ALIEN BELL; GUMONGA (making #2)


Gumonga design drawn by Tohl Narita

As to Gumonga, the opening and closing of the mouth was operated by remote control. The shell Alien Bell had on his back was made by being cast out of the same mold as Gumonga while it is unknown why the alien has the shell shaped like Gumonga on his back.

Gumonga’s face with the big eyes and big mouth like a cartoon character might look too humorous for a spider monster dwelling in the mysterious mock space.

For the scenes in which the Ultra Garrison members fell down with parachutes and Amagi and Soga looked up at Earth in the sky, the front screen projection to project images over actors onto the background is said to have been used instead of the rear screen projection to do the opposite.

Gumonga being sculpted at Ryosaku Takayama’s Atelier May

The clear combined images seem to have surprised the staff when the film was shown.

It is explained the scenes of the forest where Amagi and Soga wandered around were filmed in the woods that used to be located in Fuchu City, Tokyo, and the ones of the bottomless swamp were shot in the now-defunct outdoor studio possessed by Toho named “Ikuta Open” in Kanagawa Prefecture.

The set of Vallarge is said to have been built in Ikuta Open for Ultraman Episode 7 while the set was originally for the 1966 Toho movie titled “Adventures in Kigan Castle” starred by Toshiro Mifune.

While this episode was concluded by a line uttered by Captain Kiriyama that goes like “wisdom without God will raise the devil with wisdom,” there is an explanation it came from the words “intellectual training without God will raise the devil with wisdom” inscribed in stone at Tamagawa University Tetsuo Kinjo who wrote this episode graduated from.

ALIEN BELL; GUMONGA (making #1)


Alien Bell design drawn by Tohl Narita

Tohl Narita: (about Alien Bell) “I got the idea from the spider.” (about Gumonga) “I wanted to make a spider with a transparent plastic shell on its back through which you can see inside.”

It is said that Alien Bell‘s face was based on the cricket insect while it is also pointed out that the yellow part in the center is shaped like a round jingle bell.

As the alien is made with a weird design in a way, Shinichiro Kobayashi known as the kaiju morphologist (he is actually a dentist) says in a book the design lacks necessity while guessing Narita might have wandered about his design at that time.

The back of Alien Bell drawn by Tohl Narita
Alien Bell costume being sculpted at Ryosaku Takayama’s Atelier May

Tetsuo Yamamura says he saw the transparent part of the alien’s head was smashed up by Koji Uenishi, the original Ultraseven actor, with his gutsy performance when the fierce battle scene between Alien Bell and Ultraseven was being filmed. Yamamura recalls Uenishi never cut corners in playing Ultraseven and always performed the hero in earnest.

In the preparatory script, it seems that Alien Bell was set to speak human words to explain the purpose of the mock space he formed in the sky so that Amagi and Soga were trapped there describing the two men as experimental materials to see if earthlings are suitable as their food.

KEMUR (making)


A: Kemur design drawn by Tohl Narita

Tohl Narita: “This is really a satisfactory design. I attempted to incorporate Egyptian art techniques organizing impressive and expressive angles into a single side while it is unnecessary for kaijus as they are three dimensional. I drew ‘C’ more recently that was featured on the cover of an issue of the magazine ‘Uchusen‘ as well.”

Although Kemur is such a popular alien here in Japan among fans along with Alien Baltan, it is truly a shame that no pictures showing its sculpturing process seem to be available exclusive of only a few still photos (ones of Kemur holding the Ferris wheel and running in front of a police car).

I think Narita was also saying somewhere else he wanted to make it hard to tell which side of the head is the front while I believe the design reflects the concept of the alien defined as physically deteriorated species despite of the longevity they gained.

B: Kemur head design drawn by Tohl Narita (the third eye at the back may have been added afterwards)

It is interesting to find an antenna-like part sticking from top of its head in the design with a funnel-like shape added aside. The mechanism to move the two front eyes side to side while glowing done by Shigeo Kurakata is so fabulous and greatly helped to make the alien look even more mysterious managing to give expressions to its face that could have been very much expressionless otherwise.

Of course, the sculpturing by Ryosaku Takayama is so fascinating as always. As no color pictures of Kemur seem to be available, it is unknown exactly what color the body was while Kemur II was made from the head and a new wetsuit differently painted (only the head was used for Alien Zetton again with the head slightly diagonally positioned to make it look like a single-eyed alien).

