KYODYNE Star Yusuke Natsu: 1950 -2010
Toei Hero Dies at Age 59
Author: Keith Aiken and Oki Miyano
Translations: Oki Miyano and Hiro Sono
Source: Yahoo Japan, various
Special Thanks to JR Lipartito
SciFi Japan is sad to report the passing of actor Yusuke Natsu, one of the stars of the 1976 Toei Co., Ltd. television series SPACE IRONMEN KYODYNE (Uchu Tetsujin Kyodain), who died at a Tokyo hospital from stomach cancer on January 27th. He was 59 years old.
Natsuki had been feeling ill last so he visited the hospital for a checkup last Fall. He was diagnosed with cancer, and doctors removed a portion of his stomach that November. Natsu had remained in the hospital since then.
Recently, until his hospitalization, Natsu had worked for the Theater Japan company where he performed and also instructed young actors. His last stage performance was in June, 2009.
He was born Hisayuki Taura on October 30, 1950 in Arao City, Kyushu. He moved to Osaka in 1969 to work as a musician, playing keyboards for the rock band Grand Pris’. The group was frontlined by singer and actress Akiko Wada. Natsu soon moved to Tokyo, where he joined a new band called Ox and took the stage name Sachi Taura. During this time, he made his acting debut in the Nikkatsu movie WILDCAT ROCK (Noraneko Rokku: Wairudo Janbo, 1970), a drama about rival girl gangs and a rigged boxing match in Shinjuku. Additional film roles quickly followed. After an unsuccessful attempt at a singing career, he became a full-time actor and changed his stage name to Yusuke Natsu.
SPACE IRONMEN KYODYNE was developed by MASKED RIDER creator Shotaro Ishimori and producer Toru Hirayama. Yusuke Natsu played Jouji Hayami, one of two brothers kidnapped by the Robot Army Corps from the planet Dada in order to force their father Dr. Hayami to create new technology for the alien invaders. But Hayamai secretly builds two super robots and programs them with the personalities of Jouji and his brother Ryuji (Takeshi Sasaki). Jouji becomes the sky-based robot Skyzel, and Ryuji the ground-based Granzel, who fight to protect their younger brother Kenji and defend the Earth from the Robot Army Corps.
Besides KYODYNE, Natsu appeared in a number of television shows and movies from Toei, Nikkatsu, Toho, and other studios. A partial list of credits includes CHARGE! HUMAN!! (Totsugeki! Human!!, 1972), SWEET REVENGE (Kiri no Hata, 1977), NEVER GIVE UP (Yasei no Shomei, 1978), THE YAKUZA WIVES 2 (Gokudo no Onna-Tachi 2, 1987), and AFTERNOON WHEN FLOWERS FELL (Hana no Furu Gogo, 1989).
Among the many characters played by Natsu, the most popular is Detective Jyunichi Kano from the TV drama SPECIAL CRIME INVESTIGATION (Tokusou Saizensen, 1977). During the series’ eight year run, Detective Kano regularly worked with Detective Tetsuo Sakurai, played by Hiroshi Fujioka, a well known actor for his starring role in the original MASKED RIDER (Kamen Raidaa, 1971) and various Toho effects films such as SUBMERSION OF JAPAN (Nippon Chimbotsu, 1973) and CONFLAGRATION (Tokyo-wan Enjo, 1975).
Hiroshi Fujioka only learned of his old friend’s illness shortly before Natsu’s death, when one of his acquaintances told him that Natsu had only a few days to live. Fujioka was shocked when he heard the news. On the 27th he told a reporter that, “Natsu’s serious attitude towards acting was impressive. He was still so young… I’ve lost my comrade.”
Natsu’s wife, Itoh Megumi, has announced that funeral services will be held in Hourinin Temple at 2-33-13 Namiki-cho, Kokubunji-shi, Tokyo at 11am on January 31st.
For more information about Yusuke Natsu, please visit his official website natsu0202.com (Japanese only).