Chikao Otsuka

Chikao Otsuka as Oniyama in “Kaiju Booska”

Chikao Otsuka was a voice actor who should be so much familiar and unforgettable to a person in my generation as he voiced a great number of characters especially in anime products we watched when we were kids.

While we enjoyed watching animation shows from the United States back then as home-made TV shows were not so many as in later years yet, “Dick Dastardly” in “Wacky Races” and “Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines” was voiced by him, and his acting made the character (“Black Maou” meaning “Black Devil King” in the Japanese version of the show) so popular in Japan.

Otsuka was also an actor who appeared with his face shown in “Ultra Q,” “Ultraman” and “Kaiju Booska.”

In Booska, he played a school teacher named Oniyama while the teacher appeared in Booska Episode 41 talked about in my yesterday’s entry.

He played a man who got his shoes cleaned by Itachi in Ultra Q Episode 10, one of the crew on a Japan Coast Guard patrol boat that was attacked by Ragon in Ultraman Episode 4 and a rest house manager in Ultraman Episode 21 who was troubled by unusual events caused by Kemlar.

In addition to his voice-acting in which he voiced many foreign actors including Charles Bronson as an actor regularly voiced by him, Otsuka should be best known in Japan as the voice actor for Nezumi Otoko (Mouseman) in the anime “Ge Ge Ge No Kitaro.”

His son, Akio Otsuka, also plays an active role as a voice actor while he played, say, Black Jack in the anime series with his attractively deep voice.


ALIEN CHAME

  • Episode: “Kaiju Booska” #41 “King Of The Universe”
  • Actor: Ren Yamamoto (Hyūdoro)

Alien Chame (pronounced as /chahmeh/) are aliens who came to Earth to take Chamegon back to Planet Chame so as to make him succeed to the throne as King of Planet Chame after the current king who is seriously ill while they admire Chamegon’s courage as a boy who came to Earth by himself from Planet Chame.

Although their remarks cannot help sounding somewhat abrupt, the amorphous object seen on the occasion of the birth of Chamegon might have been another form of the courageous alien boy while he ended up getting the body fused with a squirrel on Earth through the device Daisaku built to bring a Booska’s brother into being.

Ambassador Hyūdoro

Or it is also thinkable that the amorphous form represented by Chamegon is the original form commonly and usually taken by Alien Chame and that they appeared this time just in human forms using their shapeshift ability. At any rate, such descriptions were not referred to at all in the story.

As the aliens tried to  bring Chamegon back home forcibly against Chamegon’s will to stay on Earth with his buddies, Ambassador Hyūdoro from Planet Chame took Daisaku and his buddies hostage along with their teacher while they were camping (maybe on a school trip).

Hyūdoro attacking Booska’s navel (one of his weak points) with a beam fired from the beam lamp

But, when looking at Chamegon trying to protect them at the risk of his own life and his buddies trying not to allow the aliens to take Chamegon with them, Hyūdoro gave up their plan to make Chamegon succeed to the throne admiring their firm bond of friendship while impressed with their LOVE among other things despite the austere and unyielding attitude Hyūdoro had taken.

As Hyūdoro asked Chamegon to pay a short visit to Planet Chame to cheer the sick king, Chamegon accompanied the aliens on their spacecraft bound for Planet Chame.

Hyūdoro was played by Ren Yamamoto who acted Onita in “Ultraman” and the human form of Alien Icarus in “Ultraseven.”

Chamegon trying to protect his buddies at the risk of his life

ALIEN CHIBULL (making)

Alien Chibull design drawn by Tohl Narita

Tohl Narita: “This is an alien no one gets in. I started designing it by making a shell into an abstract form. I am likely to get an idea from a shell every time I get stuck in coming up with ideas.”

I have to admit I found Alien Chibull less attractive when I was a child as he didn’t battle with Ultraseven so much and was easily defeated by the hero.

But now he is one of my favorite Ultraseven aliens because of the excellently designed and sculpted head alongside of the story featuring mysterious Android Girl Zero One too.

Alien Chibull at Ryosaku Takayama’s Atelier May

The uniquely shaped head should be a brain made into an abstract form modeling after a spiral shell or something while it illustrates his high intelligence as an alien who  tried to move ahead with his plan using Zero One as his instrument.

In the “Ultra Kaiju Nyumon (Guide To Ultra Kaiju)” of that time, Alien Chibull is described as the smartest alien in the universe with some giant electric brains on his planet watching over all the civilizations and creatures there.

