WINDOM (Making)

Design drawn by Tohl Narita

Tohl Narita: “I made a horned owl’s face look mechanical.”

Windom is set to be a space monster with an appearance like a robot while his emergence in the first episode of “Ultraseven” might have successfully helped make the series look distinctive from “Ultraman” in which we didn’t see any robot monster appear in the preceding show unfortunately.

Although not much can be heard from Narita about the excellent design of Windom, I like the design very much and it is fun to find in it features similar to the design of Ultraseven such as the crest on top of the head and hollowed eyes with radiation lines from each center.

The mechanical-looking antennas sticking out of the eye centers and the lower parts of the head make the design of Windom  fully attractive.

Head design drawn by Tohl Narita

I remember Ryosaku Takayama said in his kaiju sculpting diary covered in a tokusatsu magazine Uchusen back then the complex design of the face gave him a hard time to sculpt it as I find it really cool and I think he did a great job in spite of the presumably limited time to form the design faithfully into the real-life head.

It is also attractive to see Windom’s mouth open with a roar like a monster with a biological look, and the roars are said to have come from those of Mechani-Kong that appeared in the 1967 Toho movie “King Kong Escapes.”

Whereas it seems that the original head of Windom doesn’t remain anymore regrettably, a replica head with precisely reproduced features can often be seen at an exhibition as I actually saw it while it is uncertain whether it is from the original mold (as it is described just as a replica).


GUESRA (Making)

Tohl Narita: “It is an intermediate between a kaiju and kaigyo (mysterious fish). The design was changed from A to B as I thought there should be no choice but to make it walk on the knees after consideration. B appears in the drama as it was drawn by Mr. Iwasaki in charge of art for the drama part.” “I worked out another design of Guesra to be remodeled from a Mothra larva, but, needless to say, I don’t like it.”

The costume of Guesra is the one remodeled from Peter that appeared in “Ultra Q.”

While Peter was also designed by Tohl Narita and sculpted by Ryosaku Takayama, it was made into Guesra by Takayama as well.

Tetsuo Yamamura says in a book that the Peter costume had zippers on its wrists and ankles so that they made its limbs look thin but the zippers were removed for Guesra as he adds that the fin on top of its head was made of latex with the spiny stuff all over the body were from hard urethane.

It seems that the costume was fixed by Takayama after being used for the scenes shot in the pool as the spiny stuff absorbed water and the water left the spiny stuff bent over.

As Narita describes, a costume remodeled from the Mothra larva was initially supposed to be used for Guesra as a larva of Gueran Bee feeding on cacao beans (are they around in real life?) was set to become a giant monster.

The name Guesra is said to have come from gesui, the Japanese word  for sewage.

Peter along with Bemlar in Atelier May

GORO (Making)

Regarding the making of Goro (Gorō), there are just a few things to talk about unfortunately as the costume was remodeled from the King Kong costume used in a Toho movie.

It is said that the suit came from the King Kong that appeared in the 1962 Toho movie “King Kong vs. Godzilla” with his head newly modeled and a tail attached to the costume.

It seems that the Goro costume was used afterwards in the 1967 Toho movie “King Kong Escapes” (the Japanese title is “King Kong strikes back”) for the scenes shot in a pool.

Alongside of the costume, a life-size hand of Goro was sculpted and used in the show as it was operated by a crane outdoors, but I personally find it a bit shame that it didn’t look so real.

While the scenes in which he drinks milk from buckets are my favorite in this episode, the buckets made of tin used in the shooing still remain even now and I actually saw them displayed at an exhibition.

And I recently found a figure doll of Goro with milk buckets to come with it on the Net.

When it comes to another behind-the-scene story, the stuff which made Goro a giant ape is “green leaves walnuts” in the aired story as it was “Helypron Crystal G” in the script, but the name was changed into “green leaves walnuts” as the sponsorship of the show by Takeda Pharmaceutical Company was decided so as to avoid possible disputes which could have arisen as the company could possibly hate medicine being treated as a bad thing.


Thundermask & Tohl Narita

Thundermask

“Thundermask” is another TV tokusatsu series I remember I watched as a kid while it aired from 1972 to 1973 with 26 episodes, and it is the giant hero’s name featured in the series.

It was coproduced by Toyo Agency and Hiromi Production and the serial manga version was drawn by Osamu Tezuka, but it is not that Tezuka authorized Thundermask as it was just made into the manga by him.

While it seems that this tokusatsu product was planned by Mushi Production that Osamu Tezuka (author of “Astro Boy Atom”) founded as a TV tokusatsu series featuring “Majin Garon” authored by Tezuka, it came to a halt (Mushi Production folded afterwards in 1973).

It looks like some of the former Mushi Production employees formed Hiromi Production and took over the plan as another tokusatsu show featuring a new hero.

