Baltan, Matango & Black Devil

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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?


ALIEN BALTAN

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Baltan appearing in Science Center
Episode Episode 2 “Blast the Invaders”
Alias Space Ninja
Emergence Science Center
Height micro level – 50 m (164 ft)
Weight 0 – 15,000 t (33,070,000 lb)
Homeplace Planet Baltan
Features •Flight ability at the speed of Mach 5

•Red freezing beam (when human-sized)

•White light bullet (when giganticized)

Designer Tohl Narita
Sculptor Tamotsu Sato
Actor Takeshi Sato

Alien Baltan is the first enemy alien featured in “Ultraman.”

It’s not that they came to earth for invasion initially.

According to the narration, their home planet Planet Baltan exploded due to a nuclear experiment conducted by a scientist Baltan who went crazy.

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Baltan’s spaceship

Two billion thirty million Baltans got away from the disaster on space travel by chance.

Traveling through space for a habitable planet, they came close to earth.

Then, as their spaceship lost its “gravity force balance,” they came by on earth to fix the disorder.

According to Baltan’s statement, the other Baltans stay asleep almost in the size of bacteria in their invisible spaceship leaving only him normal in size.

It was also revealed they had no idea corresponding to “life.”

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Baltan’s cast-off??

When human-sized, he appeared and disappeared freely and showed his shadow clone technique (known as bunshin-no-jutsu in Japanese), which makes him deserve the alias of ninja.

And he froze people with a red beam from the nippers.

He makes sounds like a human laughter.

Baltan unilaterally stated they would get earth and started to attack night cities after giganticizing.

Attacked by the nuclear missile Hagetaka (buzzard), another Baltan showed up from the dead body as if an insect casts off the skin.

They dislike Spaceum supposed to exist on Mars in the drama.

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Shadow clone technique of Baltan

BEMLAR (making)

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Artwork by Tohl Narita

Though Bemlar might give an unspectacular impression in comparison with monsters in the later episodes, it’s my favorite as the feeling of vitality it shows is so much attractive.

It’s explained Tohl Narita designed Bemlar so it had small arms (they don’t have the actor’s arms inside) to make it less likely to have an actor inside by hiding the shape of the human body.

It shows Mr. Narita’s enthusiasm to create an Ultra monster in succession to preceding “Ultra Q” unlike Toho’s monsters

He stated in his art book he tried to make a typical biped monster modeling its face after shishi’s.

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Bemlar in Bisen shooting studio; Teruo Aragaki acted it with an oxygen bottle in the water

Incidentally shishi is a lion-based legendary or mythical creature descending from China as traditional Japanese shishimai (dance) and Okinawan lion-shaped roof ornaments named shiisa show.

Shrine guardian dog statues called komainu should have the same origin.

Mr. Narita also stated in the above book he plotted to make its ear movable by being manipulated with the actor’s hands from inside but it was not realized.

Ryosaku Takayama also did a great job as always in sculpturing Bemlar so it looked like a living creature.

It’s well known the name “Bemlar” was the provisional title and the hero’s name for the product turned into “Ultraman.”


BEMLAR

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Episode Episode 1 “Ultra Operation No.1”
Alias Space Monster
Emergence Ryugamori Forest Lake
Height 50 m (164 ft)
Weight 25,000 t (55,120,000 lb)
Homeplace Planet M 35
Features •Flight ability in space in the form of a blue light ball

•Bluish white beam from the mouth

Designer Tohl Narita
Sculptor Ryosaku Takayama
Actor Teruo Aragaki

Bemlar (also written as Bemular) is the memorable first monster featured in Episode 1 of “Ultraman.”

It’s a space monster though it looks more like a dinosaur.

It came flying to earth from space in the form of a blue light ball.

According to the lines of Ultraman spoken to Hayata in the drama, Ultraman had the monster gone while it was brought to the space graveyard.

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Ultraman also came to earth for the first time in the form of a red light ball in pursuit of Bemlar.

Ultraman described Bemlar as a demonic monster disturbing the peace of the universe.

Bemlar hid in the water of the lake of Ryugamori (Forest of Dragon).

And it showed up at the surface of water after being attacked by the SSSP ‘s VTOL from the sky and S16 Submarine from under water.

Cap. Muramatsu called this attack “Ultra Operation No. 1” in the drama.

After the battle with Ultraman who appeared first time ever in front of earthlings, it was finished off by his Spaceum Beam while trying to escape in the form of a blue light ball.

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Eiji Tsuburaya’s demand

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In terms of “Ultra Q,” all the episodes were shot before the broadcasting got started.

And the order of broadcasting didn’t match the one of production.

In the case of “Ultraman,” the producers tried to keep some of the episodes in stock by shooting them in advance.

So the episodes of “Ultraman” in the early stage didn’t match the order of broadcasting.

And Episode 1 of “Ultraman” was the ninth episode in order of production.

 

And it was shot after Episode 8 featuring Red King and Chandlar.

I think that’s why Ultraman Eve Festival hastily plotted and produced had them appear on the stage.

Shooting an initial episode seems to be a Tsuburaya way including “Ultra Seven.”

It’s intended to shoot the first episode after the cast members got used to the shooting set.

Despite some of the episodes in stock, the broadcasting started to catch up with the shooting soon.

 

And the delay of shooting was gradually becoming serious.

Finally, it became clear that, if that went on, the production might miss the deadline for broadcasting.

That’s why “Ultraman” had to end with 39 episodes in spite of great popularity.

It’s said that the delay was caused partly because Eiji Tsuburaya, who stuck to the quality of a product, demanded retakes without hesitation.

The expert crew also tried to meet his demand with professionalism.

I think that’s one of the reasons why Early Ultra Series still remain so popular and highly evaluated even today.


“Ultraman Eve Festival” 3

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With Eiji Tsuburaya (center), cast members and monsters (Antler’s back-to-front body costume is noticeable)

Anyway, it’s imaginable how excited kid audiences were when they saw Ultraman monsters for the first time though Chandler’s costume was the one remodeled from Peguila.

And, moreover, Ultraman as a totally brand new superhero no one had ever seen before.

It’s said that a series of mess-ups occurred during the shooting of the live stage show in front of an audience probably because it was the first attempt.

 

Satoshi (Bin) Furuya (original Ultraman actor) says he stumbled and fell on the stage due to the poor visibility as the mask didn’t have eye holes large enough yet.

He just barely performed battles with monsters in such a situation.

When seeing the video, looks like he made his movements like karate, which is one of his specialties.

He says that the scene in which he returned to the stage wing hung on wires didn’t do well either due to an accident.

 

I hear Garamon also stumbled and fell over an electric cable or something so the head of the costume accidentally came off.

It’s well known among fans that you can see Antler wear its body costume back to front.  🙂

But the festival received quite a positive response from kid audiences and made them so much excited.

It was broadcast after the mess-up scenes were trimmed and edited overnight.

And the program marked a viewing rate over 30%.