Akira Takarada and Bin Furuya take the stage
The excitement gradually builds again on Friday evening, after the first wave of Dealers Room access, opening panels and catching up with friends crashes over. It was simply a thrill to see Mr. Takarada and Mr. Furuya together on the platform; it was everything a fan could have anticipated from the moment the announcement of their visit was made. As you can see, Mr. Furuya came dressed for the occasion in his suit from Ultraseven, complete with communicator and ray pistol. How fascinating it was to consider that this was the man who brought Ultraman to life--Ultraman, who I watched daily thirty-five years ago on Detroit TV, while getting over the chicken pox. Unbelievable.
Seeing Mr. Takarada again was a real treat. Something about the repsonse he has recieved from Western fans seems to have struck a chord within him. Perhaps that's reaching a bit, but it certainly appears that he enjoys his time here, and, after all, he not only came back, but was instrumental in attracting Mr. Furuya to attend. Here is where the seemingly tireless legwork of Brett Homenick must be acknowledged. He has been able to build bridges to the men and women of Japanese film, and his rapport with the likes of Mr. Takarada is key to their being willing to come to a fan festival in Chicago, Illinois. Many thanks, Brett!
Andy with Bin Furuya, the one and only Ultraman
The above picture is one of my favorites from this year's FEST. That's not my son's practiced camera smile; that's a smile of pure fan happiness. That's a nine-year-old thinking, "I'm getting my picture taken with ULTRAMAN." And maybe, in the end, that's why I love G-FEST so much. Not only does it make my son smile like that; but I can be a nine-year-old too, with no explanations or apologies.