ALIEN PUMPKIN (KABOCHA SEIJIN)

  • Episode: 35 “Let’s go to the Galaxy!”
  • Actor: Eiichi Matsushima
  • Voice: Kazuo Kumakura

Alien Pumpkin is an alien who plotted to make the Earth into pumpkin fields all over the planet, and he came to the Earth on July 7.

It is when the Star Festival (Tanabata) is annually and customarily celebrated in Japan while legend has it that Orihime (Weaving Princess representing Vega) and Kengyu/Hikoboshi (Cowman for Altair) are allowed to see each other only once a year as the two who had fallen in love turned out to be separated by the Milky Way in between.

Orihime manipulated by Alien Pumpkin firing beams at Daisaku and his friends

Of all things, Alien Pumpkin abducted Orihime and manipulated her to get rid of Booska and Chamegon with her super abilities as they were in the way for his plot (to turn the whole Earth into a pumpkin field!).

Manipulated by Alien Pumpkin, Orihime came to the Earth and changed Daisaku and his friends along with his parents into …pumpkins.

The pumpkin Daisaku turned into by being exposed to Orihime’s beam attack

By order of Alien Pumpkin, Orihime shapeshifted into Daisaku to trap Booska and Chamegon, and she turned Booska into a pumpkin too while Chamegon’s ring beam from his tail brought Booska back to normal.

After freeing Orihime from Alien Pumpkin’s control, Chamegon shapeshifted himself into Orihime to trap Alien Pumpkin, and they managed to knock him down in the end, then the alien was brought back to space by a rocket Chamegon had shapeshifted into.

Orihime got to see Kengyu

Thanks to Booska and Chamegon, Orihime and Kengyu got to see each other, and Orihime gave the two kaijus a miniature star that makes any hope come true explaining one single good thing you did turns into a star.

And the people made into pumpkins also returned to normal with the power of the miniature star.

The moment Booska prayed to the star wishing happiness for all the people living on the Earth, not only for themselves, the tiny star soared into the night sky and turned into a real star to watch over all the people on the globe.

Booska prays to the miniature star wishing happiness for all the people on the Earth

ALIEN PEGASSA (making)

Alien Pegassa design drawn by Tohl Narita

Tohl Narita: “This is a variation development of Alien Goddora. He turned out to look more like an animal than Alien Goddora.”

It is said that Narita got an idea for the design of Alien Pegassa from a hammerhead shark and, for lump-like risings on the body, acorn barnacles while I assume the former should have made him describe Pegassa as having more animal-like features than Goddora.

As Narita puts it, he seems to have thought of Alien Goddora and Alien Pegassa as the basic style of Ultraseven aliens with the eyes positioned on top of the heads.

Alien Pegassa’s episode “Dark Zone” is definitely a masterpiece and one of my favorites with an excellent and thought-provoking story that makes us wonder what is “justice.”

Unfortunately, however, it seems that Alien Pegassa is one of the aliens who didn’t get himself photographed so much (did he stay in the dark zone?) or he might not have so many pictures remain in existence while it should be a lot of fun if we could see the pictures of him, say, being sculpted at Ryosaku Takayama’s Atelier May.

Even though the pictures of Anne combing her hair in her private room with Alien Pegassa seemingly about to attack her are widely known (the pictures of the two photographed from different angles can be found), these were still photos taken for publications, and the show had no such scene.

It is so interesting to see his head look very much different when viewed from the side or diagonally from above as he bent forward.

Along with his appearance only with a human-size and the brief battle with human-sized Ultraseven, the episode featuring the alien who vanished into the darkness after losing his home was extremely impressive even when I watched it as a kid.

It is not that Pegassa is bowing at the end of this article but looking at the bomb he planted into the Earth to explode the planet

SUFLAN (making)

Suflan design drawn by Tohl Narita

Tohl Narita: “This is a shape that makes it easy to coil around people.”

Suflan is a mysterious plant described as a blood-sucking species that appeared in Ultraman Episode 8 and Episode 26 as it was found to grow wild on Tatarajima Island and Johnson Island respectively.

Although it is not a monster that stands out, I personally like the design by Narita and I think the prop is also well made while it is left undescribed who sculpted it.

On location, real fire was used to burn off the vines that twined around Fuji and Ide with flames spewed from Arashi’s Spider Shot that should have been expressed by optical compositing otherwise at the suggestion of Shohei Tojo, then assistant director.

