Perhaps you were driving around the warehouses of Downtown L.A. or even Pasadena last November and thought you glimpsed Ultraman coming to the rescue of a motorist. You weren’t crazy and it actually happened! Next week, humankind’s champion from Nebula 78 is returning to the American airwaves (and the Internet) to promote State Farm’s services to the Chinese market. The Tsuburaya team flew from Japan to Southern California with their suits and expertise to shoot the campaign and I was there.
At the catering table, I chatted with a Tsuburaya business rep and trainer about what’s happening with the Ultraman franchise these days, as well as what it was like to wear the suit back in the day. Of course, I also snagged time for some pictures with the commercial’s star, Ultraman Neos, a close relative to the costumed hero of my youth and pop culture’s missing link between Superman and Godzilla!
TAKAMISA KITAZAWA (Tsuburaya Sales)
What do you do at Tsuburaya?
I’m a Tokyo-based sales guy who brings Ultraman to other countries.
Did you grow up as an Ultraman fan?
No, because Ultrman didn’t have a TV series from 1980 to 1996. I watched Kamen Rider and Power Rangers, instead.
But there were still stickers, puzzles, and toys. Ultraman is all over Asia! Can you talk about Ultraman’s popularity among Asians?
He is very popular because Asia doesn’t have its own hero and we’ve been showing since the seventies. So people in their thirties, forties, and fifties are familiar with the character. I think that’s why Ultraman is still popular today in all age groups.
What sorts of licensing are you doing in Asia right now?
Right now we’re doing a Happy Meal campaign with McDonald’s. We don’t do alcohol, medicine, drugs, or adult products.
How often is new Ultraman material produced?
We do not produce a TV series every year but try to make a movie or series every other year so people don’t forget about us.
Is it important to keep the costumes, puppetry, and miniature sets that Ultraman is known for instead of using cg for special effects?
Good question. The older generation wants to see the original style but the kids prefer computer graphics because the models don’t look real to them. Two years ago, we used both and there were pros and cons.
You don’t want to mess with a legend, but you need to please the kids.
It’s a challenge to decide to use both or one or the other. It’s very controversial. (more…)
Giant Robot 2 – 2062 Sawtelle Blvd LA, CA 90025 310-445-9276
Sunday March 9th, 2014 3-5pm
Nathan Ota Monoprint Workshop. Learn to make a one-off print using simple techniques and get exhibition quality results. The images on the flyer were created using this technique.
Bring an X-acto blade handle. We’d normally try and supply it, but ending up with 10-20 extra handles are useless for us. We will probably have some on hand regardless. We’ll have the correct blade. Bring the paper(s) you’d like your final print to be on. We’ll have plain paper, perhaps some nicer paper, and smaller sheets too.
Because of the use of blades, it will require close adult supervision of children.
Culver City – Yoshitomo Nara’s perhaps 7th or 8th exhibition is an fantastic journey through his career. Giant bronze sculptures show some of his latest art projects. They’re huge, but at the same time, there are plenty of new paintings which are becoming more refined than ever. Nara’s characters eyes are deeper and rich. His new works also include “billboards” which are giant versions of his drawings set up on crate-like pieces of wood. I especially enjoyed seeing the collage of pencil drawings which are also affixed on crates. Upstairs, it’s 30 years of drawings and plenty of them, from 1984 – 2014 with a time line narrative of where he was or what events were happening. You can see the progression of his drawing style. Blum and Poe’s gallery space perfectly houses it all. It’s more of a museum style exhibition and guess what? It really is. As confirmed by Tim Blum himself who told me that it’s traveling.
Also imagine, Tim Blum is the OG Otaku. He spent years in Japan, speaks fluently, and eventually came back to the US and opened a gallery in Santa Monica in the mid 90s. He brought Nara and Takashi Murakami to the US and grew with them. Imagine the sphere of influence by these two artists from style, technique, business acumen, to place in popular culture. Those who were influenced have already influenced another generation of artists.
Normally, we’d post it in it’s entirety, but while Giantrobot.com is being worked on, you’ll have to read GR Time at this link. – Read it here.
