[Interview] Tokusatsu Director & Producer Takeshi Yagi

Today, Hero-Club is presenting its newest interview, which we previously alluded to in our interview with Ultraman Max’s Sean Nichols. Also, Sean Nichols should be considered as the initial mastermind behind this current interview altogether. Especially, when it was Sean who helped to network and connect us with our guest that we are featuring today. So, we really have to further thank Sean, as this entire interview would probably not be happening without him.


Now, as the title of this article states, our guest is former Tsuburaya Productions director and producer Takeshi Yagi. For those unaware, Yagi-san worked for Tsuburaya Productions since the early 90’s working in the special effects department. However, during the TDG trilogy, Yagi-san would be promoted into being a regular episode and series director. Then as the years went on, Yagi-san helped Tsuburaya Productions with its transition into the new millennium. Additionally, Yagi-san would work on darker productions like Ultra Q: Dark Fantasy, which looked to attract older audiences.

Mr. Takeshi Yagi with Sean Nichols

Yet, Takeshi Yagi would become better known as being the main supervisor and producer on Ultraman Max in 2005. Essentially, like Sean Nichols said during his interview, “It was Yagi-san’s heart and soul that gave birth to Max.” So, once reading through the following questions I believe fans will better know both, Yagi-san and understand Sean’s quote. Anyway, Yagi-san would retire from Tsuburaya Productions in 2008, but before leaving he directed the film, Superior Ultraman 8 Brothers. Surprisingly, Yagi-san’s final film would become an instant classic and one of the studio’s largest grossing theatrical releases. As a result, I would say that achievement and success is the perfect way to bookend a career like Yagi-san’s. Regardless of my opinions, this brings us to the present, where this interview will look back at Yagi-san’s career. Nevertheless, without further ado, we hope readers enjoy our time with former Tsuburaya Productions’ director and producer, Mr. Takeshi Yagi!


Question 1: To begin the interview, what inspired you to become a director and producer?

Yagi-san: When I was a kid, it was the golden age of tokusatsu and anime. I was like many of the other kids, as I loved to watch both tokusatsu and anime. However, that was not the reason, as I wanted to make my own films after watching “Star Wars,” “Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” and “2001: A Space Odyssey” back in 1978.


After seeing those films, I thought of making my own movie and was able to imagine the countless possibilities of movies that could be made. Also, I became a ‘movie boy/ buff,’ and watched several films, but at first it was mostly sci-fi. But then, I got into watching all types of movies, especially American and European films.


Question 2: Also, was it your dream to work at Tsuburaya Productions?

Yagi-san: It was pure coincidence that I was hired to work for Tsuburaya Productions, but I was happy it happened because I wanted to make movies. I especially loved Ultraman and Ultraseven as a child. Therefore, it has been an absolute dream come true for me to direct Ultraman projects.


Question 3: You joined Tsuburaya Productions in the 90s, and your first credits are working on the NTV Ultraseven specials as an assistant director. What was it like working on those specials, and which scenes were you involved with?

Yagi-san: I was the third assistant director, which in the Japanese system is a position usually in charge of the art and manuscripts. So, since I was a newcomer, I was not really involved in directing the series, and it was mostly a learning phase. Everyday I just watched the filming process and studied it to gain a larger impression on how to do things.


Ultraman Tiga 25th Anniversary Testimony Cover

Question 4: Following the Ultraseven specials, you are credited for working on TDG trilogy, mostly on Ultraman Gaia for Episode 49 and the Gaia Again special. When working on those series, did you ever expect those shows would become as popular as they are currently?

Yagi-san: Our staff worked really hard on the TDG series, obviously we could not see the future but we were fully confident in it. We were really conscious of the quality of the Showa series, especially Ultraman and Ultraseven. Everyone was of the mind that they did not want to do a ‘half-baked’ job, and I think we were successful in not doing so. For me, the TDG trilogy were very important productions, as Ultraman Gaia Episode 49 was also my directorial debut. That is why I think it was inevitable that they became popular, and I was proud of my work. 


Additionally, I talk more about that in two books that were published last year called “Ultraman Tiga 25th Anniversary Testimony,” and “Ultraman Dyna 25th Anniversary Testimony.” I would be happy if everyone, including your staff, were able to read them one day. For those books, I interviewed the cast, director, scriptwriter, and rest of the production staff from the standpoint of an assistant director at the time. They are fun to read, as they convey the atmosphere of the production back then. Furthermore, everything is explained such as how each series started, and how they progressed.


Question 5: Also, can we ask you what your opinion is on the studio’s decision to reimagine the TDG trilogy as the New Generation like with Trigger and Decker?

Yagi-san: They are new works being worked on by new people with all their might, so I ask that people please support them. One of the things I like is the image quality, HD is crisp and amazing, I wish we had it. In the Heisei era everything was SD, so there was a limit to the technology when compared to now. As a result, there are even limits on how to up-scale and convert those older series with modern technology. Thankfully, new technology is being developed to up-scale the SD images into a higher image quality.


The Golden Age of Tokusatsu: Eiji Tsuburaya’s Successors

Question 6: We apologize in advance for going out of chronological order, but since it is connected we thought to ask, when you were selected to direct Superior Ultraman 8 Brothers what were your thoughts on receiving that opportunity?

