TV Movie Details Actor Tadao Takashima’s Battle with Depression
On June 26 at 9:00pm, Japan’s Nippon Television Network will air a 2 hr drama entitled BATTLE AGAINST DEPRESSION- THE STORY OF THE TAKASHIMA FAMILY: SIX YEARS OF LOVE AND FIGHTING. The television movie chronicles actor Tadao Takashima’s (KING KONG VS GODZILLA, ATRAGON, FRANKENSTEIN CONQUERS THE WORLD) long struggle with depression.
Born July 27, 1930 in Kobe, Takashima was a talented jazz drummer and musician before switching to acting. He joined Shintoho in 1951 and appeared in such movies as YOUTHFUL JAZZ DAUGHTER (Seishun Jazu Musume, 1953) and FEARFUL INVASION OF THE FLYING SAUCERS (Sora to Guenban Kyonu Shingeki, 1956). After moving to Toho Studios, Takashima was paired with Yu Fujiki (GODZILLA VS THE THING) for a handful of musicals and salaryman comedies. In 1962, director Ishiro Honda chose the duo for leading roles in KING KONG VS GODZILLA (Kingukongu tai Gojira), and again the following year for ATRAGON (Kaitei Gunkan, 1963). Takashima also appeared in the classic 47 Ronin story CHUSHINGURA (Chuhsingura: Hana no Maki Yuri no, 1962) and the musical YOU CAN SUCCEED TOO (Kimi mo Shusse ga Dekiru, 1964), co-starred with Nick Adams and Kumi Mizuno in FRANKENSTEIN CONQUERS THE WORLD (Furankenshutain tai Chite Kaiju Baragon, 1965), and played the head of the United Nations science team in SON OF GODZILLA (Kaijuto no Kessen: Gojira no Mosuko, 1967).
Takashima returned to the Godzilla series with a cameo role in GODZILLA VS MECHAGODZILLA II (Gojira tai Mekagojira), which gave him the opportunity to work alongside his eldest son Masahiro. In fact, both of his sons followed in their father’s acting footsteps. In addition to GODZILLA VS MECHAGODZILLA II, Masahiro starred in GUNHED (Ganhedo, 1989), ZIPANG (Jipangu, 1990), OROCHI THE EIGHT-HEADED DRAGON (Yamato Takeru, 1994), and GODZILLA VS DESTOROYAH (Gojira tai Desutoria, 1995), while the younger Masanobu’s credits include GODZILLA VS BIOLLANTE (Gojira tai Biorante, 1989), NEW MASKED RIDER (Shin Kamen Raidaa, 1992), MUSASHI (2003), INFECTION (Kansen, 2004), and GODZILLA: FINAL WARS (Gojira: Fainaru Uozu, 2004).
In the summer of 1998, Tadao Takashima suddenly cancelled all of his performing assignments and retired from the public eye. It was initially reported that the veteran actor had a physical ailment connected to diabetes, but the truth was that Takashima was in the grip of a severe depression. “It’s not unusual for celebrities to suffer from depression because they are constantly exposed to so many people,” Masahiro said. “Even so, this was very shocking”.
For much of the next six years, Tadao Takashima would sleep away most of each day and rarely left his home. Finally, after several years of treatment and the loving support of his family, he decided to return to the world of entertainment. In 2003, his son Masanobu explained “He was thinking that to show up in public and be active again was the best way to show gratitude to his fans and all the people who have been taking care of him for so long. For now, he wants to pick a job that is suited to his age and allows him to set his own pace.”
On September 7th, 2003 the 72 year-old made his first public performance at the Shinagawa Prince Hotel as a guest singer in a dinner show hosted by Hiroshi Miyagawa (composer for SPACE BATTLESHIP YAMATO). The Miyagawa show was produced by actress Kaori Tori, a close friend of Masanobu Takashima’s, and she arranged for father and son to perform a jazz number together. Later that month, Takashima made an appearance on the NHK television game show QUIZ: YOU’LL KNOW IT WHEN YOU SEE IT (Quiz Mireba Nattoku).
Depression is a major social problem in Japan, with more than 32,000 people committing suicide in 2004 alone. NTV approached the Takashima family about making BATTLE AGAINST DEPRESSION in the hopes that others would be inspired by the story of family unity helping a man learn to control this disease. While the Takashimas gave the appearance of a perfect and happy family, behind closed doors they were living a private hell. It was only the combination of hard work and their love for each other that allowed them to make it through the crisis.
The movie includes documentary footage and an interview with Tadao Takashima and his family. For the drama, Tadao is played by Hiroki Matsukata, an established actor who has starred in THE MAGIC SERPENT (Kairyu Daikessen, 1966), BATTLES WITHOUT HONOR AND HUMANITY (Jingi Naki Tatakai, 1973), AGITATOR (Aruburu Tamashi-tachi, 2001), IZO (2004), and the Genghis Khan biopic THE BLUE WOLF: TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH AND SEA (Aoki Okami: Chi Hate Umi Tsukiru Made, 2007). Keiko Takahashi (UZUMAKI) is Tadao’s wife Sumiyo. Masahiro is played by Tetsuya Bessho, star of GODZILLA AND MOTHRA: THE BATTLE FOR EARTH (Gojira tai Mosura, 1992), PARASITE EVE (Parasaito Ivu, 1997), and ULTRAMAN: THE NEXT (Urutoraman, 2004). The role of Masanobu is performed by Yoshiko Hakamada, whose credits include GAMERA: REVENGE OF IRIS (Gamera 3: Irisu Kakusei, 1999), THE CAT RETURNS (Neko no Ongaeshi, 2002), KISARAZU CAT’S EYE- THE MOVIE (2003), ZEBRAMAN (Zeburuman, 2004), and THE BLUE WOLF: TO THE ENDS OF THE EARTH AND SEA.
Tadao Takashima said, “I’m very impressed and proud that such prominent actors have played my family and me. I believe that this movie will give people a better understanding of my disease and see that I was able to overcome depression. I hope that will help and give power to people suffering from the same disease.”