PESTER (making)

Pester design drawn by Tohl Narita

Tohl Narita: “As we succeeded in having two men included in Dodongo, this is a design to make them line side by side this time. Naturally, it took the form to cover the two people. The face came from a bat.”

Pester was played by the same combination of Teruo Aragaki and Yukihiro Kiyono as Dodongo, and they had to go through fierce filming experiences with a lot of fire and water used while, in the Dodongo episode, Bin Furuya suffered from lack of air when acting Ultraman at the bottom of the lowered stage set.

Side view of Pester drawn by Tohl Narita

According to Furuya, fire and water were most fearful things in filming, and they seem to have had an extremely hard time in the filming of this Pester episode so that it went so far as to make even the two robust kaiju actors say they had thought they would die in water and flames and that it was unbelievable to have made it out in one piece.

Presumably to hide the shape explicitly telling us the costume has two men inside otherwise, Pester had a lot of “water scenes” and it soon died in flames. Incidentally, using such an enormous amount of fire on a stage set is impossible today as it is banned under the fire laws.

Pester pictured at the back of the Bisen studio

Tetsuo Yamamura says the costume was rather thin with the acting in water in mind just like Bemlar and that the brick-like objects covering the back were made from urethane thinly coated with latex.

I find it very much attractive that its back side was devised to look totally different from the front side. I also like the abrupt and quirky concept of putting a bat and starfish together while I think it is very Narita that such a mixture didn’t make it look ugly, creepy or gaudy.

There is an explanation that the bat head was to have a function of thrusting out forward from where it was usually positioned while the idea was finally rejected, and the side view of the design with the “neck” drawn by Narita might prove that.

I guess these photos should have been taken after the filming was finished as the costume appears to be out of shape

GARAMON; GARAMONS (making)

Primary Garamon design drawn by Tohl Narita with a handwritten word just as “Monster”

Tohl Narita:

(about Garadama) “I made it look just like one of my sculpture works of that time. I took it out of a drawing of my sculpture. If it had been a sculpture, it should have been sculpted from cement.”

(about Garamon) “Although I don’t have the sketch anymore, I started drawing it with the front side of its face. As I had a close-up photo of the front view of a fish like kochi and found the mouth attractive, I attached a dog-like nose and human-like eyes to it, and it came into being rather naturally.”

Finalized design drawn by Tohl Narita

It is explained online that the idea of Garamon arose as a space monster, not a robot monster from space as it was dealt with as such in the episode, that was to appear in an Ultra Q episode titled “Goro vs. Space Monster” while the episode was not produced evntually.

The episode “Garadama” was originally another episode titled “Garadama Valley” as a prequel to “Goro vs. Space Monster,” and the space monster they had in mind at that time seems to have been a monster like Chimera with body parts mixed up from various creatures such as a crab, snake, scorpion and dragon.

It is assumed that the monster was changed into the form of Garamon due to Narita’s policy not to create any kaiju like a yokai, and, while it is said that Tetsuo Kinjo, the writer of this episode, came up with a monster like a skeleton to come out of a meteorite, you can find the features in Garamon’s arms and legs along with its tail.

Garamon at Atlier May (from Seishiro Ishii’s photo album while he was in charge of tokusatsu art back then)

It is also said that it was Toru Matoba, the tokusatsu director of this episode, who presented Narita with an image of a kasago (rock fish).

As I described in other posts, the thorns covering the body were made from scraped urethane, and Garamons were created by compositing one single Garamon into plural Garamons just changing the mark on the chest.

It is said that the short actor Minoru Takahashi was hired to play Garamon at Matoba’s suggestion so as to make the dam set look large enough compared to the kaiju (for cost-efficiency).

The costume was remodeled into Pigmon for “Ultraman.”

Garanon right after it had been completed and delivered at the Bisen studio (same as above)

Kenjiro Yoshino/Kenbo Kaminarimon

Mechataro (center) along with his buddies provoking Daisaku and his friends

Mechataro referred to in my yesterday’s post was played by Kenjiro Yoshino (1956-present) while he was a child actor to be known as Kenbo Kaminarimon in later years with great popularity.

Although he seems to have left the show business in the early 1980s, I remember he often appeared in TV shows and movies and voiced some anime characters when I was a kid. Beside being a child actor, he was also a rakugo (Japanese traditional storytelling) performer registered with the Rakugo Art Association after apprenticeship under Sukeroku Kaminarimon.

As I said in yesterday’s post, Mechataro in Booska is portrayed as a mischievous, impudent boy who is mean to Daisaku as he always tries to outdo Daisaku in rivalry along with his buddies who are also at odds with Daisaku’s friends.

