I recently came across the toy exhibition of the characters created by Go Nagai at Seibu Department Store in Ikebukuro, Tokyo. While it is not related to the Ultra Series predominantly covered on this blog, let me show you what it looked like.
It seems that this event was held in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of Go Nagai’s career as a manga artist.
Although I am not following his manga works lately, there should be people who like his characters among my readers, and it surely makes me feel nostalgic as well.
Mazinger and Devilman were nice enough to warmly welcome me at the entrance. Actually I visited his manga production company Dynamic Production several times as a fan when I was a kid to see how manga products were created back then (it is unbelievable from today’s standpoint that fans were allowed to get in at that time) when Mazinger and Devilman were serialized in manga magazines.
I remember I was amazed at what the manga version Devilaman looked like when one of my friends showed the manga magazine to me as I only knew the anime version of Devilman that just started airing in those days.
While I was drawn to the manga version Devilaman who looked more monsterous, the anime version makes me aware he is attractive enough in himself when reviewed now as he looks more like a hero.
It is known that the character was created to make it look like an American comic superhero while applying the shape of a bat to its head, and it is said that the design was modified into the manga version for readers at a higher age than anime viewers.
Chandlar had its ear-like horns added to its head and also got dark brown partly applied to its originally gray body although I have a feeling I wish Peguila himself had appeared in “Ultraman” as he was without any remodeling.
While it has often been pointed out, it might be a bit shame that only Red KIng and Suflan were newly sculpted monsters in this episode even though it was announced that 5 monsters were to appear as the rest of the monsters, Chandlar, Magulla and Pigmon were remodeled monsters from Peguila, Nelonga and Garamon respectively. (That being said, it is true that Pigmon has turned out to become an unforgettably attractive and impressive monster among them.)
Even apart from the behind-the-scene settings referring to Chandlar as a possible younger brother monster of Peguila, having the monster with no distinct difference in appearance as another monster in the episode irresistibly makes me feel strange.
By the way, I find the scenes in which Red King tore off Chandlar’s wing too miserable while they should have been produced to make the brutal monster, Red King, look overwhelmingly stronger than the other monsters.
It makes me feel sorry for Chandlar to see him end up playing his role just as an expendable character.
Although a book I referred to explains Chandlar’s costume was often used in kaiju stage shows afterwards, not much is known about what happened to the suit eventually including whether it was returned to Peguila.
As I wrote in my yesterday’s post, Peguila and the other “Ultra Q” Kaijus such as Garamon,Pagos, Gorgos, Peter and M1 appeared on the covers of the magazine issues for boys in color back then.
While I don’t remember I actually saw them as a kid because I was too young, “Ultra Q” should have got a lot of coverage in the magazine “Bokura” and “Bokura Magazine” that used to be published from Kodansha as the publisher still releases the famous manga magazine “Weekly Shonen Magazine.”
The word bokura is used by a male speaker to refer to himself and the rest of people (male or female), and, given the magazine was intended for boys, it might be translated as “We Boys” or something. In addition, the word shonen signifies a boy/boys.
“Bokura” was a monthly magazine that started being published in 1954 and “Weekly Bokura Magazine” took over in 1969 as the “younger brother magazine” of the “Weekly Shonen Magazine” launched in 1959 even though the Bokura Magazine ceased publication allegedly in the form of being absorbed or combined into the “Weekly Shonen Magazine” in 1971.
Although it is said a larger portion of such a manga magazine was taken up by reading materials instead of manga than today, it is true that these manga magazines turned out many famous manga artists and products as they laid down the basis for the current rise of world-wide manga popularity.
“Kamen Rider” authored by Shotaro Ishinomori (Ishimori back then) was originally one of the manga products that appeared in the “Bokura Magazine” serialized in parallel with the TV tokusatsu show aired around the same time.
Tohl Narita: “This is the first work I designed when I started working for “Ultra Q” while there was already a design (drawn by someone else).
“It was a monster with a penguin applied to the design, and, based on this, I designed Peguila through the process of creating revised designs with fangs , feathers and such.
“Although Peguila has feathers as my ideal form in the design and illustration, we settled for a sheet of latex instead in sculpting.”
Peguila is known as the first Ultra Kaiju created by the combination between Tohl Narita as the designer and Ryosaku Takayama as the sculptor.
It allegedly originated from a draft drawn by Yasuyuki Inoue who was with the Toho Special Art Division and was also involved in designing Ultra Q kaijus before Narita (and Takayama) joined the production of the show.
While Narita says it was from a penguin, Peguila looks more like a sea mammal such as a seal, and it is said that the horn was attached while being sculpted by Takayama as Peguila in the design drawings originally has no horn.
It is explained that the costume initially didn’t have the lumps on the skin and that they were added to it on the set.
