Director Akio Jissoji #2

Akio Jissoji in 1962 (the year when I was born!)

At any rate, Akio Jissoji appears to have been a man seen as someone who thinks outside the box far exceeding behavioral patters often found among Japanese, which can probably make him called a “maverick” in this sense while I can’t resist feeling some sort of empathy with him as I have been dealt with as sort of a maverick among the Japanese somehow too (I hope I will not sound boastful).

He is described as the only Japanese director who dealt with movies and operas while it doesn’t seem to be a rarity overseas, which might indicate how much different he had been from conventional Japanese people.

Anyway, after he joined TBS, it is said that he played active roles in his work for TV dramas and live coverage shows as a director whereas his staging didn’t get to win approval of the TBS producers because it could have been thought of as too surreal in a way as Jissoji had a lot of still photos included in the scenes (I guess it could have been done like Ultraman Episode 35 showing the fight scenes between Ultraman and Seabose with the still photos as you should know) or had a street interview appear abruptly and irrelevantly in the midst of the show.

 

It is told that he went so far as to have snow fall in the ending scene of a TV drama aired in 1962 by applying abrupt cut-to-black to the scene even though the snowfall was totally irrelevant to it. Of course Jissoji was yelled at by the TBS producers who strongly complained to him, “Why did you have snow fall of all things???”

They say it was Eiji Tsuburaya who praised young Jissoji for the staging by saying to him, “It was a pretty nice arrangement. You should have had much more snowfall, though.” (I definitely love these people’s crazy thoughts!)

Moreover, while dealing with Hibari Misora, a late Japanese major star singer who had prominently gained unparalleled popularity (I think she is often referred to as one of the greatest Japanese singers of all time who goes down in history), in a live coverage TV show in 1963, Jissoji’s strange way to stage the show allegedly sparked a flood of complaints from the audience and producers because Jissoji had the back of her throat persistently shot while she was singing so that even the close-up of her uvula was shown to the audience through the screen or, conversely, had her shot in such full shots that she kept being shown just as small as a pea on the stage.


Director Akio Jissoji #1

Akio Jissoji

While Akio Jissoji (1937-2006) was born in Yotsuya, Tokyo, in 1937, he was brought up in Qingdao, China, until he came back to Japan with his family at the end of the war when they were in Manchuria.

Because of this, it seems that Shozo Uehara, one of the script writers for the Ultra Series who was from Okinawa along with Tetsuo Kinjo, referred to Jissoji as a man with a “continental perspective” in contrast with the perceptions that could be raised while being born and living in the island nation Japan including Okinawa.

It is said that, as Jissoji loved Europe, it was also because of his longing for “continental” European landscapes that have remained unchanged over hundreds of years.

I personally think having a “continental perspective” should cause a lot of difficulties in living in Japan, as I feel like it doesn’t match this island country. So Jissoji could have been a person who could hardly get himself easily understood by others in this nation.

 

After Jissoji graduated from Department of French, Faculty of Literature, Waseda University in Tokyo in 1959, it is explained that, surprisingly enough, he worked for Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs for a short while as he had passed the public servant exam.

After resigning from the Foreign Ministry, he joined TBS that seems to have been called “Rajio Tokyo (Radio Tokyo)” back then to become a TV show director.

Having written all this so far, I find his actions seem, by the common standards, truly unpredictable and abrupt about why and how he transferred to the TV station from the Foreign Ministry as it may indicate a part of his “continental view.”

I personally like Jissoji’s way of thinking and acting that could show sort of his easy-going nature that makes me feel like I can share a lot of it with him in a way while I am not sure whether his actions came from an easy-goingness or not.


Ultraman With Chiropractor

In a certain place of Tokyo I visited the other day, I found a display ad board in front of a chiropractic office. It says “Getting rid of the villains. Leave it to us!” apparently comparing such disorders as tight shoulders and neck or lower back pain to “villains.”

The thing is, the Ultraman thrusting his fist like he pops out of the blinding light in the scene where Hayata turns into Ultraman is excellently drawn! Every detailed part of the drawing including the eyes with the diamond cut pattern properly featured and the nicely shaped red marking that looks like it was drawn faithfully copying the way it looks in the actual costume makes me aware the owner or an employee of this office should be a big fan of Ultraman!

Incidentally, tense shoulders and neck are disorders often described as “national disease” a large number of Japanese suffer from (except me somehow). I guess it is not because of the matter of the genetic body structure or something but they should be sort of lifestyle diseases as many Japanese have to do a lot of desk work at their workplaces till late in the evening.

Last but not least, the Ultraman who faces forward in his pop-out scene like this fabulous drawing is Returned Ultraman instead of the original Ultraman who shows the top of his head in that particular scene.


