Recently I have bought online the books of Ultraman I used to have when I was a kid.
I had this book “Ultra Kaijyu Nyumon” (“Nyumon” means beginner’s guide) of the first edition (1971) with the cover of “Kaette-kita Ultraman” (Return of Ultraman,1971) facing Kaijyu “Twintail.”
This 1990 edition features Ultra Seven and Bell Seijin instead.
When I turned the pages again, the feeling of old days fills me.
The content should be the same as the one I used to have.
But it looks a bit different from what I remembered.
The original Ultraman (1966) began to be called as “Shodai Ultraman” (Ultraman the First) .
Because the new “Kaette-kita Ultraman” was broadcast at that time.
This book also gives the name “Shodai” to the original Ultraman.
Probably, by this picture of Shodai Ultraman, I noticed the B-type Ultraman as I mentioned in the previous post.
The caption says, “The heroes who protected the earth.”
It is interesting to learn Ultra Seven is explained here as “the best friend of Ultraman’s.”
You can see the concept to link Ultraman, Ultra Seven and Kaette-kita Ultraman in the same world setting because they were set up as “Ultraman Family” or “Ultra Brothers” since Kaette-kita Ultraman.
Originally, Ultraman and Ultra Seven have the totally different world setting with no specific link with each other except that both of them are from Nebula M78, Hikari-no-kuni (the Land of Light).
The change of color for Ultraman’s Color Timer was done by replacing colored cellophane inside from blue to red.
Shigeo Kurakata in charge of gimmicks says the Timer was attached to the Ultraman suit with kite strings.
Almost everything must have been hand-made at that time.
Also, the expression of the Color Timer was possible because “Ultraman” was made for color TV.
In those days, most of the TV sets at home were monochrome ones, and color TV sets were spreading in Japan by degrees.
The production people were aware of it.
Also, they were expecting to export the SF drama “Ultraman” overseas.
But Toru Narita, Ultraman designer, did not like the Color Timer personally.
It is starange to have such a mechanical thing on the flesh.
That was what he said in later years’ publication.
In fact, Ultraman illustrated by Narita afterwards often has no Color Timer.
A dummy Ultraman with extreme perspective was used for the transformation sequence.
The dummy molded by Akira Sasaki, who was also in charge of molding the Ultraman mask, has no timer.
The Color Timer may have been attached to the Ultraman suit later than that in the shooting.
The time-pressured situation in preparation for shooting is imaginable.
Ultraman has “Color Timer” on the chest.
The timer shows the limit of Ultraman’s activity on the earth.
Ultraman’s energy source is solar energy.
When solar energy decreases, his Color Timer changes blue to red, and it starts to blink and beep.
The time limit is 3 minutes.
According to the narration, if lighting of the Color Timer should go out, Ultraman would lose the power to stand up ever again.
The narration by Koji Ishizaka goes on, “Ultraman, hang in! You have only a little time left!”
That made us breathless in watching the battle between Ultraman and Kaijyu.
Where did the idea to set a limit on the activity of Ultraman come from?
There are several different stories.
One is the staff thought it was uninteresting to make Ultraman so much invincible without any weakness.
Another is, as Tokusatsu (SFX) is so costly, it was an attempt to make the Tokusatsu part of each episode as short as possible.
It is also said it was Eiji Tsuburaya who advised to make Ultraman have the Color Timer.
The 3 minutes’ limit was said to be adopted according to boxing matches or instant noodles (Ramen) which began to be popular in those days as they could be cooked for 3 minutes.
The A-type mask was used for the first 13 episodes.
The B-type for the next 16 episodes.
The C-type for the last 10 episodes.
The B-type is proud of the longest exposure.
The biggest enigma is why the B-type was changed to the C-type.
It should not have been necessary to change the mask.
Akira Sasaki says he does not remember why.
Toru Narita said when he was alive he does not understand the difference between the B-type and the C-type.
His remark is very confusing.
As it was a long time ago,the truth is unknown.
Anyway,the C-type is the most standard Ultraman mask you can see these days even though, surprisingly, it was used only for the last 10 episodes.
The C-type mask has been duplicated and used for Ultraman downward up to now including Kaette-kita Ultraman (Returned Ultraman/1971-72 ).
The original C-type mask is beautiful in a different way from the B-type.
The mouth bigger than the B-type looks slightly smiling and the whole impression is gentle.
It may be suitable for a hero.
Some fans say the C-type is the most complete Ultraman.
I like the C-type mask,too.
But, even though it should be incomplete in shape, I love the B-type Ultraman, too.
Japanese may find beauty in something incomplete rather than complete.
When I was 10 years old or so, I was reading an Ultraman book.
Children at my age almost lost their interest in Ultra and they were much more absorbed in baseball.
But I still stuck to Ultra.
When reading the book, I noticed a photo of Ultraman which looked a bit different from the one I was familiar with.
That was B-type Ultraman.
At that time, “Kaette-kita Ultraman” (Returned Ultraman/1971-72) was broadcast as the new Ultra Series.
And for the new Ultraman the C-type mask was duplicated and used.
So I was familiar with the C-type mask.
The B-type Ultraman in the book looked so beautiful to me.
Now I see sculptural beauty in the B-type mask.
You can see the angles of the eyes and ears in a fine balance with the firm mouth.
Someone said the B-type Ultraman is most suitable for Ultraman.
I quite agree.
Akira Sasaki says in a recent book he tried on the mouth gimmick again for the B-type mask at that time.
He tried to make the chin of Ultraman as a different part but finally gave it up because the different part could not avoid making the surface uneven around the mouth.
Besides whether the gimmick is necessary or not, I admire all their inexhaustible challenges.
It is also attractive to see the B-type mask look so much different in accordance with different angles.