As it aired right after the show “Ultraseven” ended, no Ultra heroes and no monsters appear in “Kaiki Daisakusen” in which the SRI members who courageously stand up against “science crimes” are depicted incorporating minor tokusatsu scenes instead of covering ostentatious tokusatsu scenes featuring Ultra heroes, monsters and futuristic equipment.
While it is explained “Kaiki Daisakusen” is a TV show produced in the same line with the Toho “Transformative Human Series” movies consisting of “The H-Man” (1958); “The Telegian” (1960); “The Human Vapor” (1960).
I found the no-hero-and-no-monsters show very much unsatisfactory when watching “Kaiki Daisakusen” as a kid, I now realize it is another form of TV tokusatsu shows that is fully enjoyable.
Meanwhile, it is another fun thing to see Akiji Kobayashi (1930-1996) who acted Captain Muramatsu in “Ultraman” appear in “Kaiki Daisakusen” almost regularly as a police sergeant who cooperates with the SRI team although the sergeant Taizo Machida is much more human than Cap. Muramatsu as Machida often makes mistakes.
Furthermore, while the SRI chief Tadashi Matoya was played by Yasumi Hara (1915-1997), it is hilarious to see him appear as the owner of the hume pipe storage in Ultraman Episode 15 (he appeared in the episode before acting the SRI chief).
It is said that Hara was known to be a good-looking actor who appeared in popular TV series including a daytime soap opera and fascinated Japanese housewives even before his appearance in “Ultraman.”
I greatly admire Jissoji’s playful mind to apply such a popular actor to the man who yells at children in a funny way and gets into a lot of trouble, and Hara himself seems to have played the man happily at Jissoji’s request as Hara was also one of Jissoji’s favorite actors.
When it comes to “Kaiki Daisakusen (Operation Mystery: aired from 1968 to 1969)” screened along with “Silver Kamen,” Episode 4 “Fearful Telephone” featured Hiroko Sakurai who played Yuriko Edogawa in “Ultra Q” and Akiko Fuji in “Ultraman.”
Sakurai acted a woman named Reiko Takiguchi in the “Kaiki Daisakusen” episode who has a gloomy streak contrary to cheerful Akiko Fuji while I also found the character of Reiko fascinating.
While the episode includes the scenes in which a man gets burnt to death by electricity transmitted through the telephone cable when using a public phone, Jissoji writes in one of his books they were scolded by a pharmacy owner when they were trying to shoot the scenes on the street by placing a creepy dummy doll made of styrofoam.
The other two episodes “Pottery Of Curse” and “I Am Buying Kyoto” are the products highly reputed as masterpieces in the “Kaiki Daisakusen” episodes among fans.
“Pottery Of Curse” includes excellent tokusatsu scenes featuring a temple ablaze at the end of the episode while Noriyoshi Ikeya allegedly played a major role in building the finely crafted miniature.
“I Am Buying Kyoto” also includes impressive optical compositing scenes in which stolen Buddha statues are being teleported by a substance transmission device and its surreal ending that leaves it uncertain whether it is a reality or a dream.
In the case of “Kaiki Daisakusen,” I realize Shin Kishida (1939-1982) who played Shiro Maki, an SRI (Science Research Institute) member in the show, has an extraordinary presence while he is widely known to have acted Ken Sakata in “The Return Of Ultraman” afterwards.
It is said that Kishida was one of Jissoji’s favorite actors, and Kishida also appeared regularly in such tokusatsu shows as “Silver Kamen Giant” and “Fireman” although I don’t think Jissoji was involved in these two.
It is said that Kishida publicly kept stating that he was an actor raised by Tsuburaya Productions even after he gained great fame through his appearances in various movies and TV shows in later years.
As you may know, Noriyoshi Ikeya designed the hero Silver Kamen and the aliens that appeared in the Silver Kamen episodes while I am not sure if he designed all of the aliens featured in the show (I think all the “Silver Kamen” and “Silver Kamen Giant” aliens were sculpted by Ryosaku Takayama).
At least the aliens I saw in the episodes screened at the event were surely designed by him, and they were: Alien Tigris (Episode 1); Alien Khimaira (7); Alien Solomon (8); Alien Domino (9); Alien Titan (10)
It is said he dared design Silver Kamen and the aliens not to make them look extremely strong, and, as the result, all these characters have their own unique forms and atmosphere distinctive from the equivalents of the Ultra Series.
It should be only natural as the show itself is said to have been plotted and produced with a strong sense of rivalry against the big-name hero show Ultraman.
It should be partly because the Nihon Gendai Kikaku (Japan Modern Planning) and Jissoji-led Kodai Group that were involved in the Silver Kamen production had many people who had to leave Tsuburaya Productions for the company’s financial reasons.
As to the Silver Kamen aliens, they were not unilaterally evil but were set to try to rob Kasuga brothers of the hidden photon rocket engine blueprint because they thought earthlings would invade their planets if the rocket should be completed.
Against their expectations, children watched “Mirrorman” aired in the competing timeslot a lot more as an orthodox tokusatsu hero show while the human-sized Silver Kamen didn’t play an active part at all in the show centering on the stories about the agony of Kasuga brothers.
