[adrotate banner=”1″]Tired of all those US remakes of Asian film? Well, let’s flip the script and report on Asian films remaking US films! And this one might be good, as it’s a remake of Unforgiven set in Edo period samurai Japan (actually, it’s set slightly after the 1868 end of the Edo period, in the 1880s.) Westerns and Samurai flicks have a lot of similar story elements that make the transitioning of the story between the two settings far easier to pull off than a lot of other random new locations, and has a well-established history of successfully doing just that. Unforgiven (real title: Yurusarezaru Mono – 許されざる者) will be written and directed by Lee Sang-il, the writer/director of Hula Girls. It will star Ken Watanabe as the main character Jubei Kamata, a famous samurai killer who has hung up his sword and retired, but is forced back into work as a bounty hunter due to poverty. Akira Emoto and Koichi Sato also star.
1966 Episode 3 The Gift from Space directed by Hajime Tsuburaya Episode 4 The Mammoth Flower directed by Koji Kajita
Once again we dip into the world of Ultra Q, the Japanese TV series. A precursor to the Ultraman series, Ultra Q features many giant monsters that our plucky heroes have to deal with. Previously we have gone over the first two episodes, and now we deal with episodes 3 and 4. In addition to the 28 episodes of Ultra Q, a movie was produced in 1990 titledUltra Q: Star of Legend. A follow up series aired in 2004 titled Ultra Q: Dark Fantasy.
Tsuburaya Productions Co. created the TV series, which started to air in 1966. Before it became Ultra Q, however, it was known as Unbalance. As it became less Twilight Zone and more monsters, the name turned out to be a problem, but luckily a sports move called the Ultra C was gaining popularity, and thus Ultra Q was coined. Several artifacts of the original concept remain, including the very Twilight Zone-ish main title theme, as well as a narrator (but one used less frequently.) Several episodes would be somewhat independent stories that barely featured the main characters, and still other episodes would have ambiguous endings.
Thanks to recent Region 2 DVD release, these shows are now available to a whole new generation. However, they aren’t available to me in their entirety, as there are no English subtitles! But that’s where making up what we don’t understand comes in. Plot synopses and visual clues help us get the gist of the episodes, but the subtle parts we are just winging. That actually makes the show a bit better, as if we found out something was lamer than we though we might not like it as much. Such is the way of things.
Jun Manjome (Kenji Sahara) – A pilot for Hoshikawa Aviation and an avid science fiction fan/writer, which causes him to investigate monsters and discover most of the beasts on the show. Actor Kenji Sahara had a marvelous kaiju career dating from the original Gojira all the way to Godzilla Final Wars.
Yuriko Edogawa (Hiroko Sakurai) – Female Newspaper Photographer for the Daily News who takes photos of all the horrible monsters that Jun managed to encounter. Hiroko Sakurai went on to star in the sequel series, Ultraman, as Akiko Fuji, as well as many other Ultraman series as various characters.
Ippei Togawa (Yasuhiko Saijo) – Assistant pilot for Hoshikawa Aviation with Jun, and the show’s comic relief. According to the Internet, actor Yasuhiko Saijo used to own a coffee shop in Kagurazaka. He had roles in Gorath, in Son of Godzilla as Suzuki, and in Godzilla vs. Gigan as a henchman.
Daily News Editor Seki (Yoshifumi Tajima) – Yuriko’s boss, sends her on the assignments to photograph monsters, but is not adverse to getting the scoop on his own.
Dr Ichinotani (Ureo Egawa) – After not being in the first two episodes, Dr. Ichinotani makes his first appearances here. Originally he was to serve as the Rod Sterling-type narrator, but when the show was refocused to be less Twilight Zone he became the wizened Professor who helps the heroes deal with the random rampaging monsters. Looks like a Japanese Wilford Brimley.
The main cast list is done, so we jump into the episodes! Episode 3: The Gift from Space
Episode three of Ultra Q gives us a new main character and the most Twilight Zone ending so far. But it is still a solid episode, and the monster from Mars Natnegon has become one of the signature monsters from the series. This episode also is the first involving aliens in the Ultra-universe, who will turn out to be very pesky indeed with their constant monster attacks. Stupid aliens! I shake my fist at you! Invade some other planet for once. I hear Neptune is nice, or Krankor. First the guest cast, and then let’s get started with the episode.