G-FEST is America’s largest 3-day convention geared towards fans of the Kaiju genre. It’s been 23 years since I’ve been to G-FEST and since then, I can definitely see the Ultraman presence has grown quite a bit! Not only was there an abundant amount of Ultraman merchandise in the dealer’s room, but several costumes, including Ultra Kaiju cosplays of Pestar and Gongo as well as a family cosplaying as Mother of Ultra, Ultraman Taro, Ultraman, and Alien Dada. Even an SSSP officer cosplay could be spotted in the crowd.
All three days consisted of panels that featured Ultraman. For Day 1, the topic was “Ultraman: New Generation 10th Anniversary Retrospective”. This panel took a look back at the year 2013 when Tsuburaya Productions returned to releasing a brand new Ultraman series every year, making this the longest-running continuous series of Ultraman shows. This year, 2023, marks ten years since the inception of the New Generation era and these shows are vital tentpoles of modern tokusatsu. Each series contains memorable spectacles, amazing effects, creative monsters, and human characters.
Day 2 started with a panel called Midnight Tokusatsu, including a talk on Ultraseven X, which was geared towards grown-up audiences. Following that were Ultraman artists Hiroshi Kanatani and Matt Frank doing live drawing demonstrations. Fans gathered around them later in the dealers room to get commissioned art work or pick up a copy of Kanatani-san’s Ultra Sketch featuring lots of officially licensed Ultraman art!
As some of you might know, I was not only attending G-FEST but also helping out toymaker EZHobi at their Omega Beast Expo: The Art of Sculpting showcasing several new kaiju products. As I headed back to the showroom, I bumped into the surprise guest, Kiyotaka Taguchi, director of some of the greatest episodes of Ultraman Ginga, Ultraman X, Ultraman Orb, Ultraman Geed, Ultraman R/B, Ultraman Taiga, Ultraman Z, Ultraman Trigger, Ultraman Decker, and the latest, Ultraman Blazar! Taguchi-san was very impressed with the kaiju figures on display and even came across one of his kaiju cast members from 2002 bringing back many nostalgic memories.
I then introduced him to EZHobi’s owner and sculptor K.N. Lin and the two talked about the possibility of bringing more Ultraman products to the Omega Beast series line-up! Mr. Lin and Taguchi-san exchanged information and gifts which included a signed Bandai figure of Ultraman Blazar. Here’s hoping for an amazing collaboration soon!
The final day of G-FEST started with a panel titled, The SSSP Goes West: A Brief History of Ultraman in America. This panel covered many dubs of the original series from the 1970s, the Japanese-American and Australian co-productions of the 1990s, the 1980s Hanna-Barbera produced Ultraman: The Adventure Begins, and the 2003 4Kids dub of Ultraman Tiga.
Then I headed back to the autograph room where Kiyotaka Taguchi had a limited signing opportunity. There I got to talk with him about the success of Ultraman Blazar and how much I enjoyed his shows, especially Ultraman Z! There I purchased a few autographs and a Bandai figure of Ultraman Z original, and of course, we had to do the signature Z pose.
G-FEST wasn’t over just yet. I headed over to the dealers room and found our friends at Seismic toys! Both Alex Rushdy and Chris Oglio were present with their Jirahs G-FEST exclusive figures including a glow in the dark and translucent orange variant.
Not only did we take in their Sevenger and the Comic Book variant of Jirahs, but several one-off custom painted Sevenger figures were also on display. Always neat to see what Seismic toys have to offer. With day 3 coming to a close, Kiyotaka Taguchi and I want to remind you to check out Ultraman Blazar now playing on the Ultraman Official Channel on YouTube and in the Exclusive Videos section of UltramanConnection.com. Don’t miss out on this epic Ultraman series!
Article and photos by: Andrew Wong (GForever) Art by Hiroshi Kanatani and Matt Frank.