In a Flash – Tetsuo Narikawa: 1944-2010
SPECTREMAN Star Passes Away
Author: Bob Johnson
Additional Research and Translations: Daisuke Ishizuka
Source: Yahoo Japan, various
Special Thanks to Oki Miyano and Keith Aiken
2010 got off to a sad and shocking start with the loss of the star of one of Japan’s more unique superhero series. Actor Tetsuo Narikawa died of lung cancer on January 1 in Tokyo, Japan. He was 65 years old.
Narikawa is best known for his leading role as Joji Gamou (aka; George) in the P Productions TV series SPECTREMAN (Supekutoruman) from January 2, 1971 through March 25, 1972.
Tetsuo Narikawa was born in Iidabashi, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo on April 15, 1944 during a very turbulent time in Japanese history. He attended Hosei University where he studied in the Economics Department but dropped out before graduation. During his time at the University, Narikawa also attended a performance school run by Toei Productions and had a guest part in episode 23 of Toei’s black and white tokusatsu series AKUMA-KUN (Devil Boy, 1966). In 1967, he entered and was chosen in the 8th Toho New Face competition, a semi-annual talent hunt held by the studio. He later married another of the 8th Toho New Face Players; actress Akiko Sekiguchi.
Narikawa signed with the Sachiko Pro talent agency. His first regular acting role was in the TV series TOKYO BYPASS ORDER (Tokyo Baipasu Shirei) in 1968 where he played Detective Namiki.
In 1969 he quit Toho and went on to his first feature film, Toei’s JUDO (Yawara no Hoshi) in 1970, and appeared in two episodes (57 and 58) of the television series JUDO ICCHOKUSEN (Judo Straight Line).
In 1970 he got the role of Joji Gamou in SPECTREMAN, which actually went by three different titles for the series’ three segments. The first was SPACE APEMAN GORI (Uchu Enjin Gori), which covered episodes 1-21. The next set of episodes, 22-39 went under the name SPACE APEMAN GORI VS. SPECTREMAN (Uchu Enjin Gori tai Supekutoruman ) before the series shortened the title to simply SPECTREMAN from episode 40 until the end of its 63 episode run.
The series was picked up for distribution in the United States and went by the name SPECTREMAN for its entire run.
After SPECTREMAN, Narikawa went on to guest star in a few other superhero series, notably LION MARU (Kaiketsu Raion-Maru, 1972) episodes 3 and 5, MASKED RIDER (Kamen Raidaa, 1972) episode 63, ROBOT DETECTIVE (Robot Keiji, 1973) episode 25, and ULTRAMAN LEO (Urutoraman Leo, 1974) episode 36. Narikawa also switched talent agencies and spent three years performing under the stage names Katsuya Godai and Tatsuhiro Godai before returning to Sachiko Pro and his given name.
In addition to his film and television work, Tetsuo Narikawa often acted in commercials. He appeared in spots for Ito-Yokado Co. superstores, Snow Brand Milk Products, and the National brand of electronics (now known as Panasonic).
Narikawa was an ardent student of karate and judo throughout his acting career. When his master Ayase Sadao passed away in 1982, Narikawa took over the Karate-Dojo and became an instructor. In 1983, he retired from acting and founded the Bodhi International Karate Federation, devoting himself full-time to teaching martial arts. Narikawa went on to become Grand Master of Gensei-Ryu Seidokai.
In August 2008, Narikawa formed the first Gensei-Ryu Karate-do World Championship at Komae’s Olympic complex near Tokyo and to this day is very respected in the karate and martial arts community.
Funeral services were held at noon on January 7 at the Senryuji Temple Annex in Komae-shi, Tokyo. Among the mourners in attendance were Narikawa’s widow, Akiko Sekiguchi, and former actresses Tomoko Umeda (GODZILLA VS GIGAN) and Reiko Tokunaga (ARMY OF THE APES).
Although he will always be remembered by superhero fans as Joji/George, Spectreman’s alter ego, Tetsuo Narikawa was far more than that and will be greatly missed.