Alien Chibull at Ryosaku Takayama’s Atelier May

As I wrote before, the name came from “chiburu” (the alien is called Alien Chiburu in Japanese regardless of the English spelling) that signifies “head” in the Okinawan dialect while the script writer of this episode Shozo Uehara is from Okinawa along with late Tetsuo Kinjo who was the main script writer of the original Ultra Series (Q, Man and Seven).

The short battle with Ultraseven seems to have been unavoidable as this was a puppet alien unsuitable for battles with the difficulties to operate it by wire and, also, this episode was filmed by the staff in charge of the drama part instead of the tokusatsu part while they were unfamiliar with dealing with tokusatsu props and the filming was carried out outdoor on the department store roof that should have made the tokusatsu shooting harder than in a studio.

Alien Chibull at the Bisen studio

GANGO (making)

Gango design drawn by Tohl Narita

Tohl Narita: “As this is a remodeled kaiju from Bemlar, to change it a lot, I made it look like a totem pole by putting plenty of abstract shapes on the belly and designing the horns in an abstract shape as well.”

While it is widely known that Gango (pronounced as Gyango in Japanese; the name came from gang) was remodeled from Bemlar now, I didn’t notice it at all when I was a kid as they look so much different.

In contrast to Bemlar who looks more like a dinosaur known among us kids back then despite its setting of being a space monster, this Gango is full of absurdity in a way with the abstract-shaped counter-rotating antennas, hands like a toy robot (judging from Narita’s drawing, they seem to have been added to the design afterwards), simply oval-shaped feet like a cartoon character and the loud patterns on the front part of the body along with the toy-like sound he makes and comical behaviors.

Takayama about to remodel Bemlar and Peter into Gango and Guesra respectively

Gango’s straight posture performed by the actor, Teruo Aragaki, also got to make the two kaijus look different as he played Bemlar leaning forward.

It seems that it was Kazuho Mitsuta, director of this episode, who came up with the idea of making a kaiju look like a totem pole.

The playful battle scene that unfolded between Gango and Ultraman like kids are happily playing was produced by Koichi Takano, tokusatsu director, while Mitsuta was totally uninvolved.

The remodeling work underway at Takayama’s Atelier May with his assistants

While Ryosaku Takayama remodeled Bemlar into Gango, Tetsuo Yamamura says in a book the remodeling with which Bemlar’s face appeared to be widened after being cut open might make them look different in impression and that the patters made of painted thin rubber sheets were found to be pasted on the body.

Admiring the antennas by describing them as elaborately and beautifully shaped ones, he says Gango appeared at stage shows back then with the antennas broken by Ultraman without repair.

I definitely love the abstract shape of the antennas that makes me feel the strangely twisted shape was exactly designed by Narita.


BALLOONGA (making) & Another Amorphous Kaiju

Balloonga design drawn by Tohl Narita

Tohl Narita: (about Balloonga) “I didn’t come up with any other idea for a monster that inflates in the sky than this.” (about the other drawing for an episode with the title “Endless”) “This is a story that was not produced, but, just Balloonga, I had no choice but to draw a design like this in attempts to expand the story.”

I personally like Balloonga as an attractively strange monster along with Bullton. While it is said to have been sculpted by Akira Sasaki, he himself says he doesn’t remember at all having made the monster (prop).

It seems to be said the prop was brown just as raw rubber, the material the prop was made of, was, and it is likely that Hiroko Sakurai who played Yuriko Edogawa in “Ultra Q” (Akiko Fuji in “Ultraman”) remembers it was brown with a dirty look.

There is an explanation that there was another prop painted red for optical compositing.

An amorphous kaiju design for the unproduced Ultra Q episode “Endless” drawn by Tohl Narita

The other design (above) drawn by Narita was an unnamed monster that was supposed to appear in an episode titled “Endless (Kiriganai)” although the Ultra Q episode ended up being left unproduced.

The episode was written by the director Akio Jissoji under the pseudonym of Yuri Manpukuji and was to be directed by himself, but, according to a book Jissoji authored, it was rejected in the end as the monster was to come back to life endlessly.

It seems that it was an amorphous monster that appeared in the sky above a dam in Tokyo absorbing water, which caused a severe water shortage.

Although people destroyed the monster by removing water from the dam, it was set to restore itself perpetually (probably absorbing any moisture in the atmosphere).

It sounds like such a crazy story as it is so Jissoji.