Nevertheless, Mechataro is a nice guy at heart and there were times he tried to help Daisaku and Daisaku’s buddies when they were in trouble. Basically, no real bad guys appear in Booska, which makes me feel really at ease when watching it.

Chibirakun (rightmost)

While Yoshino impressively acted Mechataro in Booska, he also appeared in Ultraman Episode 23 as a boy who tried to rescue pigeons he had kept in a village attacked by Jamyra.

Yoshino voiced Chibirakun in the show “Chibirakun,” the tokusatsu series produced by Tsuburaya Productions and aired from 1970 to 1971, as well afterwards under the name of Kenbo Kaminarimon.

As his voice was changing at the age of 14 then when he voiced Chibirakun, it is actually hard to associate Mechataro with Chibirakun.

Although he cannot be found in TV shows today anymore, I really wish him good luck and happiness as he made us happy watching the shows in which he appeared when we were kids.


OBJECT X KORORIN

Episode: “Kaiju Booska” #42 “Object X Kororin”

Object X: Kororin is a space object that came flying or just falling from space. As a behind-the-scenes story, the name should have come from a Japanese onomatopoeia denoting the movement of something round rolling.

Anyway, it came from space and sucked up all the water of a dam lake in Kinugawa, Tochigi Prefecture. While Chamegon guessed it should be the work of Kororin describing it as a space object, he warned it would be disastrous if it should be allowed to act freely.

Chamegon warning of Kororin

Kororin floats and moves in the air about the size of a ball sucking up water from a hot spring or a fall as it grows bigger. When it has grown to be large enough to suck in humans, Mechataro and Zorome were sucked into the object while calling for help.

Mechataro is a boy who always behaves like a rival of Daisaku and tries to get the better of him all the time, and Zorome is one of Mechataro’s buddies. Incidentally, the name Mechataro pronounced as /mechyataro/ should signify something like “messy boy” as he always messes things up and Zorome represents “matching dice.”

Both Daisaku and Mechataro were tying to outdo each other in making a class newspaper while both of them wanted to feature Kororin on their own class newspapers.

Kororin sucking up water from a hot spring

But Daisaku didn’t hesitate to save Mechataro who had been held captive by Kororin, and, while the space object tried to drive away the kids and Booska by spewing water from the tips of its tentacles, Kororin shrunk when hit by Chamegon’s ring beam fired from his tail.

And Kororin was brought into the sky by Booska, then the dangerous space object was tossed into the Sun with Booska’s telekinesis.

As the photo of Kororin taken by Booska with Mechataro and Zorome sucked in was featured in the class newspaper Booska and Chamegon made, both Daisaku and Mechataro realized they had finally been outdone by the two kaijus.

(I think this is the last one among the main Booska characters featured in the show.)


ALIEN ICARUS (making)

Alien Icarus design (left) and illustration drawn by Tohl Narita

Tohl Narita: “The idea originated from a fish and bat.”

I find Alien Icarus is another attractive alien in its design and sculpture along with his particular behaviors performed in the show.

The unexpectedness of the alien who looks more like a beast than an intelligent life form might be another attractive feature of this alien while he doesn’t look like a kaiju at any rate.

Alien Icarus being sculpted at Ryosaku Takayama’s Atelier May
Japanese traditional scrubbing brush

It is well known that his hair was made of brushes from scrubbing brushes, and Tetsuo Yamamura says in a book that he saw the staff make it darker on the set with a spray as it was brighter originally.

And he adds he saw the staff of the Tsuburaya Sculpting Section rub the costume surface with sponges to add weathering to the suit as it looked too clean and smooth when the costume was delivered to the studio.

While you can see his ears move or wiggle like flapping wings, they were moved manually by one of the crew from behind, and it is known that his hands were accidentally shown for a moment in the scene (you can find it out in stop motion).

Alien Icarus pictured at the back of the Bisen studio

I think the alien’s side view is pretty attractive in its shape that is distinctive from kaijus. As it seems that there were not always side views and back views of characters drawn by Narita in his designs, Ryosaku Takayama might have sculpted the costume into that shape at his discretion.

As the illustration of Alien Icarus is described as it was drawn in 1983, it might have been drawn by Narita to make it appear in one of his art books published in the same year while I like the ink drawing with pen strokes typical of Narita so much that it makes me feel like drawing pen and ink pictures like that.

Alien Icarus in storage along with Ultraseven maybe after the filming; Alien Icarus used at a stage show (it makes me feel as if I was looking at a real dead body of a creature)

MUMMY MAN & DODONGO (making)

Mummy Man design drawn by Tohl Narita

Tohl Narita:

(about Mummy Man) “I made it an ordinary mummy human. But I made the human look like an ape man.”

