Giant Alien Ghose

Design of Alien Ghose drawn by Ikeya

As it is widely known, Alien Ghose and the monster manipulated by them Pandon appeared in the final two parted episode of Ultraseven.

And it has been explained online that the giant form of Alien Ghose was also supposed to emerge in the episode along with the normally human-sized aliens and Pandon.

Meanwhile, the Tokusatsu Hiho magazine with tribute articles to the designer Noriyoshi Ikeya showed the design of Giant Alien Ghose drawn by Ikeya back then among the representative monsters he designed.

To me, this is definitely the first time I have seen it, but, according to the Hiho article, surprisingly enough,  Giant Alien Ghose was not included even in the script with no plan at all to make it appear in the episode.

Giant Alien Ghose drawn by Ikeya

It seems that Ikeya himself described it in his art book as the alien he designed with a western armor in mind having something in common with the aliens he also designed for “Silver Kamen” in later years without referring to any other details about the character.

Therefore this leaves it unknown why Ikeya designed this giant version of the alien regrettably.

The dark-colored alien design with no features on its face and nothing outstanding makes the character look very much creepy deserving the name of Ghose that came from ghost though it surely looks attractive in its own way.

I think it is an excellent job with much of an Ikeya feel to it, and it is also impressive to find he designed it as the giant version has nothing in common with the human-sized form.

Incidentally Pandon is the monster remodeled from his original design, and, if you are interested, see this post.


Noriyoshi Ikeya Featured In Tokusatsu Hiho 2

“Fireman” monsters designed by Ikeya

As Noriyoshi Ikeya himself said, it is not that he entered the field of film art because he wanted to be involved in tokusatsu and kaiju while he was initially called in by Tohl Narita to participate in the production of the series Ultraman.

Therefore the work he did in the field is not confined to kaiju design but he played an active role involved in film art including the films produced by renowned directors and TV commercials after leaving Tsuburaya so that he was awarded the Japan Academy Prize for the Outstanding Achievement in Art Direction twice in the 1990s.

Among the Ikeya monsters, it is fun to learn Takkong that appeared in “The Return of Ultraman” is likely to be thought as a challenge to the Narita design with the quirky shape after Ikeya took over the designing of Ultra kaijus from Narita.

I myself like the design of Twintail as it is admired as a masterpiece created by the combination of Ikeya and Ryosaku Takayama as Takayama modeled the costume along with Gudon and Stegon (the “Siver Kamen” alien costumes were also allegedly made by Takayama while he seemingly modeled the majority of the “Fireman” monster suits as well).

I wish I could have seen more of the monsters worked out by them in “The Return of Ultraman” (by the way, I feel like I wanted to see Zetton II modeled by Takayama again…).

According to an article, Ikeya seems to have said he had in stock design drawings of unreleased new monsters he had drawn every once in a while in his spare time.

I definitely hope these designs will see the light of day in the form of characters shown in film/video products someday.

Aliens designed by Ikeya for “Silver Kamen” (right); Multi for “Mirrorman” (top left); robots for “Iron King”

Noriyoshi Ikeya Featured In Tokusatsu Hiho 1

“Tokusatsu Hiho vol. 5” issued in January, 2017 with a tribute to Noriyoshi Ikeya

The  Tokusatsu Hiho (secret treasure) I mentioned yesterday is a fun magazine with a lot of detailed articles and quite a few pictures about tokusatsu products including the old ones and new ones from both movies and TV shows while I don’t know whether this is a periodical publication as the issue is always found to come out unexpectedly.

The same publisher released the Ultraseven Research Book and Ultraman Research Book in 2012 and 2014 respectively in this order as I find both of them very much informative and a lot of fun.

Colored articles from the above Tokusatsu Hiho

The latest Tokusatsu Hiho recently published features Noriyoshi Ikeya as a special who passed away the other day regrettably.

I don’t think the attraction of the monsters designed by Ikeya has been publicly talked about so much as those by Tohl Narita, but it was fun to learn from the articles how the Ikeya monsters are perceived among people.

Reading the articles, they seem to view the Ikeya monsters as sensitive and feminine in contrast with the bold and masculine design of the Narita monsters as it is known that Ikeya often referred to fashion magazines to design his monsters rather than real-life creatures.

It is also mentioned that his sensitive, graceful and stylish behaviors with gentleness and a perpetual soft smile on his face charmed people around him a lot while he was a silent type working on his task with few words.


What Happened To Type C Ultraman Suit?

Tokusatsu Hiho vol.1 published in 2015

In yesterday’s post I explained the possible transition shown by the Zoffy mask used from the Zoffy suit to the Returned Ultraman costume speculatively publicized in a book and online.

Just to make sure, it was the Zoffy mask that is assumed to have been used for the Returned Ultraman costume, not the whole costume.

