Thunderbirds, the classic Sixties puppets TV show created by the late Gerry Anderson, is still quite popular in Japan.
We reported last year, for example, on the Thunderbirds-themed restaurant in Jinbocho.
“Thunderbirds 2086″ was a short-lived anime based on the British Supermarionation series, while eagle-eyed anime bloggers have spotted many other references in anime that pay homage to Thunderbirds. Japan even produced its own marionette tokusatsu TV called “X-Bomber”, though it, well, kind of bombed.
Visitors can enjoy 3D films, as well as models and exhibits showing off the workmanship behind the original series’ effects.
There is even a Thunderbirds 2 that you can interact with (details aren’t clear at time of writing — we’ll have to wait till next week to find out more).
Kentaro Yoshida, executive officer of TFC, Japanese agent for the Classic Thunderbirds brand, was quoted as saying: “Miraikan with the help of so many of the big names behind technological innovation in Japan, has done a great job of creating an exhibition that will appeal to a wide range of age groups. And of course Thunderbirds, with its enormous following in Japan, is the perfect vehicle for the exhibition. With its 50th anniversary coming in 2015 it still looks futuristic.”
The first 500 visitors on the first day have also been promised original Thunderbirds merchandise.
The Thunderbirds Expo runs from July 10th to September 23rd, with tickets for adults costing ¥1,300 and ¥700 for kids.
All this Thunderbirds love is one thing, from the cult following to ironic retro love or genuine popularity amongst a new, younger generation — but we think things went a bit too far when the Japanese Self-Defense Force started to use Thunderbirds on their recruitment posters.
Hungry Ultra Seven fans, get ready.
It may need no introduction to some but Ultra Seven was the 1967 sequel to the first Tokusatsu Ultraman TV series made by Tsuburaya Productions, continuing the adventures of the Ultramen superheroes.
The Ultra Diner Ultra Seven Hashed Beef with Rice has been made especially for Bandai by a restaurant run by Kohji Moritsugu, the Joli Chapeau in Kanagawa. Moritsugu was one of the most popular stars of the original Ultra Seven series, playing Dan Moroboshi.
The hashed beef can be ordered in a four-pack for ¥6,300 (around $67) and they come with a complimentary red Ultra Seven Task-Mask (“Ultra Eye”), if you want to transform yourself into an Ultra hero.
But if you’re hungry now, you’ll have to wait. The dish isn’t released until June.
Are you a fan of Ultraman and Ultra Seven?
Do you have $30,000 to spare?
Can you play the guitar?
If you answered “Yes” to all of the above, you may want to get your strumming hands on the Flying Seven Ultra Seven Guitar, a luxury musical instrument designed especially for fans of the retro Tokusatsu TV series made by Tsuburaya Productions.
Ultra Seven was the 1967 sequel to the first Ultraman series and continued the adventures of the Ultramen superheroes.
Ultraman and other retro characters like Kamen Rider may not have the overseas iconic status of, say, Godzilla, and likely many local people in Japan under forty may not have even ever seen the original series — but that doesn’t stop them from appearing seemingly everywhere!
Either Japanese consumers have a good sense of humor or are genuinely nostalgic for these old manga and TV superhero characters.
Well, they are still making Ultraman movies (the most recent was released in 2012, impressive given that the Ultraman franchise first began broadcasting way back in 1966), so I guess there must be plenty of demand.
The Flying Seven Ultra Seven guitar is made to order, hence why it’s so expensive, and just judging from the look of it, it would be all your Christmases in one for a hardcore fan.
Sometimes it seems there is a cafe for every theme in the pulsating, organic mass that is the city of Tokyo. From cat cafes to robot ones in Kabukicho, Gundam eateries, maid cafes and more… every subculture or hobby seems to get its own bistro of some kind.
We recently stumbled upon the Thunderbirds Cafe in Jimbocho of all places, a strange location for a strange place. We would have thought that somewhere in Akihabara would have been more appropriate for something paying homage to a Sixties puppet science fiction show but then, perhaps with the demographic, salaryman town is a better choice.
It has been created by Pasela (with licensing from Gerry Anderson), known for their themed karaoke venues. You get to it by going into the basement of one their karaoke complexes, pushing through layers of fake foliage (you are entering Tracy Island of course!) before prizing open the air-lock-style doors.
Inside you are confronted by a model of one of the show’s heroes in a “rocket”, and then several tables, including ones in “pods” based on each of the famous Thunderbird machines, which are also on display in replica form. This is a fan boy’s dream come true.
On the opposite side is a TV always playing episodes on loop (random excepts from the soundtrack also continues out of the restaurant’s speakers, slightly jarring if you want a quiet bite to eat).
The upholstery and design of the place is quite nice and new (it only opened earlier this year). It might be kitsch but it’s been done with a budget of reasonable levels, it seems.
The menu is standard Tokyo cafe fare, though they have attempted to create or match a dish with as many countries around the world as possible (after all, this is “international rescue”). The food also comes with Tracy Island-style palm tree decorations.
The staff also give you a chipper Thunderbirds salute when they take the order and pepper the customary keigo with “stand by” and other snatches of quasi-dialogue from the series.
We asked the manager about the clientele (there were only three other customers when we were there) and he said that it is mostly older fans of the original franchise and often people who work in the area.