“Ultra Kaijyu Nyumon” (Begginner’s guide to Ultra Kaijyu)

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“Ultra Kaijyu Nyumon” (published by Shogakkan, 1990)

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.

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The picture on the right shows Eiji Tsuburaya talking to 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).

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Ultraman without Color Timer

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Ultraman in transformation sequence

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.

No Timer can be found

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.


Color Timer

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Ultraman with the Color Timer blue.

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.

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In a pinch when it becomes red!

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.


C-type mask of Ultraman

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Ultraman (C-type)

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.

Ultraman (C-type)

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.

Ultraman (B-type)

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.


Beautiful B-type Ultraman

Ultraman (B-type)

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.

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Ultraman (B-type)

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.


B-type mask of Ultraman

Ultraman (B-type)

Akira Sasaki, sculptor who modeled Ultraman’s mask with Toru Narita, says in a book interview that the gimmick to open and close Ultraman’s mouth did not work well.

It was supposed to move as the suit actor, Satoshi Furuya, moves his chin.

Also unnatural wrinkles lingered around the mouth.

As I said in the previous post, the A-type mask looks a bit scary.

Ultraman (A-type)

I hear there were children who thought a spaceman like this might be there for real.

Anyway, Ultraman got a new mask called “B-type.”

The B-type mask was made of FRP only omitting the gimmick to open and close the mouth completely.

It had been long said that the B-type mask was made from the same clay prototype as the A-type with only the difference in material.

But in a recent interview above, Sasaki says he modeled the new prototype for the B-type and, later, the C-type respectively.

He adds that he likes the B-type mask best among the 3 types of the Ultraman’s mask he modeled.

Because he finds the finishing work of the B-type mask to give him the impression of sharpness most among the three types.

Personally, I like the B-type mask best, too.


A-type mask of Ultraman

Ultraman (A-type)

Three masks different in modeling were used for Ultraman as the shooting went on.

Besides the things about modeling, “Ultraman” had to go through a variety of attempts.

It is only natural.
Because it is almost the first attempt to have a giant hero from the space fight with Kaijyu.

The modeling of the Ultraman mask is not an exception.

The first mask called “A-type”among the fans was made of latex covering the FRP-made core.

The most outstanding feature is its mouth which makes open and close possible.

It is likely Eiji Tsuburaya himiself instructed to have the mask made that way.

At first, Ultraman was supposed to speak like human beings and even spit fire or liquid named “Silver Yodo (iodine)” out of the mouth like Kaijyu.

I guess they wanted to give Ultraman a touch of life form.
Isn’t that why they made the mask coated with latex and tried to have the mouth open and close?

The other characteristic of the A-type mask is the eyes turning upward.

The A-type mask looks rather mysterious in general with a bit scary impression.
It may suit an enigmatic spaceman.

I hear there were chilkdren at that time who had trauma because of the A-type mask.
I sympathize with them.


Ultraman created from claywork

I like the design of both Ultraman and Ultra Seven.

As totally different in concept, each design has its own fascination.

Toru Narita, if my memory is correct, told that he was more fond of the design of Ultraman than Ultra Seven.

As Toru Narita thought the symbol of “cosmos” should be extremely simple, any decoration was removed in designing Ultraman.

When you see the silver body of Ultraman, you may not be sure whether it is the spaceman’s spacesuit or his skin.

You cannot know whether the face is the spaceman’s face or a steely mask he wears.

The uncertainty is what Toru Narita intended.

At that time there were artists and illustrators involved in art works for Ultraman publication.

Inoichiro Sekiguchi, one of the artists, told in a recent book he was in trouble about how he should interpret the above.

According to his writing,Toru Narita was at a standstill in designing Ultraman’s face during limited time.
He was in charge of designing Kaijyu,mechanics and so on for the entire work “Ultraman.”

Narita gave up drawing Ultraman on paper and switched to claywork.
Given he is a sculptor, it should be only natural.

Narita worked on the prototype with his fellow sculptor Akira Sasaki.

And the mask of Ultraman was finished at last.

In designing characters, the face should be most important.

I see it interesting that the face of Ultraman was originated as a solid body not on paper.

I remember Toru Narita wrote somewhere that the final version of the design of Ultraman’s face did not exist because he quit it and switch to the clay work.

It is a truly sculptor’s work.


Unique design of Ultraman

It is well known that Toru Narita decided to see Kaijyu represent “chaos” and Ultraman represent “cosmos.”

And he thought the representative of cosmos needs to be presented by “simple modeling” and “archaic smile.

Yes, Ultraman’s design is simple and looks to be smiling.

I assume his knowledge of ancient Greek statues as a sculptor should have given him such an idea.

Noriyoshi Ikeya, art director of Japanese cinema, who also took part in Ultra Series, depicts as the design of Ultraman is so unique that he   feels admiration for having it widespread successfully.

I remember that Toshihiro Iijima, Japanese director, television producer, playwright, who participated in Ultra Series, also says in an interview that he was so embarrassed to see the suite of Ultraman for the first time, as the mask of Ultraman looked like a wrinkled old man, that he felt really uncertain about the success of the TV series.

It is said that the design of Ultraman without emotional expression was unpopular even among the cast members of Ultraman.

Akiji Kobayashi, who acted Kagaku-Tokuso-Tai (Defense Team against Kaijyu in the world setting of Ultraman) captain Muramatsu, is said to have become silent when seeing the suite of Ultraman.

Hiroko Sakurai, actress who acted as Yuriko Edogawa in Ultra Q and Akiko Fuji, one of Kagaku-Tokuso-Tai , in Ultraman, also confesses she did not like the design of Ultraman.

Alas!

But, given the design is so unique, they are not to blame.

The magazines of that time featuring Ultraman are said to have dealt with the hero as “righteous mysterious man.”

You can imagine how unique and unusual Ultraman’s design was.


Hero never seen before

Before featuring Kaijyu on a full scale, Ultra Q Kaijyu were modest such as Giant Spider “Tarantula.”

Or remodeling Godzilla, “Gomess” was created.

Most of them had Toho (The film company of Godozilla) taste in a way.

After the participation of Toru Narita in Ultra Q, attractive Kaijyu were created one after another.

They were not “Toho-like-Kaijyu” anymore.

They were genuinely worth bearing the name of original “Ultra Kaijyu.”

“Garamon,””Kanegon,””Kemur-jin” and son on should be representative of Narita’s design work in Ultra Q.

Ahead of designing for Ultraman after Ultra Q, Narita had to create a hero which no one had ever seen before.

The hero is a spaceman.

Now as you are too familiar with the hero’s design which became the standard, you may not be aware.

But who else can come up with a design like that?

Heroes we had around that time were life-sized and wore a costume with gloves, boots, a belt and a mask like “Gekko-kamen.”

Gekko-kamen, which literally means “Moon Light Mask”, was Tokusatsu (SFX) TV series broadcast 1958-1959.

Even “Superman” is unexceptional in style.

A HERO NEVER SEEN BEFORE.

That is the design required for Ultraman.

Narita’s agony is very much imaginable.