Yagi-san: In short, I was moved that Tsuburaya Productions’ Senior Producer Kiyoshi Suzuki selected me to be the director. Especially since the studio began to make one film per year with all their might. So, I was very happy and I am still grateful to Suzuki-san, since he produced all of the Heisei Ultraman films up until Superior Ultraman 8 Brothers. Additionally, Suzuki-san began at Tsuburaya Productions as a cameraman for Ultraman and Ultraseven. Recently, I interviewed Suzuki-san for my book “The Golden Age of Tokusatsu: Eiji Tsuburaya’s Successors.” During the interview, Suzuki-san told me a lot about his experiences on filming Ultraman and Ultraseven while they were being produced by Tsuburaya-san. With Suzuki-san being one of the people who created the golden age of tokusatsu with Director Tsuburaya-san, I was very honored to be selected by such a person.


Also, the screenplay was written by Keiichi Hasegawa, whom I also interviewed in the “Ultraman Tiga 25th Anniversary Testimony” book. We first met during the production of Ultraman Tiga, when I was the third assistant director. Back then, Hasegawa-san was not a screenwriter, but the head of the decoration department/ set design during Ultraman Tiga. We became good friends, and I liked Hasegawa-san’s scripts, so I was happy to work with him during the movie.


Question 7: Then during production of the film what was like working with all those famous actors and what was the atmosphere like on set?

Yagi-san: The movie consists of an all-star cast where the main heroes and heroines are from classic Ultraman series, so it was fun and posh on set. After all, everyone is a superstar in the world of Ultraman. Also, I do not know of any other filming locations that are as gorgeous as the ones in the film.


Now, production was a lot of fun since my childhood heroes Hayata, Dan, Go, and Hokuto were all there. Therefore, I could make the characters from Showa Era series that other people created flow into something I could either change or keep during the production. However, I did not change or add anything during the production, but instead I tried to respect the characters created by the people I admired. So, I directed the classic actors in a style where I thought about what to do when everyone was together, and could learn about them from their gathering.


Then I was joined by my friends from the Heisei series Tiga, Dyna, and Gaia, so I did not have to worry about changing anything. Having worked with the actors who portrayed Daigo, Asuka, and Gamu, to help create their characters I became an important friend to them. As a result, I was able to direct them freely without worrying about distorting or blurring the characters during the production.

Courtesy of Tsuburaya Productions & Kodansha

Question 8: Also, did you and your staff encounter any major issues when producing that film?

Yagi-san: There was not so much of a problem for me, but during that time Tsuburaya Productions was having some trouble. About one week before the movie began filming, Tsuburaya Productions was sold off by the family. So, the main concern became if the filming would be affected, and if we could start on schedule. However, everything was taken care of, filming commenced and finished on time.


Then upon its release, the movie was a major hit, and it was very successful. It became the highest grossing Ultraman film for 14 years, until this year’s Shin Ultraman broke the record.


Question 9: Apologies for not having many questions regarding Cosmos, but most of our staff has not seen that series yet. However, we would like to know what it was like working on a more light-hearted series since Ultraman Cosmos was a pacifist that healed monsters?

Yagi-san: The concept of “healing monsters” is one of the themes that has been repeatedly used in the Ultraman series. However, Ultraman Cosmos was limited and focused on that theme. As a result, I think there were some disadvantages while making the series and developing the characters. Yet, I think that it was worth taking on the challenge of making the series. Overall, it is nice to have such a series among the many other Ultraman series.


Question 10: Do you think Ultraman Cosmos’ concept of healing and saving monsters could be repeated again for another full-length series?

Yagi-san: I think that would be possible. A peaceful and joyful type of series is always welcomed when in development. However, I think if a show just focuses on “healing or saving the monsters,” as its theme it may be hard to produce. As mentioned in my previous answer, healing monsters and pacifism is only a small part when regarding the Ultra series. Limiting a series to that theme would narrow the possibilities of an Ultraman’s character. So, if you are going to do that, then you should do so with that knowledge in mind.

On-Set of Ultraseven X which was at a former Toho Studio’s stage

Question 11: What were your impressions on Tsuburaya’s shift into producing series with matured tones for older audiences like Ultra Q: Dark Fantasy, Ultraman Nexus, and Ultraseven-X?

Yagi-san: The Ultra Series started as a children’s show, and has been for 56 years. However, those who grew up watching the series eventually grew up into fine adults. So, of course there should be installments for the older fans to enjoy. Also, we need to remember that Ultraman as a franchise has matured too. That is why I think the idea of a mature or an adult Ultraman series should be pursued more often.


Question 12: Were you aware that those darker or mature shows became cult hits for the internet and western fanbase? Or, is that actually surprising to you seeing that in Japan the shows were met with moderate success?

Yagi-san: We made Ultra Q Dark Fantasy and Ultraseven X for adults, but tried to set Ultraman Nexus for children to watch in the morning. However, we wanted to challenge ourselves in trying to raise the demographic age for the viewing audience. So, it is not really surprising that these shows were successful for the Western audience, and I am happy about that.


Courtesy of Tsuburaya Productions & Kodansha

Question 13: Also, among Ultra Q: Dark Fantasy, Nexus, and Ultraseven-X which did you prefer the most to have worked on?

