My assumption was that Sunday morning was going to be low-key. I had volunteered to oversee the Art Room, and was looking forward to some time to "just be." But I had no sooner settled into my post, than I received a text message from my wife that Andy's model had been awarded a blue ribbon! Mere moments later, Andy appeared in the doorway, ecstatic with the news. It was a tremendous feeling to have spent many a winter Saturday assembling our kit--those memories in themselves are cherished--but then, to be recognized with a first place ribbon at G-FEST...it doesn't get much better for a boy and his dad. He was soon off to other things, but my inner smile remained as I made small talk with visitors to the Art Room, or stared out the window at the hotels across the way, reflecting on the wonder of the past few days.
The art display was serendipitously situated across from the Main Hall, so as I sat there minding the collection I could also catch portions of the presentations being offered. It was in this way that I was able to catch most of J.D. Lees' thoughts on "Godzilla 2000." It was fun to hear him talk about some of the "interesting" English dubbing that was done for that film. ("Great Caesar's ghost! etc.)
I also speculated that I could have one more "close encounter" with Akira Takarada, as he was scheduled for another interview in the Main Hall before noon. I had no idea how right I would be, for one moment I was flipping through pictures on my phone, and the next I was welcoming Mr. Takarada and Robert Scott Field to the Art Room! Trying to remain as cool as possible, I showed the international star around, pointing out which entries had won and answering his questions about them. He especially seemed to like the impressive "kaiju plush" figures which are available for viewing in an earlier "G-FEST Gallery" post on this blog.
Seizing the moment, I asked if Mr. Takarada would mind posing for a photo, and he happily complied. Scott snapped the picture using my phone, so there I was, between two of the most recognizable Godzilla actors on the planet, just having a good time. Fortunately, Sue and Andy showed up in time to get a family picture taken with "the face of Japanese sci-fi cinema" himself. Mr. Takarada's interaction with us was filled with warmth and good humor, and he made sure we were satisfied with our photograph before moving on to grant other requests.
Even as I write this--a couple months after the event--I cannot help but smile as I remember Mr. Takarada's charm, class, and down-to-earth kindness. After he and Scott left the Art Room, I recall thinking that these moments would certainly stand as my penultimate memories of the weekend.
But they don't. What happened next would actually top them. There was one more kaiju-sized surprise left for us at G-FEST XVII!