Iyoshi Ishii, presently known as Sandayu Dokumamushi with great popularity as a funnily critical commentator, who played Arashi (and Furuhashi in “Ultraseven” afterwards) recalls he was surprised for real at the flames that came out of the Spider Shot connected to an LP gas cylinder placed at his feet with a hose running through his SSSP uniform (Tojo seems to have told Ishii not to look worried) so that it came out at the sleeve and they had to retake the scene.

It is also introduced that, as Tojo’s words, Suflan caught fire and it traveled upwards as the prop hung down from above on the trees and Tojo rushed to extinguish the fire with his jacket worrying that it would be disastrous if it should have developed into a big fire in the woods.

Even though the fire got to be put out, it seems that his jacket was burnt to ashes in the end while I feel like it would be reckless to set fire to such a prop in the woods in the first place.

It is likely that pictures of Suflan rarely appeared in kaiju pictorials back then and illustrations of it were shown instead with an explanation describing it as it is capable to regenerate lost parts when cut off and its weak point is the root.

It is fun to find the illustration shows even Suflan fighting with Ultraman.


MONGULAR (making)

Regarding the “Ultra Q” monsters before Tohl Narita and Ryosaku Takayama got involved, reasons including the scarcity of pictures to show and information to describe always makes it hard for me to talk much about them.

Nevertheless, they are also part of the monsters I enjoyed seeing when I was a kid, so I would like to try to deal with them with as much love as the Narita/Ikeya and Takayama kaijus.

As to Mongular, it seems that who designed and sculpted him is left unknown while, as one might guess, it is assumed the Toho Special Art staff should have been involved.

Although he looks too cute to be an intimidating monster (when searching for Mongular in Japanese on the Net, “mongular cute” shows up among the keywords), I find he has well-sculpted hands showing features typical of mole hands.

That having been said, the costume explicitly showing the shape of the human body on all fours appears to have made him less like a real creature although it should have been an issue that had annoyed even Narita and Takayama.

Haruo Nakajima, original Godzilla actor, says he took pains to make the four-footed Ultra kaijus he acted less likely to be worn by an actor by tying to hide his bent knees while lowering his body as much as possible (Kingsaurus III and Stegon of “Return of Ultraman” were an attempt to solve this so as not to show their bent knees).

An explanation available online makes it more likely that they applied to the show the monsters, including Mongular, created by making real-life creatures giants under the influence of American movies featuring giant real-life creatures.

Although the substance’s name Honey Jellion seems to have been put as a medicine called Razerī B One in the script, the substance was altered into Honey Jellion for the same reason as in Goro‘s case.

It is described that the Mongular costume was incinerated along with the other costumes including Dada and Giradorus at the “kaiju memorial service” held at the now-defunct amusement park Futago-tamagawa-en in 1973.


Who Voiced Reborn Pigmon?

Reborn Pigmon speaking at the microphone in a kaiju language voiced by Nekohachi Edoya

While we are at the topic of “Kaiju Booska,” I would like to talk about another associated matter between “Ultraman” and “Booska,” both of which were produced and aired around the same time.

As I just talked about the making of Pigmon in my recent post,  Reborn Pigmon who returned to life as an unvaryingly friendly monster was set to speak words although it was a kaiju language.

In the episode, as you know, an expert of the dolphin language study tried to figure out what Pigmon was talking about, and he managed to interpret the monster’s words in the end.

Nekohachi Edoya as Daisaku’s father in “Kaiju Booska”

While Pigmon’s babbling, yelling, shouting and screaming was so impressive as the friendly kaiju was trying hard to convey his warning to people about upcoming attack by the kaijus (Telesdon and DorakoGeronimon had brought back to life.

In this episode, Pigmon was voiced by Nekohachi Edoya (the third: 1921-2001) who gained popularity as a performer known for his excellent vocal mimicry of animals’ voices.

And, moreover, Edoya regularly played Daidaku’s funny and humorous father in “Kaiju Booska.”

Jiro (left) voiced by Kiyoshi Komiyama in Ultra Q Episode 1

Kazuho Mitsuta, director, who was also involved in “Kaiju Booska” along with the original Ultra Series recalls Edoya was nice enough to happily accept their request to voice Pigmon as he was already acting Daisaku’s father even though he was a big name performer then while his name was not included in the opening credits of Reborn Pigmon’s episode.