Yagi-san: I like each series, though I was the main director for Ultra Q: Dark Fantasy, and Ultraseven X as well as did its series composition. So, even though I really like those two series and may favor them, I think each installment is great. First, Ultra Q: Dark Fantasy is a modern look at the mysterious story of the original Ultra Q, but in the 21st Century. This is what Ultra is all about, how it started, and I viewed it as a challenge and experiment. I worked with Shozo Uehara, Hiroshi Takahashi, Keisuke Fujikawa, and Sadayuki Murai on the script, so I was very satisfied. Also, the series was directed by Akio Jissoji, Shusuke Kaneko, and other top-notch Japanese creators.


Then in Ultraman Nexus, Keiichi Hasegawa worked on the series composition, so I was able to focus on directing. I was able to draw out the feelings of the characters decisively and stylishly. For this series, I was able to work with the wonderful scriptwriter Ai Ota for the first time, whom I have admired for a long time.


Finally, Ultraseven X was my last time on a tv series production while at Tsuburaya Productions. Like Ultraman Max, I was able to take the lead and played a central role in everything. From the theme to the story, as well as direction in design and production, I did it all. So, for me it was a difficult process, but an important production and show. I made the series with screenwriter Yuji Kobayashi, action director Tatsuro Koike, and consulted with the wonderful CG team at Tsuburaya Productions. Since it was a low budget project, there were barely any miniatures, but I did experiment periodically with the special effects.


Question 14: Moving onto Ultraman Max, having interviewed Sean Nichols who helped us to arrange everything, he talks very fondly of you, and states how you really shaped the series as its producer. So, could you please walk us through how you and your staff came up with Max’s concept and themes?

Yagi-san: Before Ultraman, there was Ultra Q, so the starting point of Ultraman Max is ultimately about what if an Ultraman entered the world of Ultra Q. Then I thoroughly analyzed the appeal of Ultraman through conversations with people who worked with Tsuburaya-san, as well as director Toshihiro Iijima. After that, I decided on how I was going to structure the concept of the series.


For example, I referred to my concept as ‘return to the origin,’ though this was no means of being nostalgic. The first Ultraman and Ultraseven were experimental cutting-edge works. So, I tried to apply the idea of Max to the same idea of being fresh and experimental. Thus the challenge was to ‘return to the origin,’ as I directed a lot of similar concepts on that basis.


With this concept in mind, I applied a number of tricks to make it an interesting series, which was an important factor in making it work. Therefore, I invited some of Japan’s top directors like Takashi Miike and Shusuke Kaneko to direct some of the episodes. Additionally, we also asked legendary Ultra Series directors Akio Jissoji and Toshihiro Iijima to return for the production. Then in order to keep the concept fresh I limited the supervisors to being only myself and Hirochika Muraishi-san. That even applied to screenwriters, I only contacted those who I felt could flesh out the characters. As a result, the main production staff is different from the usual Ultraman shows. Another change was regarding composer Kuniaki Haishima, as Ultraman Max was the first series to be recorded overseas with the Beijing Orchestra. Ultimately, I believed that in order to make a good series I need to try to make everything new.


Ultraman Max 15th Anniversary Testimony Cover

The same idea even applies for when I met Sean Nichols. When he came to audition for a Japanese role, I liked his audition so much that I changed the character, and created a new role for him. Ultraman Max was going to be original and more interesting, so a chance to have a diverse cast made it pioneering production. Back then, most Japanese dramas had only Japanese people in the main cast, and foreigners had minor appearances.


Now, Ultraman Max’s theme is ‘hope for the future.’ It is a show for not only children, but for families too. Most of all, it is a show for children who will grow up to create the future. That is why I wanted to show the children from that time a hopeful future. I will not spoil the final scene within the finale here, but I wrote the series with that theme and ending in mind.


This was a very difficult question to answer, but yet an important one that cannot be easily explained. However, I wrote more about this extensively in the book ‘Ultraman Max 15th Anniversary Testimony’ which was published last year, so I hope you will read the book one day.


Question 15: Where did the idea to bring back veteran Ultra Series actors to play new characters within Max’s recurring cast come from? Also, what was it like having them involved with the series?

Yagi-san: As I have mentioned before, I feel that Ultraman has fans that transcend generations. With Max, we aimed to create a show that children and their parents could watch together. Ultraman and Ultraseven were super popular programs in Japan, so the casts and monsters are well-known to Japanese adults. They are icons, so I thought people would be happy when they appeared, and the story would be lively between children and adults. This is more than a formality, as the actors would try to duplicate their appearances like their original characters. However, they are now within a parallel world, but still have a positive effect on the story.


Courtesy of Tsuburaya Productions

Question 16: You directed Ultraman Xenon’s debut within the series, and also the character rarely appears within Ultraman Max. So, do you wish you were able to direct more episodes featuring Ultraman Xenon, or do more with the character?

Yagi-san: I did have a different story for Ultraman Xenon to appear more often in Ultraman Max. However, I wanted to convey to children that they would have to work hard to grasp the future without relying on Ultraman’s power or anything else. That is why I discarded the premise of Ultraman Max fighting monsters and aliens alongside an ally like Ultraman Xenon. Also, I did not think of the existence of Max as compared to a human being. If anything, Ultraman Max was to be more like a higher-ranking lifeform.


