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


U-TOM (making)

U-tom design drawn by Tohl Narita

Tohl Narita: “This is a very ordinary robot.”

It is always fun to see Tohl Narita make such a brief comment on some kaijus he designed while I think it could tell us whether one is his favorite or not. I think it is inevitable to some degree that he had to design what he did not desire to meet the deadline for the weekly broadcasting of the show.

It has been pointed out that Narita should have designed U-tom with inspiration from the famous “Robby the Robot” that appeared in American sci-fi movies such as “Forbidden Planet” while the character is very much popular among sci-fi fans even in Japan.

The impression toward U-tom I had when I was a kid was just a weird robot with its face filled with gears inside although I found it very much attractive. Incidentally, King Joe and U-tom had no particular names of their own when the show aired and are said to have been named after the show ended although I do not remember.

While robot kaijus designed by Narita and sculpted by Ryosaku Takayama looked rather “soft” in material as shown by Windom and King Joe (including Nurse although it is a puppet monster), this U-tom apparently had a rigid body except the soft-looking bottom part of the body.

As the U-tom costume was not sculpted by Ryosaku Takayama but by the sculpture section of Tsuburaya Productions, I assume it might have been made with sort of a sense of rivalry toward Takayama-made robots by choosing to make it a “rigid” robot character.

Although little is publicized about the sculpture of U-tom even officially, the limbs seem to be made from a metallic material such as stainless steel while the head and chest part appear to have been made of FRP. They might have put an order with a sheet metal worker for the limbs if I guess right.

Different marks on the chest were applied to the one single costume to make it look like plural U-toms existed just like Garamons in “Ultra Q.”

TetsuoYamamura says Narita designed this robot supposing Yamamura was to act it, but, at the request of Hajime Tsuburaya, director of this U-tom episode, Haruo Nakajima, the original Godzilla actor, played instead of Yamamura. Yamamura says he found it regrettable that he missed the opportunity to act U-tom while highly admiring Nakajima’s performance to fall face down to the ground with the rigid suit.

When Bin Furuya who played Ultraman and Amagi told Nakajima that falling down in that way in a suit should have hurt in an interview covered in a book, I think Nakajima casually answered, “I don’t remember.  I should have felt nothing.”

NOTE: I found an explanation online that Tetsuo Yamamura said the primary design of U-ton looked like M1 Yamamura coappeared in Ultra Q.

Hajime Tsuburaya and U-tom

BULLTON (making)

Bullton design drawn by Tohl Narita

Tohl Narita: “This is from a sea anemone. I just designed it simply as a moving abstract form.”

Bullton is really a unique kaiju in appearance and settings that is a true rarity among kaijus featured in the primary Ultra Series, and I personally like to see such a weird monster appear along with normal, standard kaijus. It is great to find Narita and Takayama did not make the oddly-shaped kaiju look creepy even though it looks mysterious.

Larval Bullton design drawn by Tohl Narita

Tetsuo Yamamura says in a book that it had two men in it for the scene in which it vibrated its body although the kauju was described as acted by Teruo Aragaki by himself (Yamamura assumes a crew member, not another actor, should have helped Aragaki for the body-shaking scene).

Yamamura also says Bullton had a wooden board like lauan lumber at the bottom inside for actors to get on top of it and that they could make the body tremble from inside by shaking a wood stick set vertically across the inner side of the costume.

Bullton sculpture plan drawn by Ryosaku Takayama with instructions for his assistants (he also put lookalikes of them on top with his words “to my good assistants”)

The larval Bullton is also my favorite while the design is fabulous and it is amazing to see the prop shift its shape into the unfolded version from the meteorite-like form just as it is seemingly without using image compositing or stop motion (I wonder who made the prop. Could be Takayama).

It is likely that Bullton was portrayed in the script to be a creature that was hard to decide whether it was an animal or plant in appearance with bat-like wings swaying.  It also seems to be depicted to be covered with bagworm-like stuff all over the body and to have a head-like part that came up while sticking out a long needle from it.

Bullton sculpture plan drawn by Ryosaku Takayama

One of Narita’s art book has a picture titled “Sky Wall” he describes as he thought he had drawn it around the time when he had been involved in “Ultra Q” adding that a fan let him know it was a background design for an episode of “Ultraseven.”

But I find it is a background design of the four-dimensional universe for this Bullton episode instead of an Ultraseven episode (you can find it out in the DVD).

Narita’s artwork titled “Sky Wall” that is my favorite

PAGOS (making)

Pagos design drawn by Tohl Narita

Tohl Narita: “This is from a Toho kaiju only with its head replaced.”

Narita’s description of Pagos is so plain as if showing the unwillingness he had when designing a kaiju to be remodeled from the existing Toho kaiju Baragon.