KAPPA & THUNDER CHILD

Kappa with a lotus leaf as a parasol; a Kappa allegedly has a beak and webbed toes (he apparently wears swim fins)
  • Episode: Kaiju Booska #40 “The Great March Of Water”
  • Actor: Shinya Sato (Thunder Child)

While these characters who appeared in a Booska episode might not be worth being introduced, I would write about them at any rate.

People living in the town where Booska and Chamegon reside with Daisaku and his family were suffering from a severe water shortage caused by scorching sunlight, and it also troubled a kappa dwelling in a pond.

Thunder Child; he has a horn on top of his head along with drums that were believed to generate thunder

Kappas are imaginary creatures Japanese people are so familiar with as they often appear in Japanese folklore, and they are alleged to live in rivers, ponds or lakes while they are also featured in Ultraseven Episode 41 as, in the story setting, it was revealed they were actually aliens.

As Booska found a carp in a puddle of a dried-up pond, he took out buckets of saved water from Daisaku’s home to pour it over the puddle and offended Daisaku’s father and mother.

Feeling sorry for the carp, Booska tried to call rain clouds by his telekinesis, but, when his telekinesis dropped a Thunder Child instead of rain, he learnt from him there was no water even in the sky.

Daisaku and his buddies with the artificial rain generator he developed

In Japan, it had once  been believed thunders and lightnings were the work of Kaminarisama, deities of thunder and lightning, and they have been portrayed like a goblin called Oni with a horn/horns on his head and fangs sticking out wearing tiger-patterned shorts, so this Thunder Child should be a child of Kaminarisama.

Although Daisaku developed an artificial rain generator, it didn’t work, and Booska decided to bring water of a lake over to his town by telekinesis.

It went well and the carp managed to survive with his pond filled with rain water while the rainfall also made the Kappa so happy that it gave him an irresistible urge to dance (incidentally, this Kappa utters unknown words just like U-tom).

Thus, Kappa and Thunder Child only appeared for a short while, not playing any major roles in this episode. Sorry if this entry has betrayed your expectations!

Booska conveying the lake water to the town

ALIEN METRON (making)

Alien Metron design drawn by Tohl Narita

Tohl Narita: “I think I put more energy into the movement of light embedded into a simple and plain alien (than the alien itself).”

While Episode 8 “The Targeted Town” featuring Alien Metron has won great fame and popularity as one of the masterpieces among the Ultraseven episodes, it is said that Akio Jissoji, the director of this episode known as a caustic critic, described the alien as something like a “rubber boots monster” (the shape of the head seems to have made him imagine that way somehow).

According to Shigeo Kurakara in charge of mechanism,  the same device used for Alien Mefilas to light up his mouth with blinking lights was reused for Alien Metron while it is uncertain the same device was also share with Zetton who has the same kind of illumination mechanism.

He says the actor inside operated the switch to match the light blinking as it moves with Alien Metron’s utterances as the switch was equipped inside the alien’s hands while the shape of the hands best worked to hide the actor’s  switch operation.

Metron costume at Bisen studio

While the costume looks much thicker when viewed diagonally, it is said that the unpainted costume was delivered to the Bisen studio due to a busy schedule and that Noriyoshi Ikeya painted it on the set.

It seems that the costume structure made it extremely hard for the actor to look out as the uniquely shaped head unavoidably made a distance between the surface of the costume where the eye holes were inconspicuously positioned and the actor’s face, and it is likely to have resulted in the short battle fought between the alien and Ultraseven.

It is fun to find he has his back that looks very much different from his front with nut-like rising parts placed all over his back.

Metron costume at the back of Bisen studio and his spacecraft prop

JIRASS (making)

Jirass design drawn by Tohl Narita

Tohl Narita: “This is a design being Godzilla with a muffler scarf attached to it.”

Such stuff around the neck like a frill-necked lizard is called “erimaki” signifying “muffler scarf” as the lizard is called “erimaki tokage” in the Japanese language, so I followed suit in translating Narita’s description of Jirass (Jirāsu in Japanese pronunciaton).

When looking at Narita’s design drawing, it makes me feel like it shows his unwillingness to design a kaiju based on the existing Toho kaiju as the monster drawn by him looks more like a dinosaur than Godzilla while Godzilla’s characteristic fins on the back are drawn with more of a Narita style (I personally think the design is worth being sculpted into another original kaiju just as it is).

To avoid any misunderstanding, needless to say, it was not Narita who decided to use the Godzilla costume for Jirass but producers made the decision probably to reduce cost and to adjust the filming schedule.

It is said that the Godzilla costume used for Jirass was the one with the head from the costume used in the Toho movie “Invasion of Astro-Monster” (1965) and the body from “Mothra vs. Godzilla” (1964) put together.