Show reviews: King Buzzo acoustic set at the Satellite plus A Minor Forest, Dum Dum Girls, Kevin Seconds, and SMIC2 with Baja Bugs, CH3, and Money Mark
King Buzzo played his first ever acoustic set at the Satellite last night and it was amazing. I really didn’t know what to expect when Scion announced the free show. Would it be Melvins Lite light? Were marshmallows going to be provided for “Kumbaya” moments? No way. It was heavy as shit, with Buzzo singing as if he heard the bone-crushing music of the Melvins in his fuzzy head while trying to break his acoustic axe’s unorthodox-tuned strings with every stroke. The badass set started with a super dark Alice Cooper cover and ended with my favorite Japanese psychedelic doom metal band’s namesake song, “Boris.” Somewhere in the middle of the show he previewed a cut off his upcoming album and surveyed a bunch of Melvins tunes. It was great. You had to be there–or not. There was a ton of SLR-wielding dudes filming the event so you should be able to check it out on the Scion AV site one of these days… Props to Tweak Bird for playing a far-out opening set. I arrived half-way through and was stuck in the back of the room, too far to take photos, but they ripped.
You might have noticed that the GR site went down a week or so ago. Here are some friends’ shows that were casualties but need to be on this blog…
Dum Dum Girls record release show at The Echo on January 28. I like the new LP but the new songs sound even better with the proper band propelled by my pal Sandy Vu’s killer chops and beats. Killer set of psychedelic pop goth with an extra dude added for bonus texture. I expect this lineup to be out of their collective minds by the time they hit Coachella.
A Minor Forest at The Satellite on February 8. Back in the day, drummer Andee Conners stayed at my house with J Church, P.E.E., and this band, A Minor Forest, which just got back together for some reunion shows. They were tighter, heavier, and more mathy than ever. Perhaps more fun, too. So great to seeing him and the dudes in action and hanging out on the sidewalk, as well as opener Rob Crow.
Kevin Seconds at Amoeba Hollywood on February 13. Okay, I don’t personally know the singer from 7 Seconds but Eloise is now part of the youth crew after attending the in-store commemorating his great new solo album. Accompanied by his wife Allyson and Kepi Ghoulie, the new songs aren’t meandering singer-songwriter stuff but brief, earnest bursts of energy that rip. Sound familiar?
Save Music in Chinatown 2 on February 9 at Human Resources. Our fundraising has now reached about $7,500 to put toward music education at Castelar Education in Chinatown. The lineup of our second benefit matinee was a dream for me:
DJ Adam Bomb from KXLU’s Bomb Shelter played first-generation L.A. punk and hardcore (Weirdos, Circle Jerks, X, Dils, Adolescents…) complemented by vintage 7″ singles from my friends from KCHUNG.
Hector Penalosa from The Zeros brought his Baja Bugs, the rippingest Beatles cover band ever–which channels the Plimsouls and Undertones as much as The Fab Four–then previewed new solo work. Hector is a national treasure of O.G. punk rock, who has supported Save Music in Chinatown since the beginning.
Channel Three played an all-out, full-blast set of Posh Boy classics with guest stars Maria Montoya on “You Make Me Feel Cheap” and Tony Adolescent singing a rad cover of “California” by The Simpletones. Not only one of my favorite bands ever but some of the nicest dudes, who brought a huge crew to support the cause.
Money Mark was ditched by the guys that were supposed to play the matinee and instead brought a carload of vintage, junky, and discarded gear/treasures for a funky demo that got the little kids grooving and reminded adults how much fun music should be.
Mar 15th – April 2nd 2014
Reception Saturday March 15, 2014 5-10pm
Mar 15th – April 2nd 2014
Reception Saturday March 15, 2014 5-10pm
Giant Robot presents: 20 Years Art x Mags Exhibition
Giant Robot began in 1994 as a zine which soon became a full-fledged magazine and published for 16 years. Today, Giant Robot exists as a website, a shop, and as a gallery. Although the exact date of inception is a mystery, the date published on the cover of the first issue says it all – No. 1 and 1994.
Featuring many artists who have appeared in Giant Robot and some who haven’t.
