As I have posted in my recent articles, we had some boy heroes in our childhood including the characters acted by the two Kanekos.
They should have been truly heartthrobs for kid viewers watching the shows in which they appeared back then with Hoshino-kun (kun is an honorific title for boys and juniors) who appeared in Ultraman included as another unforgettable kid character.
As to Hoshino-kun, he disappeared in the midst of the series after his appearance in Episode 25 without any explanation about it in the episodes.
Akihide Tsuzawa (1954-present) who played Hoshino-kun says he pulled out of the show as he broke his leg while skiing on the artificial slope in the amusement park Yomiuri Land still existing in the suburb of Tokyo he visited privately.
Tsuzawa says he was forcibly invited by his older brother who wanted to show his brother with great popularity as Hoshino-kun to his girlfriend, and, after the injury which required two months to heal, he says he quit his acting career as he was.
As expected it seems that he gained enormous popularity as a kid actor while playing Hoshino-kun then.
In spite of a kid character, Hoshino-kun often played an important role in many episodes as an excellent apprentice member of the SSSP, and I think Tsuzawa got to act Hoshino-kun impressively enough such as in Episode 21 while I find it most impressive that Alien Zarab’s restraints that left Hayata tied up easily came apart with Hoshino-kun’s tears (of innocence) falling on them in Episode 18.
Yokais were characters featured in tokusatsu products in my childhood along with kaijus.
We had two tokusatsu drama series with yokai characters featured which were strikingly impressive: Akumakun (1966-1967: 26 episodes) and Kappa No Sanpei Great Operation Yokai (Yokai Daisakusen) (1968-1969: 26 episodes).
Both of them were based on the manga products created by Shigeru Mizuki and produced by Toei Company.
Akumakun is about a boy nicknamed Akumakun (akuma means devil/demon/satan; kun is a Japanese honorific title) who can summon a devil named Mefisto and fights against evil yokais and kaijus with his help.
Kappa No (no is the word showing possession) Sanpei is also about a boy named Sanpei gifted with supernatural ability from the kappas whose member Sanpei saved depicting his fights against evil yokais during his trip searching for his mother captured by those yokais.
All of them were produced by Toru Hirayama, Toei producer, including Giant Robo (1967-1968: 26 episodes) and Masked NInja Akakage (1967-1968: 52 episodes).
The boys who starred Akumakun and Kappa No Sanpei were Mitsunobu Kaneko (1957-1997) and Yoshinobu Kaneko (1955-present) respectively. Although both of them are Kaneko and their first names also sound alike, they are no kin.
Mitsunobu is also well known for his starring role as Daisaku Kusama in Giant Robo and Yoshinobu also gained popularity for his leading role as Aokage (blue shadow) in Akakage.
Incidentally Sanpei’s fellow kappa Rokubei in Kappa No Sanpei was acted by Fuyuhiko Maki who also regularly played Shirokage (white shadow) in Akakage.
As Giant Robo was also repeatedly rebroadcast alongside of the Ultra Series in my childhood, I remember I enjoyed watching it every time it aired.
The product has not been publicly reviewed so much as the Ultra Series, I don’t remember the details of each episode unfortunately as I previously said.
But the monsters which appeared in the series remain in my memory quite vividly because of their unique appearances and characters.
Generally speaking, while it’s true of any other TV tokusatsu series back then, the monsters and villain characters looked so weird lacking the beauty and cleanness the Ultra Monsters designed by Tohl Narita.
Nevertheless, I have to admit that we were also drawn to such weird-looking monsters as a kid.
Giant Robo also had its unique-looking, impressive monsters which I can’t forget even now such as Ganmons, Glober, Iron Power and Ganger.
While each of them is a monster and robot with an enlarged human body part featured or distorted shapes of real-life creatures, they looked so striking with much impact in their own way.
It was fun to find a series of GR type robots controlled by the BF such as GR2 and Calamity appeared although, if my memory serves me right, Calamity didn’t move at all to the end because of the technical malfunction the BF suffered in the episode.