Ultraseven & Alien Shadow Mask In Kaiki Daisakusen (Operation Mystery)

Alien Shadow mask in Kaiki Daisakusen #11

In my yesterday’s post, I referred to the mask of Alien Shadow as used in the ending scene of “Kaiki Daisakusen (Operation Mystery)” Episode 11 “The Jaguar’s Eyes Are Red.”

When I checked, the mask fleetingly appeared at the very end of the ending credits with the director’s name Tsuneo Kobayashi (1911-1991) credited (I know little about him) rather than in the ending scene.

Ultraseven costume in Kaiki Daisakusen #11

Talking about the story of this episode briefly, it is about a science researcher with a crooked personality who kidnapped boys and demanded ransom under the pseudonym of “Red-eyed Jaguar” to get money for the development of a holographic image device he was working on without being rewarded with any social reputation.

I don’t think this is such an attractive story because it has some unnatural settings I don’t think make sense, but this episode is well known among tokusatsu fans since Ultraseven appeared in it as the “costume” worn by the evil man as a street advertising character handing out toy sunglasses to children at a toy store in preparation for kidnapping the targeted boys.

Alien Shadow mask in Kaiki Daisakusen #11

The body of the Ultraseven suit that appeared in this show seems to have been made from fabric while it is likely that such a suit of Ultraseven was used at stage shows or possibly at other local events as one of the photos covered in an issue of Tokusatsu Hiho magazine shows an Ultraseven costume of the same kind (they may be the same costume).

Although it has no choice but to look cheap, it is impressive to find the Ultraseven mask attached to the suit looks exactly like the real ones used in the series while I assume it must have been cast from the original mold.

A photo of Ultraseven covered in an issue of Tokusatsu Hiho allegedly shot at a stage show held in Fukushima Prefecture in 1968

The appearance of the Alien Shadow mask at the end of the ending credits was apparently unrelated to the episode story, which makes me guess it should have showed up simply because (the costume of) Ultraseven appeared in the episode (such irrelevances are conspicuous in this episode).

It was fun to find the kidnapped boys’ father was played by Asao Matsumoto (1928-present) known to have impressively acted Ishiguro in Ultraseven episode 2 (he also played Matsui, observatory employee, in Ultraman Episode 8 who was rescued by Pigmon).

Asao Matsumoto in Kaiki Daisakusen #11

ALIEN SHADOW; GUBLLA (making)

Alien Shadow designs drawn by Tohl Narita

Tohl Narita:

(about Alien Shadow) “Female molds of sculptures have a strange feeling of vitality. I wanted to make the female mold into the face so that the inverted bumps and dents could be applied to the face. Although I don’t think it looked so good in the show, I’d like to complete Alien Shadow by sculpting it myself as a future challenge.

“By the by, my sculpture work “Fossil of Human with Wings” I exhibited to Shin Seisaku Kyōkai (Association for New Art) shortly after I resigned Tsuburaya Productions was worked out by making this whole body into the female mold.”

(about Gublla) “I got the idea from the caterpiller.”

Full body design of Alien Shadow drawn by Tohl Narita
Alien Shadow heads at Ryosaku Takayama’s Atelier May

Although it is a bit hard to understand Narita’s words about his sculpture work, I think it means he applied the idea of inverted bumps and dents to his work from Alien Shadow by making the whole human body into the dented form.

As to the heads sculpted by Ryosaku Takayama for the show, the photo below tells us that the helmets were removable. It is said the aliens’ clothes were made by the dress-making section of Tsuburaya Productions.

As to Gublla, Tetsuo Yamamura says that the costume was really well made while the head and the tips of the arms were made of FRP with its body including the tail cast from the mold as each segment was different in size and shape.

Gublla design drawn by Tohl Narita
Enlarged head part from the above image

It is said that Gublla’s hair was made from plant fibers, the same material as Woo.

Yamamura says the scene of Gublla’s head being melted down was filmed with a plaster head coated with gold wax as they were melting the wax with a hairdryer.

It is known that the mask of Alien Shadow was fleetingly used in the ending scene of “Kaiki Daisakusen (Operation Mystery)” Episode 11 “The Jaguar’s Eyes Are Red.”

