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.