BOOSKA #2

Alongside of his keen sense of smell and hearing, Booska is also capable to use psychokinesis, and he can reduce his size, too. In addition, he has many more funny features which make him look truly adorable.

He is such a big eater with a big appetite as to eat up even 30 helpings of ramen noodles he is very much fond of at a time with ease, and he hates tortoises so much that they drive him crazy the moment he looks at one.

The Boo Crown he wears supplies him with energy from Booskanium, a substance allegedly generated inside the crown to enable him to use his super abilities (he is found to wear the crown from the very beginning somehow while it apparently looks artificial).

If the crown is warmed, it brings his intelligence to the same level as academics, and, if it is cooled, it works the other way around. If the crown comes off, it critically weakens him leaving any of his super abilities unusable while it is often found to put him in trouble throughout the episodes.

“Shio shio no pā” Booska weakened without his Boo Crown

When he gets angry, the crown lets out smoke the instant he finishes saying “puri puri no kiririnko! ka! ka! ka!” with a particular gesture to express anger.

He has a strong sense of justice and takes the initiative to save people when they are in trouble wishing for everyone’s happiness.

He can stretch out his pig-like tail to reach out for and fetch things. Furthermore, the tail is capable to detect a lie if the person who holds it is trying to deceive him like a lie detector (from Episode 15; the crown sparkles when a lie is detected).


BOOSKA #1

Designer: allegedly designed by Tatsuo Kuroda (it remains uncertain)
Sculptor: Shimada Art Craft in the site of Toho (first costume); Ex Production (the rest of the costumes)
Actor: Haruyoshi Nakamura, Yukihiro Kiyono, Kunio Suzuki (depending on the episode)
Voice: Kazue Takahashi (actress)


Booska is a friendly monster who was starred in the TV tokusatsu comedy series “Kaiju Booska” (1966-1967: 47 episodes) produced by Tsuburaya Productions around the same time as “Ultraman” while they aired on different channels.

Incidentally, the Chinese characters used for kaiju in the title represent “pleasant beast ()” instead of “mysterious beast ()” the Chinese characters of the term kaiju usually stand for, so it is sort of a phonetic pun from the kaiju referring to mysterious beast.

Booska came into being as Daisaku Tonda, boy who likes inventing things tried to make an iguana he kept as a pet into a Godzilla-like giant kaiju with the use of his self-made nutrient Chlopara that was supposed to increase the size of the iguana by 300 times.

Whereas the substance failed to make the iguana a Godzilla-like kaiju, it finally managed to make a monster emerge with almost the same height and the same level of intelligence as humans.

Booska also has various super abilities including strong power described as “100 ton power” and flight ability in the air.

As to his personality, he is not fond of fighting, gentle, good-natured and easy-going while he is loved so much as a good friend by kids including Daisaku he lives with.

Moreover, he is often found to use his own phrasal expressions referred to as the Booska language such as “barasa, barasa” (to express happiness), “shio shio no pā” (for sadness) and “puri puri no kiririnko! ka! ka! ka!” (for anger) along with the Japanese language he is so fluent at (he also understands English to the extent that he can read a letter written in the language).

His “Boo Crown” momentarilly shines on the regular basis before flying into the sky

ALIEN COOL (Making)

Design drawn by Tohl Narita

Tohl Narita says in his artbook about Alien Cool, “I came up with the design from mite.”

I think the design showing the alien shaped like a spider positioned upside down is very much attractive with his big head seemingly showing his high intelligence as it implies the upcoming battles to unfold between extraterrestrial intelligence and the Terrestrial Defense Force, the theme predominantly featured in Ultraseven.

I think the design fully reflects their intention to make the new tokusatsu series Ultraseven totally distinctive from Ultraman, and the alien was sculpted by Ryosaku Takayama while one of its arms still exist even now.