DALLY (making)

Dally design drawn by Noriyoshi Ikeya

Dally is the first Ultra Kaiju that was designed by Noriyoshi Ikeya who took Tohl Narita’s place in designing kauju characters after Narita resigned Tsuburaya Productions with Alien Platic as his last kaiju design while I am thinking of referring to why Narita left the production company in my post to come sometime later.

I hear the work of designing a kaiju troubled Ikeya a lot initially as Narita suddenly quit before he knew. It is said that it was Ryosaku Takayama who suggested Ikeya to design a kaiju by hiding the shape of the human body when Ikeya was in trouble with the Dally design while the design allegedly came from the tick, the same source as Alien Cool designed by Narita.

Dally costume at Ryosaku Takayama’s Ateler May

It is fun to see Alien Cool and Dally designed in such a different way even though the same creature was used for designing while Alien Cool appears to have had the shape of the spider incorporated into its design as well.

That being said, the design and costume ended up unavoidably showing the human body shape by some degree, and a lot of smoke was used to cover it up in the show. Dally was acted by Tetsuo Yamamura following Gander and Alien Prote.

Yamamura says Shigemitsu Taguchi (1944-present), noted as one of the script writers who played major roles for the secondary Ultra Series (Ultraman Series) including “The Return of Ultraman” and the subsequent series that ended with “Ultraman Leo,” measured Yamamura for the size of the Dally costume and informed Takayama of the measurements over the phone as Taguchi served as assistant director while the show Ultraseven was being produced.

Dally costume at the Bisen studio
Same as above

Yamamura’s remarks indicate the costumes of Gander and Alien Prote were sculpted without accurate measurements taken from Yamamura.

Yamamura also states the Dally suit was found to be faintly painted with an orange that was slightly fainter than the suit of Ultraseven but it was repainted pink on the set at Ikeya’s instruction while Yamamura assumes it was because it looked just like a shrimp even though it sounds a bit contradictory to the design with its body that appears mostly painted pink all along.

It is alleged that the name Dally was derived from Salvador Dali, the renowned Spanish surrealist painter.

I think the large eyes neatly positioned in the hollows/sockets on its face and the well-shaped fangs and jaws like a stag beetle (distinctive from the subtly curve jaws Antlar had) successfully made this creature described as a “space bacterium” in the show look pretty attractive!

Dally looks like it is hung in the air with someone inside (see the feet); this picture tells us what the Bisen studio exterior was like (in the back)

KERONIA (making)

Keronia design drawn by Tohl Narita

Tohl Narita: “This is a kaiju in the form of leaves put together and it is asymmetric.”

I think Keronia was an attractive kaiju in its own way, while the design itself may not be so appealing by today’s standards, with the impressive fight with Ultraman and the idea that a “plant” life form species on the earth, instead of an alien, challenged humanity after gaining the intelligence and ability that grew to the level that could far surpass the human race.

I find how the asymmetry made the design attractive even moderately in this case indicates it is the work done by Narita who was an excellent sculptor as it would have looked too simple and plain otherwise.

Enlarged heads part from the above design; I like how the side view looks

The human-sized Keronia who appeared from the closet was extremely creepy while the actor seems to have nearly tripped and fell down behind the scenes after he ran out of the room probably because he had to run with the costume’s huge head unproportional to his body hardly held in the proper position and with the poor visibility through the head.

It seems that Ryosaku Takayama wrote in his kaiju sculpting diary that he made about 35 pieces of the leaf-like surface and that it took a lot of work so that he had to make a particular box to dry them with two infrared lamps set on it while working throughout New Year holidays pressed for sculpting kaiju costumes to meet the deadlines.

Giant Keronia head (left) and human-sized Keronia head; Keronia was another kaiju whose “Takayama eyes” were very much impressive with the eyes that, strangely enough, fully make you feel the creature is actually alive

The head of the human-sized Keronia was also sculpted by Takayama along with the head of the giant Keronia although the giant Keronia costume also had its head and body separated to be worn. Hiroko Sakurai who played Akiko Fuji attacked by the human-sized Keronia says she was so frightened, while acting, by the scene because of the situation of the plant human suddenly showing up from inside the closet.

Looking at the expressive actions of Ultraman performed by Bin Furuya, it makes me feel enthusiastic teamwork of the staff on the set joining forces to try to make the show more attractive by featuring impressive fights between Ultraman and a kaiju as explicitly shown by the scenes, for example, where Ultraman smashed out of the building in the sequence of Hayata turning into Ultraman (I would really sympathize with the building owner if it were real) or Ultraman sort of somersaulted on the ground while fighting with Keronia, including “Ultra Attack Beam” Ultraman unexpectedly fired at the plant human his Spacium Beam didn’t work on.

At any rate, it is hilarious to see the baby Keronia set to be flammable and useful as a household fuel. The appearance of Shoji Nakayama as Dr. Ninomiya who would play Captain Kiriyama in “Ultraseven” made this episode even more impressive.