The voice that can be heard through the kaiju language interpreting device was played by Kiyoshi Komiyama (1937-present), and you can also hear komiyama voice a boy in “Ultra Q” Episode 1 and Episode 15.

Akira (left) voiced by Komiyama in Ultra Q Episode 15

MEDIUM OF DONBURA ISLAND

Episode: 33 “Mysterious Donbura Island”; 34 “Bakedanuki On Donbura Isalnd” (Episode 33 and 34 are substantially a two-part episode)

Voice: Terue Nunami


Donbura Island was an island reigned by a female medium wearing a raccoon dog (tanuki) mask who ruled over the islanders by making raccoon dog masks latch onto their faces while the medium told them the masks could never be taken off unless the “soundless drum” that had been on the island for a long time should make a sound.

She tried to prevent Booska and his fellows from getting the treasure while she used a number of psychic techniques to bewilder the outsiders, and it was her who made the blood-sucking plant go at them.

Booska and his fellows searching Donbura Island by air

Booska and Chamegon became aware that the medium made the raccoon dog masks latch onto even kids while the kids were living in a hidden village behind Mount Ponpoko on Donbura Island (are  you following me?).

Thus Booska and Chamegon decided to challenge the medium to a fight to save the islanders although the medium turned out to be a tough enemy with a variety of psychic powers such as illusion, shadow cloning and shapeshift with which she turned into Booska to trick Chamegon even though he easily detected her.

Booska and Chamegon challenges the medium with the islanders’ kids wearing the raccoon dog masks in the back

In the end, defeated by Booska and Chamegon with Booska’s psychokinesis and Chamegon’s beam attack from his tail, the medium shapeshifted into a drum, her real identity, finally and Booska struck it so that the raccoon dog masks came off the islanders including the kids.

“Bakedanuki” included in the title means “ghost raccoon dog,” and ponpoko in Mount Ponpoko is an onamatopoeia for sounds like a drum a raccoon dog fictionally makes by tapping its belly when they appear in Japanese folktales.

There is an explanation online describing the medium’s real identity as a spirit or deity called Tsukumogami that Japanese people have traditonally believed possesses a long-used implement represented by a drum in this case.

I hope all my lengthy description will make sense as it is ambiguous even to myself!


BLOOD-SUCKING PLANT

Episode: 33 “Mysterious Donbura Island”


This is a blood-sucking plant that grows wild on the fictional Donbura Island. The name should come from donburako that is a Japanese onomatopoeia (it sounds a bit frumpy, though) used to express the state of something (often quite big, probably) flowing its way while floating on water.

Captain Donkey whom Booska and Chamegon happened to meet along with their friend kids was looking for the island where one of his ancestors discovered a heap of treasure 300 years ago.

At his request, Booska, Chamegon and their friends helped him to search the island that kept drifting in the ocean as it was composed of pumice, and they managed to get there.

Captain Donkey askes Booska and his fellows to search for Donbura Isaland with him

The treasure was sucked and swallowed by the blood-sucking plant 300 years ago, and people were changed into cacti with white powder its flower sprayed over them.

When the plant went at Booska, it wrung him with its vines and troubled him a lot showing its intimidating power, but Booska got to defeat it finally after fighting against the mysterious monster courageously.

It might be the first time that I have seen Booska battle with an enemy so seriously, which tells the blood-sucking plant was such a formidable creature.

Blood-sucking plant spewing white powder capable to make humans turn into cacti

When beaten by Booska, it vomited the treasure it had swallowed 300 years ago, which made Captain Donkey so happy, and the people changed into cacti returned to humans fortunately.

Even though it is described as a blood-sucking plant in the show, there were no scenes portraying the behavior as such like Juran and Suflan.

Along with this allegedly blood-sucking plant, another species was found on this island that coiled around Chamegon although it was beaten by him with his ring-like ray fired from his tail.

Mysterious vines wrapping around Chamegon

ALIEN VIRA (making)

Alien Vira design drawn by Narita with the final version on the right

Tohl Narita: “I got the idea from a fan lobster. It became thinner in the final design.”

While he was not such a showy alien in appearance (at the same time, it was a puppet alien instead of a costume), Alien Vira was an impressive character along with the story featuring Dr. Yushima who was manipulated by the alien.

The primary version of the design looks more like a fan lobster as Narita says he designed the alien after it.