Then all of these make us wonder what happened to the Type C Ultraman suit after being used in the TV show.

The caption says “Kaiju Paradise 196X”

Putting together the pieces of information referred to, there was no idea back then of producing costumes to be used solely for attraction performance `shows, at such shows the costumes actually used in the shooting appeared while it is quite a luxury by today’s standards to be able to see the “real” costumes.

Therefore they had no thought of producing plural costumes of the same character while such events as attraction performance were held in every part of the nation with great popularity in those days.

Meanwhile it can be imagined the Zoffy costume and the Type C Ultraman suit should have been used as Ultraman at such events.

Dada and Magma Taishi can be found behind Ultraman

In the magazine “Tokusatsu Hiho (secret treasure)” precious photos taken at an event back then are shown with exactly the legendary Type C Ultraman costume and the other tokusatsu characters.

As the wetsuit material deteriorates as time passes, these costumes should have been disposed of after the masks were taken off the costumes, and the Zoffy mask might have been used for the Returned Ultraman (rejected) suit while it remains unknown why the Type C mask was not used as it is unthinkable the mask was disposed of along with the wetsuit body.


From Zoffy To Returned Ultraman 2

Rejected version of the Returned Ultraman suit

After being used at attraction performance shows around the nation, the Zoffy suit converted into Ultraman is said to have appeared in the cyclorama film featuring Ultraman and Ultraseven shown in an amusement park in 1969.

After that, the head of the suit is speculatively described as it was used for the Returned Ultraman costume while it means the Returned Ultraman head was not the one modeled from the original mold of the Type C Ultraman head.

And it is also explained a strip of the wetsuit material (assumed to be the Type A suit of the original Ultraman) found to slightly remain on the end of the mask proves it was from the Zoffy costume converted into that of Ultraman (the mask still seems to exist even now).

It is said that the head of the rejected version of the Returned Ultraman suit was from the Zoffy suit mentioned above.

As to the rejected version suit, it is known that it was finally rejected after shooting battle scenes with Arstron so that the rejection made them reshoot the scenes in the end.

The Returned Ultraman suit initially had the same red pattern as the original Ultraman even with thin lines added to each end.

And it is said the costume was replaced by the one with the markings as currently seen so as to make the character look more distinctive from the original Ultraman in consideration of merchandising (the mask seems to have continued being reproduced (copied) from the Zoffy mask).

I read somewhere the Returned Ultraman masks used in the shooting were reproduced (maybe throughout the series) by Hiruma Model Craft known as a modeling company for the production of special effects props.

In summary of the above complex story:

  1. Zoffy suit used in the final episode of Ultraman (with the wetsuit body of the Type A Ultraman suit)
  2. Used as Ultraman at attraction performance shows
  3. Used as Ultraman in the cyclorama film
  4. (Only the mask) used for the rejected version suit of Returned Ultraman


From Zoffy To Returned Ultraman 1

As widely known among ardent fans, the Zoffy costume used in the final episode of Ultraman (while also worn by Satoshi Furuya) is said to have been the reused Type A suit of Ultraman with the newly made Type C Ultraman mask attached to it.

According to the information shown in a recent book, however, it is speculatively explained the Zoffy mask could have been one of the three masks Akira Sasaki made out of the original mold of the Type C Ultraman mask.

These three replica masks were made by Sasaki for his own possession and to gift Tohl Narita and Satoshi Furuya with the other two masks in commemoration.

 

The speculative explanation puts it as it might have been done right after the Type C Ultraman suit was completed and the replica mask Sasaki had could have possibly been used for the Zoffy costume.

It might be plausible given the Zoffy mask has no eye holes just like the masks possessed by Narita and Furuya.

After the shooting of the final episode, it is also speculatively explained the Zoffy costume was used as Ultraman at the attraction performance shows held around the nation after removing the rivets off the chest and the upper arms with the added lines repainted.

The photo borrowed from online and shown above is said to be the Ultraman costume possibly remodeled from the Zoffy suit used in the final episode of Ultraman with the details left unknown (the actor is apparently not Satoshi Furuya).


The “Ultraman Treasures” Is Here!

I have finally bought the Ultraman Treasures that came on sale in commemoration of the Ultraman 50th anniversary so that I can enjoy it with my readers.

I think of writing about interesting features of this book in my future posts alongside of a pack of “treasures” that came with it after having a better look through them all.

And now I would like to talk about the mask of Ultraman featured on the cover of the bulky book as it looks a bit different from the mask used in the show while it is apparently the Type C mask of Ultraman.

While it is left undescribed where the mask shown on the cover came from, it looks different from those possessed by Satoshi Furuya and Tohl Narita I posted about before as none of them has eye holes in the eyes (the mask on the cover has eye holes as shown above).

