MY HEROES / Miracle reunion of ‘Liveman’ actors

Megumi Mori, front left, and Daisuke Shima, front right, enjoy their reunion at the Akamatsuri event at a Tokyo club on Aug. 25.

By Mishio Suzuki / Yomiuri Shimbun Senior Specialist“Long time no see, Yusuke! It’s already been 30 years.”

When the husky voice of a woman rang out inside the venue, there was a moment of silence followed by thunderous applause and screams of joy from the audience.

Onstage, actor Daisuke Shima stared open-mouthed at the direction the voice had come from. Shima played superhero Red Falcon and his human persona, Yusuke Amamiya, in the tokusatsu sci-fi action drama “Choju Sentai Liveman” about 30 years ago (1988-89). When the owner of the voice appeared through a dimly lit passage of the club, a surprised expression appeared on his face, and he soon became a little teary-eyed.

The woman was Megumi Mori, a pop idol in the 1980s who played superheroine Blue Dolphin and her human persona, Megumi Misaki, in “Liveman.” She retired from show-biz shortly after “Liveman.” This was probably her first public appearance since her retirement. There she was, beautifully transformed from a pop idol to a mature woman in 30 years.

The two actors appeared at Akamatsuri on Aug. 25. I have organized the talk show series for 15 years to feature actors who played the leader of the superhero team in each Super Sentai Series. Each sentai leader wears a red costume, hence the event is called Akamatsuri, which means a “red festival.”

It was actor Kenta Sato who asked Shima to join the event. Sato also played superhero Red Turbo and his human persona, Riki Honoo, in “Kosoku Sentai Turboranger,” which was the next sentai series following “Liveman.”

This year marks the 30th anniversary of “Liveman.” Sato had the idea that we should invite cast members from the drama and celebrate the occasion. We discussed this idea many times, but we couldn’t come up with a good plan.

Shima is a very busy man, and his participation was confirmed only two weeks before the event. I thought that Shima’s appearance was probably more than enough for the anniversary event.

Then a piece of information unexpectedly popped up in my personal Sentai information network. It was on Mori’s whereabouts. Not expecting a good response, I asked her to appear in the show. But wow! She willingly accepted the invitation. What a miracle!

I decided to keep her participation secret from other guests, even Shima, to surprise them and the audience.

She came onstage toward the end of the show, as I described earlier. Of course, the audience erupted, and so did the people onstage.

Mori and Shima were reunited onstage in their first meeting since the drama ended 29 years ago. The two started talking about their memories of the old days: How they were suddenly offered the roles without an audition; what they remembered about the director; troubles they had on location, and so on. Some members of the audience shed tears of joy as they watched the hero and the heroine chatting amiably about those days, transcending three decades.

“I’ve learned that when you are genuinely surprised you lose your voice,” Shima said after the event, smiling embarrassedly, as he updated his Twitter feed. Mori told me with a smile that it was not until the previous month that she disclosed to people around her that she had been an actress. This means that my belated request for her to join the show was incredibly good timing.

The two readily agreed to the plan for the anniversary event. As we prepare for the event from now, I think we can hold it early next year.

I don’t want to use words like “miracle” or “destiny” lightly. Still, I was convinced that there are indeed encounters of people led by some grand power, which can only be described as a miracle or destiny.

Suzuki is a Yomiuri Shimbun senior specialist and an expert on tokusatsu superhero films and dramas.Speech

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