Giant Kenonia costume in the Bisen studio

Enigmatic Ultraman Suit #2

Thus, are you ready for my guess?, the Ultraman shown in this picture could have been the costume with the combination of the duplicated Type C mask and the Type A body suit before it turned out to become, are you ready?, the Zoffy costume that appeared in the final episode of “Ultraman”!!!

Come to think of it, the eyes of the Ultraman in the picture appear to be positioned slightly higher than the authentic Type C mask while the eyes positioned somewhat higher than Ultraman is a characteristic of the Zoffy and Returned Ultraman masks! (along with that entry, you can also see this post about it)

Unfortunately enough, it is unknown when this picture was taken for what show and where this Ultraman costume came from and how it was made including whether this costume was truly the one that was made into the Zoffy costume finally as this photo makes the things more enigmatic.

Ultraman Type A suit worn by Bin Furuya (the unwantedly bright part beside the head in this photo exists all along in the publication. Sorry!)

If my guess is right, this picture can shed new light on how the Zoffy costume was produced to possibly revise the long-held idea that it was made exclusively for Zoffy rather hastily to have it appear in the final episode of the show “Ultraman” with a tight schedule while a possibility has arisen that the costume with the Type C mask duplicated from the original mold and the Type A suit put together DID EXIST EARLIER than Zoffy.

Or another possibility is that this picture includes the so-called Type D costume of Ultraman allegedly turned from the Zoffy costume into Ultraman to be used at events if it is supposed that the picture was taken LATER than the show “Ultraman” had ended…

As to the lodge shown in this photo with the name Kirigamine Hotel, the facility and business seems to have folded in 2011 with a huge amount of debt although it had been in business since 1951. Pertaining to my entry on the making of Woo, this bankruptcy story can indicate what has happened to the resort development recently that flourished in the 1950s and 1960s in Japan.


Enigmatic Ultraman Suit #1

Following the pictures that show the authentic costume of Woo used at an event back then in the ski field, there is another note-worthy picture in which Ultraman is contained in a publication.

It is described as a photo taken on the occasion that a TV show or segment having Ultraman appear was shot. As the show/segment was filmed in Kirigamine Plateau, Nagano Prefecture, this picture shows a building with the name “Kirigamine Hotel” inscribed on the wall in the back.

What is enigmatic about this picture is that it shows the Ultraman suit that did not have Bin Furuya in it apparently judging from the body shape and that, nevertheless, the costume mask is obviously the one of the Type C suit of Ultraman.

While it also draws attention that the Ultraman is found to have seemingly worn “sandals” instead of the boots with the feet of the person inside seen as they were maybe because they did not need to film the whole body of Ultraman for the segment just using the bust shots or something.

Enigmatically enough, the body part of the suit is the one that looks so similar to the Type A Ultraman suit even though the body shape of the actor may make it look different from how it looked when it was worn by Bin Furuya.

The back of the head with a silver part right behind the ear to the top fully indicates it is the same as the Type A suit while the Type C costume has no such part with the back of its head painted all red.

Regarding the coloring of the back of the Type C costume head part, there are some Japanese fans who complain about it as it makes the mask of the Type C costume look like a “mask” while the Type A and B costumes properly had the parts painted silver behind the ears showing the feel of integration between the mask and the costume while the presence of the narrow silver parts behind the ears more or less helped to avoid making the masks look like mere masks as they are supposed to be the “faces” of the alien from Nebula M78 instead of the masks.

The back of the Type C suit head painted all red without any silver portions behind the ears the Type A and B costumes had, which could have made the mask look more like a mask rather than the alien’s face

Human-sized Woo Appeared!!!

With the name TBS in the back assuming it says “TBS Ishiuchi Maruyama Ski Field”; the Ishiuchi Ski Resort might have been originally developed by TBS although I am not sure

It is known among ardent fans of Ultraman that there are pictures taken at the ski field (Ishiuchi Maruyama Ski Resort in Niigata Prefecture) where the location shooting for the Woo episode was done back then showing the costume of Woo with an actor inside in the snow field. Not much is referred to and known about the details of these photos while there are no scenes in the show where Woo appeared in the human-size.

Moreover, It is likely that Dorako accompanied Woo on that occasion although the combination is really unexpected while we can see this Dorako was the costume before it was remodeled into Reborn Dorako with some horns added to the costume from Imora by Kunio Suzuki maybe just for pleasure. Suzuki also played Woo in the show although it is uncertain the human-sized Woo had him inside as well.

Even though the Dorako costume still looks neat, marks can be found where it was repaired in some parts of the costume especially in the ditch-like sections between the tile-like surfaces.

According to the caption for the top photo, it seems that an event was held in the ski field in February 1967 to celebrate the completion of Episode 30 (the Woo episode) with the costumes brought over there.