At Takayama’s Atelier May

Some characters worked out as puppets instead of costumes worn by actors appeared in Ultraseven although none of them were featured in Ultraman, and that seems to have made Narita happy as it enabled him to design characters more freely while costume monsters could impose various restrictions on the forms of the characters to be worn by actors.

Puppet monsters might be a feature of the tokusatsu practiced when no computer-generated characters have emerged yet, and it should have been an ambitious and innovative attempt to broaden expressiveness of the tokusatsu even though it was a means worked out to reduce the cost.

Shots at the Bisen Studio

That being said, puppet monsters seem to have gained poor reputation from among us kid viewers who hoped to see excitingly fierce battles between the hero and the monster as puppet monsters fatefully manipulated by wires are utterly unfit for the job.

Especially, Alien Cool ended up being instantly beaten by Ultraseven at a single blow only with the scenes in which they fought remaining human-sized, and it made the alien less impressive among kids back then unfortunately.

The entire episode, however, can be found excellent with the scenes finely portraying the greatness of the TDF base including their futuristic equipment as it makes the series more likely to be a science fiction story than the preceding Ultraman.


People Inspired By Ultraman & Ultraseven

The Ultra Series have influenced a lot of people who have grown up with them, and that includes those who are playing active roles in a variety of fields encompassing the Japanese astronaut, Satoshi Furukawa, who flew to space in 2011 to work in the International Space Station as one of the crew members carried by the Soyuz spacecraft.

It is widely publicized in Japan that Furukawa aimed to become an astronaut inspired by Ultraseven he watched on TV as a kid.

And some of professional fighters are also known to have been influenced by the Ultra Series including a famous professional wrestler as they wished to make themselves as strong as the Ultra heroes when they were kids.

As the wrestler is from Osaka where the Osaka Castle is located that was ruined by Gomora in Episode 27 of Ultraman, he says he went to see what actually happened to the castle by bike skipping school with one of his friends after he watched the Gomora episode the night before.

He says, when they found the castle remained the same as it had been, they were just dumbfounded at the sight without being able to understand what took place.

And he says he started learning a martial art to avenge Ultraman when he watched the final episode of Ultraman in which the hero was beaten by Zetton.

Incidentally, I have heard the Osaka Castle story continues like he asked a cleaner at the castle what happened to the building which was supposed to have been destroyed by the monster.

True or not, the cleaner allegedly answered, “They fixed it working overnight.”

It was such an idyllic time when we grew up anyway.


RAGON (Ultraman Version: Making)

Ragon who appeared in Ultra Q reappeared in Ultraman as it shows the two series share the same universe in common: Ultra Q Ragon; Ultraman Ragon.

While the Ultra Q Ragon was played by Satoshi (Bin) Furuya, as he was playing Ultraman this time, the Ultraman Ragon was performed by another actor, Umenosuke Izumi.

As the Ragon suit used in Ultra Q was made to fit Furuya, another wet suit body was prepared for Izumi while he also seems to have been a tall man.

Ryosaku Takayama; the flying dummy doll of Ultraman can be seen in the back along with another doll of Ultraman behind Red King probably in the Tsuburaya storage

The monster designed by Tohl Narita was sculpted and remodeled by Ryosaku Takayama.

The difference in appearance between the two Ragon suits is the presence of the breasts shown by the Ultra Q Ragon as she is set to be a female Ragon who has come ashore in search of her baby although I am not sure we were fully aware of the difference back then until it was pointed out in publications which became available in later years.

Two of the Ragon body suits are found with one of them hung on the wall; the boy holds the baby Ragon along with Chandlar being remodeled from Peguila in Takayama’s Atelier May

Whereas the same head should have been used for the two of them, the Ultraman Ragon head appears to show a moderate deterioration with his fins seemingly faded slightly.

Umenosuke Izumi is also alleged to have acted Gamera in the movies “Gamera vs. Guiron” and “Gamera vs. Jaiger” along with Antler at the Ultraman Eve Festival (so he was made to wear the Antler suit back to front) and Magulla in Ultraman Episode 8.

In addition, it is widely known among fans across the world that the body suit of this Ragon was reused for Alien Zarab in Ultraman Episode 18.


Type B Ultraman & Baltan III Displayed At An Exhibition

I wrote about what happened to the Type C costume of Ultraman after the original TV series ended in my previous article, and I already talked about the transition from the type A Ultraman costume to Zoffy in this blog.

Then what happened to the Type B costume of him after the use?
It has been said that the Type B suit was stolen from the Tsuburaya storehouse while it had been stored there and displayed at exhibitions regrettably.

And the incident has made it impossible to see what the mask was actually like and to duplicate it from the original form although some people have attempted to reproduce the mask on their own so far.

The Type B mask shown at exhibitions held today is one of these masks sculpted by enthusiastic modelers professionally involved in tokusatsu products while the Type C mask displayed at such exhibitions is a replica duplicated from its original mold (so not exactly the same thing as the one used in the shooting).

Meanwhile, precious and rare photos of the Type B Ultraman costume displayed at an exhibition are found to be shown in the Ultraman Treasures I bought the other day.

Furthermore, amazingly enough, the costume is seen displayed along with the suit of Alien Baltan III that was apparently repainted after the shooting of Ultraman Episode 33.

The Ultraman Treasures book says the exhibition was held in 1967 at a now-defunct facility in Hyogo Prefecture under the direction of, surprisingly, Eiji Tsuburaya, and the costumes equipped with a machine inside to move them were exhibited along with Mothra and King Ghidorah that were also on display.

As these real costumes used in the shooting can never be seen anymore today, the people who saw the exhibition back then should not have been aware of what it would mean in the future in spite of the excitement they are assumed to have experienced!


GOMESS (Making)

It is widely known that the costume remodeled from Toho’s Godzilla was used for Gomess alongside of Jirass that appeared in Ultraman.

In the case of Gomess, it is said that the Godzilla costume used in the 1964 Toho movie “Mothra vs. Godzilla” was assigned the role of Gomess, the monster which highlighted the commemorative first episode of Ultra Q (in the broadcast order).

As they had to return the Godzilla costume borrowed from Toho naturally after the shooting was finished, a means seems to have been devised to make it look like another kaiju and to give it back to Toho without inflicting any damage on the costume.

It came in the form of temporarily making the costume wear a vest-like surface texture including the parts with scales put onto the Godzilla costume to avoid fiddling with the suit itself and keeping it free from damage which can possibly be caused by cutting and such.

It is also explained he wore a wig with the horn attached to it and his fangs were fixed with wire without the use of adhesive, and it seems that he had his whiskers grow to hide the wire.

I think it is a great job to make Godzilla excellently look like another monster by simply equipping the costume with such appliances.

At the same time, that shows there was no idea yet of featuring completely original kaijus for the new TV show, Ultra Q, and Godzilla should have been the synonym for the kaiju in those days.

Gomess was designed by Yasuyuki Inoue who was with the Toho Special Arts Division back then involved in the Toho kaiju movies including Godzilla while the Ultra Q kaiju was also played by Haruo Nakajima known as the original Godzilla actor.

The appliances are also said to have been made by the Toho Special Arts Division, and Gomess’s horn seems to exist even now.

Mr. Godzilla in the costume of Gomess

Giant Alien Ghose

Design of Alien Ghose drawn by Ikeya

As it is widely known, Alien Ghose and the monster manipulated by them Pandon appeared in the final two parted episode of Ultraseven.

And it has been explained online that the giant form of Alien Ghose was also supposed to emerge in the episode along with the normally human-sized aliens and Pandon.

Meanwhile, the Tokusatsu Hiho magazine with tribute articles to the designer Noriyoshi Ikeya showed the design of Giant Alien Ghose drawn by Ikeya back then among the representative monsters he designed.