(about Dodongo) “This is a kirin (legendary creature: see the description of Dodongo). This design made two people get in for the first time. I find the memory more impressive than the kaiju that we had stage carpenters dig the stage 1 meters deep as the stage set height was short. While I wandered as I like the design A (in this article) too, I was drawn to a challenge to create a kaiju to be played by two actors. I wondered if I should redraw this design (A) into a kaiju to be acted by two.”

The design A that looks like a “mummy kaiju” was applied to the design of Gavadon in the end.

A: primary design of Dodongo drawn by Tohl Narita
B: Finalized design of Dodongo drawn by Tohl Narita

According to Bin Furuya’s memoir, the larger stage was occupied with the set for the episode of Pester and left unusable at that time, and, although Narita says it was 1 meters deep, Furuya writes the stage was dug 2 or 3 meters with a mechanical digger.

Furthermore, Furuya writes the filming at the bottom of the lowered stage made him feel bad as it worsened lack of air while acting in the Ultraman suit with fierce fighting scenes.

While not much is described about the making of Dodongo and Mummy Man with few behind-the-scenes photos available, Narita seems to have been very much satisfied with the finished Dodongo costume sculpted by Ryosaku Takayama with its wings to be manipulated by handles inside.

Dodongo at the back of the Bisen studio; presumably pictured after the filming as the costume appears to be a bit out of shape
You can see how deep the ground was dug up

I find the excellently drawn designs and perfectly sculpted costumes with faithfully reproduced features of the designs are truly fabulous.

Tetsuo Yamamura says in a book that Dodongo was too large to be used at stage shows and it was just left idle in storage with stuffing as it was hard to handle.

Mummy Man was played by Hideyo Mangetsu (1942-present) and he appeared in an interview for a book published in 2014 saying he was pleased with such an offer of an interview although it also made him feel shy while he played a kaiju only once (he also experienced acting a kaiju he doesn’t remember at a stage show) because he gave up suit acting as he found it too tough.

Hideyo Mangetsu at present

LARUEUS (making)

Larugeus is not a monster made by Tohl Narita and Ryosaku Takayama either as the episode was produced before they joined the production of the series.

Regarding Larugeus, what is often talked about in publications is the filming of the scene in which the small bird transformed into the giant ancient bird was so hard that Eiji Tsuburaya told his staff not to deal with birds anymore in the show while he himself ended up editing the transformation scene shot by his crew that had fell short of his expectations.

 

Another thing often cited is about the large prop of Larugeus’s leg used for the scene in which the giant leg of the bird broke through the ceiling of the prison (shown in the photo above) where it had been put in custody.

The leg prop that still remains in existence was made by Akira Sasaki and he says in a book he remembers well he sculpted the giant leg.

Tetsuo Yamamura says in an interview with Akihide Tsuzawa, who played the leading role in this episode and acted Hoshino afterwards in “Ultraman,” that he (Yamamura) saw the leg prop left exposed to rain beside the stage when he participated in the filming of Ultra Q Episode 10.

This could be a story that would make Yamamura say “I saw a bird (leg) prop” if I follow the episode title “I Saw a Bird.”

 

Although, without featuring an outstanding monster, I have to admit I found this Larugeus episode less attractive when I watched it as a kid, the director Harunosuke Nakagawa seems to have wanted to make this episode portray a boy’s development from the being isolated from the outer world to the one independent soaring up into a larger world with his own wings freely abandoning the limited and binding world where he had been.

While that concept is said to have been reflected in Larugeus and the boy, this should be a feature unique to Nakagawa who always depicted children in a warm way from their standpoints in each of his directed Ultra Q episodes, “Grow Up! Little Turtle” and “Kanegon’s Cocoon.”


Chikao Otsuka

Chikao Otsuka as Oniyama in “Kaiju Booska”

Chikao Otsuka (1929-2015) was a voice actor who should be so much familiar and unforgettable to a person in my generation as he voiced a great number of characters especially in anime products we watched when we were kids.

While we enjoyed watching animation shows from the United States back then as home-made TV shows were not so many as in later years yet, “Dick Dastardly” in “Wacky Races” and “Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines” was voiced by him, and his acting made the character (“Black Maou” meaning “Black Devil King” in the Japanese version of the show) so popular in Japan.

Otsuka was also an actor who appeared with his face shown in “Ultra Q,” “Ultraman” and “Kaiju Booska.”

