Where do I even start with this article?! Right from the beginning thats where. By now, all of you should know that legendary Godzilla suit actor Haruo Nakajima and Toho veteran on screen actor Akira Takarada attended Anime Boston 2015. What most of you probably don’t know is how this came to be. In early 2015 a campaign was launched on the Anime Boston Facebook page by long time Godzilla fan and collector Andrew Wong. His handle on Facebook is GForever. For those of you not familiar with Andrew or the name GForver, click here to learn more http://gforever.net. So, over on the Anime Boston Facebook page, many of us Godzilla fans posted over and over and over again asking the event staff to bring the Godzilla suit actors to this event. After all, the theme for this years convention was Kaiju Vs Mecha! How can you have a theme like this with no Kaiju guests!!?? We kept asking for Godzilla related actors until a rep from Anime Boston responded. BAM! We were basically told they would do what they can to bring a Godzilla related actor or actors over. They appreciated our enthusiasm a lot!!
So what happened?! In early March, Anime Boston teased us Godzilla fans that a big announcement was coming and boy they did not disappoint! As we know already who was announced, please excuse my language but I know a few of my friends, myself included, we all went a little ape shit! Hearing the news that Nakajima-san and Takarada-san would be coming to Anime Boston was just astounding!! This would mark the third time I had the chance to meet Haruo Nakajima and the first time I would get to met Akira Takarada. FRESH! Just damn FRESH!
A swift plan went into motion to gather Godzilla fans in the city limits of Boston in no time! Samson West, Christine Chapin and Brian Mattoscio planned to stay at FRESH VINYL HQ for the weekend, which was a big treat for me! Other G-FEST regulars such as Scrooge Jones, Billy Dubose, Jessica Etchells, Nicolas Cloutier and many more were making plans to come out for the weekend. This event was turning into a big deal and let me tell you, it was a BIG DEAL!
The month of March almost felt like it was dragging bye very slow but the closer April got, the more excitement would build up. The excitement level was about to go through the roof! About half way through March, G-FEST regular, Tim Bean, posted up in a few Godzilla Facebook groups that there would be a special dinner gathering with Haruo Nakajima, Akira Takarada and their fans!! Godzilla fans were going to get an opportunity to go out to dinner with both Nakajima-san and Takarada-san!! Just writing that last bit puts me at a loss for words. Seats were limited for this event to you had to get back to Tim Bean, who then directed you to contact Jim Cirronella directly to express your interest in joining the dinner party. About twenty of us Godzilla fans were able to have dinner with our heroes!
Dinner was held on Friday April 3rd in Downtown Boston on Newbury Street at a Japanese restaurant called Itadaki, which means “Let’s eat!”. Dinner time was set at 7:30pm. I can tell you when I woke up Friday, the thoughts of “I am having dinner tonight with Haruo Nakajima and Akira Takarada” kept circling in my head in disbelief. I was planning on dressing to the nines! We all have seen pictures of Akira Takarada dressed up in his dapper suits and boy does he impress. Many of us felt that this dinner was so precious to us that we all wanted to dress our best.
Now, from my perspective, dinner was the least important thing of this whole event. The chance to spend time with our heroes was the icing on the cake. Just to throw more fireworks in the air, when I was walking up to the restaurant, guess who I see sitting on the patio?! Bob Eggeleton and his lovely wife Marianne!!! AAIIEEEEEGH!!! XD! I ran back to tell my wife, Christine, Sam and Brian like a little kid that just woke up on Christmas morning. Bob is my favorite Godzilla artist and has been ever since I saw his work grace the covers of the Dark Horse Godzilla comics from back in the 1990’s!! We met up with Bob and Marianne and it felt like a G-FEST gathering right off the bat! Shortly after, we walked into the restaurant and ordered our first drinks of the night. Soon after we were able to go to our seating area and the excitement levels were sparking like fireworks on the fourth of July.
Our guests, escorted by the very generous Shigeko, Haruo Nakajima and Akira Takarada made their entrance to an standing ovation. I do not remember what time it was when they arrived simply because time did not matter on this evening. Tim Bean and Jim Cirronella arrived as well and we all then took our seats. Nakajima-san sat at one end of the table and Takarada-san sat at the other. I can’t describe at length how much fun we had, you just had to be there. I can tell you though that we all ate good. Drinks now…well, I only had one glass of wine. Wait, no…hold on..I will get to that shortly. Akira Takarada is a champ. Takarada-san loves to have a good time with his fans and a good time he had. Takarada-san loves to make his fans feel very special as if they are the only ones in the room and that is exactly what he did. Takarada-san ordered a beer to start his night. He toasted with some of us fans and drank up. Just before he was done with his beer, Takarada-san came over to my end of the table and sat down with me and my wife. As Takarada-san sat down, he said in English, “Whoooaa, I am drunk already!” Ok…I just had Ogata from Gojira, you know…the movie that started this train back in 1954, tell me he was drunk! I don’t know how to describe in words or in any known language how awesome that was. Takarada-san sat down with me and my wife, Mrs. Fresh Vinyl and took some awesome pictures.