This combined costume seems  to have been displayed at a supermarket called Akafudadō in Ueno back then before being lent to Tsuburaya Productions while it is undescribed why such a combination was done (it is thinkable the other costumes should have been in an unusable state, of course).

The frill was sculpted by Akira Sasaki who says he remembers the Godzilla costume was brought in from the Toho Studio and that he must have used bamboo to hold up the  frill made of latex from within while he also recalls he attached the frill by pasting rubber onto the neck and the end of the frill.

He says it made the remodeling even harder as the costume had to be returned to Toho intact and the frill had to be placed firmly while it was to be removed by Ultraman in the end.


M1 (making)

M1 design (A) drawn by Tohl Narita

Tohl Narita: “I drew designs like A and B (in this article) but I quit it because, as they look like Edd Cartier’s aliens, I found them unsuitable for Ultra Q. While I decided to use the design C instead, I slightly changed the ears as it is boring if it looks like a mere ape.”

Although Narita describes this way, the completed costume of M1 ended up having no such ears, and the design B was introduced as “M2” that din’t appear in the show in publications at that time.

While the M1 (C) designed by Narita looks somewhat scary, it was sculpted by Ryosaku Takayama probably with adjustments at his discretion (the same should be true of, say, Peguila) through discussions between Narita and Takayama.

M1 design (B) drawn by Tohl Narita

I believe Takayama played a significant role in sculpting the kaijus designed by Narita while expanding the concept of each of Narita’s design drawings with his own interpretations and adjustments so that it should have enormously helped Narita-designed kaijus win such great popularity that remains unchanged even today.

I think forming each design into an actual costume in his own way is a great talent Takayama characteristically had as a painting artist while it was a great, maybe unprecedented, team play between him and Narita, a sculpting artist.

M1 design (C) drawn by Tohl Narita

As to the costume of M1, it was made so that the actor’s eyes could be seen through the eye holes while the same method was applied to the costume of Alien Goron who appeared in “Ultraseven” (Alien Goron was allegedly sculpted by the Tsuburaya art staff).

Along with the costume, Takayama also sculpted a marionette that was used in the scene at the end of the episode.

Tetsuo Yamamura who played the shoe shine boy Itachi in this episode says in a book, “M1’s lips were soft and beautifully colored pink. It looked as if he was actually alive even with nostril hair that looked so real, and I was always clinging to M1 during standby time.”

Haruyoshi Nakamura who played M1 and Yamamura ended  up appearing in “Kaiju Booska” afterwards with Nakamura as Booska and Yamamura as Chamegon.

M1 at Takayama’s Atelier May with the marionette held by Takayama (left) and placed beside the costume (right); the costume has its tail

Differences Between Newly Made And Original Ultraman Suits

Newly sculpted costumes; as to the Type B mask of Ultraman, no replicas from the original mold seem to be available

Following my yesterday’s entry, when we are at it, I would like to tell you about how Ultra hero costumes are made now as it was described in a book by Fuyuki Shinada who is in charge of character costume sculpture with Tsuburaya Productions while he is nicknamed as “Kaiju Maestro.”

According to him, as far as masks of the original Ultraman are concerned, they scanned the form through the 3D printer from the replica mask in Akira Sasaki’s possession cast out of the original Ultraman Type C mask mold.

And masks are turned out of the printer after the size has been slightly reduced by a few percent because current suit actors are often shorter than Bin Furuya (the original Ultraman actor) while they are well built specializing in suit action as the original Ultraman mask was sculpted based on Furuya’s life mask.

Therefore, Shinada says, they reduce the size of masks a bit to avoid making the head look much larger in proportion to the body.

So the masks should be the same as the original mask in the form except the size. Nevertheless, they don’t look the same somehow although the new ones should be superior in symmetricity too.

One of the reasons I come up with is the size, position and angle of the eyes as they are additional parts separate from the mask and should be placed by hand.

I think the same is true of Ultraseven masks while the eye holes of the newly made costumes appear to be too close to each other.

And, as one of my readers points out in the comment section, the spray-painting, not the brush-painting applied to the costumes in the past, should also make the masks look different.

In my opinion, current masks look much better than the ones found at the time when the molds had been remodeled before Shinada joined Tsuburaya, and I believe his efforts to reproduce features of the original costumes are remarkable living up to his nickname “Kaiju Maestro” and worthy of high admiration.

At any rate, the costume even used in “Ultra Fight” and slightly worn out still has much of a presence and looks so great!


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