BLOOD-SUCKING PLANT

Episode: 33


This is a blood-sucking plant that grows wild on the fictional Donburako Island. Donburako is a Japanese onomatopoeia (it sounds a bit frumpy, though) used to express the state of something (often quite big, probably) flowing its way while floating on water.

Captain Donkey whom Booska and Chamegon happened to meet along with their friend kids was looking for the island where one of his ancestors discovered a heap of treasure 300 years ago.

At his request, Booska, Chamegon and their friends helped him to search the island that kept drifting in the ocean as it was composed of pumice, and they managed to get there.

The treasure was sucked and swallowed by the blood-sucking plant 300 years ago, and people were changed into cacti with white powder its flower sprayed over them.

When the plant went at Booska, it wrung him with its vines and troubled him a lot showing its intimidating power, but Booska got to defeat it finally after fighting against the mysterious monster courageously.

It might be the first time that I have seen Booska battle with an enemy so seriously, which tells the blood-sucking plant was such a formidable creature.

When beaten by Booska, it vomited the treasure it had swallowed 300 years ago, which made Captain Donkey so happy, and the people changed into cacti returned to humans.

Even though it is described as a blood-sucking plant in the show, there were no scenes portraying the behavior as such like Juran and Suflan.

Along with this allegedly blood-sucking plant, another species was found on this island that wound up Chamegon although it was beaten by Chamegon with his ring-like ray fired from his tail.


ALIEN VIRA (making)

Alien Vira design drawn by Narita with the final version on the right

Tohl Narita: “I got the idea from a fan lobster. It became thinner in the final design.”

While he was not such a showy alien in appearance (at the same time, it was a puppet alien instead of a costume), Alien Vira was an impressive character along with the story featuring Dr. Yushima who was manipulated by the alien.

The primary version of the design looks more like a fan lobster as Narita says he designed the alien after it.

Alien Vira head presumably about to be cast out of its mold

Alongside of Narita’s fascinating design and Takayama’s excellent sculpture, the movement of the alien’s legs was also very much attractive as the mechanism was devised by Shigeo Kurakata.

Kurakata says in an interview for a book that, in the case of Alien Vira, he built the mechanism and gave it over to Takayama so that Takayama set it into the puppet he had sculpted.

Kurakata also says he doesn’t remember how he made it work as, when he tried to make the same mechanism recently, he found it didn’t move well.

Alien Vira at Takayama’s Atelier May with the mold found behind him

As to the miniatures used in this episode, Noriyoshi Ikeya commented that the set with the shrine gates was built imagining the areas including Ueno and Asakusa and that Alien Vira’s characteristically shaped space vehicles were made from the idea of making them look like they could connect infinitely.

Along with Alien Waiell who was severed into half with Eye Slugger and Alien Quraso who was actually set ablaze and destroyed at the end of his episode, Alien Vira should also have been burnt to ashes for real (what a waste!).

Alien Vira at Bisen Studio

PIGMON; REBORN PIGMON (making)

Pigmon was sort of a spin-off monster from the preceding show “Ultra Q” in which the monster appeared as Garamon, so there seems to be no design of Pigmon drawn by Narita.

The point is that the Pigmon costume was used as it was extended in height because the actor, Minoru Takahashi, who played Garamon in “Ultra Q” Episode 13 “Garadama” and Episode 16 “Garamon Strikes Back” didn’t participate in “Ultraman.”

When you look at the position of Pigmon’s arms, you will be aware of the extension, and, as the result, Pigmon looks much thinner than Garamon.

At any rate, the Garamon costume was extended (it is uncertain who did the remodeling) so as to fit a child actor who was decided to act the monster instead of Takahashi.

Hiroshi Chiba (right) in a detective drama titled “Gmen ’75”

Pigmon is described as it was played by an actor named Shuji Fujita first, but his whereabouts are not know after his appearance in “Ultraman,” and Reborn Pigmon was performed by another child actor who was to be known as Hiroshi Chiba in later years who played one of the leading characters in a popular detective drama (as an adult actor).

When seeing the transition from Garamon to Reborn Pigomon through Pigmon, it makes us realize the thorny parts all over the body were getting out of shape gradually and the equivalents of Reborn Pigmon look utterly different (isn’t there any pasta like them?) from those of Garamon probably because they were replaced by new ones.

HIroko Sakurai who played Akiko Fuji says in a book interview that she remembers the crew added red to Reborn Pibmon’s body by spraying the color on the set in the toy department and her glove got stained with the color when touching Reborn Pigmon as it was still wet.


GORGOS (making)

Tohl Narita: “Rock monster. It’s not that my drawings show variations of it. As I couldn’t come up with the idea of what a rock monster should look like, I drew a monster first, and this is the process through which I made it into a rock by degrees.”