To me, this is definitely the first time I have seen it, but, according to the Hiho article, surprisingly enough,  Giant Alien Ghose was not included even in the script with no plan at all to make it appear in the episode.

Giant Alien Ghose drawn by Ikeya

It seems that Ikeya himself described it in his art book as the alien he designed with a western armor in mind having something in common with the aliens he also designed for “Silver Kamen” in later years without referring to any other details about the character.

Therefore this leaves it unknown why Ikeya designed this giant version of the alien regrettably.

The dark-colored alien design with no features on its face and nothing outstanding makes the character look very much creepy deserving the name of Ghose that came from ghost though it surely looks attractive in its own way.

I think it is an excellent job with much of an Ikeya feel to it, and it is also impressive to find he designed it as the giant version has nothing in common with the human-sized form.

Incidentally Pandon is the monster remodeled from his original design, and, if you are interested, see this post.


Noriyoshi Ikeya Featured In Tokusatsu Hiho 2

“Fireman” monsters designed by Ikeya

As Noriyoshi Ikeya himself said, it is not that he entered the field of film art because he wanted to be involved in tokusatsu and kaiju while he was initially called in by Tohl Narita to participate in the production of the series Ultraman.

Therefore the work he did in the field is not confined to kaiju design but he played an active role involved in film art including the films produced by renowned directors and TV commercials after leaving Tsuburaya so that he was awarded the Japan Academy Prize for the Outstanding Achievement in Art Direction twice in the 1990s.

Among the Ikeya monsters, it is fun to learn Takkong that appeared in “The Return of Ultraman” is likely to be thought as a challenge to the Narita design with the quirky shape after Ikeya took over the designing of Ultra kaijus from Narita.

I myself like the design of Twintail as it is admired as a masterpiece created by the combination of Ikeya and Ryosaku Takayama as Takayama modeled the costume along with Gudon and Stegon (the “Siver Kamen” alien costumes were also allegedly made by Takayama while he seemingly modeled the majority of the “Fireman” monster suits as well).

I wish I could have seen more of the monsters worked out by them in “The Return of Ultraman” (by the way, I feel like I wanted to see Zetton II modeled by Takayama again…).

According to an article, Ikeya seems to have said he had in stock design drawings of unreleased new monsters he had drawn every once in a while in his spare time.

I definitely hope these designs will see the light of day in the form of characters shown in film/video products someday.

Aliens designed by Ikeya for “Silver Kamen” (right); Multi for “Mirrorman” (top left); robots for “Iron King”

Noriyoshi Ikeya Featured In Tokusatsu Hiho 1

“Tokusatsu Hiho vol. 5” issued in January, 2017 with a tribute to Noriyoshi Ikeya

The  Tokusatsu Hiho (secret treasure) I mentioned yesterday is a fun magazine with a lot of detailed articles and quite a few pictures about tokusatsu products including the old ones and new ones from both movies and TV shows while I don’t know whether this is a periodical publication as the issue is always found to come out unexpectedly.

The same publisher released the Ultraseven Research Book and Ultraman Research Book in 2012 and 2014 respectively in this order as I find both of them very much informative and a lot of fun.

Colored articles from the above Tokusatsu Hiho

The latest Tokusatsu Hiho recently published features Noriyoshi Ikeya as a special who passed away the other day regrettably.

I don’t think the attraction of the monsters designed by Ikeya has been publicly talked about so much as those by Tohl Narita, but it was fun to learn from the articles how the Ikeya monsters are perceived among people.

Reading the articles, they seem to view the Ikeya monsters as sensitive and feminine in contrast with the bold and masculine design of the Narita monsters as it is known that Ikeya often referred to fashion magazines to design his monsters rather than real-life creatures.

It is also mentioned that his sensitive, graceful and stylish behaviors with gentleness and a perpetual soft smile on his face charmed people around him a lot while he was a silent type working on his task with few words.