That is why I did not use the theme of ‘fighting with friends.’ Although the importance of ‘fighting with friends’ is a meaningful concept, I was thinking of using a different idea for Ultraman Max. Whereas, with the 39-episode series and its special completed, I think the theme was conveyed well to children. So, perhaps more can be done to develop Ultraman Xenon further in future projects.


By the way, Ultraman Xenon was originally going to be called Ultra Xenon. Also, Xenon is named after an ancient Greek philosopher. Additionally, the name was intended to be one of Ultraman Max’s original working titles. However, during production we decided to change the name.


Question 17: Another great episode you directed, and that was fun to watch was the Christmas episode. That episode focused a lot on Elly, and being the android she barely gets spotlight episodes. So, how did this episode come about, and what was your approach in directing this episode?

Yagi-san: I am not of the opinion that miracles should come easily within the Ultra series. Ultra are trans- or high-dimensional beings, but they are not gods. So, I thought it would be a nice touch to make a miracle story for the Christmas episode, and ‘Elly’s Christmas’ was created specifically for Christmas Day 2005. There was no better time for an episode like this. Also, there are many examples of wonderful stories about Christmas. My favorites are Frank Capra’s ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’ and the Twilight Zone’s ‘The Night of the Meek’, so I wanted to make a similar Christmas story in Ultraman Max for children.


After an extensive conversation with Ai Ota, who wrote the script, we came up with a great idea. Hiroshi Inuzuka who played Dr. Kori was a wonderful actor and a major star in Japan. Additionally, Inuzuka-san was a member of the band, Crazy Cats, which added to his star power. Also, he previously appeared in Iijima Toshihiro’s movie Daigoro vs Goliath.


Then as for Hikari Mitsushima who plays Elly, she is a great actor, performing as an android with a lack of emotions. Using that as a foil against Dr. Kori’s emotions pertaining to Elly was a great idea. The best thing about filming this episode was that it was a lot of fun. It is great to shoot in that kind of enjoyable atmosphere, and I liked the mood of a fantasy wonderland.  

Mr. Takeshi Yagi with Ultraman Max’s Mr. Sota Aoyama for the 15th Anniversary Testimony

Question 18: Having created Ultraman Max, what was your reaction to the character and Sota Aoyama’s return in Ultraman X? Also, were you involved or consulted with that character’s inclusion during the episode’s production?
Yagi-san: I was not affiliated with Ultraman X. However, I was invited by series director Yuuichi Abe and screenwriter Sotaro Hayashi, to watch the broadcast while drinking. It was fun, and since I was not involved, I did not know the script as it is closely guarded. But when watching the episode, I asked if ‘this Kaito was a fake’ which left everyone there shocked. After all, I felt I could not be deceived and I could predict the episode, as well as Kaito’s performance. Especially since I had been involved in creating Ultraman Max from the overall plot down to its characters.


Question 19: Prior to the Ultra Series’ current expansion into the West and International markets, were you surprised by its cult status, especially when you were sought out and contacted by the older fans/ film historians?

Yagi-san: I am very happy about it. For example, in 2006 I was invited to show Ultraman Max at the Fantasia Film Festival in Canada, and the fans there had a positive reaction to the showing. We talked a lot about the series at the event. In fact, I have a lot of friends abroad so it does not surprise me. So, it makes me feel like I am known by a lot of people.


Mr. Takeshi Yagi with Ultra Series English Dub Producer William Winckler

Question 20: Then as for the Ultra Series’ modern day resurgence in the West, what are your thoughts on the overall phenomenon?

Yagi-san: That is great, if the Ultra series can expand further worldwide, it will be possible to create new large-scale projects. Those projects will then have more financial production costs than ever before, because of the additional global market funds. Yet, there is still a limit to working with the Japanese domestic market, after all. Nevertheless, as a creator within the Ultra Series, I am very pleased with its overseas success.


Question 21: We are almost done with the interview, and you have kindly asked if we could discuss your upcoming projects. Now, as you have shared with us, you will be contributing tutorials on tokusatsu productions for a company called Naro. So, first off what is Naro, and is it similar to the American learning service like Skill Share? Additionally, what led to you joining Naro, and wanting to contribute to the service?

Yagi-San: I am not affiliated with its management, but I decided to participate in Naro since it looked to have great and meaningful content. It is a new American project that Sean Nichols is associated with, alongside his friends Todd, a poet, and Jordan who excels in the field of literature. When one thinks of Naro, they should think of it as a master class, as well as entertainment. Naro focuses on various topics in Japanese culture such as sumo wrestling, design, directing, and food like ramen or tempura. I am honored to be in charge of the tokusatsu course.


Question 22: Next we want to know if the content you are producing for Narō be one single installment, or multiple courses? Also, since the site features English descriptions will the content feature subtitles for international consumers or students?

Yagi-San: I think the payment plans for Narō courses are on the Home Page, but to be honest I am yet not quite familiar with Narō. However, since this is an American project, all courses will indeed have English subtitles. So, this content will be for people (consumers, students, etc.) all over the world, not just Japanese people.


Courtesy of Narō TV

Question 23. Then as for the program being produced for Narō, what are some specific topics that you will discuss or demonstrate regarding tokusatsu productions?

Yagi-san: I want everyone to look forward to watching the tokusatsu course on Narō, though this will only be a short video meant for edu-tainment. This alone will not make the content successful, but the quality looks amazing. At the time of this interview, filming has been completed, but post-production and editing have yet to start. However, I already am confident about it.