Judging from Narita’s words, the concept of a rock monster should have been decided at the point when the script was written by the writer.

It comes as no surprise because Gorgos was a monster who had his generation process characteristically portrayed as piles of rocks dumped in a field formed into a rock monster by getting together,

I assume, at this stage of the series production, it was fully possible to write a script making the best of features of a characteristic monster and to design it accordingly as the show “Ultra Q” was to start to air after all the episodes had been filmed.

In the production of “Ultraman” and “Ultraseven” that required each episode to be produced so as to be in time for the weekly broadcast, tight schedules should have made it extremely hard to create a kaiju precisely associated with the script with hardly any time for prearrangement among those in charge.

It is interesting to see the monster’s name described as just “Rock Monster” in the opening credits instead of “Gorgos” somehow.

I find the second design from top to be very much unique with its own attraction, and the costume didn’t have the whip-like thin tail drawn by Narita in his designs while each ink pen drawing is really fascinating.

Takayama’s sculpting is excellent although it should be even harder to sculpt such a simply, unostentatiously designed kaiju.

Incidentally, they say the scenes in which Takeru was trying to shoot Gorgos’s nucleus with his pistol were filmed with the prop on a truck driven in the amusement park named Kodomo-no-kuni (Kids Land) that has still been in Yokohama City, Kanagawa Prefecture, since 1965.

And the miniature dummy of Takeru used in the episode is still in existence.


Ultraman Telesdon, Ultra Fight Telesdon & Detton

Telesdon in “Ultraman”

When looking at Telesdon who appeared in the show “Ultra Fight,” the costume just barely seems to keep its original shape of Teleston who appeared in “Ultraman” in one way or another while lacking its sharpness that used to be a great feature of the underground kaiju.

Meanwhile, the Detton cosume that appeared in “Return of Ultraman” has been described as the deteriorated costume of Telesdon used in “Ultraman,” and these two kaijus have often been referred to as siblings in publications.

Telesdon in “Ultra Fight”

It is likely that, although Telesdon was to reappear in the “Return of Ultraman” episode (Episode 3), the costume was eventually used as another kaiju because it was found badly deteriorated.

If it is true, the Telesdon costume that appeared in “Ultra Fight” should explicitly illustrates the transitional state of the suit in between “Ultraman” and “Return of Ultraman.”

On the other hand, there is an explanation in which it is pointed out that Telesdon and Detton differ in number of the segmented parts of their tails or Detton had only four fingers on each of his hands (Telesdon had five fingers) while suggesting possibility that they might have been different costumes or assuming the Detton costume could have been from another Telesdon suit sculpted for stage shows.

Detton in “Return of Ultraman”

In my impression and speculation, however , I feel like the differences mentioned above just tell us how much badly the original Telesdon suit was decayed and it should have been repeatedly repaired before it was used as Detton (the original Telesdon costume should often have been used for stage shows in those days).

At any rate, I think the idea of making a deteriorated costume appear as a different monster is just unbelievable while it sounds funny.

“Do I look somewhat funny?”

Ultra Fight Baltan & Alien Baltan Jr.

Shadow cloning technique of Baltan expressed in the Ultra Fight way

Alien Baltan was already acknowledged as the rival villain of Ultraman while enjoying great popularity among us kinds in those days, and he also appeared in the show “Ultra Fight” on the frequent basis although he is described just as “Baltan” in the show.

The costume of Baltan is said to have been the one made for stage shows even though it ended up, as it is often the case with stage show monsters, looking so much different from the original Alien Baltan with the surface parts simply attached to the body suit (it looks like fabric but the body shown in the other photo on this page looks like a wetsuit).

Amazingly enough, Baltan who appeared in “Ultra Fight” Episode 195 had human-like hands instead of nippers while holding a wooden stick along with the other monsters to fight against Ultraseven, which I believe will tell you what a crazy show it was.

He dishonored himself exposing even the actor’s chin when he was found lying on the ground after being defeated by Ultraseven.

There is speculation that the costume of Alien Baltan Jr. who appeared in “Return of Ultraman” was sculpted by casting its head out of the mold copied from the “Ultra Fight” Baltan.

Whether true or not, they look quite similar for sure while the Baltan Jr. costume was modeled by Kaimai Production that sculpted most of the monster suits used in the second Ultra Series starting with “Return of Ultraman.”

I have to admit, however, along with “Ultra Fight” Baltan, I found Alien Baltan Jr. pretty disappointing when I saw him when I was a kid as he ended up falling far behind the original Alien Baltan (and Alien Baltan II) in reality.


