Uehara is known as one of the biggest influences in the tokusatsu and sentai genre
Legendary tokusatsu (Japanese special effects filming) writer, Shozo Uehara, passed away on January 2 at the age of 82 due to complications surrounding his liver cancer, reported the Japanese media on January 9. Uehara was well known as one of the lead writers on the Ultraman series, with his debut on the franchise being Ultra Q, before being contracted to Toei Productions and being a lead writer on the first Super Sentai series, Himitsu Sentai Goranger (known as Five Rangers in the West).
Shozo Uehara hails from the capital of Okinawa, Naha, an island in the far south of Japan. Born on February 6, 1932, Uehara and his family survived World War II by fleeing to the Japanese occupied Taiwan in September 1944. A month later, Uehara’s family sought to return to Naha but after the city had been destroyed by air raids, the family found themselves drifting in the sea for two weeks before reaching Kagoshima on the southern island of Kyushu. Uehara’s family settled in Kumamoto prefecture until 1946 when they returned to Naha, Okinawa.
After graduating from Chuo University, Uehara joined Tsuburaya Productions in Tokyo when the heads of the studio discovered his writing work for local Okinawan dramas about the war through writer Tetsuo Kinjou. He made his nationwide writing debut on the 21st episode of Ultraman series, Ultra Q, fulfilling the tasks of a junior writer on the series. In 1969, Uehara moved back to Okinawa and became a freelance writer. From then on, he worked on the 4th Ultraman series, The Return of Ultraman, as the lead writer, forming the foundations for what would be the second generation of Ultraman.
From 1973, Uehara became affiliated with Toei Productions, working on the creation of the Super Sentai franchise with Himitsu Sentai Goranger. Uehara was known for hard-hitting themes of war and discrimination inside his work on the children’s series. At Toei, Uehara led the writing team on the tokusatsu Spider-Man series – who’ll likely feature in the next Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse film – and writing episodes of anime series Dororon Enma-kun, Fist of the North Star, Space Pirate Captain Harlock, and other works.
Uehara would return to Ultraman in 1996 for Ultraman Tiga whilst a freelance writer as a tribute to his earlier works. In 2017, Uehara released Kijimuna Kids, an autobiography about his life as a child growing up in the war-torn Okinawa. It won the Joji Tsubota Literacy Award in 2018.
Shozo Uehara passed away on January 2. His death was made public after the funeral that was run by his relatives. Uehara’s life has helped others understand what life was like for Japanese children living in Okinawa during World War II and has had a great influence that will ripple throughout time over the tokusatsu genre.
Source: Yahoo! Japan
Daryl Harding is a Japan Correspondent for Crunchyroll News. He also runs the YouTube channel about Japan stuff called TheDoctorDazza, tweets at @DoctorDazza and posts photos of his travels on Instagram.