GIANT (making)

Snapshot from “Metamorphosis” with Keiji Kawakami, tokusatsu director, in the middle giving instructions to Kozo Nomura (Giant)

As Giant was just a giant human instead of a costume kaiju, I have little to tell you about the making of the character (There is nothing to talk about regarding the making of Giant Morpho either as you may expect).

While the man who became giant was named Koji in the show, it came from Koji Ishizaka who served as the narrator for “Ultra Q” and the first half of the series “Ultraman” because Kyoko Kitazawa who wrote the script of this episode had known Ishizaka since they were university students through workshops sponsored by broadcast writers.

Koji Kajita who directed this episode, however, is said to have jokingly complained about the name as the heroin kept calling his name throughout the episode.

It seems that this episode story originated from the idea worked out by Tetsuo Kinjo based on a folktale in which the leading character transforms into a dragon.

 

It is said that they were also thinking about the likeliness of another ending for this episode in which Giant spoke to the heroin asking her why she left him behind when he had become giant.

In that version of the script, Koji was to die after he returned to normal size by being exposed to Heat Atomic X-ray saying, “I just wanted your heart…”

It is good to know that their love made a miracle happen in the end in the aired version of the episode with the theme to question if love would remain unchangd even if the significant other has turned into a giant.

Kozo Nomura (1931-present) who acted Koji seems to have retired from show business although he is also known among Ultra fans for his role as Dr. Miyabe in Ultraseven Episode 19.

Machiko Naka (1936-present) who played the heroin Ayako is doing well and appeared in an interview covered in a book. She is also known as Mrs. Ishiguro she played in Ultraseven Episode 2, and it is likely that she is very happy about her appearances in each episode.


A Behind-the-scenes Story About Shaboten (Cactus) Park

Spherical greenhouse from Ultraman Episode 5 in Cosmo Land (Granpal Park at present); this still photo is among the ones alleged to have been recently discovered with no such scene in the show

While I posted an article about Hydra and “Izu Shaboten (Cactus) Park” (currently “Izu Shaboten Zoo Park”) where the Hydra statue is located, a story often referred to in a talk by the cast members of the time and publicized in books is an accident that took place during the filming at the park.

When the night scenes were filmed along with Akiji Kobayashi (Cap. Muramatsu) and Sandayu Dokumamushi (Arashi; formerly credited as Iyoshi Ishii), it is said that Susumu Kurobe (Hayata) accidentally sat on a big spiny cactus.

 

Dokumamushi says in a book that he heard Kurobe say “ouch!” when they tried to get in position by lowering themselves, and Dokumamushi found Kurobe got stuck by the cactus with the needles all over his buttock like a toothbrush.

And they had to remove the needles one by one with the filming interrupted while Kurobe was bending forward with his uniform trousers lowered and his buttock exposed to the filming light lit up by a seasoned lighting technician from Toho who served for products including Kurosawa movies starred by Toshiro Mifune.

Although I feel sorry for Kurobe-san, such a story really makes me feel the presence of a homey relationship exhibited by the cast and staff members of the time.

Izu Shaboten Park was launched in 1959 and has been seen as a “well-established” theme park sine then along with “Izu Granpal Park” run by the same company while both of them are located at the foot of Mt. Ōmuro on the Izu Peninsula.

 

While the mountain where Kemlar showed up was also Mt. Ōmuro (Mt. Ōtake in the show), the (now-defunct) spherical greenhouse that appeared in Ultraman Episode 5 used to be located in Granpal Park that was called “Izu Cosmo Land” back then.

The scene of the spherical greenhouse viewed from above as the VTOL was landing was filmed by Koichi Takano, tokusatsu director, from a helicopter.

These theme parks could be the symbols related to domestic tourism that thrived in the 1960s while they evoke a feeling of nostalgia a lot although such long-standing theme parks are on the wane now due to the emergence of Tokyo Disneyland and the declining number of children in Japan.

Incidentally, the word shaboten sounds a bit outdated as the cactus is called saboten today on the regular basis.


IRON ROCKS; ALIEN MIMY (making #2)

Article publicized when Ultraseven aired (from Ultraseven Pictorial)

In the episode script, Iron Rocks is said to have been specified as a human-shaped robot made of the debris from sunken Battleship Yamato as it was to come ashore heading for the TDF Far Eastern Base with the costume to require two actors like Dodongo.

