Baltan, Matango & Black Devil


matango
Matango

Alien Baltan makes sounds like a human laughter.

It’s unknown if the sounds are their words or they are actually laughing.

The sounds themselves are sound effects diverted from the ones Matango made in the 1963 Toho movie “Matango” directed by Ishiro Honda and (SFX part) Eiji Tsuburaya.

As the movie was screened when I was one year old, I saw it on television as a kid.

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Shonen Jet & buddy dog Shane

Since Ultra Series were already broadcast, I was surprised to hear Matango, mushroom-like monsters humans transformed into, make sounds like Baltan.

But I knew it was the other way round in later years.

It’s likely the laughter-like sounds were adopted to make them associated with a dramatic laughter bad guys often made in movies or TV dramas in those days.

Those villains of the time laugh loudly a lot.

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Black Devil

For instance, there is a TV SFX hero drama titled “Shonen (boy) Jet” that was broadcast from 1959 to 1962 including its sequel     and gained popularity.

The story is about Shonen Jet, young (too young?) detective, fighting with Shane, buddy dog, against villains.

Black Devil is one of its regular villains.

When I enjoyed watching the series on cable television, he was always laughing while making mischief.

His loud and cheerful laughter make viewers feel warm and happy.

He laughs that much. 😀

He’s a bad guy hard to hate!

Alien Baltan (making 2)


According to Tamotsu Sato, he worked on the making of a monster costume for the first time when sculpting Baltan.

He says in an interview for a recent book he sculpted Baltan’s back as he imagined because Tohl Narta‘s artwork didn’t have it.

As it seems Baltan doesn’t have any photos of the back view, what its back looked like also remains uncertain.

 

There was a scene in which the back of its skirt was shown instantly in the drama as seen in the below photo.

It’s also regrettable as a fan to find no particular photos of the making are likely to remain now though I know it should have been inevitable given the circumstances at the time.

It’s also still uncertain if the head of Balatan was recycled from that of Cicada Man or the whole body including the head was newly sculpted.

It was a long time ago anyhow.

 

Incidentally the head of Cicada Man was sculpted by Ryosaku Takayama.

I’m aware that both Cicada Man and Baltan have a tiny projection to the side of each eye (between the center and the eye) in common and the entire shape of each head looks similar with the position of each part looking alike.

A costume newly sculpted entirely by Akira Sasaki was used for Baltan’s reappearances in Episode 16 and 33, which are known as Baltan II and III respectively.

The movement of Baltan’s eyes which gleam, rotate and move sideways is also extremely attractive!

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Alien Baltan (making 1)


Alien Baltan is one of the most popular monsters throughout Ultra/Ultraman Series even now.

But it seems Tohl Narita was not so much emotionally attached to Alien Baltan.

According to his statement in life he just designed it to meet the request made by Toshihiro Iijima, director.

Iijima asked Narita to give nippers like a crayfish to Cicada Man of “Ultra Q” who controlled Garamon in the drama.

 

Narita should have been unwilling to design a recycled monster.

His description of Baltan simply as Cicada Man with nippers in his art book might also show it.

Assuming an intelligent life form should not have such nipper-like hands, he drew the artwork with human-like hands first, and it was rejected.

And then he drew Baltan with rather small nippers, but the finished costume eventually had huge ones as you know and see now, maybe, at Iijima’s request.

 

It’s also explained Toru Matoba, SFX director, came up with the idea of Cicada Man with nippers and he liked it, which makes us confused.

It remained unknown for long who sculpted the first Baltan.

Now it’s said Tamotsu Sato, involved in the artwork for Toho at the time, did the job.

As to the making of  this alien, it has lots of enigmas despite the popularity.

The thing is it was a product dating back to 50 years ago and no one imagined the series would remain popular for so long at the time.

One-on-one battles 2


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Returned Ultraman beaten to a pulp by Alien Knuckle and Black King set as the younger brother of Red King

In “Ultraman,” for example, there were several episodes in which multiple monsters appear.

But in all these episodes, only the single strongest monster had a bout with Ultraman, having the rest of them beaten by SSSP or in internal battles between monsters.

It should also have been difficult to have multiple monsters appear in one episode because it’s costly.

 

SFX TV series other than Ultra Series commonly had the same monsters appear throughout a few serial episodes or in different episodes at the time.

It’s worth admiration that Early Ultra Series provided us with a new monster every week basically.

I also interpret the one-on-one bouts as a sense of aesthetics the crew had in those days.

That helped to make the fighting scenes look gracious and also highlight the strength of the superhero.

 

Among boys like us it was well perceived that a one-on-one fight without having a weapon is a manly act.

Ultraman and Ultra Seven might have been heroes to embody the ideal as they wouldn’t have and use any particular weapons such as a sword or gun though they had light weapons.  🙂

I’m not denying the later Ultra Series, and it might be a matter of liking.

But it’s true l feel something like “beauty of form” in the one-on-one battles shown in Early Ultra Series.

One-on-one battles 1


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Still of Ultraman (B Type) vs. Red King II

Another attractive aspect I’m aware of regarding “Ultraman” and “Ultra Seven” is that the battles between the Ultra hero and monsters were fought on a one-on-one basis.

It’s often explained it’s just because the Bisen (Tokyo Bijutsu Center) studio used for their SFX shooting was too narrow to have enough room for one-to-many fighting scenes.

But, in my opinion, that helped to prevent the fighting scenes from looking rough.

 

In the later series, it’s said the use of the Toho studio and son on made one-to -many battles or many-to-many ones possible.

It might have helped to make the fighting scenes more attractive in a way to make it look just like tag-team matches of professional wrestling which were popular in Japan in the 1970s.

But I personally prefer to the simplified one-on-one fighting scenes depicted in the early series.

 

Especially it was embarrassing for me to see the Ultra hero(s) tortured by multiple monsters in the later series.

Including the many-to-many battles like Ultra Brothers vs. monsters, all such things made the Ultra heroes undeniably look weak in my humble opinion.

I wish heroes look just like heroes in one way or another.

What do you think of it?