Chiba as Hanzo by Marusan

Retro-styled like a kid’s vinyl toy from the 60’s, this 10″ figure of Sonny Chiba as Hattori Hanzo from Kage No Gundan (aka Shadow Warriors) is absolutely BOSS! I’m not a big fan of boutique vinyl and the high-end collector market, but when I saw this Marusan limited piece on eBay a couple years ago I had to jump.

I’m blown away by how the Marusan sculptors skirt the fence between fealty of portrait and the sensibilities of children’s toy design. The anatomy is cartoonish, but the accuracy to the property is dead on.

Japanese toy companies like Marusan, Marmit and Bulmark have produced these weird kiddie-styled figures of obscure or adult-oriented properties over the past decade. Guess the idea is to produce the toy you would have had as a toddler if the licensing mentality of today existed back then. No one in their right mind would have licensed Zombie Michael Jackson or Angry Red Planet or myriad R-rated action properties to a vinyl toy line back in the day, but now we can enjoy the ‘what-if’ figures that never were. Limited edition runs mean they can hone in on some beloved cult properties never viable for mass-produced merch, like Matango or the scuba-creature from Atragon, or, yes… Hanzo from the decidedly un-toddler-friendly Shadow Warriors.

VN’s birthday look at AKAI KAGEBOSHI – Pt. 4

posted in: 1 - Film and TV | 5

When your hero is as spectacularly garbed as the titular lead is in Akai Kageboshi, you need everyone else he’s fighting to provide visual contrast. So in what is one of the most colorfully costumed ninja films of the 60’s, there are some downright dour grunts in the trenches.

JUSHIRO KONOE is another mega-star in the legend-crowded cast here, playing a conflicted Hattori Hanzo.
His men sport the finest in off-the-rack costume shop extras fare. the chunky dude on the right is my hero...
Alas, no one in Japan ever wanted to vary the mission gear in daytime scenes. That grey just isn't doing the job in these cane fields.
Or in the trees.
And the results speak for themselves.

Hanzo, in his unassuming grey, is actually the central pillar in all this colorful drama. Twenty years ago, he caught a female spy sneaking into the castle. Wrestling around, the two get so hot and bothered, they have to go at it right on the spot (and knowing how manly ninja are, the inevitable happens).

It leads to a life of loss and regret for him, single motherhood and revenge obsession for her, and a tormented young man raised without a father figure who thinks its normal to meet girls by sneaking into their rooms at night in a chain-mesh hood.

There are some excellent ninja-on-ninja fights throughout AK, and the battle in the cane fields is rather good. See a few scens for yourself in the trailer below: