When watching Ultraman Gaia with my kids as it aired for the first time and seeing Gan Q appear in the show, the first thing the monster reminded me of was Ganmons.
Gan is the Japanese word for eye while the word me (/meh/) is more customarily used, and, as gankyu means eyeball, Gan Q is a sort of phonetic equivalent or pun of the term.
While I don’t know much about Gan Q featured in the recent series after Ultraman Gaia, I think the Gan Q that appeared in Gaia didn’t have its eyelid (I may be wrong).
Ganmons of Giant Robo, however, had its eyelid and it was forced to be closed by Robo with his reacher-like equipment coming out of, if my memory is correct, his buckle before being beaten by him.
Actually we had another eyeball monster which appeared in Masked Ninja Akakage and is called Hitotsume (single eyed).
This is a monster regularly summoned by a villain ninja through his yojutsu (mysterious skill), and, as Akakage and Giant Robo were produced by the Toei Company, Ganmons might have been a developed form of Hitotsume in terms of the idea.
It is fully thinkable that the Tsuburaya people could have created Gan Q inspired by Ganmons although I don’t think they publicly referred to it.
Alongside of the Toei products including Giant Robo, there were tokusatsu TV shows produced by the P Production in the 1960s and 1970s.
As previously posted, Magma Taishi (1966-1967; Ambassador Magma) was produced by them and started being broadcast as the first home-made color tokusatsu TV show just one week before Ultraman started being aired.
Magma Taishi also featured unique-looking monsters, and I dimly remember Balzas, Dacoda and Umibozu (please note that the spelling of each monster’s name is inaccurate; the monsters photos are alphabetically ordered ) although I don’t remember the episodes at all.
While I checked them out online to write this post, I don’t remember most of the monsters featured in Magma Taishi unfortunately including their names although it’s not that I have covered all the Magma Taishi monsters here on this post.
When looking at each of them, it’s amazing to find how well sculpted the suit of Aron is, and I also find many other attractive-looking monsters which make me feel like watching each episode again.
As the cyclops-like single-eyed monster with funnel-shaped head parts Balzas holding a ferris wheel reminds me of Kemur who yanked one out in his episode of Ultra Q, the Magma Taishi crew might have been inspired by it.
The P Production is also well known for their TV tokusatsu series Spectreman (1971-1972) that also started a little before The Return of Ultraman started airing while I’ve heard the former still has so many fans in France.
As Giant Robo was also repeatedly rebroadcast alongside of the Ultra Series in my childhood, I remember I enjoyed watching it every time it aired.
The product has not been publicly reviewed so much as the Ultra Series, I don’t remember the details of each episode unfortunately as I previously said.
But the monsters which appeared in the series remain in my memory quite vividly because of their unique appearances and characters.
Generally speaking, while it’s true of any other TV tokusatsu series back then, the monsters and villain characters looked so weird lacking the beauty and cleanness the Ultra Monsters designed by Tohl Narita.
Nevertheless, I have to admit that we were also drawn to such weird-looking monsters as a kid.
Giant Robo also had its unique-looking, impressive monsters which I can’t forget even now such as Ganmons, Glober, Iron Power and Ganger.
While each of them is a monster and robot with an enlarged human body part featured or distorted shapes of real-life creatures, they looked so striking with much impact in their own way.
It was fun to find a series of GR type robots controlled by the BF such as GR2 and Calamity appeared although, if my memory serves me right, Calamity didn’t move at all to the end because of the technical malfunction the BF suffered in the episode.
Getting it straight, it is “Giant Robo” who can be deemed as the rival of Ultraseven.
That’s another tokusatsu product which aired around the same time as Ultraseven from 1967 through 1968 on NET while produced by Toei Company (looks like it aired as “Johnny Sokko and His Flying Robot” in the US).
The product based on a manga series created by Mitsuteru Yokoyama was about a 30 meters tall giant robot named Giant Robo (GR1) as it is that was constructed by the BF (Big Fire), the secret alien organization plotting to conquer Earth.
While Robo is a robot which obeys a person who has initially recorded his voice on the control device shaped like a watch, Daisaku Kusama (acted by Mitsunobu Kaneko: 1957-1997), a team member of the United Nations Police Organization ‘Unicorn,’ got to record his voice onto the watch (although he looks too young to be the member).
Thus Robo ends up fighting against the BF in cooperation with the Unicorn members.
As Daisaku’s code name is ‘U7,’ it is said that it implies that the Toei people were fully aware of the presence of Ultraseven.
In a word, Giant Robo was a great product we children were irresistibly drawn to even no less than Ultraseven while featuring quirky and weird-looking monsters with totally a different feel from those of the Ultra Series.
While Toei produced a lot of TV tokusatsu series including Captain Ultraand Masked NInja Akakage I already talked about on this blog, I think GR was the most exciting product among them.
After I talked about the imaginary association between Pandon and kushikatsu, when we are at it, I will write about the Kaiju Bar in Kawasaki, Kanagawa Prefecture.
The Kaiju Bar is called “Kaiju Sakaba” in Japanese as sakaba means bar, the pun on “Kaiju Hakaba” (Kaiju Graveyard) that appeared in Episode 35 of Ultraman.
It’s located in the Kawasaki area noted in connection with the products directed by Akio Jissoji as it was used for the location shooting of his products such as Episode 7 and Episode 45 of Ultraseven.
Actually I haven’t been to this bar yet while I’m not very much fond of drinking, but I find the concept is fun and it’s a good thing for Ultra fans to have such a place where they can enjoy talking about Ultra over a drink.
When browsing through their website, what made me laughed is the fried shrimp shaped like Twintail with the green pea for its eyes which I find so funny while the accompanying explanation says Gudon recommends this apparently because Gudon is set to be the monster which feeds on Twintail.
It has been often talked about among fans since the explanation of Twintail to be fed on by Gudon appeared in a kaiju pictorial in the 1970s with the phrase saying Twintail tastes like shrimp when eaten.
As we children were very much fond of fried shrimp back then, it might have grabbed our heart.