The list includes:
Takashi Murakami, Yoshitomo Nara, Ryan McGinness, Rob Sato, Geoff McFetridge, Pete Fowler, kozyndan, Shintaro Ohata, Matt Furie, Albert Reyes, Shizu Saldamando, Souther Salazar, Megan Whitmarsh, Stella Lai, Saelee Oh, Seonna Hong, Adrian Tomine, Amy Davis, Ai Yamaguchi, James Jean, Heisuke Kitazawa, Scott Wilkowski, Jeff Soto, Mari Inukai, Sean Chao, David Horvath, Dehara Yukinori, Luke Chueh, Kohei Yamashita, Yoskay Yamamoto, Edwin Ushiro, Ako Castuera, Bobby Hundreds, 326, Rachell Sumpter, and yes plenty more TBA.
This exhibition will precede the epic SuperAwesome: Art and Giant Robot at the Oakland Museum of California. April 19 – July 27th, 2014.
For any additional information, contact Eric Nakamura ([email protected], twitter: giantroboteric) GR2 – 310-445-9276.
Nathan Ota – Scrambled Eggs and a Side of Collectables Reception – A spirited evening for sure. It’s amazing to see the diversity of Nathan Ota’s audience from younger to older, and from punk rock to upper crust. While he is as humble as they come, Nathan Ota’s work are impressive in technique, detail, and subject.
It’s an honor to have Nathan Ota’s work on our walls.
You can browse his works here. Below photo is Nathan Ota and his old friend, Chiwan Choi
Released at the LA Zine Fest. Issue 1 and 2 with a sticker sheet and button. I took shots of many of the folks who grabbed a set. It was also an honor when some folks bought a Giant Robot zine pack and issues of Cometbus together! Get your zine packs
Cambodia finally has its first entry into the Academy Awards and the movie is now showing at the Art Theatre in Long Beach. In The Missing Picture, director Rithy Panh combines hand-carved figures with archival photos and footage to retell his experiences surviving the Khmer Rouge. The artful and affecting documentary is packed with style, intelligence, and heart, and there really is no other movie like it.
At a special screening on Saturday, March 1 at 3:00 p.m., the director will be on hand to introduce the movie and take part in a panel that also features producer Catherine Dussart, French narrator Randal Douc, and composer Marc Marder. Adding extra perspective are Chhom Nimol from Dengue Fever, Prach Ly from the Cambodia Town Film Festival, Anderson Le from the Hawaii International Film Festival, and yours truly. Moderating will be my friend Julia Huang from interTrend.
Check out the trailer, below, and get tickets at arttheatrelongbeach.com. It’s the same price as a regular show even though you also get the panel discussion, a dance performance, and a reception with food and drink… Or reach out to me directly and I’ll see what I can do for you.
More press, in case you aren’t sold yet. Hope to see you there!
“Startlingly, Panh tells his story through a mixture of Khmer Rouge propaganda newsreels and little clay figurines. It was perhaps the only way of managing the devastating memories.” – The Guardian
“Panh’s remarkable new documentary works as a survivor’s testament, a film about memory and loss–and as a self-reflexive essay asking how atrocities should be depicted on screen.” – The Independent
“The Missing Picture is personal and unexpected, a documentary that mixes media in an unusual way to very potent effect.” – The Los Angeles Times
“The film, which won the top prize in the Un Certain Regard section at last year’s Cannes Film Festival, uses miniature clay figures and archival newsreels to recount Mr. Panh’s childhood memories—the missing pictures of the title.” – The Wall Street Journal
Giant Robot testimonials seem to be cruising along. I know some of you might be thinking, “wtf is this?” or are over thinking it in general. One video was a cool eight seconds long. Another, two full minutes. Some people claim to be too busy to pull out their phones and record themselves for 30 seconds or less, but still promote their lives on Facebook.
The video will play in a loop in some portion of the exhibition. It’ll be used perhaps in some promotional method as well. The videos submitted thus far have been a pleasure to see and although the first deadline passed, we’ll still take them. Record, and send them my way.
Mr Yoshitomo Nara is having an exhibition at Blum and Poe this weekend in Culver City. I was limited as to what I could photograph since installs were still going on. 30 years of drawings, giant sculptures (really huge), giant paintings (of course), and new and different types of works on “billboards”. I met Nara in 2000 or 2001 and although it’s been a bit, he’s the same guy. He said something like, “it felt like yesterday” when we met, but for me, it seemed like ages ago. I wonder what that means. Below: we’re at GR2 and below that, he’s polishing a piece.