Takayuki Tsukagoshi: Chairman of Tsuburaya Productions
Sun Jian: CEO of SCLA
Jian Sun (Sun): Next year will be the 55th anniversary of the Ultraman series. What are your feelings about this anniversary?
Takayuki Tsukagoshi (Tsukagoshi): Fifty-five years is an incredibly long time, but it’s a checkpoint on the way to the next era. We’d like to thank everyone involved and the fans of the Ultraman series so far and make this the year that we renew our commitment to make this a year of great progress.
Sun: How do you think Tsuburaya maintained the appeal of the Ultraman brand over these long years?
Tsukagoshi: We’ve been able to continue on for this long thanks to Eiji Tsuburaya and our many talented and passionate creators, staff, and cast members, as well as with the support of our many fans, who transcend generational and international boundaries. We are most grateful to them. Tsuburaya Productions could never have been able to accomplish so much without the support from these people.
The guiding principles of the Ultraman series are “courage,” “hope,” and “kindness,” which are carried down from the early days of the series. The Kaiju that face off against the hero Ultraman also have their own origins and stories. We would like to continue to consider things from a variety of perspectives and cherish the theme of “living together.”
Sun: Over the course of more than fifty years, Tsuburaya has created many works with many staff and cast members. To my knowledge, many staff and cast members involved in production are from external offices and agencies, of which Tsuburaya’s staff are only one part. How have you gotten everyone to go together in the same direction for production and created so many great works?
Tsukagoshi: As you say, among the people who have involved in creating the series, most of them aren’t company employees but cast and staff members from external offices or other professionals from outside agencies in Japan. Since everyone comes from different regions, companies, and teams, they have various work methods, political positions, religious beliefs, and so on. For that reason, although our company has complete control over the creation and production of a work, we cannot control people’s speech and conduct outside of that creation and production. Thus, their individual speech and actions have no relation to our company or our creations in any way.
However, everyone has come together with the same purpose and conviction. We believe in the capabilities of each of those professionals, and we work together as fellow professionals, and sometimes we do argue, but our goals are the same. And I think that as a result we’ve been able to create shows and characters that have been loved by everyone for so long.
Sun: Do you have any big events or activities planned in 2021 for the 55th anniversary of Ultraman?
Tsukagoshi: We are currently considering a variety of projects for the 55th anniversary of Ultraman. Of those projects, I think Shin Ultraman will be the big centerpiece for the anniversary year.
Sun: Shin Ultraman is a film commemorating the 55th anniversary of Ultraman. Is there anything about it that’s different from previous movies?
Tsukagoshi: It’s a “reboot” movie set in the current era. With the craftsmanship of forerunners of the Japanese entertainment world, such as producer Hideaki Anno and director Shinji Higuchi, it will certainly become a critical milestone for the Ultraman series, and I think it will be a work that both old and new fans can enjoy. Please look forward to it.
Sun: How does Tsuburaya view the enormous popularity of works from the Ultraman series in China?
Tsukagoshi: There are various business conditions surrounding the history domestic development in China, but regardless of that, it’s really encouraging how many fans have loved and supported Ultraman for so many years. We’re also extremely grateful for the efforts of SCLA, our exclusive agent in China. We at Tsuburaya Productions are delighted that with the spread of the internet, through things like simultaneous broadcasting inside and outside of the country, fans can enjoy works in real time in China.
Sun: Since Ultraman is so popular in China, the Ultraman character image is used in counterfeit products, variety shows, and non-commercial purposes. How does Tsuburaya view this?
Tsukagoshi: We have seen works and characters of the Ultraman series being used without permission, both commercial and non-commercial. In some situations, we take a strong stance in response to such matters, including legal action. Our company is not involved in such cases, and we will not admit any of these works created without our permission or supervision. We hope that fans check copyright notations and support the official “Ultraman” of our company.
Sun: Is there anything you would like to say to fans in China about the 55th anniversary of the Ultraman series?
Tsukagoshi: In order to meet the expectations all our fans in China (and around the world), we would like to challenge ourselves to try new things. Please keep an eye out. We hope that you will continue to support the Ultraman series.
Tsukagoshi: We’ve spoken a lot about Japan, but can you tell us anything about developments in China for next year?
Sun: Next year will be SCLA’s 18th year representing Ultraman. Thanks to everyone’s cooperation these past 18 years, we have overcome various difficulties and now the Ultraman series has become a brand that everybody knows in mainland China. Since 2021 will be a very significant year for the Ultraman series, our company is also planning various events. Next year, we will be holding an exhibition that happens once every five years, this time for the 55th anniversary of Ultraman as well as for the 25th anniversary of Ultraman Tiga. Also, next year in Japan Shin Ultraman will be showing. Our company is also working hard to have it shown in China so that fans can enjoy Shin Ultraman in theaters. We are also planning to develop a large number of products in cooperation with our various business partners for the 55th anniversary. We hope that through our efforts, the Ultraman series can continue to live on in China for many years.