Monsters In “Ultra Fight” #2

The aliens who appeared in “Ultra Fight” seem to be customarily called just by their names somehow such as “Baltan”or “Goddora” without the title “Alien,” and Keronia is described as Keroniya; Keylla as Keyllar while I think these two names were just misused.

The costume of Woo who often appeared in the show was getting dirty with dust as the episodes went on while his face was found hidden by hair almost all the time so that it made him look just like an unknown hairy monster.

What we talked about a lot as kids because we found it funny was Eleking with his horns always hanging down and dangling seemingly without any rigid core in them (the horns didn’t rotate of course and the mouth appears to have been expressed just by painting the part) as it looked pretty bad and Icarus painted green.

The green color is alleged to have come from soft vinyl figures of Icarus that were available back then while they were painted green somehow.

Both Eleking and Icarus were the costumes made for stage shows or advertisement as such kaiju costumes were also used for marketing events at shopping streets (I hear there were occasions when local businesses rented kaiju costumes as they got someone among them ready to wear the costumes).


Monsters In “Ultra Fight” #1

The monsters that appeared in the newly shot episodes of “Ultra Fight” are described as BaltanTelesdon; Gomora; WooKeronia; Seabose; KeyllaEleking; Goddora; Icarus; Guts; Agira; Goron.

Each of the newly shot episodes had no particular story as it was a five-minute long show in which the characters abruptly came across one another in a plain field and started fighting for no particular reason with voice-over commentary by a (fake) play-by-play announcer that made it look like a live coverage.

The shows “Ultraman” and “Ultraseven,” especially the former, tended to be criticized as a “kaiju wrestling show” by adults who perceived that battles would just unfold between the hero and a monster in the shows like professional wrestling matches that aired on TV with great popularity in Japan back then although the shows were meant to be tokusatsu science fiction products.

Therefore it can be said “Ultra Fight” was a show that dared to take advantage of such criticized features in a way.

The plot development, if any, was so surreal and abrupt each time only with crazy episodes featuring the monsters such as Eleking who plunged into fighting as he went mad because another character disturbed him while napping, Keylla who just kept devouring an apple, and etcetera.

One-to-one or one-to-many battles were fought between Ultraseven and kaijus while there were a lot of episodes featuring battles between/among kaijus with no appearance of Ultraseven.

There is no segregation between the Ultraman kaijus and Ultraseven kaijus either as they fought with each other jumbling together.

The shooting of each episode seems to have been carried out with no script and no rehearsal simply bringing the costumes to each location by car.

Every monster costume looks so much worn out after being used at stage shows held all over Japan as some of them were costumes actually used in “Ultraman” and “Ultraseven” and others were sculpted for stage shows while the deterioration or crudity of the costumes could have made them look like a mere shadow of what they should have been.

(I forgot to add a photo of Keylla in “Ultra Fight.” Here it is if you would like to take a look. No pic was found online about the “Ultra Fight” Gomora unfortunitely)


Ultraseven In “Ultra Fight”

Ultraseven featured in “Ultra Fight”

The hero who appeared in the newly shot episodes of “Ultra Fight” was exclusively Ultraseven while I assume it should have been simply because the Ultraman costume was unavailable for some reason.

The Ultraseven costume used in “Ultra Fight” should have been the one used in the show “Ultraseven” although it looks rather worn out with dirt all over the suit.

It is often found that the back of his head and neck part of the Ultraseven costume that appeared in the newly shot episodes seem to have been painted black.

While his eyes appear to be caved in, the costume should be the same as the suit used in the original series

There is an explanation, however, that it was the original color of the material used for those parts while a different material from the body part (wetsuit) had been used for the neck and back head parts of the Ultraseven costumes that appeared in the original show so as to make the suits easier to move.

His eyes and Beam Lamp didn’t light up, and the elevated part on the back each of the original costumes used to have to hide the zipper is found to have been removed.

His neck and the back of his head are found to be colored black

Above all, Ultraseven featured in “Ultra Fight” should be thought of as a different hero from Ultraseven who appeared in the original “Ultraseven” while he didn’t use any of his beam attacks in “Ultra Fight” (for cost cutting of the show) as he and monsters exclusively performed hand-to-hand combat fighting.

His personality is also a bit different from that of Ultraseven who appeared in the original series, and, in an episode, he was found to keep apologizing to Eleking without fighting as he accidentally woke up the monster with falling rocks who was taking a nap below a cliff.

Ultraman’s shouting and yelling voices were used for this Ultraseven (he speaks no words) probably because the hero was voiced by Koji Moritsugu who played Dan Moroboshi for each episode without using prerecorded stock voice effects.

Ultraseven apologizing to Eleking till the end

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