The cover mask may be the same mask as the one shown in the Ultraman Art exhibition I saw in 2012 as it is said to be a replica (from the original mold) made in the 1970s (it has the eye holes).

The point is that the mask on the cover looks more like that of Returned Ultraman or Zoffy instead of the Type C mask of Ultraman as the cover mask has its eyes positioned a bit higher and apart from each other than Ultraman and the shape and size of the eyes also make it look more like them.

Let me talk more about the relationship among the Type C mask of Ultraman, the Zoffy mask and also the Returned Ultraman mask in my upcoming post!


Ultraseven Is Possibly Samurai Warrior

As I wrote in my previous post, Koji Uenishi performed Ultraseven so that he made the hero look like a samurai warrior while he was from a group of sword action actors under Toshiro Mifune (Uenishi is alleged to have been with Mifune Production back then).

According to the autobiography “A Man Who Became Ultraman”authored by Satoshi (Bin) Furuya, Narita told him that the actor for Ultraseven was brought to Narita as Tsuburaya Productions decided to place more emphasis on action for the upcoming product and he redesigned Ultraseven he was working on assuming Furuya was supposed to play the new hero.

And, when he looked at Ultraseven in the studio for the first time, Furuya also says the appearances made him imagine a bushi (samurai warrior).

When looking at the prototype model (small statue to see what it would look like before making the costume for real) sculpted by Akira Sasaki, it makes us aware the shape of Eye Slugger looks slightly different from the costume actually worked out.

As to the crest-like part including that of Ultraman and Ultraseven’s Eye Slugger, I remember I read somewhere someone says Narita told him that those parts came from the chonmage (traditional topknot hairstyle) worn by samurai warriors when asked where they came from.

Although I am not sure if this is true (partly as Narita seems to have been a cheerful man who was very much fond of joking all the time), I think Ultraseven is certainly a hero who could be associated with the samurai warrior along with his powerful-looking, brisk movements performed by Uenishi.

At any rate Uenishi Seven is one of the unforgettable heroes alongside of Furuya Ultraman.


Ultraseven Toy Mask Is Here!

Japanese people customarily visit shrines in every part of the nation for New Year prayers whether they are religious or non-religious, and I also went to one of the shrines located nearby the other day.

In my case, I always give thanks to the shrine for the old year instead of making a wish when I visit a shrine, well…whatever.

And we often find many stalls set up by vendors along the approach way to the shrine mostly to sell snacks.

Among them I found by chance a stall selling toy masks called o-men in Japanese, and what jumped into my sight was an o-men of Ultraseven displayed along with ones of Ultraman and Ultraman Orb and the other tokusatsu and anime characters (darn, I should have take the pictures of them to show you!).

The moment I found them, I impulsively bought one of Ultraseven as I got an Ultraman toy mask last year.

While these toy masks available lately look much nicer with well-reproduced features of each character than the ones that had been around in my childhood although I do love the exactly toy-like taste of the o-mens we had in the past.

As I have the o-mens of Ultraman and Ultraseven now, I wish the ones of Type A and Type B Ultraman would become available as well!

Maybe I should have prayed for it at the shrine…


How Was The Ultraseven Design Worked Out? 4

Prototype model sculpted by Akira Sasaki

Tohl Narita himself described the Ultraseven design as he tried to make it look a bit intricate while he attempted to make the Ultraman design extremely simple while he thought cosmos representing justice must be simple (he made kaijus defined to symbolize chaos).

When looking at the Ultraseven design transition shown by Narita’s design drawings, we can see it developed from an astronaut-like armored character into the design known today.

It is also known that Narita was initially working on the Ultraseven design on the assumption that Satoshi (Bin) Furuya who played the original Ultraman would continue to act Ultraseven.

Ultraseven Type A costume with the mask and protector sculpted by Akira Sasaki

As I mentioned in my post before, Furuya told Narita that he was unwilling to take the role of the new hero as he had played Ultraman wearing the costume with his masked face while he found the face should be the essence of actors.

In the end, Furuya was appointed to the role of one of the Ultra Garrison members Amagi as he hoped to play without the hero costume.

Although this decision disappointed Narita very much, he allegedly finished designing Ultraseven while he made the intricate parts come together intensively on the upper part of the body to cover up the short limbs of Koji Uenishi who was decided to play Ultraseven.

The white (to be repainted silver afterwards) lines sharply extending to the boots were intended to make the legs look longer than in reality.

As Uenishi was an actor specializing in sword action under world-famous Toshiro Mifune, his performances got to make the new hero look as impressive as the samurai warrior in contrast with Furuya’s Ultraman that made us imagine the extraterrestrial life form.

At any rate, I can’t help but to admire Narita’s attitude as an artist as he tried to and managed to create a completely different hero from Ultraman whereas the latter was created as the hero nobody had ever seen before.


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