As shown in the series, the SSSP Japan Headquarters that appeared in Ultraman looks so quirky that it remains unforgettable while it is shaped like an inverted pyramid.
Given possible attacks from outside, the underground base of the TDF of Ultraseven looks much more realistic, but the modern-looking SSSP building seemingly equipped with cutting-edge technologies was also attractive enough to amaze us kids back then. (And I do love the sort of idyllic depiction of the SSSP and their behaviors.)
As a matter of fact, it is known that this building was designed by Tohl Narita allegedly on the model of (or inspired by) a real-life seminar house building associated with a university in a suburban area of Tokyo.
While it is also known you can see the inside of the seminar house building in Ultraman Episode 11 where a press conference over the strange meteorite which fell down from space was held as the stone was capable to substantialize someone’s thought (the exterior is a different building).
The exterior of the seminar house briefly showed up in Episode 47 of Kaiju Booska as an institute of a scientist funnily named Dr. Kaminari (thunder), and this inverted pyramid shaped building still seems to exist even now.
As you know, the stage set was regularly applied to the interior of the SSSP Headquarters, it is said that the set walls were sloped just like the exterior set of the building although it is unclear through the screen, and they say the slanted walls often made the cast and crew members feel odd.
The SSSP interior set also shortly appeared in Kaiju Booska Episode 8 as a satellite observatory.
So he might have been set to put on the particular costume when flying or fighting although it feels strange to see him wear even a different helmet while it is supposed to be the head of the robot boy.
Incredibly enough, moreover, I found the actor in the role of Atom showed up at the end of the episode and introduced himself as acting Atom while taking off his gloves and helmet and suggesting viewers to sing the Atom theme song (different from the anime version) together with him!
Although such unexpectedness is definitely one of the attraction about the old tokusatsu shows, it seems that even Osamu Tezuka, author of Atom, didn’t like this live-action Atom.
Therefore it is said he initially showed his unwillingmess when offered to make his Magma Taishi into the live-action TV series so it looks like the success of the TV show Magma Taishi eventually made him extremely happy.
Another attempt to make Atom into a live-action TV series was made later around 1972 and, in the show, Atom was supposed to be the boy robot acted by a girl with the updated costume, but it was not realized while I do remember this (sort of eccentric) Atom was shown in a magazine I read as a kid back then.
Ohashi also seems to have been involved in the production of the kaiju TV series “Agon” aired in 1968 (4 episodes).
It is explained online, although it was produced in 1964, the broadcast was delayed as they couldn’t get any sponsorship.
According to the information on the Net, the Toho people protested that Agon’s design was a rip off from Godzilla, but the dispute came to an end as it was figured out that Ohashi was also involved in sculpting the first suit of Godzilla.
Nevertheless, as there seem to be the crew members involved in the production of the movie who maintain they had never seen Ohashi on the set, the truth remains unknown.
I dimly remember there was an explanation that the costume of Agon was converted into that of Magma Taishi’s Aron. (Ultraseven has another Aron.)
While Agon and Magma Taishi’s Aron certainly look alike, it seems that the costume of Agon also had a balloon in the neck to be blown up to show the inflation and deflation of the throat just like Aron.
Ohashi seems to have claimed that it was him who taught Ryosaku Takayama how to deal with latex to model monster costumes.
Besides all these, Ohashi is alleged to have been involved in making many of the ape masks and hands for the 1968 US movie “Planet of the Apes” after participating in the production of the 1967 UK 007 film “You Only Live Twice” as an art member.
It is said that the suit of Aron was equipped with a balloon inside the neck to show the trembling movements of its throat.
Alongside of Aron, Ohashi sculpted the mask of Magma Taishi whose fine features have seemingly been admired by those including Toru Matoba (SFX director of the primary Ultra Series) and Eizo Kaimai (kaiju sculptor who participated in the Godzilla movies and Ultra Series).
Ohashi is alleged to have worked out his own modeling materials such as compound latex to be patented later.
Nevertheless, as he overly elaborated details of the costumes, the suits he modeled seem to have been extremely heavy and rigid while the surface was coated over and over so it is likely that those including Eizo Kaimai and Ryosaku Takayama were called in to remodel Ohashi’s monster costumes making them thinner by hollowing out the inside of the costume.
In my article about Kaiju Oji, I briefly referred to the name of Fuminori Ohashi (1915-1989) who seems to have been known as a prestigious kaiju modeler living in Kyoto back then.
While I don’t think his name is talked about so much as Ryosaku Takayama and I don’t know much about Ohashi, I would like to introduce some information on him as it looks like he was a person with a peculiar career and his alleged association with Takayama.
After graduating from Department of Sculpture, Tokyo School of Fine Arts (current Tokyo University of Arts) Ohashi started his career as an assistant director in the film industry, and then he turned into an actor.
In the 1930s he seems to have been known as the Japanese Tarzan star in the Japanese Tarzan movies starring him, and, on the other hand, he began to get involved in modeling suits of creatures featured in films back then.
In the 1950s Ohashi appeared even in the movies directed by Akira Kurosawa including Yojinbo (1961) as an actor, and, at the same time, he seemingly founded his own modeling company “Ohashi Arts and Crafts.”
According to the online information he also seems to have been involved in modeling props for Desneyland at their request that started being built in Los Angeles around the same time.
Tetsujin (Ironhuman) 28 was another anime series I remember I enjoyed as a kid, and the show is based on the manga authored by Mitsuteru Yokoyama.
Yokoyama authored the manga version of Giant Robo as well while I didn’t know the manga versions of Tetsujin and Robo including Atom by Osamu Tezuka as it was before I started reading manga products.
Nevertheless I definitely remember the anime Tetsujin was fully enjoyable along with its theme song I think we often sang back then.