It is said that Tohl Narita was called in to have him design the new hero but was picked out to get him to join the production of “Totsugeki! Human!!” and he left the project at the outset.

It is explained that they brought the new hero into being based on the draft drawn by Tohl Narita (as “Greenman”) was redesigned into Thundermask by a manga artist and designer Makiho Narita who belonged to Hiromi Production (no blood relationship to each other although their family names are the same Narita).

While it is unknown how much the design by Narita was incorporated into the hero in the end, if Thundermask was fully designed by Tohl Narita, two tokusatsu heroes designed by him, Human and Thundermask, could have showed up in front of us.

An image borrowed from online showing the character (possibly Greenman) obviously drawn by Tohl Narita (left) and Thundermask apparently illustrated by someone else

CHAMEGON #2

Just like Booska, Chamegon also has various super abilities inherently.

First of all, it is one of Chamegon’s greatest features that he can change himself into anything by eating a walnut and turning around although it had hardly any effect on Booska who has a keen sense of smell which enabled him easily find out Chamegon whatever he has changed into.

While he has no flying ability, Chamegon runs at a high speed (100 meters in 5 seconds) and also has an extraordinary jumping ability.

He has an antenna on top of his head with a sphere shaped like a bell at the tip that works as a radar while he hates it being touched, and he can fire electricity attack from his tail.

As he originates from the mixture of a space creature and a squirrel, Chamegon is capable to act in space without any space suit.

As Booska dislikes tortoises, Chamegon hates frogs.

Booska and his younger brother Chamegon have been the two greatest kaijus (pleasant beasts) for those in my generation while a long time has passed since they first appeared in front of us when we were kids as their cute-looking gestures and behaviors continue to fascinate me even now along with the comical but heartwarming story of each episode.


CHAMEGON #1

Designer: undescribed
Sculptor: undescribed
Actor: Tesuo Yamamura; Teruo Aragaki (depending on the episode)
Voice: Junko Hori (actress)


Chamegon is another kaiju ( : pleasant beast) who regularly appeared in “Kaiju Booska” after he showed up for the first time in Episode 26 “The Birth Of Chamegon” of the show.

Booska drawing an imaginary picture of his younger brother wishing to have one

He was brought into being as Booska’s younger brother through an apparatus invented by Daisaku, who also gave birth to Booska, and called the “Object Transmission Formation Device (or something like that in English)” while Booska dreamed of having a younger brother (it sounds familiar to me, too!).

Chamegon originated as a space monster from atoms of an amorphous-looking space creature that accidentally came into the device through which a squirrel put inside was supposed to turn into another kaiju so that the space creature and squirrel merged into Chamegon.

Mysterious space creature plunging into the machine with a squirrel inside

While the Japanese informal word “chame /chahmeh/” (usually used as “ochame /ochahmeh/”) means “amusingly mischievous,” Chamegon often causes a fuss among people as he likes to play pranks.

Although he initially had a stubborn, selfish streak with too much pride and a slight lack of common sense which sometimes made him behave arrogantly as it often gave Booska a hard time to deal with him, he is another gentle, friendly kaiju at heart, and that made it more likely that he helped people out of trouble in cooperation with Booska for the later episodes.

“I am CHAMEGON!”

ALIEN WAIELL (Making)

Design drawn by Tohl Narita (described as “Creature X” above his signature)

Tohl Narita: “Mirrors were embedded into the costume so as to make it look like the entangled plant-like stuff has a hollow space inside, but it did’t do the trick. This is one of the issues we have to overcome in the future.”

As Narita says the mirrors were meant to make the alien appear as if we see through to the other side, it is a shame to find it was not so effective as expected.

Alien Waiell is allegedly the first costume Ryosaku Takayama sculpted for “Ultraseven.”

Tetsuo Yamamura says in a book about the vine-like parts all over the body that they were made of urethane to the tip with no latex plastered on the surface, so they are assumed to have been made through the same process as Garamon‘s thorn-like parts covering its entire body.

At Takayama’s Atelier May

The costume of Alien Waiell was severed into two pieces for real at the end of the battle scene with Ultraseven (they didn’t look ahead at that time while the same thing happened to Green Monse).

In a book interview, Kokichi Sasaki, assistant director of the drama part, reveals he wore the costume for the scenes in which the human-sized Alien Waiell showed up after transforming from Ishiguro in a train as Sasaki failed to book the suit actor for the shooting of these scenes.

Although Alien Waiell is an alien who doesn’t stand out at all seemingly even without so much popularity throughout the episodes of “Ultraseven,” I like the appearance of this plant alien along with this episode while it successfully illustrated the wordless alien’s creepiness with a lot of sci-fi feel all over the episode.


