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(1936– ). Japanese actor.

Acted in: Throne of Blood (Akira Kurosawa 1957); Age of the Gods (Hiroshi Inagaki 1959); Gorath (Inishiro HONDA 1962); Attack of the Mushroom People (Honda 1962); Godzilla versus Monster Zero (Honda 1966); Son of Godzilla (Jun Fukuda 1967);  Destroy All Monsters (Honda 1968); Yog, Monster from Space (Honda 1970); Gamera Daikaijû Kuchu Kessen (Shusuke Kaneko 1995); Yonimo Kimyô na Monogatari: Haru no Tokubetsu Hen (tv movie) (2001); Mail (Iwao Takahashi 2004).

Epic (video short) (2010).

Yes, one can say that a commentator has no right to evaluate an actor when he has never heard his voice; yet Akira Kubo could command attention solely with his facial expressions, as he unfailingly gazed in persuasive horror at whatever new monstrosity director Inishiro HONDA brought into his purview. And anyway, who really listens to a movie's dialogue when giant dinosaurs are rampaging through cities? Silent cinema—where the handsome and emotive Kubo might have thrived—might have been just as effective, with suitable sound effects, and would have spared American audiences from the absurd scientific explanations that various American actors were obliged to recite while Kubo moved his lips.

There was nothing about Kubo's career as a male ingénue that suggested a special talent for colorful science fiction, as he mostly starred in inoffensive comedies that never crossed the Pacific, although he did earn a starring role in Akira Kurosawa's version of Macbeth, Throne of Blood, as well as a lesser-known fantasy film, Age of the Gods. But Honda, who had directed Kubo in two of his early efforts, evidently believed he was an actor destined for bigger, if not better, things, and soon recruited him to confront his first enormous adversary, the wandering star named Gorath on a collision course with Earth, which temporarily drove Kubo's rookie astronaut insane and first revealed the actor's propensity for overacting (not always inappropriate in these sorts of films). More histrionics ensued in Attack of the Mushroom People, one of Honda's most unintentional hilarious efforts, which is enlivened by Kubo's over-the-top performance as a professor on an island beset by people turning into mushrooms.

Soon, it seems that every Japanese monster movie that made its way to American theatres featured Kubo. In his next genre film—his inevitable meeting with Godzilla, Honda's most famous creation—one suspects that he was originally cast as Astronaut Fuji, heroic companion to Nick ADAMS' Glen Amer, but seeking a new challenge, Kubo persuaded Honda to let him switch roles with Akira Takarada to try something different—playing bespectacled nerd Tetsuo Teri to draw upon his background in frivolous comedies. But he returned to more routine heroics as a journalist in the unwatchable Son of Godzilla and, more memorably, in Destroy All Monsters, wherein he is the astronaut in command of a mission to the Moon to defeat the sinister aliens who are deploying all of Toho's monsters as weapons against Earth.

There would be one more monster to add to Kubo's resume—Yog, Monster from Space—but as Honda retired from the screen and other directors helmed the increasingly dire Godzilla films, younger actors were brought in to stare at the monsters, and Kubo retreated to work on the stage and roles in mainstream films, usually war movies, as well as two ventures into horror. But with Toho Studios no longer interested in his services, he did agree to make a cameo appearance in a film from rival Daiei Studios featuring their own signature monster, the giant turtle Gamera. He also expressed an interest in appearing in the American version of Godzilla, but inept director Roland EMMERICH, intent upon adding something to appeal to every possible audience, unaccountably missed this chance to appeal to the old-time Godzilla fans who would have found Kubo's appearance the only thing to celebrate in a film they otherwise had every reason to despise. But enthusiasts were able to see Kubo at San Francisco's recent Godzillafest, since he is always happy to talk about the crazy science fiction movies that are now the only reason that people remember him. One hopes that Akira Kubo, not quite in his dotage, will soon be approached by a more enlightened director to be evocatively terrified by one more giant monster.

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