 

In Booska, he played a school teacher named Oniyama while the teacher appeared in Booska Episode 41 talked about in my yesterday’s entry.

He played a man who got his shoes cleaned by Itachi in Ultra Q Episode 10, one of the crew on a Japan Coast Guard patrol boat that was attacked by Ragon in Ultraman Episode 4 and a rest house manager in Ultraman Episode 21 who was troubled by unusual events caused by Kemlar.

In addition to his voice-acting in which he voiced many foreign actors including Charles Bronson as an actor regularly voiced by him, Otsuka should be best known in Japan as the voice actor for Nezumi Otoko (Rat Man) in the anime “Ge Ge Ge No Kitaro.”

His son, Akio Otsuka (1959-present), also plays an active role as a voice actor while he played, say, Black Jack in the anime series with his attractively deep voice.


ALIEN CHAME

  • Episode: “Kaiju Booska” #41 “King Of The Universe”
  • Actor: Ren Yamamoto (Hyūdoro)

Alien Chame (pronounced as /chahmeh/) are aliens who came to Earth to take Chamegon back to Planet Chame so as to make him succeed to the throne as King of Planet Chame after the current king who is seriously ill while they admire Chamegon’s courage as a boy who came to Earth by himself from Planet Chame.

Although their remarks cannot help sounding somewhat abrupt, the amorphous object seen on the occasion of the birth of Chamegon might have been another form of the courageous alien boy while he ended up getting the body fused with a squirrel on Earth through the device Daisaku built to bring a Booska’s brother into being.

Ambassador Hyūdoro

Or it is also thinkable that the amorphous form represented by Chamegon is the original form commonly and usually taken by Alien Chame and that they appeared this time just in human forms using their shapeshift ability. At any rate, such descriptions were not referred to at all in the story.

As the aliens tried to  bring Chamegon back home forcibly against Chamegon’s will to stay on Earth with his buddies, Ambassador Hyūdoro from Planet Chame took Daisaku and his buddies hostage along with their teacher while they were camping (maybe on a school trip).

Hyūdoro attacking Booska’s navel (one of his weak points) with a beam fired from the beam lamp

But, when looking at Chamegon trying to protect them at the risk of his own life and his buddies trying not to allow the aliens to take Chamegon with them, Hyūdoro gave up their plan to make Chamegon succeed to the throne admiring their firm bond of friendship while impressed with their LOVE among other things despite the austere and unyielding attitude Hyūdoro had taken.

As Hyūdoro asked Chamegon to pay a short visit to Planet Chame to cheer the sick king, Chamegon accompanied the aliens on their spacecraft bound for Planet Chame.

Hyūdoro was played by Ren Yamamoto who acted Onita in “Ultraman” and the human form of Alien Icarus in “Ultraseven.”

Chamegon trying to protect his buddies at the risk of his life

ALIEN CHIBULL (making)

Alien Chibull design drawn by Tohl Narita

Tohl Narita: “This is an alien no one gets in. I started designing it by making a shell into an abstract form. I am likely to get an idea from a shell every time I get stuck in coming up with ideas.”

I have to admit I found Alien Chibull less attractive when I was a child as he didn’t battle with Ultraseven so much and was easily defeated by the hero.

But now he is one of my favorite Ultraseven aliens because of the excellently designed and sculpted head alongside of the story featuring mysterious Android Girl Zero One too.

Alien Chibull at Ryosaku Takayama’s Atelier May

The uniquely shaped head should be a brain made into an abstract form modeling after a spiral shell or something while it illustrates his high intelligence as an alien who  tried to move ahead with his plan using Zero One as his instrument.

In the “Ultra Kaiju Nyumon (Guide To Ultra Kaiju)” of that time, Alien Chibull is described as the smartest alien in the universe with some giant electric brains on his planet watching over all the civilizations and creatures there.

Alien Chibull at Ryosaku Takayama’s Atelier May

As I wrote before, the name came from “chiburu” (the alien is called Alien Chiburu in Japanese regardless of the English spelling) that signifies “head” in the Okinawan dialect while the script writer of this episode Shozo Uehara is from Okinawa along with late Tetsuo Kinjo who was the main script writer of the original Ultra Series (Q, Man and Seven).

The short battle with Ultraseven seems to have been unavoidable as this was a puppet alien unsuitable for battles with the difficulties to operate it by wire and, also, this episode was filmed by the staff in charge of the drama part instead of the tokusatsu part while they were unfamiliar with dealing with tokusatsu props and the filming was carried out outdoor on the department store roof that should have made the tokusatsu shooting harder than in a studio.

Alien Chibull at the Bisen studio