Gublla at Ryosaku Takayama’s Atelier May

TELESDON; REBORN TELESDON; UNDERGROUND HUMAN (making)

Telesdon design drawn by Tohl Narita

Tohl Narita: (about Telesdon) “I wanted to make a sharp-looking kaiju rather than the one with a sense of heaviness.” (about Underground Human) “I tried to cover the eyes with the underground flower, diamond.”

Telesdon is a kaiju that is truly attractive with its sharply pointed head shaped like a beak and its segmented body that really make it look like a kaiju going its way underground while its rampage shown while marching through the city amidst crossfire in the darkness of night was also very much impressive.

The scene processed with optical compositing of Telesdon viewed from between the buildings was fascinating too.

Telesdon at the Bisen studio; the curve from back to head shown by the side view is very much beautiful

It is said that Telesdon’s head had a core made of FRP underneath the latex placed on the surface that helped to make the head look sharp and rigid, but it seems that the costume was used at stage shows, after the series ended, with the core removed to avoid possible injuries an actor inside might suffer while acting.

It is assumed that the absence of the core caused even intense distortion in the head and neck as the deterioration of the costume occurred, and Detton that appeared in “Return of Ultraman” was “what it used to be Telesdon” after the use of the suit in “Ultra Fight.”

Tetsuo Yamamura says in a book that the Telesdon costume was coated with knitted fabric. He says the suit was used a lot at stage shows because it was easy to get in and to move while he also wore it and performed at stage shows adding that he felt sorry for Telesdon as he found it continued to be used until it got completely worn out.

Underground Human design drawn by Tohl Narita

Reborn Telesdon doesn’t look so much different from Telesdon in appearance as the costume was still “fresh.”

As to Underground Human, it seems that, in the script, they were described as those with featureless faces. While the design by Narita was left unused somehow, Akio Jissoji who directed this episode seems to have been very much disappointed at what the Underground Humans looked like with the stuff he referred to as “something like hanpen,” Japanese food made of fish paste.

I remember the Underground Humans apparently wearing pads over their eyes were not scary at all when I watched the show as a kid.

Hanpen

SUDAR; KAIGYO (making)

This snapshot shows the size of the Sudar puppet

Tohl Narita: (about Kaigyo) “As an experimental design of a kaigyo (mysterious fish), this is a design I like very much. But I was told that they would like to make an octopus appear as the script was written assuming the octopus from Toho. If the kaigyo had appeared, it would have become one of the best kaijus.”

As Narita explains in his art books, the monster to be featured in Ultra Q Episode 23 “Fury of the South Sea” was changed from the kaigyo to the giant octopus Sudar with the use of the puppet used in the 1965 Toho movie co-produced by the US company Benedict Pictures “Frankenstein vs. Baragon/Frankenstein Conquers the World.”

Sudar’s tentacle at Ryosaku Takayama’s Atelier May

Incidentally, “kaigyo” represents “mysterious fish” and not the individual name of the giant fish monster (it should have been dropped before getting any specific name).

As to Surar, while scenes with a real octopus used were added, the puppet octopus also looked real as it was excellently sculpted.

A giant tentacle was sculpted by Ryosaku Takayama and was used for a scene of the tentacle attacking Manjome while the prop was also excellently sculpted.

It is said that the idea of this episode “Fury of the South Sea” can be traced back to a sample story titled “The Counterattack of Giant Octopus” covered in the first planning paper of “UNBALANCE,” the planned show that turned out to be “Ultra Q” in the end.

Kaigyo design drawn by Tohl Narita

In “The Counterattack of Giant Octopus,” Manjome seems to have been planned to fight with the giant octopus with a supercar he boarded including fight scenes in the sea and the showdown at Haneda Airport (this sounds like sort of an off-the-wall story that makes me feel like watching it).

I have to admit I personally found it a bit disappointing to see this episode just feature a giant octopus when I was a kid, but, given how Bostang was portrayed in the show, it makes me wonder how well the kaigyo could have been depicted with techniques of the time although the design variations Narita drew make me fully aware that he should have put a lot of energy into designing it while I find his kaigyo attractive enough.

