I went through a Japanese phase a while back. It lasted from the early Nineties until a couple of years ago, however it was strongest shortly before and shortly after the turn of the Millenium. Watched a lot of anime, read a lot of manga, bought all the CDs, watched a few movies, played all the games, and somehow taught myself Katakana and Hiragana. I also drank a lot of Sake... and I mean a LOT of Sake.
My favourite Japanese movie star is (and always has been) Godzilla, but as the big G is merely an actor in a suit, he's not on my list. I do have a second favourite, and he's sixth on my list.
Ladies and Gentlemen: Takeshi Kitano, aka "Beat" Takeshi.
While Kitano is chiefly a comedian, I mostly know him as a gruff-voiced villain or anti-hero. I was introduced to him through movies like Battle Royale, Brother, and Violent Cop, but despite playing a scumbag, he always seemed... likeable.
I eventually got to know him as game show host "Vic Romano", the name ascribed to him in MXC - Most Xtreme Elimination Challenge, the (poor) North American localization of Kitano's silly Japanese gameshow Takeshi's Castle., where I got to see his funny side.
I spent far too many years of my life watching reruns of this bloody show, a result of which was nicknaming my coworker Keith Babaganoosh (every other MXC contestant was surnamed Babaganoush), which seems to have stuck.
Kitano is the only person on my list whom I'd prefer to meet in a crowded club, preferably a comedy club, as it seems the most fitting. Knowing he'd hung around with Yakuza and the criminal fringe in his early days, I'd love to hear his stories over a few drinks... and getting to hear about the Japanese film industry from an insider's perspective would be the icing on the cake.
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