I made this tokusatsu course for Narō the exact same way I usually create shows and movies. First I came up with a plan, created characters, and then wrote a story. Then, I asked a trusted designer to help me conceive it, followed by commissioning the company that normally makes suits for Ultraman to produce the costume. The cast and action director are all trustworthy people who almost always perform together. Working with Narō has produced a new visual world, in fact the most beautiful video I ever made has been completed.


Tokusatsu is all about creating new things so this feels natural, but this time the tokusatsu on Narō is my favorite so far. By watching this course on Tokusatsu, everyone will be able to see how the production unfolds, as I discuss its process. So, I think this will be a very interesting course.


Question 24: Do you think more tokusatsu veterans like yourself would join Narō or other teaching providers like the service? And how would you recommend the service or your experience on working with Narō to your peers?

Yagi-San: I think it is up to each veteran, and what they want to do. As for me, I would like to disclose more and more about how the technology of tokusatsu works. This is because tokusatsu is always about developing and overcoming new challenges. So, today’s new techniques become obsolete tomorrow. Tokusatsu is always looking for new imagery, so I have high hopes for Narō. I think that if I show this on my course, viewers will understand, and carry the tradition on their backs into the future to create new tokusatsu.


Mr. Takeshi Yagi meeting with Ultraman Dyna’s Mariya Yamada for the 25th Anniversary Testimony

Question 25: Finally, do you have anything you want to say to your fans either in your home audience of Japan, or to those internationally?

Yagi-San: Tokusatsu is fun and always focused on the future. As I confirmed this in my upcoming Narō course. I am very excited for it now, so please look forward to my next projects!


Now, this concludes our interview with Mr. Takeshi Yagi, to which it was an honor for us to have here at Hero-Club. Also, we hope to have Yagi-san back for another interview one day, since he is open to discuss more topics. Currently, as discussed in the interview, Yagi-san is working to produce an online tokusatsu learning course for Narō. However, that program is scheduled to join the service in early 2023, so we hope fans look forward to it. Additionally, fans can try reaching out to Yagi-san through his social media pages on both, FaceBook and Twitter. Furthermore, we must extend a special thanks to people that made this interview possible. First off, as mentioned earlier, this interview was made possible via our friend, Sean Nichols. Next, we would like to mention that some questions were contributed by our friend and associate, fellow tokusatsu journalist, UkiyaSeed. Whereas, readers can thank our translating team which consisted of site regulars, ProtomanV89 and Touma Kaito. Finally, like our previous interviews with Japanese guests, the original transcript is available to read below for native Japanese fans:


[Edit: Thursday, December 8, 2022 @ 7:40 AM EST] Hero-Club is sorry announce that we need to temporarily remove the Japanese portion of the interview. Recently, we have learned that an error pertaining to Google Chrome’s translate feature in Japan is changing answers into inappropriate or broken responses. If we can fix the error, we will restore the original transcript within this interview. We extend our deepest apologies to Yagi-san and his associates who were effected by this error.


[Edit: Friday, December 9, 2022 @ 1:05 AM EST] Hero-Club is proud to announce we can restore the original Japanese transcript of the interview. Again we apologize for any issues the original upload may have caused people, and we hope those effected understand. Now, the following message is from Yagi-san explaining to Japanese readers how to avoid the Google Chrome error:

【ご注意】 この日本語のインタビューをお読みになる場合、Google Chrome をご使用の方は自動翻訳機能を必ずOffにしてからお読みください。Onのままですと日本語の文章が乱れて文章が正確に表示されません。ご迷惑をおかけいたしますが、よろしくお願いいたします。


Q1: 最初の質問ですが、監督やプロデューサーになったきっかけは何ですか?

A1: 子供の頃は特撮やアニメの黄金時代でした。私はあの頃の他の子供たちと同じようにたくさんの子供向けの特撮番組やアニメに親しんでいました。でも、じつはそれがきっかけではありません。自分で作ってみたいと考えるようになった大きなきっかけは『スターウォーズ』と『未知との遭遇』と『2001年宇宙の旅』を1978年に見たことです。その衝撃で映画の可能性と無限のイマジネーションに一気に魅せられました。それから映画少年となりたくさんの映画を見ました。最初はSF映画がきっかけでしたが、すぐに何でも見るようになりました。私は特にアメリカ映画とヨーロッパ映画が好きでした。そしていつしか、自分で映画を作りたいと考える様になったのです。


Q2: また、円谷プロダクションで働くことは夢でしたか?

A2: 円谷プロで働くことになったのは全くの偶然からです。でもこの偶然に感謝しています。わたしは映画が作りたかったのです。でも、私は子供の頃に『ウルトラマン』と『ウルトラセブン』が特別に大好きでした。だから、これらの素晴らしいウルトラマンシリーズの監督をできたことは夢のようです。


Q3: 1990年代に円谷プロダクションに入社し、初クレジットは助監督としてNTVのウルトラセブンのスペシャルに取り組んでいます。それらのスペシャルでの作業はどのようなものでしたか? また、どのシーンに関与しましたか?