Kaigyo design variations drawn by Tohl Narita

My Condolences: Mr. Godzilla Haruo Nakajima Died At 88

The original Godzilla actor Haruo Nakajima known as “Mr. Godzilla” died of pneumonia at 88 on August 7 (JST).

Although I am not so familiar with Godzilla movies as I am with the original Ultra Series (my parents never took me to movies when I was a kid), the news has made me feel so sad as Nakajima greatly contributed to the tokusatsu TV shows as well by playing many Ultra Kaijus impressively: Gomess, Pagos, Nelonga, Jirass, Keylla and U-tom (there is an explanation that he also played Kemur II).

Given the Ultra Series would not have happened if it had not been for Godzilla, his contribution to the rise of the TV series is immeasurable  in this light too. I think we should be fully aware that today’s Japanese tokusatsu products could not have existed without the efforts the people involved made including Nakajima while the same is true of Bin Furuya who played the original Ultraman.

The reason I had wished Nakajima good health and longevity was not only because of his great achievements as the original Godzilla actor but he was from a generation who were deprived of happy days of their youth by the war while he himself was drafted.

 

His biography tells me that, even after he acted Godzilla, it was not that it brought him happiness he should have been worthy of as many actors including Nakajima were laid off amidst the downsizing of Toho company.

So, seeing him warmly welcome abroad surrounded by a large number of fans with popularity possibly surpassing the equivalent in Japan, it had made me feel very much happy.

While a man who runs a blog related to martial arts that I often read also referred to Nakajima (as the  blog writer also describes himself as a tokusatsu fan), he writes he once saw a well-built old man at a tokusatsu event who made him think of that old man as a master of a martial art due to the old man’s presence, behavior and vibe.

He says the old man responded with a friendly smile to a young man who asked to shake hands. And that made him notice that the old man was Nakajima. Such a story makes me aware that Nakajma might have been another of the last Japanese with the samurai spirit.

It is truly a shame to lose the cast and staff who actually experienced the dawning of Japanese tokusatsu.

May he rest in peace.


Ultraseven Big Soft Vinyl Figure Released!

The Ultraseven big soft vinyl figure (9.2″) has been released from Bandai and I purchased one the other day.

As you may know, this figure is from the Bandai big soft vinyl figure series dealing with Ultra heroes including the figure of Ultraman I got last year.

This Ultraseven figure should have become available this year when the 50th anniversary of the show is marked, and I think it is a satisfactory product in sculpture that deserves the item for the anniversary year.

As an enthusiastic fan of the original series, however, the head slightly looks too small for Ultraseven played by Koji Uenishi, and it looks too good in body proportion while I am fully aware that there should not be people who are so much fussy about such trifles.

The figure gives me an impression that they sculpted it based on recently made Ultraseven costumes rather than the 1967 original Ultraseven, which has made it look much more stylish in a way than the original “Uenishi Seven” characterized by his stubby body shape with shorter limbs than the original Ultraman acted by Bin Furuya.

Like the smaller-sized soft vinyl figure of Ultraseven, Eye Slugger has no openings as it is monolithically molded with the head with its curled lower end left uncut although these should be unavoidable due to the material and the production process.

Skillful modellers may be able to hollow out and cut off the unwanted parts so as to make it look more real.  It might also be a bit shame to see its eyes plainly painted orange gold without the white parts and to find the dented patterns on the head painted gold instead of the original whitish color.

Nevertheless, I still find it a  very nice product worth getting as I had been looking forward to the release.

And, as I have listed extra items I bought and have left unused or unassembled on eBay because I can purchase them anytime easily even at a nearby store here in Japan, your visit to take a look at the items will be appreciated if you are interested. To see the items I listed, click here.


Replaced Cast: Ide And Anne #2

Toyoura-san, Hishimi-san and Bin-san from Tokusatsu Hiho Vol. 1

As to Anne in “Ultraseven,” it was revealed that the role was supposed to be played by Yoshiko Toyoura (pronounced as /toyo-ura/ or //toto-oora/) in the first place. Toyoura joined Toho as an actress prior to Yuriko Hishimi and seems to have appeared in TV dramas and Toho movies as a “Toho New Talent” actress back then.

