GAMERA Star Yoshiro Uchida Joins THE GREAT BUDDHA ARRIVAL!
Source: Avery Guerra
Official Site: daibutsukaikoku.com
A SCIFI JAPAN EXCLUSIVE
The independent kaiju film THE GREAT BUDDHA ARRIVAL (大仏廻国, Daibutsu Kokaiku) continues to cast familiar actors from the golden age of the genre. The latest addition is Yoshiro Uchida, a former child actor who became world famous for the leading role of Toshio Sakurai in Daiei Studios’ original GAMERA (大怪獣ガメラ, Daikaijū Gamera, 1965). His character retained his Japanese name in GAMMERA THE INVINCIBLE, the 1966 Americanized version distributed theatrically by World Entertainment Corp., but was notoriously renamed “Kenny” in the English dubbed version released to home video and television by Sandy Frank in 1985. “Kenny” remains a label used to describe child actors in kaiju cinema to this day.
While Uchida was not the first child actors given a prominent role in a giant monster movie, he did inspire a slew of other Japanese monster films and TV shows to attempt to recreate the magic — and financial success — of GAMERA. After less-than-expected box office for the second Gamera film, the filmmakers returned to the formula for the rest of the series, even bringing in Caucasian children like Carl Craig for GAMERA VS. VIRAS (ガメラ対宇宙怪獣バイラス, Gamera Tai Uchuu Kaijū Bairasu, 1968) and Christopher Murphy in GGAMERA VS. GUIRON (ガメラ対大悪獣ギロン, Gamera Tai Daiakujū Giron, 1969). The beloved 1990s Gamera reboot trilogy featured teenage actresses Ayako Fujitani, the daughter of famed action star Steven Seagal, and Ai Maeda, while 2006’s GAMERA THE BRAVE (小さき勇者たちガメラ, Chiisaki Yūsha-tachi Gamera) starred Ryo Tomioka and Kaho. Nikkatsu’s kaiju film GAPPA: THE TRIPHIBIAN MONSTER (大巨獣ガッパ Daikyojū Gappa, 1967) featured Masanori Machida as the islander Saki. And Toho jumped on the bandwagon with Tomonori Izaki as latchkey kid Ichiro Miki in ALL MONSTERS ATTACK/GODZILLA’s REVENGE ゴジラ・ミニラ・ガバラ オール怪獣大進撃, Gojira-Minira-Gabara: Ōru Kaijū Daishingeki, 1969) and Hiroyuki Kawase starring in both GODZILLA VS. HEDORAH (ゴジラ対ヘドラ, Gojira Tai Hedora, 1971) and GODZILLA VS. MEGALON (ゴジラ対メガロ Gojira Tai Megaro). Warner Bros. Pictures and Legendary Entertainment included a nod to these child actors in their GODZILLA (2014), while writer/director Minoru Kawasaki lampooned the Kenny-types in his kaiju comedy MONSTER X STRIKES BACK: ATTACK THE G8 SUMMIT (ギララの逆襲／洞爺湖サミット危機一発, Girara no Gyakushū: Tōyako Samitto Kiki Ippatsu, 2008).
Following GAMERA, Yoshiro Uchida continued to act (particularly in television) and had a very successful career in Japan as a singer. He launched his musical career with the smash single “Mister Robinson” and made 2 albums with 5 singles, including the hit “furusato”. He now returns to his roots in THE GREAT BUDDHA ARRIVAL, alongside the likes of Akira Takarada (star of six Godzilla films, including the original), Akira kubo (INVASION OF ASTRO MONSTER/MONSTER ZERO, SON OF GODZILLA, DESTROY ALL MONSTERS), Peggy Neal (THE X FROM OUTER SPACE), Yukijiro Hotaru (The Heisei Gamera Trilogy, GODZILLA, MOTHRA, AND KING GHIDORAH: GIANT MONSTERS ALL-OUT ATTACK), Pippei Ohsako and Inge Murata (SHIN GODZILLA), Shelley Sweeney (four Godzilla films), Yuki Morita (GODZILLA 2014), and many more!