By the by, in the talk among the cast about this Woo episode included in one of the memoirs authored by Hiroko Sakurai (Fuji), it was also revealed that, on a location shooting trip apart from this Woo episode, Masanari Nihei (Ide) got so drunk that he got out of control rampaging at night to the degree that the other people had to tie him up with a rope and that Nihei smashed the door of his room in the lodge (after getting out of the rope) while Iyoshi Ishii (Arashi) ended up paying for the damage at the request of the lodge employee as Ishii added in the talk he still remembered the amount he had paid (2000 yen at the monetary value of the 1960s).

At any rate, it looks very odd somehow to find the human-sized Woo among people in the snow field because it makes it look as if an UMA or something actually showed up there  with the smiling people including kids!

The staff on the location for the Woo episode at Ishiuchi Maruyama Ski Resort

WOO (making) #2

Woo costume sculpted by Ex Production that looks great!

Yuzo Higuchi, the director of this episode, agrees with the interviewer in a book article who asked him if this episode was meant to warn people about the excessive resort development which spread into every part of Japan back then.

“Woo” seems to be described as the name which came either from an Okinawan word (the script of this episode was written by Tetsuo Kinjo who was originally from Okinawa) denoting a kind of fabric pronounced in a similar way or from the title of the show “WoO” being planned along with “UNBALANCE” while “UNBALANCE”  finally turned into “Ultra Q.”

Woo with its eye lights off looks so horrifying like a spector

As it is likely they had a lot of snowfall on the location set they hadn’t had for the last 20 to 30 years, chances are it made the filming very hard. Higuchi recalls they had to walk very carefully not to leave any footprints on the snow and that none of the cast and staff were good at skiing so they had to hire ski instructors in the locality to have them perform for the long shot scenes showing the SSSP members skillfully skiing down the slope in a graceful manner instead of the cast members, Kurobe, Ishii (present Dokumamushi) and Nihei.

While having the instructors ski instead of them, it seems that the cast had to wait shivering in cold with their overcoats on as their SSSP uniforms were worn by the instructors while they didn’t bring the spare uniforms to the location.

Woo costume described in a book as the deteriorated one after the appearance in the show

Higuchi says they had a very hard time because, for the medium shot scenes showing the actual cast, the SSSP members were not able to stop on skis where they were supposed to play to be properly caught on film as they easily got out of the picture with the momentum out of skiing from a place a little way off with their skis on.

The ski field that appeared in this episode is likely to have had a resort facility affiliated with TBS, which should indicate how much popular going to resorts including ski fields was among people during Japan’s postwar high economic growth period.

Woo is also well known as a kaiju who appeared in “Ultra Fight” afterwards with its costume always having its long hair cover the face and with a completely different character as a violent fighter somewhat with an eccentricity who easily picks a fight with the other kaijus.


WOO (making) #1

A: primary design of Woo drawn by Tohl Narita

Tohl Narita: “In a word, it is a sen-nin. As there is nothing interesting if it’s all white (while the set would be white too*), I made its face dark. Even though I initially drew A, it looked too much like a sen-nin, and I drew B instead by flattening its head.”

*Narita’s own remark

Sen-nin means a wizard or hermit seen as immortal living in the mountains while it should have originated from Taoism and the word is often used in Japan to refer to someone living in the mountain, not necessarily in seclusion or for a religious purpose, saying something like “He’s a man just like a sen-nin living so deep in the mountain” apart from the Chinese religion (I believe most Japanese people are even unaware that the idea of sen-nin originally came from Taoism even though the word itself is so familiar to them).

Enlarged head part from the above image

It seems that Yuzo Higuchi who directed this episode featuring Woo had something more like an abominable snowman in mind and that he realized the actual costume had excessively long hair when he looked at it for the first time. But he says, as he didn’t know a kaiju like an abominable snowman (Guigass) had already appeared in the show then, the design of Woo is now fully acceptable to him.

As to its sculpture, the costume was made by Ex Production instead of Ryosaku Takayama following Goldon that appeared in the previous episode.

B: finalized design of Woo drawn by Tohl Narita

Keizo Murase who was with Ex Production back then says they used plant fabric of Manila hemp usually called “sutaffu (stuff?) among them. Even though the stuff is usually rather short in length, he says they obtained the long one from a bike store which used to be located right across Toho because the store owner had a lot of knowledge of the fabric material as they also dealt with ropes (I don’t exactly understand why ropes can be associated with a bike store).

Tetsuo Yamamura says the Woo costume was very light in weight with the long hair just covering the lower part of the body like a straw skirt with nothing to cover the actor’s body while the actor looked out through the bunch of hair so that his face could have been exposed if the covering hair should have been pushed aside.

Woo head design separately drawn by Tohl Narita apart from the above picture of the whole body; I find the preciseness of the drawing pretty impressive

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