C: Kemur illustrated by Tohl Narita (I do love skies  Narita drew)

Bin Furuya who acted Kemur says in his book that, when he tired the suit on, the head was so heavy and unstable with the high center of gravity position and that the motors to move the eyes positioned above his head made sounds from outside almost inaudible.

Moreover, as Narita started spraying paint over the dark brown suit worn by Furuya, Furuya says the smell of thinner made him feel so painful. Furuya was fed up with suit acting after the difficulties he had to overcome in playing Kemur and Ragon for “Ultra Q,” but it is well known that he ended up acting Ultraman at the strong request of Narita who found Furuya’s thin body shape with a tall height and long limbs would best fit the new unprecedented alien hero.

Tetsuo Yamamura says in a book he saw the Kemur head used in the show with the mechanism removed placed in storage for long.

Hero Cicada-Human & M1 vs. Gorgos #2


“Leave it to me.” M1 who speaks human words in this story took the initiative to rescue Cidada-Human out of his stranded spacecraft by lifting it with his strong power, and the alien thanked them saying (by telepathy), “I am Alien Jigri. I landed on Earth because my spacecraft had broken down while I had been on a space trip. You guys saved my life. Thank you.”

It is found that Cicada-Human is set to be Alien Jigri instead of Alien Tilsonia somehow while it gives me an impression that it was named as such haphazardly exclusively for this story as such things could often have happened back then. An idyllic time…

When M1 managed to rescue Cicada-Human, a giant rock popped out of the lake and it was revealed to be a rock monster (in this story, Gorgos is just described as Rock Monster as shown in the opening credits of the show).

Although the rock monster had been blown up with dynamite tossed under the body by M1, the shattered pieces got together and returned to its original shape. At last, Cicada-Human stood up to Rock Monster saying to people, “Just step aside. Let me deal with it!”

(M1 can be found on top of Gorgos)

Cicada-Human turned into his giant version as he is set to be able to extend and shrink his body (the description found in the story is likely to tell us the concept of “kyodaika” (turning into a giant version) was not so common yet.

When Cicada-Human and M1 were about to subdue Rock Monster, Mt. Fuji started erupting with a ground rumbling and lava pouring from the crater, but the two heroes wouldn’t let go of Rock Monster. Finally, the  lava flowing down swallowed up the three. Cicada-Human and M1 made Rock Monster enclosed in molten rock at the expense of their own lives…

This story has a note describing it as a story based on the Ultra Q episode “S.O.S. Mount Fuji” with new monsters added to it. As the story from “Garamon Strikes Back” is found to come next, this Rock Monster story should have been featured before Cicada-Human appeared in the show. That makes me imagine children who read this story could have been surprised at the alien who appeared as a villain, but I feel like such a confusion often took place in those days. An idyllic time…

Hero Cicada-Human & M1 vs. Gorgos #1


“Ultra Q Pictorial”

I recently purchased a book titled “Ultra Q Pictorial” (published this year in 2017) featuring magazine articles on Ultra Q of the time after the previously released “Ultraseven Pictorial” (2014) and “Ultraman Pictorial” (2015).

This pictorial of Ultra Q is not so picturesque as the others because it was not customarily practiced back then to deal with such a TV show in publication featuring a large number of photos even though Ultra Q was the unprecedented full-fledged tokusatsu TV show supervised by Eiji Tsuburaya famous for Toho Godzilla movies.

Therefore, in addition to illustrated black and white articles about Ultra Q kaijus, this pictorial predominantly features illustrated reads from Ultra Q episodes while the stories tend to be adjusted more or less even with different settings applied to them rather than faithful to the original stories of the show.

The back cover

Among them, I found a fun story featuring Cicada-Human, M1 and Gorgos. While it is a story in which a battle unfolds among them, of all things, Cicada-Human is found to be dealt with as a righteous hero (with a scarf wrapped around his neck) who fights with M1 against Gorgos while the alien was depicted as a formidable enemy plotting to invade Earth using Garamons in the real show!

In the story, Cicada-Human’s spacecraft crashed into the ground by accident. People including Jun Manjome and his fellows along with M1 rushed to the scene. M1 is described in this particular story as an artificial life form brought into being for observation of volcanic activities of Mt. Fuji to check places inaccessible to humans.

Illustration featuring Cicada-Human fighting against Gorgos in cooperation with M1 found tearing Gorgos’s leg apart