Moreover, it is also known that Tetsujin had its live-action version aired in 1960 with 13 episodes before the anime version (1963-1966; 97 episodes; produced by TCJ, present Eiken) I remember I enjoyed.
Whereas it is not that I had an opportunity to watch the series, this live-action version Tetsujin looks much shorter than the manga and anime versions as an actor had to wear the costume.
According to the information available online, the series was produced by Matsuzaki Production that also made the live-action version of Tetsuwan Atom while the presumably now-defunct production company was established by Keiji Matsuzaki (1905-1974).
The live-action Tetsujin seems to have two types of costume: the one used from Episode 1 through Episode 6; the other one used in the rest of the series.
The first type seems to be capable to fire a beam attack from its eyes and the second from its chest. It is likely to become capable to fly in the sky in Episode 13 newly equipped with a rocket.
While Tetsujin is a robot controlled by a human, protagonist boy Shotaro Kaneda, unlike Atom who acts of his own accord, Mazinger Z authored by Go Nagai was the “third robot” which is operated by a man who rides on it.
Although Astro Boy Atom/Tetsuwan (Iron Arm) Atom is well known for its anime products based on the manga authored by Osamu Tezuka, it is also know that the hero was also featured in a live-action TV series before being made into anime.
It seems that it aired from 1959 to 1960 (before I was born) with 65 episodes in total as the 58 of them are available on DVD, and, while I didn’t know this at all, Atom is likely to have been made into a paper puppet play and aired for half a year in 1957 with 25 episodes with the films not existing anymore unfortunately.
Atom in the live action is often made fun of by people because he looks quite funny by today’s standards as the character was acted by a kid actor (Masahito Segawa) wearing a plain costume and helmet.
As a person of my generation I remember we enjoyed watching the anime Tetsuwan Atom aired from 1963 through 1966 (with 193 episodes) with great popularity along with its impressive theme song I think I often heard sung among children back then.
It is said to have been the first genuinely home-made TV anime series of Japan, and it is known that a variety of TV anime shows started being produced one after another in the wake of the success of this first home-made anime show.
Moreover, with the emergence of Ultra Q in 1966, tokusatsu and anime plunged into fierce competition to win popularity from among children although it definitely gave the time of bliss to us kids!
Among the other TV tokusatsu series I watched as a kid, I also remember Marude Dameo (Dameo Marude in the English name order) whose name is from marude dame meaning no good at all.
It was a show which aired from 1966 to 1967 with 52 episodes in total although I am not sure to what extent it could have been called tokusatsu.
While it is not that I can bring each episode back to memory clearly, I remember I was fond of Borot (boro means shabby), a robot featured in the series as a friend of Dameo’s.
According to the information on the Net, Borot was a robot built by Dameo’s father Hageteru that means bald while the Chinese character applied to teru means shining.
As to the story, it seems to have been a slap stick comedy featuring Dameo who is no good at school subjects and Borot while they live together as it reminds us of Doraemon created by Fujiko Fujio in later years.
As Marude Dameo was also based on the manga product drawn by Kenji Morita, I might have had an empathy with Dameo because I was no good at studying either as a kid and could have envied him as he had such a robot friend.
When looking at it now, I feel like Borot looks quire cute and attractive.
It is a great shame to learn that only Episode 1 seems to be available now as the rest of the episodes remains missing.
The Nomura brothers seem to have appeared in Kaiju Oji as they got credit for their performances in Ninja Hattorikun, but, as Hattorikun was voiced by an adult voice actor (Kazuo Kumakura), it gave us no impression that he was set to be a boy ninja.
According to the information I found online, it is likely that the films of the Ninja Hattorikun episodes remain missing except the two of them so we cannot enjoy watching the show again anymore at this time.
And I don’t remember much about this series unfortunately.
While Hattorikun seemingly got to win popularity, the sequel Ninja Hattorikun + Ninja Kaiju Jippou was produced and aired (1967-1968: 26 episodes), and it seems that all the films of this series episodes are still available on DVD.
Jippou is likely to have been featured in response to the kaiju boom which arose in the wake of Ultra Q and Ultraman, but I don’t remember the story of each episode and how the ninja kaiju was portrayed including his abilities although I surely enjoyed watching this series.
If my memory serves me right, I feel like he threw ninja star blades (shuriken) with his tail.
What I clearly remember about the Ninja Hattorikun + Ninja Kaiju Jippou was that I came across the street view of my neighborhood when watching one of the episodes as a kid and that I told my mother I should have been there to see the location shooting that day.
And I remember she told me it was not that the episode was filmed on the same day as it aired. It was the first time that I got to learn they film such TV series far ahead of broadcasting!
Among the tokusatsu TV shows we enjoyed as a kid, we had series which featured ninja as one of them is Masked Ninja Akakage produced by Toei Company.
Another one we had and I remember even now is Ninja Hattorikun (1966: 26 episodes) produced by Toei Kyoto Television Production. The series was based on the manga drawn by Fujiko Fujio to be widely known as the author of Doraemon in later years.
Of all things, it was produced as a live-action drama series instead of anime, and it was about a ninja boy named Hattorikun (kun is a Japanese honorific title usually for boys) while the name came from Hanzo Hattori alleged to have been a real ninja in the samurai era.
As is often the case with the Fujiko manga, it is a story about the boy ninja who started living with a family in Tokyo after coming from Iga alleged to have been the home of ninjas, real-life area located in Mie Prefecture.
Among other things, it was funnily impressive to find a mask similar to the manga Hattorikun was applied to the live-action character as his real face while, surprisingly enough, he was acted alternately by the twin kid actors Mitsunori and Yoshinori Nomura who appeared in Kaiju Oji with Mitsunori as the protagonist Takeru.