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Farewell, Controller: Godzilla Series Legend Yoshio Tsuchiya Passed Away

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It is with great sadness we report that Godzilla franchise stand-out, actor Yoshio Tsuchiya, passed away this year. He was 89. According to Nikkei Tsuchiya died February 8th, 2017, but the family decided not to announce his passing at the time. If Mr. Tsuchiya's name does not ring a bell for some fans they likely remember his roles as the “Controller” of Planet X in Monster Zero (1965) and Mr. Yasuaki Shindo in Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah (1991). It would not be an exaggeration to call Mr. Tsuchiya one of Japan's all-time greatest character actors.

Mr. Tsuchiya was a favorite of both directors Ishiro Honda (Godzilla [1954]) and Akira Kurosawa (Seven Samurai (1954)]. As a result, the actor often faced scheduling conflicts between the directors' projects. For example, Honda wanted him to play the assassin Malness in Ghidorah: The Three Headed Monster (1964), but he was already scheduled to appear in Kurosawa's Red Beard (1965). [1] Luckily, he appeared in Honda's Monster Zero the following year. Tsuchiya's Controller of Planet X would become one of the most recognized characters in the Godzilla series—And perhaps the greatest antagonist of the franchise.

Science fiction meant a great deal to Tsuchiya—He was disappointed he couldn't be in the original Godzilla, but happily found himself in future monster/science fiction pictures. [2] He turned down a protagonist role in Ishiro Honda's The Mysterians (1957) to play the Mysterian Leader--He preferred the stranger roles of aliens, strong men and villains. [3]

Capitalizing on the strange roles of aliens and monsters, Tsuchiya was given the title role in Honda's The Human Vapor (1958). And in Battle in Outer Space (1959) Tsuchiya arguably stole the movie from his leading cast mates as the tragic Iwomura. Tsuchiya would appear in multiple Godzilla movies including Son of Godzilla (1967) and Destroy All Monsters (1968)—His roles ranged from eccentric supporting parts to cameos. He was also found in episodes of Eiji Tsuburaya's sci-fi fantasy series, Ultra Q (1966) and Ultraman (1966).

He returned to the Godzilla series in 1991's Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah as Yasuaki Shindo, a World War II veteran who witnessed Godzilla before he was mutated by radioactivity. Director Kazuki Omori recalled,

“When we brought this [movie] to him and said, 'We'd like you to do this role,' he said, 'I've been waiting my whole life for this role.” [4]

Toho Kingdom's Patrick Galvan unearthed Tsuchiya's praise of the role from Japanese Giants #9,

“Mr. Shindo is my all-time favorite movie role. I understand where [Godzilla] comes from, and what is in his heart, just like Shindo does. Even though Godzilla is only a fictional character, he is very real to me.” [5]

The heart breaks over the loss of not just a great actor, but a strong fan of the series. Our condolences and prayers go out to his family.


Sources:
[1] Kalat, David - A Critical History and Filmography of Toho's Godzilla Series - Pg 74
[2] Galbraith IV, Stuart – Monsters are Attacking Tokyo! The Incredible World of Japanese Fantasy Films - Pg 57
[3] Galbraith IV, Stuart – Monsters are Attacking Tokyo! The Incredible World of Japanese Fantasy Films - Pg 60
[4] Kalat, David - A Critical History and Filmography of Toho's Godzilla Serie - Pg 182
[5] Toku Legion, via Patrick Galvan from Toho Kingdom, via Japanese Giants #9
[6] Nikkei
[7] Dead Central

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Written by G. H. (Gman)Published on 2017-09-05 19:47:43

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8 Comments

Ultrazero80

MemberTitanosaurusSep-05-2017 8:12 PM

Rest in Peace, Yosho Tsuchiya.

The Hooded Figure

MemberTitanosaurusSep-05-2017 8:20 PM

The characters he portrayed in Monster Zero and Godzilla vs. King Ghidorah I loved a lot. He will be missed.

Farewell, Yoshio Tsuchiya. You will most truly be missed...

https://youtu.be/iFNkX__L7W4

riggzamortis86

MemberTitanosaurusSep-05-2017 8:27 PM

Will be missed. Through film no one truly dies. Rest In Piece. 

Centauri

MemberGiganSep-06-2017 12:12 AM

R.I.P

Dunkrik_Kaiju97

MemberMothra LarvaeSep-06-2017 1:52 AM

farewell

The King of the Monsters

MemberBaragonSep-06-2017 8:44 AM

Tsuchiya is one of my favorite actors from Toho's kaiju and sci-fi films. He really had a commanding onscreen presence, and had terrific range, playing sympathetic heroic characters and cold, evil villainous characters. And of course one can't talk about Tsuchiya without mentioning his enthusiasm for science-fiction and seeking out strange and mysterious roles. In his own words, "I don't like playing just regular guys."

The anecdote of him passing up the lead in The Mysterians just to get to play the Mysterian Leader has always stuck with me. It was reportedly Tsuchiya's idea to have the character speak in a stunted, robotic voice in sync with the sound of his universal translator, which gives the convincing effect of a real computer-generated voice.

Like Yoshimitsu Banno and Haruo Nakajima, Tsuchiya will be greatly missed, but left behind a powerful legacy that will endure through generations of fans of kaiju eiga and Japanese science-fiction.

riggzamortis86

MemberTitanosaurusSep-06-2017 11:05 AM

In Invasion of Astro Monster, didn't Tsuchiya make up the alien language? There is a couple of scenes where they speak their own language for a couple of seconds. I believe Tsuchiya made up that alien language for The Controller.

G. H. (Gman)

AdminGodzillaSep-06-2017 3:28 PM

^And the hand gestures, yes.

Tsuchiya is one of my all time favorite actors of the Godzilla franchise and tokusatsu. Dare I say his passing has affected me more than Nakajima's for the mere fact that I wasn't anticipating it... Such an incredible and often overlooked talent. He was from an age where the Godzilla series had some real A-List stars and he was certainly one of them.

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