It is said that this episode was originally planned to feature Gomess that was revealed to have an organ to breathe out a molecule destruction ray in this episode, but it seems that, as Gomess had been restored to Godzilla the costume was based on and returned to Toho already, they decided to feature a new kaiju instead that was to be Pagos capable to breathe out the molecule destruction ray.

Pagos design drawn by Tohl Narita

I have just known the sculptor of the Pagos head is described as Ryosaku Takayama on the Net although I put it “unknown” in my Kaiju Pictorial entry for Pagos (I corrected it already).

Along with the head design done by Tohl Narita, Takayama’s head sculpture is just excellent and impressive enough to make the kaiju look fully attractive although the body was from Baragon.

The back part of the head looks a bit different between the drawing with Pagos on all fours and with the kaiju standing on two feet.

Pagos design drawn by Tohl Narita

I have also found it is explained online that the Baragon body was used for Nelonga, Magulla and Gavora in “Ultraman” after being used for Pagos in “Ultra Q,” and, after the use at stage shows as NELONGA, the costume was returned to Toho where it was restored to Baragon again to make it appear in the 1968 Toho movie “Destroy All Monsters.”

Ultraman Episode 9 in which Gavora appeared was originally planned to feature Pagos instead, but the idea seems to have been dropped to use the Nelonga head as it was.

Such a transition eloquently tells us how robustly the Baragon costume was made by the Toho art staff at any rate given it got to appear as Baragon finally again after being reused that much as different kaijus.

 


More About Tetsuo Yamamura Who Played Chamegon

From left: Hideaki Sato, Akihide Tsuzawa and Tetsuo Yamamura (snapshot from Ultraman Episode 9); Sato also appeared in Ultra Q Episode 14 as the protagonist boy

Following my post on Haruyoshi Nakamura as one of the suit actors of Booska, I would like to talk a bit more about Tetsuo Yamamura (1951-present) as an actor of Chamegon while the character was acted by Yamamura and Teruo Aragaki alternately depending on the episode.

As I wrote about the outline of Yamamura’s career as a suit actor, after he appeared as human characters in “Ultra Q” and “Ultraman,” he started his career as a kaiju actor with Chamegon for the first time, surprisingly enough, when he was a junior high student.

Chibirakun characters: Pochipochi is a dog-like character beside rightmost Chibirakun

As to Ultra Kaijus, as most of them were being played by seasoned suit actors who had already been involved in suit acting for the series, Yamamura started playing with Gander, Alien Prote (giant version) and Dally in “Ultraseven” after he had played kaijus at stage shows or for still photos exclusively along with a human character as the son of the Mizushimas assaulted by Alien Quraso.

Yamamura (second from right) around the time when he was playing Pochipochi

After that, Yamamura played Pochipochi in the TV tokusatsu series “Chibirakun” (1970-1971) produced by Tsuburaya Productions, and, in 1972, he played Daigoro in the kaiju movie “Daigoro vs. Goliath” produced as the movie commemorating the 10th anniversary of Tsuburaya Productions (I have never seen this movie unfortunately).

He is also known to have played kaius for several Tsuburaya TV tokusatsu series including “Ultraman Tarou”(1973), “Fireman” (1973) and “Jumborg Ace” (1973). He also appeared in “Ultraman 80” (1980) as a kaiju named Tetsuon after his name.

Tetsuon

(ALIEN) ANNON (making)

Annon design drawn by Tohl Narita

Tohl Narita: “I wanted to make a kaiju with rocks piled up irregularly.”

As I put in my “Kaiju Pictorial” post on Annon, I find this alien consisting of the lifeless material, rock, is very much attractive with the concept of a formless alien to possess his body made from a rock, which makes us aware a variety of life forms even except humanoid aliens could be found in the universe.

According to Tetsuo Yamamura who says he tried on the costume, he found it had been made in the form of allowing an actor to get in by removing the top part of the suit while adding the costume was well made.

Sculpture plan drawn by Ryosaku Takayama: the miniature Annon body (above); the costume (below) with an actor faintly visible inside

As to the design Narita drew, it is a shame that the (blurred) image covered in one of his art books does not have its full length leaving the head part trimmed probably to fit into the page layout (unfortunately, the other art book of his does not have the design of this alien itself presumably due to the page limitation).

Whereas Narita describes it as it was shaped like a pile of rocks, it appears to be shaped like a cloud that was one of Narita’s favorite motifs.

Annon costume that appears to have been just cast out of the plaster mold at Takayama’s Atelier May

The plaster mold the miniature Annon body used in the show was cast out of still remains in existence while it was also sculpted by Ryosaku Takayama along with the suit, and I saw the mold displayed at an exhibition before alongside of the miniature Annon body replicas allegedly made in the 1980s.

Incidentally, Haruyoshi Nakamura played this unique alien besides the other kaiju characters he acted for the original Ultra Series.

The original mold of the miniature Annon body made by Takayama (left); a replica of the miniature Annon body