A3: 私はサード助監督でした。サード助監督の役割は、日本のシステムでは美術と原稿担当ということが一般的です。私もそのように仕事をしましたが、あくまでも助監督ですし、この時は新人でしたからシーンの演出に深く関与したという様なことはありません。この時代の私はまだ学びの時期で、毎日が勉強でしたからあまり深い印象はありません。


Ultraman Dyna 25th Anniversary Testimony Cover

Q4: ウルトラセブン スペシャルに続いて、TDG 三部作、 主にエピソード 49 のウルトラマンガイアとガイア アゲイン スペシャルに取り組んだことでクレジットされています。これらのシリーズに取り組んでいたとき、これらの番組が現在のように人気になるとは予想していませんでしたか?

A4: 我々スタッフは全力でこの作品TDGに取り組みましたから、未来は予測できませんでしたが、でも大きな自信は持っていました。我々は昭和のウルトラマン、特に最初の『ウルトラマン』『ウルトラセブン』のクオリティを意識していました。中途半端な作品は作りたくないと全員が考えていました。そしてそれを実現したと思います。私にとってこのTDG三部作はとても大切な作品です。『ウルトラマンガイア49話』は監督デビュー作です。だから、人気が出たのは必然でもあると思いますし、嬉しいことです。


この辺りのことは私が昨年出版した本『ウルトラマンティガ 25年目の証言録』『ウルトラマンダイナ 25年目の証言録』に詳しく書きました。読んでみてくだされば嬉しいです。この本ではキャスト、監督、脚本、プロデューサーなどの関係者に当時の助監督の立場から私がインタビューしました。当時の制作現場の空気を伝える楽しい本です。ここではどう企画が始まり現場がどう進行したかなど全てが語られています。


Q5: また、TDG 3 部作をトリガーやデッカーのような新世代シリーズとして新しい番組を作り、あなたの意見をお聞かせてください。

A5: 新しい作品は新しい人たちが作っています。彼らが全力で取り組んでいる作品ですから、ぜひ、応援していただきたいと思います。私が特にいいと思うのは画質です。HDは鮮明で素晴らしいです。これが平成の時代にあれば。あの頃は全てでしたから、現在の技術でアップコンバートしても限界がありますからね。ところで、少し話が逸れますが最近新しくSDの画質をかなりハイクオリティにアップコンバートする技術が開発されていますこの技術的進歩が、TDG三部作をより魅力的にしてくれることを楽しみにしています。


Q6: 時系列がズレて申し訳ありませんが、でも繋がりがあるので聞いてみようと思いますが、『スーパーウルトラマン8兄弟』の監督に選ばれた時の感想を教えていただけますでしょうか。

A6: 一言で言えば、感激でした。ただただ嬉しかったです。これは円谷プロが力を込めて作る年に一本の映画ですから。監督に抜擢してくださった円谷プロの大先輩の鈴木清プロデューサーにはとても感謝しています。鈴木清さんは『超8兄弟』までの全ての平成のウルトラマン映画のプロデューサーです。そして鈴木さんのキャリアの最初は『ウルトラマン』『ウルトラセブン』のカメラマンです。私が今年出版した『特撮黄金時代 円谷英二を継ぐもの』という本でも鈴木さんにはインタビューしましたが、鈴木さんからは『ウルトラマン』『ウルトラセブン』の制作当時の撮影や円谷英二さんについてたくさん語っていただきましたし、私はたくさん学びました。鈴木さんは、円谷英二監督と一緒に特撮の黄金時代を作った人です。そんな方に監督に抜擢していただいてとても光栄でした。


そして、脚本は長谷川圭一さんでした。『ウルトラマンティガ 25年目の証言録』でインタビューしていますが、長谷川さんは私が『ウルトラマンティガ』でサード助監督だった時に、まだ脚本家ではなくて装飾部の親方でした。我々は一緒に『ウルトラマンティガ』を作った仲間だったのです。私は長谷川さんの脚本が好きですから、一緒に映画を作れることがとても嬉しかったです。

Courtesy of Tsuburaya Productions & Kodansha

Q7: 撮影する時、有名な俳優さんたちと一緒に仕事をする雰囲気を教えていただけますでしょうか。

A7: あの映画はキャストのほとんどがかつてのウルトラシリーズの主役だったりヒロインで






Q8: その映画を撮影する時、何か問題が発生しましたか?

A8: 特に問題という訳ではありませんが、ご存知の様にあの時期は円谷プロにとっても試練の時期でした。撮影開始1週間前に円谷プロが企業買収されて、撮影が予定通りに始められるかどうかという問題が発生しました。でも、全ては克服されクリアされ、撮影は開始され映画は完成しました。



Courtesy of Tsuburaya Productions & Kodansha

Q9: ウルトラマンコスモスについて質問が少なくて申し訳ありませんが、ほとんどのスタッフはまだそのシリーズを見ていません。しかし、ウルトラマンコスモスは怪獣を癒す平和主義者だったので、より気楽なシリーズに取り組むのはどのようなものだったのか知りたいですか?



Q10: ウルトラマンコスモスが怪獣を癒し、救うというコンセプトは、まだ別のシリーズを作れますか?

A10: それは可能でしょう。平和で楽しい作品はいつでも歓迎されます。ただ、「怪獣を癒し、救う」というテーマだけに限定してたくさんの作品を作ることは難しいと思います。前の質問で応えましたように怪獣を癒す平和主義というテーマはウルトラマンシリーズの内包する主張の一部でにすぎません。それだけに限定するのはウルトラマンの可能性を狭めます。やる場合はそのことを意識して作るべきでしょう。


Q11: ウルトラマンシリーズは子供向けの番組ですが、円谷さんウルトラQダークファンタジー、ウルトラマンネクサス、ウルトラセブンXなど作品は大人向けのシリーズを制作しました。こんなシフトのことについて、どう思いますか?