Takarada-san went back to his chair and then we began to enjoy our dinner. We all ate sushi, chicken wings and ramen. Everything was delicious and very FRESH! Food is food. Let’s get on to the fun stuff. Takarada-san ordered lots of Sake and boy does he love Sake! When Takarada-san ordered sake, he did not order just one flask, he ordered three at a time! Tim Bean told me he is known to do this and boy was he right! Takarada-san enjoyed many drinks with us and it was just great! I had one sake drink with Takarada-san…WOW….as I just wrote that it kind of just set in that I had a drink with Akira Takarada! AAAIIIEEEGGHHH!!!! XD!!!! Umm…FRESH! So exciting. Nakajima-san was at the other end of the table enjoying dinner and some discussion with his fans and he was such a charmer. Takarada-san took some pictures and signed some autographs for a few of us. Christine Chapin had a fruity drink which came in a bottle, which Takarada-san poured for her. That exact bottle was autographed by Takarada-san which was then given to Christine…priceless! As the dinner was wrapping up, Nakajima-san made his way down to the end of table where Takarada-san was sitting and took some pictures with us which was great. I showed Nakajima-san a picture of himself holding one of my Fresh Vinyl t-shirts and he obliged! So cool! I told him that was me on the t-shirt and he said “I see.” AGH! Epic.
To wrap up the event, Shigeko had Tim and Jim hand out white backboards with both Nakajima-san’s and Takarada-san’s autographs on them. How cool is that!!!?? VERY COOL! None of us knew we were going to receive this priceless gem. I was totally taken back by this. It just added to all the excitement! We all said our good bye’s to our guests, took some more pictures before the headed out for the night. This dinner was a game changer. It was a life time experience that I will truly never ever forget. This is event did magical things for me. I was very happy to share this event with friends and fans. Just awesome!
That was not all! The next day we all met up at the convention center where Anime Boston was being held. We again met up with Haruo Nakajima and Akira Takarada for autographs and pictures. Both guests easily recognized us from the night before and a frenzy was created yet again. Moments were made, we were all glowing with excitement. This was all just magical. I gave Takarada-san a Fresh Vinyl shirt and he is now part of the Fresh Vinyl Army! EPIC! Takarada-san also signed a promo shot of himself which was used for the Mothra Vs Godzilla theatrical movie poster. For Haruo Nakajima, I gave him a hat I had since I was a teenager, a red and black ball cap with “GOJIRA” on the cover! So cool. I also had Nakajima-san autograph my M1 Nakajima figure!
Later on in the afternoon we all lined up for the Gojira panel which would be a discussion with Takarada-san and Nakajima-san. While standing in line I tried to rile the crowd up with excitement by asking them if they were ready to see the Godzilla panel and they roared. I even managed to get everyone to do a “FRESH” chant. That was pretty darn cool. The panel focused on the result of nuclear weapons and their devastating affects it had on Japan during WWII and how the film crew wanted to re-create the horror of nuclear weapon in depicting Godzilla. Both guests were asked which their favorite films were, Takarada-san is a fan favorite of mine, Mothra Vs. Godzilla! Nakajima-san discussed what it was like being inside the Godzilla suit and what challenges he faced as acting as Godzilla was. Takarada explained where the name Gojira came from, which is from gorilla and whale being joined together to give of GOJIRA! After the panel was over, some fans had an opportunity to ask questions and shortly after, the Japanese cut of Gojira was screened!
That’s a wrap from my end! Nakajima-san and Takarada-san were at their booth on Sunday for more autographs. Some fans who were still in the town for the weekend joined up with our guests for more autographs and the opportunity to soak up more time before it was time to close out the weekend. In closing, this was a weekend I will never ever forget. Big thank you to Shigeko, Sonoe Nakajima, Jim Cirronella and Tim Bean. A big special thanks to all of us fans because we made this happen!! And of course, thank you Haruo Nakajima and Akira Takarada for making ever lasting memories with us!! We asked for them and they came. It was truly a remarkable experience. Simply magical! As of this writing, I am still on cloud 9! I can’t wait to have an opportunity to see my heroes again!
Check out our video recap here: