POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Nov 4, 2010
Shunsuke Ikeda, who died June 11 at the age of 69, was rather prolific in Toei's tokusatsu (live-action superhero) series, with roles in such shows as "Return of Ultraman," "Condorman: Symbol of Justice" and "Silver Mask."
To a generation of local fans, though, the actor will always be one of the Kikaida Brothers: Ichiro, the trumpet-playing android and older sibling to Jiro who transforms into Kikaida 01 to battle the Hakaida Force.
It was no secret that Ikeda loved his fans in the islands as much as they loved him. He first came to Hawaii in 1975 for shows at the old Honolulu International Center (now the Blaisdell) Exhibition Hall and the Hilo Civic Auditorium, then returned for frequent appearances over the past decade as the old "Kikaida" and "Kikaida 01" TV series were released on DVD. In an interview in 2008 with local filmmaker Aaron Yamasato (posted online at bit.ly/bOgSsY), Ikeda said there was one thing that irritated him: "Kikaida has existed in Hawaii for over 30 years, and hundreds of fans still come out to cheer us on. Yet, this Hawaii phenomenon is not widely known in Japan." When he died, his final wish was for his wife, Toshie, and daughter Miri to have his ashes scattered in Hawaii waters.
As a farewell tribute to Ikeda, JN Productions, keepers of all things Kikaida in the islands, will be hosting a public memorial from 5 to 7 p.m. next Thursday at the Blaisdell Center's Hawaii Suites. (Enter from Hawaii Suite 1 on the main concourse.) Fans can share their memories and reminisce about the actor and the show at the event. The significance of the date: Nov. 11 would have been the actor's 70th birthday.
Can't make it? Fans have been posting memories and condolence messages for several months now on the "Shunsuke Ikeda Tribute Page" on Facebook (www.facebook.com/Shunsuke.Ikeda.Tribute). There are also wonderful tributes online written by "Eiji Tsuburaya: Master of Monsters" author August Ragone (bit.ly/de28DK) and "Doko Ga TV" host Pali Kaaihue on his Star-Advertiser blog, "JapanMania -- Sugoi!" (bit.ly/azrxzx). Kaaihue shared a special friendship with Ikeda, and his insights on Ikeda's death are particularly welcomed.
While we're on the topic of recent passings, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention Takeshi Shudo, who died last week from a subarachnoid hemorrhage -- that's bleeding in the space between the brain and the thin tissues that cover the brain -- at the age of 61.
Shudo's name probably wouldn't be familiar to casual American fans, but three of the highest grossing theatrically released anime in the U.S. -- "Pokemon: The First Movie," "Pokemon: The Movie 2000" and "Pokemon 3" -- were written by him. He also supervised scripts for the first few series of the "Pokemon" TV franchise.
His greatest contribution to anime, however, has never been formally licensed in the U.S.: the 63-episode mahou shoujo (magical girl) series "Fairy Princess Minky Momo." Originally aired in Japan in 1982 and 1983, the series focused on the adventures of Momo, a princess from the fairy tale land of Fenarinarsa dispatched to Earth to help people regain their sense of hope and love for life.
It sounds pretty interesting, but given the series' age and the domestic anime industry's general aversion to anything older than "recent," I'd imagine any video release would be unlikely.
For those of you who enjoy the thrill of treasure hunts, though, one piece of the franchise did get released here, albeit with a different name and a few edits: the video special "Minky Momo: La Ronde in My Dream," released on VHS by Harmony Gold USA in 1987 as "Gigi and the Fountain of Youth."