2012


GOKETSU JIRAIYA 豪傑児雷也 (Jiraiya the Hero)(1921)
This classic silent film is one of several versions of the legendary ninja folk hero, Jiraiya. Based on the novel Jiraiya Goketsu Monogatari (The Tale of Jiraiya the Hero), written in 1806, along with picture books published from 1839 to 1868. 
This short feature has Jiraiya fighting off the bad guys with a large array ninja magic, which includes teleportation, flying, and water attacks. Best of all Jiraiya is a shape-shifting ninja that can transform into a giant toad. In one scene you get to see the toad actually swallow some people whole. 
This simplistic feature ends with Jiraiya confronting Orochi-maru who transforms into a menacing snake. We also get to see Tsunade, Jiraiya’s love interest join the battle and change into a snail. 
Other versions of Jiraiya include several silent features as early as 1912, like Jiraiya Goketsu-Den (1916) and Yokai Jiraya (1923). Shintoho’s Ninjutsu Jiraiya (1955) and it’s sequel Gyakushu Orochi-Maru (1955) took the story of Jiraya to the next level with better effects and slick monster suits.
The most famous version of all would definitely be Toei’s Kairyu Daikessen (1966) aka The Magic Serpent. Filmed right before Giant Robo (Johnny Sokko) and Kamen no Ninja Akakage, this was one of Toei’s first entries into the Kaiju Boom. The hero Jiraiya had never been seen like this before. You get to see a giant spider, giant eagle, and of course a giant toad battling a very cool Chinese-styled dragon.