55 years ago, Ultraman which features the encounter among humankind, a giant hero from extragalactic nebula, and their antagonist monsters called Kaiju, was first aired in Japan. The series was created by the studio of Eiji Tsuburaya, who worked on the movie, Godzilla (1954) as its special effect supervisor. Soon, this brand-new hero became a major pop culture icon in Japan, and created an unprecedented Kaiju boom all over the country.
Keio University graduate Toshihiro Iijima (88) was at the center of its production process.
“In the pioneer days of TV broadcasting in Japan, like other young employees, I was attracted by all kinds of production works. Unexpectedly, I sometimes found myself at the forefront of early television industry.” His “frontier spirit” into various works was cultivated when he was a student at Keio.
He studied at Hiyoshi campus, in buildings, which had been used as the U.S. military barracks for around 5 years after the war. “At that time, when I went to the classroom, I found only a small number of students attended the lecture. There, I could talk with very talented teachers in a friendly manner. I was a really lucky student.”
When we talk about Iijima’s career, we can never overlook his success as a member of Keio Broadcasting Society at Mita campus. In order to win the broadcast drama competition, the club chose Iijima as the script writer. “I wrote the so-called entertainment, and we won the championship.Then, I felt I found my way. I decided to be an entertainment writer.”
Iijima was strongly influenced by high quality education at Keio, as well as his successful activities at the club. He fully understands the importance and positive effects of education. However, at the same time, he feels their danger more than anyone else.
His latest novel, Give Me Chocolate (2019), reflects his own experience during the war days. “We are the last generation remembering those days. I decided to look back on my childhood and write about it.” Iijima says.
Iijima himself has the experience of escaping from the air raid by American warplane.
In the night of Great Tokyo Air Raids in 1945, he saw an enormous number of burnt corpses.
“At school, we were taught that we had to lie down on top of ignited bombs so that we could put out the fire. Students as well as teachers believed such a silly idea without any doubts. But, when I actually faced the bombing, I ran away immediately. That was “against” what I have been taught. If I had obediently followed their instructions, I probably would not be here today.”