A11: ウルトラマンシリーズは最初から子ども番組です。でも、始まってから今年で56年も経って、今ではかつてウルトラマンシリーズを楽しんだ子供たちは立派な大人になりました。そんな人たちが楽しめるシリーズは当然あるべきです。そしてウルトラマン自体も成熟してきました。だから大人も楽しめるウルトラマンシリーズというコンセプトはどんどん進めていくべきものだと考えます。


Courtesy of Tsuburaya Productions & Kodansha

Q12: それらのより暗いまたは成熟したショーがインターネットと西洋のファンベースのカルトヒットになったことを知っていましたか? それとも、日本でシリーズが適度な成功を収めたのを見て、それは実際にあなたにとって驚くべきことですか?

A12: 我々は『ウルトラQ Dark Fantasy』と『ウルトラセブンX』は大人向けに作りましたし『ウルトラマンネクサス』は朝の子供向けの時間帯でしたが視聴者の年齢層を上げられないかという挑戦を実験しました。これらの番組が西洋のファンベースで成功したことは、だからそんなに驚くことではありません。そしてとても嬉しいことです。


Q13: ウルトラQ Dark Fantasy、ネクサス、ウルトラセブンエックスの中に、好きな作品はどちらですか?

A13: それぞれの作品が好きです。ただ、わたしは『ウルトラQ Dark Fantasy』のメイン監督で『ウルトラセブンエックス』のメイン監督兼シリーズ構成です。だからこの二つが特に好きです。でもそれぞれが素晴らしいと考えています。


まず、『ウルトラQ Dark Fantasy』はオリジナルの『ウルトラQ』が持っていた摩訶不思議な物語を21世紀に再び誠実に向き合って作った作品です。これこそが『ウルトラ』なのです。ウルトラの原点です。そして自分にとっては実験と挑戦でした。脚本では上原正三さん、高橋洋さん、藤川桂介さん、村井さだゆきさんと組んで作りました。とても満足しています。そして、この作品には他にも監督で実相寺昭雄監督、金子修介監督など日本の超一流のスタッフが参加しています。





Mr. Takeshi Yagi on location with Ultraseven X’s Eriku Yoza & Tomohito Wakazaki

Q14: ウルトラマン マックスに話を移すと、すべての手配を手伝ってくれたショーン・ニコルズにインタビューした後、ニコルズさんは八木さんのことを非常に好意的に語り、プロデューサーとしてどのようにシリーズを形作ったのかを述べています。では、八木さんやスタッフがウルトラマンマックスのコンセプトやテーマをどのように考えたのでしょうか?








Mr. Takeshi Yagi with Ultraman Max’s Hitomi Hasebe for the 15th Anniversary Testimony





Q15: ウルトラシリーズのベテラン俳優を呼び戻し、ウルトラマン マックスの定期的なキャストで新しいキャラクターを演じるというアイデアはどこから来たのですか? また、彼らがシリーズに関わったのはどのようなものでしたか?

A15: 先ほどから繰り返し申し上げているようにウルトラマンには世代を超えたファンがいます。『マックス』では親子で一緒に楽しめる作品を目指しました。『ウルトラマン』『ウルトラセブン』は日本では超人気番組でしたから、その怪獣やキャストは一般的な日本の大人なら皆知っています。彼らはつまりスターなのです。だから彼らを登場させればみんな喜びますし、親子で話も弾むだろうと考えました。これは形式的なものだけにとどまりません。彼らはいつでもオリジナルのキャラクターにその姿がダブりますから、それはまるで並行世界の本人の様にも見え本質的にも物語に良い影響と作用がありました。


Courtesy of Tsuburaya Productions

Q16: ウルトラマンゼノンの初登場を監督しましたが、でも登場したシーンは少ないです。もしできるなら、今後もウルトラマンゼノンをもっと登場させられますか?







Q17: 八木さんが監督したもう 1 つの素晴らしいエピソードで、見ていて楽しかったのは、ウルトラマン マックスのクリスマス エピソードでした。そのエピソードはエリーに多くの焦点を当てていました.アンドロイドであるため、彼女はスポットライトのエピソードをほとんど得ません.では、このエピソードはどのように生まれたのですか? また、このエピソードを監督するにあたってどのようなアプローチをとったのですか?

