The die is cast! There’s no going back now! The GANTZ premiere event is LIVE!
This may read like delirious fan fiction now, I but I swear it actually happened… When last we left off at the GANTZ premiere, I was in the V.I.P. lounge at Mann’s Chinese 6 theater in Hollywood. The film’s celebrated stars, Kazunari Ninomiya and Kenichi Matsuyama were seated on a giant red velour sofa recovering from a wild greeting from their assembled adoring public outside this historic movie palace. Collectively, this was our final chance to take a breath and get our bearings before stepping out in front of—not only a live audience—but also a phalanx of cameras that would beam us out to over 330 theaters across the USA. And so Nino and Matsuken consulted small pieces of paper with their soon-to-be read English messages on them while I continued to fumble with my increasingly tattered event script.
Matsuken makes his interpreter work
for his steak during the GANTZ Q&A.
A few minutes later, at 4:55, everyone takes their places inside the theater. At 5pm sharp, we’re on the air and there’s no going back. I run to the stage to begin the proceeding. Naturally, my mic doesn’t work! A few flicks of a switch and then it does again… the rest is a blur of bright lights, screams, and hot adrenaline. Throughout the opening comments and during the Q&A, Nino stands next to me. I try to stay within his aura, hoping some of his cool show-biz professionalism will rub off on me. Meanwhile, fate continues to challenge us: mics keep going out, we miss a few cues and go overtime, and the Japanese staff keeps telling me to make repeated and hopeless requests for “no pictures or video” from an audience full of brazen shutterbugs. Still, we make it off the battlefield, I mean… off-stage, alive and intact, which is all that matters to me.
Afterwards, there’s a fair bit of backslapping and handshaking in Mann’s V.I.P. room. Matsuyama reaches for a bottle of bubbly, and pretty soon everyone is sipping on the good stuff. Meanwhile, Nino continues to work with the photographers and video crew who have come all the way from Japan to document his first Hollywood premiere. With a ringside seat to these proceedings, I am being spoiled rotten. I keep expecting to wake up blindfolded, tied to a post on a firing range.
Instead, the next stop is a gorgeous Hollywood steak house, or rather what seems to be a cartoon version of what I’d only imagined a gorgeous Hollywood steak house to be like. To my amazement, I’m seated at an intimate table at the very center of the universe with Matsuyama, Nino, and GANTZ producer Takahiro Sato. Conversation ranges from how much Matsuken likes San Francisco (especially the crab at Pier 39) to who should play the role of Maetel in a live-action Galaxy Express 999 movie. My vote (offered with much tongue in cheek) is Leah Dizon. Nino hears this, is appropriately outraged, and gives me a huge comedy “えええええええ！？” right out of one of his variety show appearances.
Mr. Yoshida’s Sweet Teriyaki sauce…
the sauce the stars ask for by name.
Next someone deposits a bottle on the table. What could it be? Vat 69 whiskey? Old Crow? Traditional sake from Japan? It turns out to be nothing less than a humble bottle of Mr. Yoshida’s Sweet Teriyaki Sauce procured by Matsuken’s staff at a local supermarket!
Flashback: Earlier that day, in what must have played out like a deleted scene from GANTZ, an avalanche of Johnny Rocket’s burgers were presented before the visiting stars from Japan (as Nino fans already know, he loves a tasty burger…). Matsuyama insisted on getting a bottle of Mr. Yoshida’s in order to try and replicate the flavor of his much-loved McTeriyaki burgers. And now here he was passing around another bottle for us to drown our steaks in!
Things started to close down around 11pm. After having done two premieres in Japan and the US in the same day, I can’t even imagine how tired Nino and Matsuken must have been. Goodbyes were said. We couldn’t take pix of Nino (for obvious reasons…), but Matsuyama and I pose and instinctively raise our fists like prize fighters. I don’t know exactly why, but it seemed like the right thing to do at the time…
The next morning, I’m waiting for the ride to the airport. I’m told that Nino and Matsuken are nearby shooting some segments for the Japanese media, including the Arashi TV show. I’m escorted to them to say goodbye. As usual, Nino has a perimeter of people doting on him: stylists, makeup folks, camera crews.
Your E.I.C. and Matsuken celebrate the
completion of another dangerous GANTZ mission.
The bye-bye is said briefly, but warmly. Matsuken is seated just outside of the fray, chilling out and having some coffee. We get to chat a bit before everyone scatters to the four winds. An unspoken question lingers in the warm Hollywood air: will we be back to do this again for GANTZ 2?
Well, that depends on you Nino and Matsuken fans…
That’s because you guys were the key ingredient that made this event such a success. And everyone behind the scenes could not help but notice how dedicated and increasingly visible your fan base has become. You now have the power to really change the flow of pop culture between the US and Japan. Being the MC at this event was an unforgettable honor, but the stage now belongs…TO YOU!
Up next: the GANTZ movie review!
Patrick Macias is the editor in chief of Otaku USA magazine. His blog can be found online at www.patrickmacias.blogs.com