It is likely that Toyoura was one of the 5th Period Toho New Talent actresses while HIshimi belonged to the 6th Period as those actors and actresses were chosen every year in those days (so the period number is associated with the year when they were selected).

Although Toyoura was chosen for the role of Anne in “Ultraseven,” she says she got out of it as he was picked for a Toho comedy movie starred by the popular comical band called “Crazy Cats.”

 

As a Toho actress, I assume Toyoura had no choice but to give priority to the appearance in a Toho movie while she says she dimly remembers she asked Toho if she would be able to appear in both the movie and the TV show “Ultraseven.”

While movies were in their prime with great popularity back then, it was the time when appearances in TV shows seemingly tended to be undervalued than those in movies.

Noriyoshi IKeya, designer who took over from Tohl Narita, says they were discriminated even when eating lunch at a restaurant in Toho as they were involved in TV shows instead of movies (I personally don’t like such a strong sense of territory).

 

Under these circumstances, it should have been only natural that Toyoura chose to appear in the movie rather than a tokusatsu TV show even though it was substantially the sequel to the unprecedented TV show “Ultraman” that marked a rating of 42 percent at most.

And it was decided that Anne was to be played by Hishimi instead as she herself says she was staying idle after the TV drama titled “Tenka No Seinen (The Young Man Under The Sun)” featuring an enthusiastic high school teacher in which Hishimi played a leading part regularly ended with 13 episodes while Koji Moritsugu was also appearing regularly in the show.

An issue of the magazine “Tokusatsu Hiho (secret treasure)” covered an article in which Toyoura-san and Hishimi-san met each other again in nearly 50 years and talked along with Bin Furuya while the same topic also appeared in Hishimi-san’s latest essay book recently released.

The UG uniform Hishimi-san initially wore in the show including the helmet seems to have been the one made for Toyoura-san as Toyoura-san left the show right after measurements were taken for her uniform.


Replaced Cast: Ide And Anne #1

The SSSP member cast including Susumu Ishikawa (second from right)

Regarding the roles of Ide in “Ultraman” and Anne in “Ultraseven,” it is known that the performers originally arranged to appear in the shows were replaced by Masanari Nihei and Yuriko Hishimi.

As to Ide, the character was initially slated to be acted by Susumu Ishikawa (1933-2012) who was a popular actor and singer in those days.

Ishikawa, nicknamed Kewpie-chan (“chan” is a Japanese suffix coming right after someone’s name mainly used for children, girls or someone close to you), was a man who funnily acted Chief Nishioka of New Tokyo Station in Ultra Q Episode 10 featuring M1.

Susumu Ishikawa from Ultra Q Episode 10

It is said, although the filming started with Ishikawa included for Ide, Ishikawa got out of the show in a few days. And Masanari Nihei who had appeared in “Ultra Q” for three episodes (Episode 2; 6; 15) was chosen for the role of Ide in the end.

While Ishikawa seems to have left the show for reasons related to his own schedule or his appearance fee, it is likely that the scenes that were already filmed with Ishikawa had to be reshot with Nihei.

Ide was portrayed as a man with complex personality as he acted as a comic relief with funny remarks and behaviors and, at the same time, he was so sensitive that he got distressed about Jamyra and protested against attacking the kaiju that used to be a human.

The SSSP members so familiar to us

The mistake he made about Pester made him feel so much responsibility in Episode 13, or he was troubled questioning if the SSSP would still be necessary even with the presence of Ultraman in Episode 37.

It is assumed that, if Ide should have been played by Ishikawa instead of Nihei as it was originally arranged, the directors including Akio Jissoji would never have depicted Ide as such a character with a profound personality.

When I was a kid, Ide was definitely an impressive character I was drawn to along with the other main characters, and I think Nihei should be given credit for having helped to make the character that much attractive and impressive far beyond just a comical dude.


ALIEN BURACO (making)

Alien Buraco design drawn by Tohl Narita

Tohl Narita: “I had been wanting to create an alien, not a stylish but an unpleasant one.”