A17: わたしはウルトラシリーズで安易に奇跡を起こすべきではないと考えています。ウルトラマンは高次元な上位存在ですが神ではありません。でも年に一回のクリスマスの日には奇跡の話を作っても良いと考えました。そして、『クリスマスのエリー』の放送日は2005年のクリスマスイブだったのです。こんな放送の素晴らしいタイミングはありません。クリスマスには素晴らしい話がたくさんあります。わたしが特に好きなのはフランクキャプラの『素晴らしき哉人生』とトワイライトゾーンの『弱き者の聖夜』です。そんな素晴らしいクリスマスの話を『ウルトラマンマックス』で子供達のために作りたいと考えました。





Courtesy of Tsuburaya Productions

Q18: ウルトラマン マックスを作成されましたが、ウルトラマン X でのキャラクターと青山草太さんの復帰に対する反応はどうでしたか。 また、八木さんが関与した場所または、エピソードの制作中または他のプロジェクト中にそのキャラクターを含めることについて相談しましたか。
A18: 私はウルトラマン Xに関わっていません。でも、ウルトラマンマックス が登場するエピソードは監督のあべゆういち監督や脚本の林壮太郎さん、プロデューサーのみなさんに招待されてお酒を飲みながら放送を一緒に見ました。楽しかったです。私は関係者ではなかったので脚本を知りませんでした。脚本の内容は厳重な秘密ですから。でも、放送の途中、始まってすぐに、このカイトは偽物なのかと尋ねたら、そこにいた皆がびっくりしました。やっぱり騙せませんねと言われましたよ。物語の構造とカイトの演技からそれが予測できたのですが、それは私がマックスを作ってきた経験から推察できたことでした。


Q19: ウルトラ シリーズが現在西側および国際市場に拡大する前に、そのカルト ステータスに驚きましたか?特に年配のファン/映画史家から探し出されて連絡を受けたときは?

A19:​​ ​​とても嬉しく思っています。ただ、例えば2006年のカナダのファンタジア映画祭に『ウルトラマンマックス』を出品した時にもファンの皆様の大きな反応は感じていましたし、たくさん話し合いました。私には多くの友人が海外にいますから特に驚きはしません。やっと多くの方々に知られるようになったなという感じでした。


Mr. Takeshi Yagi with Tomohito Wakazaki & Maria Yagi (Saori Degawa) on-set of Reima no Machi. Keiichi Hasegawa also wrote the script.

Q20: では、欧米でのウルトラ シリーズの現代的な復活については、全体的な現象についてどう思いますか?

A20:​​ 素晴らしいことです。ウルトラシリーズが世界展開できるならば、その大きな世界の市場規模のために今まで以上にたくさんの制作費を掛けてスケールの大きな作品が作れるでしょう。日本国内の市場を相手にしていては限界があります。私はウルトラシリーズを作ったものとして欧米での成功をとても喜んでいます。


Q21: インタビューはもうすぐ終わります。今後のプロジェクトについて話し合うことができるかどうか尋ねられました。さて、八木さんは私たちと共有したよに、Narōという会社の特撮プロダクションに関するチュートリアルに貢献することになります。では、まずNarōとは何かというと、SkillShareなどのアメリカ学習サービスと似ているのでしょうか。また、Narōに入社してサービスに貢献したいと思ったきっかけは何ですか。

A21: 私はNarōという新しい試みに参加することを決めたのはそれがとても魅力的で有意義なコンテンツであると考えたからです。これはショーン・ニコルスさんから紹介されたアメリカ発のプロジェクトです。中心になっているトッドさんは詩人で起業家。ジョーダンさんは文学の分野に長けた人物です。Narōを考えるときにはマスタークラスを連想していただければ良いと思います。これはエデュテインメントという新しいジャンルです。Narōでは日本の様々な文化に着目しています。それは相撲、デザイン、演出、アニメ、天麩羅、ラーメン、様々で、その中に我々が愛する特撮もあるのです。私はNaroで特撮を担当することを光栄に思っています。


Q22: 次に、Narōのために製作しているコンテンツが一回の分割払いなのか、それとも複数のコースなのかを知りたいですか。また、サイトには英語の説明が掲載されていますが、コンテンツには海外の消費者や学生向けの字幕が表示されますか。

A22: Narōの支払いのシステムについてはHPにあると思います。じつは、私はまだNarōのシステムについては詳しくありません。ただ、これはアメリカ発のプロジェクトですから全ての発言には英語字幕がつきます。そしてこれは日本ではなくて世界中の消費者や学生、様々な方々へためのコンテンツです。


Q23: では、Narōのために制作されている番組について、特撮制作に関して具体的にどのようなトピックについて議論またはデモンストレーションを行う予定ですか。

A23: Narōで撮影した特撮にはとても期待してほしいです。もちろんこれはエデュテインメントのために撮影した短い映像です。これだけで作品としては成立していません。でも、クオリティーは凄いです。この答えを書いている段階では撮影が終了しただけで、まだ編集などのポストプロダクション前ですが、すでにとても自信を持っています。





Courtesy of Narō TV

Q24: 八木さんのような特撮ベタランがNarōや他のサービスのような教育機関に加わると思いましょうか。また、Narōでのサービスや経験を同僚にどのように進めましょうか。

A24: 特撮のベテランがどう考えるかは、それぞれの人次第です。私はどんどん技術は公開しても構わないと考えています。何故なら、特撮とは常に新しいことにチャレンジすることだからです。だから今日の技術はもう古いのです。常に新しい映像を追求することが特撮なのです。だから、私は、このNarōにとても期待しています。私の特撮コースをご覧になった方々が未来の特撮を背負って新しい特撮を見せてくれるかもしれないからです。


Q25: 最後に、日本のファンや海外のファンに伝えたいことはありますか?

A25: 特撮は楽しいものです。そしていつも未来を見ています。私は今回のNarōのコースで、それを改めて再確認しました。今、とてもワクワクしています。私がこれから作る新しい作品をどうぞ、お楽しみに!

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