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HomeMoreEntertainmentRespected 'Suit Actor' Jiro Okamoto stars at the Jiro Matsuri event

Respected ‘Suit Actor’ Jiro Okamoto stars at the Jiro Matsuri event


Jiro Okamoto performs a ‘nanori’ medley.

In March, I successfully held another Jiro Matsuri talk event. This project features veteran actor Jiro Okamoto, who excels in action and has worked as a costume actor – a performer who plays superheroes and villains wearing masks – for tokusatsu sci-fi superheroes such as Kamen Rider BLACK, Kamen Rider BLACK RX, Kamen Rider Ouja and Kintaros, a popular character in “Kamen Rider Den-O.” He belongs to the Japan Action Enterprise (JAE) and enjoys enormous popularity among fans of tokusatsu films and TV shows.

The last event was the 18th edition of Jiro Matsuri. At first, Okamoto grumbled that he wasn’t one to speak in front of people, and I had to drag him onto the stage. He glared at me during the opening event, but now he is thoroughly enjoying the rehearsals until the performance on stage. It’s been a tremendous change in 18 years.

The event started as usual with Okamoto talking about what he is planning next. The varied program included demonstrations of stage combat, dancing and a skit by Iindayo Greendayozu, a two-superhero unit exclusive to this event.

This time we added a new element to the show: a stage combat lesson from Okamoto under the theme “Let’s make Jiro’s nanori.” Nanori is a series of signature moves and calls that Tokusatsu superheroes perform before fighting. First, the two members of Iindayo Greendayozu – who bear an uncanny resemblance to actors Kihachiro Uemura and Kenji Takechi, even if they deny it – came up with slogans for Okamoto. The audience then came up with ideas for his nanori poses, which he updated on stage.

The taglines were all funny, like “Jiro Okamoto the beer lover,” “Jiro Okamoto the mediocre golfer,” and “Jiro Okamoto the Bruce Lee fanboy.” Aided by the audience’s inventive ideas and Okamoto’s professional skills, some hilarious yet convincing nanori sequences were created. The new project turned out to be much funnier than we thought when planning it.

In the second half of the event, we were joined by Hiroyuki Muraoka, Shinichi Kaneda, Masashi Shirai and Kazutoshi Yokoyama, all members of the JAE, Japan’s premier agency for action artists. They discussed Okamoto’s call and played charades to entertain the spectators. Another JAE member, Riichi Seike, who told us he couldn’t come because he was shooting in the northern Kanto region that day, rushed to the event immediately after filming, still wearing a tracksuit.

The best part was Okamoto’s own nanori medley. He performed no fewer than 42 different nanori sequences that day. This included a series for a robot that changed names as it evolved, and Okamoto presented his nanori in rapid succession. He also accepted my outrageous request and performed the nanori of a samurai who sided with warlord Tokugawa Ieyasu but lost to Imagawa Ujizane in NHK’s epic historical drama “Dosuru Ieyasu” (“What are you going to do, Ieyasu?”).

Okamoto also gave perfect performances of other nanori, ranging from a regular enemy soldier in ‘Dengeki Sentai Changeman’, which he played shortly after his debut, to popular superheroes, such as Kamen Rider BLACK, sometimes in collaboration with fellow suit actors.

When he did the nanori for Shinken Gold from “Samurai Sentai Shinkenger,” I could almost see the superhero’s Sakanamaru dagger in his empty hand. With the nanori for Gorisaki Banana from “Tokumei Sentai Go-Busters” I could see the silhouette of Gorisaki, who is much taller than Okamoto. The sky felt darker when he performed the nanori for General Schwarz, an enemy character in ‘Ressha Sentai Toqger’, and I could imagine the space when I saw Oushi Black’s nanori in ‘Uchu Sentai Kyuranger’.

He ended up giving us some treats and playing his own nanori, which we came up with that day. It was such a luxurious time, like we were watching a movie with 42 different scenes.

There is a relaxed and professional atmosphere at Jiro Matsuri. Thanks to a special artist named Jiro Okamoto, I think it has become a unique event. I want to continue sharing his charms with the world as long as he and his colleagues remain fit.

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