As to Alien Buraco, it is perceived that Narita was apparently influenced by aliens drawn by Edd Cartier. It is certain that Alien Buraco looks outstandingly like a weirdly-shaped alien with a monstrous appearance represented by the head positioned at the lower part of the body compared to the other characters designed by Narita throughout the series from Ultra Q through Ultraseven.

While the costume was made so that the actor could pop out his arms from inside, the groaning alien with its body trembling looked so creepy along with the bizarre story in which women were targeted by the aliens as the bed for spores, staple food eaten by the aliens.

Alien Buraco at Ryosaku Takayama’s Atelier May

Although I personally like the alien’s bluish emerald green eyes that could have diluted the weirdness of the alien, I remember I sort of hated this episode when I was a kid because I found it instinctively creepy (including the spore depicted to be inflating with beats).

While the plot development in which Kiriyama already knew Ultraseven was trying to head for Saturn to obtain Radiation Alpha 73 seemed unnatural, the script is likely to have had a scene of Ultraseven, after Hawk 3 flown by Dan was shot down by Alien Buraco’s spacecraft, getting back to the TDF Base to fetch the special capsule containing Radiation Alpha 73 and flying away.

Chances are that, as this scene was left out, it ended up making Kiriyama’s quote sound somewhat abrupt.

Alien Buraco at the Bisen studio

Along with Episode 21 prior to this Episode 22, the two episodes were filmed by the tokusatsu staff with the drama part included, not only the tokusatsu part.

It is said that it was a considerate arrangement that allowed the tokusatsu staff to work under the blue sky with fresh air. The filming location for the two episodes was Shimoda, Izu, known as a beach resort, and they were filmed with the cooperation of a resort hotel named Hamano Hotel (it seems that it doesn’t exist anymore) as credited in the opening credits.

As the hotel is said to have been located just across from a rest house that belonged to TBS, all of these might have been included in the considerate arrangement.

I find the alien’s mechanical-looking spacecraft was also impressive.


KEMLAR (making)

Kemlar design with the shells unfolded drawn by Tohl Narita

Tohl Narita: “While it is similar to the idea about Gavora, an attempt was made to make it look different by covering it with something, which was the shells on the back.”

It is said that the Kemlar costume was planned to be remodeled from that of Gamakugira initially, but, as Ryosaku Takayama found it would require a lot more work to remodel the costume, it was newly sculpted eventually.

This makes Narita’s description of Kemlar more comprehensible as the shells were for covering up the costume based on Gamakugira like Gavora‘s fins that veiled the kaiju remodeled from Nelonga.

Although the design by Narita shows the shells were to cover its head too like Gavora, it seems that Takayama adjusted it so as to make the shells cover only the kaiju’s back.

Kemlar design with the shells folded drawn by Tohl Narita

While, from the design, it appears that the jaw was planned to divide into two and that the costume was sculpted accordingly, the mechanism was left unused although you can see a slit in the center of the jaw where the two parts were supposed to come apart and meet.

It is likely that Kemlar’s weak point was set to be an luminescent organ inside the mouth in the script first and that it was changed to the equivalent on the back.

The light Kemlar gave out when breathing out the toxic gas was to come from the luminescent organ in the mouth. Thus, because the sequence was dropped in which the light from the mouth made Hoshino aware of the luminescent organ in the mouth as its weak point, it ended up making Hoshino’s remark sound unnatural in the completed film as he abruptly specified the luminescent part on the back as the kaiju’s weak point.

The change seems to have been made as the weak point on the back would make the fight scene look more picturesque than the one in the mouth. The luminescent organ was made by Shigeo Kurakata using a rubber ice pack and an air pump to inflate and deflate it.

In the script, chances are that Kemlar was supposed to unfold its tail like a peacock without any depiction of the shells on the back unfolding.

Takayama wrapped vinyl leather he bought around its tail saying in his diary it looked so impressive when the whole tail was wrapped with the material as it made the tail look like that of an earwig.

Tetso Yamamura says in a book that the shells were made from FRP and that they were excellently sculpted while I find it very much attractive that the shells look so different between the front side and back side.

Incidentally, as the word for smoke is “kemuri” in Japanese, Kemlar is named after that while Kemur was named as such because it vanishes like kemuri.


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