I remember, however, I watched “Silver Kamen” and “Silver Kamen Giant” more than “Mirrorman” in my childhood somehow, and I have found the Silver Kamen aliens attractive enough again this time.
Although I described the “Silver Kamen” (1971-1972) episodes screened at the event as they were directed by Akio Jissoji in my yesterday’s post, I was wrong and I have just found only Episode 1 among them was directed by him.
I guess all these episodes were shown at the event as the show “Silver Kamen” was produced while “Kodai Group” led by Jissoji played a leading role in the production.
Although “Silver Kamen” initially started as a show featuring the human-sized hero through Episode 10, it was converted into “Silver Kamen Giant” after that in which the giant version of Siver Kamen appeared instead (he was set to have become a giant accidentally exposing himself to a large amount of photon energy).
The human-sized hero did not manage to gain enough popularity as the show aired along with the Tsuburaya-produced “MIrrorman” (1971-1972) broadcast in the competing timeslot.
And Jissoji and Kodai Group withdrew from the Senkosha-produced show at that time showing disagreement toward easily making a giant hero appear so as to attract viewers’ attention as Jissoji believed featuring the human-sized “non-superhero” with no particular weapons or abilities except bare hand fight should be the integral part of the show.
So the show gives us an utterly different impression between the episodes featuring the human-sized version and the giant version although the conversion got to make the show win popularity.
In this light, I think we were fully able to enjoy the unique features of the Silver Kamen episodes typical of the human-sized version in which the protagonists Kasuga brothers (one of them changes into Silver Kamen) continued to be chased by aliens over the hidden blueprint of the photon rocket engines invented by their father who was killed by an alien.
I went to see an all-night movie show at the Shin Bungeiza movie theater last Saturday (March 18) where the TV tokusatsu shows directed by Akio Jissoji were screened.
The event was held in commemoration of a newly released book on Jissoji (this year seems to mark the 10th anniversary of his death) authored by Naofumi Higuchi, and a talk show was also held at the outset in which Yuriko Hishimi who played Anne appeared along with Hitomi Miwa, actress who also appeared in the products directed by Akio Jissoji including Ultraman Tiga Episode 37, and Higuchi.
It is not that I am a Jissoji enthusiast, I looked forward to seeing Hishimi-san appear in the talk show and enjoying some of Jissoji-directed products, and I found Yuriko Hishimi was a very unassuming, straightforward and friendly person as I expected.
The Jissoji products shown there were (the number in the parentheses shows the episode number):
From “Kaiki Daisakusen (Great Operation Mystery)”: “Fearful Telephone” (4); “A Lullaby Of Death God”(5); “Pottery Of Curse” (23); “I Am Buying Kyoto” (25)
From “Siver Kamen”; “My Home Is The Planet Earth” (1); “The Shine Of Youth” (7); “Call From A Cold-blooded Alien” (8); “Chased In An Unfamiliar Town” (9); “Burning Horizon” (10)
After these episodes were shown, the movie “Jissoji-directed Ultraman” was shown for us as the movie that featured the edited episodes of the TV show “Ultraman” was first screened in 1979 covering the episodes about Gavadon, Telesdon, Jamyra, Skydon and Seabose while all of them were directed by Akio Jissoji
As I am too familiar with these Ultraman episodes, I found the showing of “Kaiki Daisakusen” and “Silver Kamen” enjoyable enough although it was so tough to stay up all night to see all these things as it was for the first time in such a long time since I was younger.
Glacier Witch (Hyōga Majo) is a witch or the winter fairy who is assumed to have enormous power to bring the whole world into an ice age as she appeared in Episode 16 “Drive Away The Ice Age! (inaccurate subtitle I took the liberty of translating into English)” of “Kaiju Booska.”
While she appeared here in Japan somehow, she accidentally met Booska and told him that anyone who has seen her will be frozen into an ice doll in three days (Come to think of it, she is dressed like Flatwoods Monster).
Although she was invisible to other people than Booska, intimidated by her words, Daisaku tried to protect Booska from being made into an ice doll in attempts to make him hibernate by digging a hole in the yard or launching an artificial sun into the sky while all of these attempts failed as Glacier Witch froze even the artificial sun.
In the end, Daisaku developed the Magic Arctic Outfit for Booska while Glacier Witch persistently chased Booska.
Booska managed to get out of trouble by bewildering her with the use of his vanishing technique that could make him invisible.
Even though Glacier Witch tried to attack Booska by making the intense north wind blow at him, Booska finally stood up against her, and got to put the Arctic Outfit on her.
After she was driven off by Booska’s telekinesis while she was crying “Oh, hot! So hot! Help! Help me!” in the outfit, she flew away into the sky.
Although it is hard to understand what she came here for, she was a witch like Alien Poll of “Ultraseven” who plotted to make another ice age take place on Earth.