Alien Vira head presumably about to be cast out of its mold

Alongside of Narita’s fascinating design and Takayama’s excellent sculpture, the movement of the alien’s legs was also very much attractive as the mechanism was devised by Shigeo Kurakata.

Kurakata says in an interview for a book that, in the case of Alien Vira, he built the mechanism and gave it over to Takayama so that Takayama set it into the puppet he had sculpted.

Kurakata also says he doesn’t remember how he made it work as, when he tried to make the same mechanism recently, he found it didn’t move well.

Alien Vira at Takayama’s Atelier May with the mold found behind him

As to the miniatures used in this episode, Noriyoshi Ikeya commented that the set with the shrine gates was built imagining the areas including Ueno and Asakusa and that Alien Vira’s characteristically shaped space vehicles were made from the idea of making them look like they could connect infinitely.

Along with Alien Waiell who was severed into half with Eye Slugger and Alien Quraso who was actually set ablaze and destroyed at the end of his episode, Alien Vira should also have been burnt to ashes for real (what a waste!).

Alien Vira at Bisen Studio

PIGMON; REBORN PIGMON (making)

Pigmon was sort of a spin-off monster from the preceding show “Ultra Q” in which the monster appeared as Garamon, so there seems to be no design of Pigmon drawn by Narita.

The point is that the Pigmon costume was used as it was extended in height because the actor, Minoru Takahashi, who played Garamon in “Ultra Q” Episode 13 “Garadama” and Episode 16 “Garamon Strikes Back” didn’t participate in “Ultraman.”

When you look at the position of Pigmon’s arms, you will be aware of the extension, and, as the result, Pigmon looks much thinner than Garamon.

At any rate, the Garamon costume was extended (it is uncertain who did the remodeling) so as to fit a child actor who was decided to act the monster instead of Takahashi.

Hiroshi Chiba (right) in a detective drama titled “Gmen ’75”

Pigmon is described as it was played by an actor named Shuji Fujita first, but his whereabouts are not know after his appearance in “Ultraman,” and Reborn Pigmon was performed by another child actor who was to be known as Hiroshi Chiba in later years who played one of the leading characters in a popular detective drama (as an adult actor).

When seeing the transition from Garamon to Reborn Pigomon through Pigmon, it makes us realize the thorny parts all over the body were getting out of shape gradually and the equivalents of Reborn Pigmon look utterly different (isn’t there any pasta like them?) from those of Garamon probably because they were replaced by new ones.

HIroko Sakurai who played Akiko Fuji says in a book interview that she remembers the crew added red to Reborn Pibmon’s body by spraying the color on the set in the toy department and her glove got stained with the color when touching Reborn Pigmon as the paint was still wet.

(Regarding Reborn Pigmon’s voice, see this post)


GORGOS (making)

Tohl Narita: “Rock monster. It’s not that my drawings show variations of it. As I couldn’t come up with the idea of what a rock monster should look like, I drew a monster first, and this is the process through which I made it into a rock by degrees.”

Judging from Narita’s words, the concept of a rock monster should have been decided at the point when the script was written by the writer.

It comes as no surprise because Gorgos was a monster who had his generation process characteristically portrayed as piles of rocks dumped in a field formed into a rock monster by getting together,

I assume, at this stage of the series production, it was fully possible to write a script making the best of features of a characteristic monster and to design it accordingly as the show “Ultra Q” was to start to air after all the episodes had been filmed.

In the production of “Ultraman” and “Ultraseven” that required each episode to be produced so as to be in time for the weekly broadcast, tight schedules should have made it extremely hard to create a kaiju precisely associated with the script with hardly any time for prearrangement among those in charge.

It is interesting to see the monster’s name described as just “Rock Monster” in the opening credits instead of “Gorgos” somehow.

I find the second design from top to be very much unique with its own attraction, and the costume didn’t have the whip-like thin tail drawn by Narita in his designs while each ink pen drawing is really fascinating.

Takayama’s sculpting is excellent although it should be even harder to sculpt such a simply, unostentatiously designed kaiju.

Incidentally, they say the scenes in which Takeru was trying to shoot Gorgos’s nucleus with his pistol were filmed with the prop on a truck driven in the amusement park named Kodomo-no-kuni (Kids Land) that has still been in Yokohama City, Kanagawa Prefecture, since 1965.

And the miniature dummy of Takeru used in the episode is still in existence.