By Mishio Suzuki / Yomiuri Shimbun Senior SpecialistThree stars of tokusatsu sci-fi action TV show “Choju Sentai Liveman,” which stopped airing in the first spring of the Heisei era (1989-2019), got together for a miraculous reunion in the era’s final spring.
It happened last month at the “Choju Damashii” event, which I organized and invited the cast and crew of the show to appear at. “Choju Sentai Liveman” was broadcast from 1988 to 1989 as part of the Super Sentai Series tokusatsu sci-fi action franchise.
The three performers — Daisuke Shima, Kazuhiko Nishimura and Megumi Mori — were part of the five-member superhero team in “Liveman.” Shima played Yusuke Amamiya, who transformed into superhero Red Falcon, Nishimura played Jo Ohara, who became Yellow Lion, and Mori played the role of Megumi Misaki, the human alter ego of Blue Dolphin.
The event was significant because it was the first time that the trio had reunited onstage since the broadcast ended.
Despite the 30-year gap, they started talking about their memories of the show naturally, as if they had finished shooting the final episode only yesterday.
During the opening song of “Liveman,” Nishimura appears skateboarding when his name and character are introduced. The scene is then interrupted by a puppy on a skateboard.
“To tell you the truth, I was really bad at riding a skateboard,” Nishimura revealed. “I couldn’t ride it for as long as required, so the puppy scene had to be inserted.”
Mori had no confidence in her reflexes. But when asked what her specialty was before the show started, she answered cycling and skipping. Those two skills then became special abilities of her character, Megumi Misaki.
“I was talking about riding an ordinary bicycle. But, to my surprise, I was then told to cycle through on a pebbled path amid napalm explosions,” Mori recalled.
Shima also talked about explosions.
“The amount of gasoline [used for explosions] increased every time. Whenever I saw bags with gasoline at the shooting, I thought, ‘Ah, explosions again,’” Shima said with a somewhat bitter smile.
The three were not the only participants of the event, which was also joined by action director Michihiro Takeda and five suit actors — Kazuo Niibori (Red Falcon), Yuichi Hachisuka (Blue Dolphin), Shoji Hachisuka (Green Sai), Hirofumi Ishigaki (Black Bison) and Motoko Watanabe (Kolon) — who played the superheroes in costume after transformation from their human forms. Unfortunately, Masato Akada, the suit actor for Yellow Lion, could not make it because he was on long-term leave due to an injury. He sent in a message, read out by Nishimura, saying, “The two of us played Yellow Lion together.”
Joji Nakata and Akiko Kurusu, who played enemy characters Beas and Magenda, respectively, also came to the show and broke into a discussion about explosions. “You guys started firing,” Shima told them jokingly, to which Nakata and Kurusu responded in character. “I’m not the perpetrator,” said Nakata, while Kurusu said, “I was only ordered to do so!” Their conversation delighted the audience, which burst into laughter.
That alone was satisfying enough to see from the lineup, but then they were joined by Daisuke Ban, who played Dr. Hoshi, the “Liveman” team’s creator. Ban is a big star in the tokusatsu world in his own right, having played many Toei Co. superheroes, such as Kikaider and Inazuman. The audience erupted as the legendary figure came onstage looking every inch Dr. Hoshi, wearing the character’s silver-framed spectacles.
The stage was like a reunion party. Friendship was one of the themes of “Liveman,” and those involved in the show were meeting their friends again after 30 years. It was a joy to witness the Super Sentai heroes’ last miracle of the Heisei era.