Sunday, 16 November 2008
Ultraviolence for preteens - 60's style
The picture above is one I took at the now long demolished Sydney Boxing Stadium, in 1965, when I was a wee lad of 12. The stadium was an ugly tin shed and the largest covered venue in Sydney in the '60's. The Beatles played it and never returned to Australia. The solitary figure on stage is Japanese actor Ose Koichi playing the legendary swordsman 'Shintaro' from the Japanese television series, 'The Samurai'. This show was enormously popular in Japan, the Philippines, Australia, and nowhere else. The fan base was pre-teen boys, and that was definitely me.
I can remember having long arguments with my best friend at the time about whether or not the show should be banned. I defended the show as fun and only fantasy, and my best friend (who also loved the show) argued it should be banned because it would give children bad ideas. Our arguments went round and round, and to this day I haven't turned into a homicidal sword wielding maniac or killed anyone with star-knives (although I did try and make some out of can tops).
Cashing in on the craze, promoters brought Ose to Australia for a touring show. As he naturally didn't speak a word of English, he appeared only briefly three times in the hour and a half long show to vanquish evil doers in flurries of impressive sword play. He wisely remained silent, as his voice was reportedly much higher pitched than the manly dubbed voice of the TV series.
What was the rest of the show? An evil Koga Ninja prowled around with lines like: "I am going to fight Shintaro!(Audience: Boo!) I am going to beat Shintaro!(Audience: Booo!) I am going to KILL Shintaro!!'(Audience: BOOOOO! BOOOOO!) etc... Acrobats, stunt players and dancers did assorted things the balance of the time that didn't advance the plot much.
I loved it.
And Shintaro looked right at me for the photo! Swoon!
Ose retired from acting 4 years later (1969) at the age of 32. The Sydney Stadium was torn down the following year.