Maboroshi Tantei & Tohl Narita

Maboroshi Tantei drawn by Jiro Kuwata

Before his participation in the Ultra Series, it is known that Tohl Narita was also involved in the production of the (sort of) tokusatsu TV series “Maboroshi Tantei,” literally “Detective Illusion.”

That was a series aired from 1959 to 1960 before I was born (in 1962) with 56 episodes based on the manga drawn by Jiro Kuwata, also known as the manga artist who drew the manga version of “Ultraseven.”

Maboroshi Tantei (played by Hiroshi Kato) is the protagonist boy detective whose real name is Susumu Fuji while I am not sure if the name “Detective Illusion” makes sense in English (the term “maboroshi” was often used for anything mysterious back then probably for no particular reason).

Anyway, Susumu disguises himself as Maboroshi Tantei by putting on a fantastic-looking eye mask and solves each case he faces.

He has his own motor vehicle called Maboroshigou (gou is often used as the suffix after a vehicle’s name like Ultra Hawk Ichigou (Ultra Hawk 1) or Thunderbird Nigou (Thunderbird 2) while the Pointer is usually called just Pointer.

The land and air amphibious vehicle is capable to travel in the air seemingly with its wheels retracted inward as Maboroshi Tantei regularly uses the car to rush to the scene with his theme music nicely played in the background on the regular basis.

While I don’t think so much is known about it, this Maboroshigou was allegedly designed by Narita, and I really like the design I find futuristic in its own way while not much is mentioned about the Maboroshigou by Narita himself just referring to it in one of his books as a miniature was modeled to make it fly in the air with wings attached to the prop.

Real-life Maboroshigou and its miniature next to it

GREEN MONSE (Making)

Design drawn by Tohl Narita

Tohl Narita: “It is very hard to design plant monsters. At any rate, I designed it based on the cactus with its balance disrupted.”

While it seems to have been said that the costume of Green Monse was modeled by Kaimai Production led by Eizo Kaimai who used to be with Toho as a sculptor as his production company was largely involved in the monster costumes production for the tokusatsu TV shows in the 1970s including “The Return of Ultraman” and “Mirrorman.”

According to a recent book interview, Kaimai himself denied it and revealed it was made by the Toho art crew including himself back then: Teizo Toshimitsu, Yagi brothers and Eizo Kaimai to be more specific.

Therefore the Green Monse costume was made through the same process as the Toho monsters: forming the costume with urethane and latex on the fabric pasted over the core made of wires and then removing the core finally by squeezing it (the rough surface was made of sawdust mixed with latex).

He says, although it was supposed to be stuffed with urethane on the set, the costume is likely to have been used as it was without the stuffing and it made the monster look rather thin.

Back of Green Monse

According to Toshihiro Iijima who directed this episode, as the costume was first used to shoot the special effects scenes (including the battle scenes), it looked untidy with its bottom part rubbed off when it appeared for drama scenes with humans.

After that, it is said that the costume was set ablaze in real life for the ending scenes which showed the monster burned up after being shot by Spacium Beam.

It makes me feel a bit sad to find Green Monse seems to have been unduly treated (even with lack of nice pics) while I quite like the amorphous-intended monster designed by Narita.


Super Hero Actors: Why Do They Look So Young?

When it comes to talking a bit more about Bin Furuya and Hiroshi Fujioka I previously posted as they are those who played the super heroes, the original Ultraman and the original Kamen Rider respectively, it comes as a surprise to see them look so young for their age although Furuya’s birth year is 1943 and Fujioka’s 1946.

While I say Fujioka played the hero, it is widely known that he acted the Kamen Rider for real wearing the costume in the primary episodes before Fujioka got severely injured in a motorcycle accident which took place during the shooting and suit actors started acting the hero alternately instead of him.

Is there any secret of performances with hero costumes worn that made them look so young? Because he is from Land of Light or a cyborg built by the evil secret organization Shocker? (No way!)

I think the secret could be that they are the type of people who have something to dream of without giving it up no matter how old they get.

Needless to say, it doesn’t mean immaturity. It is known they are sort of men of self-discipline to remain a role model as those who played a hero never to shatter children’s dreams as Fujioka still practices martial arts he has allegedly trained since childhood.

While Furuya describes himself as a man in perpetual pursuit of dreams, they should have the best self they want to be/remain in mind.

It is amazing to find Furuya wore the Ultraman costume in front of audience at the age of 70 and Fujioka played Kamen Rider 1 in its latest movie even wearing the costume (not throughout the movie though I haven’t seen the product).

At any rate, it makes me happy to see them remain young and vigorous as a former kid who enjoyed watching them act the super heroes in my childhood while the two characters now represent Japanese tokusatsu heroes.

I wish them good health and every success in life.


Fan Site of Ultraman & Japanese TV tokusatsu (SFX) in 1960s &1970s