By Mishio Suzuki / Yomiuri Shimbun Senior SpecialistI joined The Yomiuri Shimbun in 1989, the first year of the Heisei era. At that time, the company building stood where it does now, but it was nothing compared to the current building, which was completed three years ago. To be honest, the old building was a bit shabby.
I participated in the company’s entrance ceremony at that building in April 1989, and soon began my career as a reporter at the newspaper’s Yokohama bureau. In those first several years, I did everything in my power to hide from everyone in the office the fact that I was a complete geek for tokusatsu sci-fi superhero dramas and films.
Even now, it is hard to say that we tokusatsu geeks have gained public acceptance. But coming out as one in those days meant branding yourself as a weirdo. In the days when even anime geeks had yet to gain recognition in society, tokusatsu works were seen as more kids’ stuff than anime. Considerable courage was required to confess to liking them. A grown-up who was into tokusatsu was far beyond most people’s comprehension.
In the late 1990s, something snapped inside me, and I began openly describing myself a tokusatsu geek.
I had a sudden flashback to those days when, in mid-March this year, a concert of tokusatsu hero songs organized by The Yomiuri Shimbun took place at Yomiuri Otemachi Hall, which is housed in the new Yomiuri Shimbun building.
The concert featured three popular singers: Akira Kushida, who is famed for singing the theme song for “Gavan,” MoJo, who has sung many tokusatsu theme songs, including for “Daisentai Goggle V,” and Takayuki Miyauchi, who is known for the theme song of “Kamen Rider Black RX.” I took part in the concert as a producer.
That a concert of tokusatsu hero songs meant for an adult audience was organized and carried out successfully is an earth-shattering event, considering how things were 28 years ago.
At the concert, the audience marveled in listening to some rarely performed gems. MoJo sang “Shutsugeki! Goggle Robot,” a piece featured in “Goggle V,” for the first time since its official recording. Other rarities included Miyauchi’s “Stop the Wars” from “Kyukyu Sentai Go Go Five,” and Kushida’s “Lion-Maru no Ballad Rock,” a famous song from “Kaiketsu Lion-Maru.”
There was yet another nice surprise. Gekitotsu Kyodai, a musical unit comprising Kushida and Yoffy of the duo Psychic Lover, gave the first public performance of the theme song for the film “Space Squad Gavan vs Deka Ranger,” which will be released on June 17 as a spin-off from two tokusatsu shows. What’s more, Gavan and Deka Red — the two main characters from the dramas the movie brings together — made an appearance at the concert.
Looking at the superheroes onstage, I couldn’t help thinking of the long road I’ve been on up until now — the heroes were standing right where I began my career as a secret tokusatsu geek!
As I was absorbed by the singers’ performances, a memory from my childhood came back. Since I was little, whenever social problems such as sexism frustrated me, my father would say, “Society changes faster than you think.” Indeed, society does change, and you can be the one to change it.
Doing so probably requires the ability to continue having faith in yourself no matter how cruel the world treats you. This thought lingered in my mind that spring evening.