The trailer of the time also seems to have announced Iron Rocks to come ashore in the episode to come next.

While Alien Mimy is known as an alien who didn’t show their true identity except the appearance of their characteristic spacecraft in the show, it is unlikely that Narita drew any design of Alien Mimy.

I assume the starfish-shaped spacecraft should have been designed by Noriyoshi Ikeya who was to take over kaiju designing from Narita shortly afterwards.

The Ultraseven Pictorial has an article of the time about Iron Rocks coming ashore with four legs along with the illustrated Alien Mimy while describing the starfish spacecraft as their undersea base.

Alien Mimy illustrated in the article: (caption) “Alien Mimy with excellent technology. But what they do is so cruel like devils”

As the four-footed Iron Rocks and Alien Mimy seem to have appeared in the manga version of Ultraseven drawn by Jiro Kuwata, the alien illustrated in this article might have been based on the one drawn by Kuwata (I realize the alien has a kind of Kuwata feel to it vaguely).

The plot of an aliens’ undersea base for invasion with a battleship robot seems to originate from one of the episodes of the tokusatsu show “WoO” left unproduced that was being planned along with “UNBALANCE” while the latter resulted in “Ultra Q” finally.

The same plot also came close to being realized as one of Ultraman episodes that was left unproduced either featuring a kaiju called Yamaton shaped like Battleship Yamato.

Yamaton seems to have appeared in the manga version of Ultraman drawn by Daiji Kazumine with the design worked out by Tohl Narita. It is surprising to learn this story went through such a long history over the three products (WoO, Ultraman and Ultraseven) until it got realized.

Tohl Narita: (about Yamaton) “I drew this design for a manga after the show Ultraman ended.”

Yamaton design drawn by Tohl Narita titled as “Steel Primitive Man Yamaton”

IRON ROCKS; ALIEN MIMY (making #1)

Tohl Narita: (about Iron Rocks) “Just like Dino-Tank, this is a strange one as it was the kaiju from Battleship Yamato. This is a design I drew when I was thinking seriously of resigning Tsuburaya Productions.”

As the design drawing of Iron Rocks is included in neither of Tohl Narita’s art books, it is uncertain whether a design drawing by Narita did exist or not.

Although it had been said for a long time that the prop used for Iron Rocks was one of the Battleship Yamato props used in a Toho movie, it was revealed quite recently that the Iron Rocks prop was genuinely made by the sculpting section of Tsuburaya Productions, most likely, from scratch without using the Toho prop.

While I had received an impression of softness from its material in appearance, it seems that the prop was made from latex cast out of the mold and was reinforced with FRP from inside.

But it is told that they estimated the rigidity according to the size wrongly and that the whole thing collapsed as soon as it was taken out of the mold. The sculpture of Iron Rocks seems to have been disapproved by Eiji Tsuburaya either when he was on the set saying, “Such soft stuff doesn’t work out.”

It is likely that the prop was supported by thick lauan lumber materials from inside in the end.


HYDRA (making)

Hydra design drawn by Tohl Narita

Tohl Narita: “It feels like a birdman.”

It is known that Hydra was designed after the real-life statue that appeared in the show. It is a statue named Kōgenryū (literally, “wild field dragon”) that still remains in existence at the Izu Shaboten (Cactus) Park (Hydra’s alias is Kōgenryū in the show as well, but it means “plateau dragon” with a different Chinese character used).

As to how this statue was chosen for the show, Yuzo Higuchi, director of this episode, plainly says in a book that they found it by chance during location scouting. Things were often decided in such an easy-going way back then while I love it.

Hydra was sculpted by Ex Production instead of Ryosaku Takayama who should have already been extremely busy in making Narita-designed Ultra Kaijus one after another.

Enlarged head part of the design

Ex (representing “expert”) Production pronounced as “Ekisu Purodakushon” or abbreviated as “Ekisu Puro” in Japanese was formed by the founders including Masao Yagi and Keizo Murase who had been involved in the sculpting work for Toho tokusatsu movies such as Godzilla.

It seems to have been when Ex Production was just established that the order was placed with them for the Hydra costume. Murase founded his own sculpting company in 1972 called “Twenty” (written and pronounced as “Tsenny” in Japanese) known to have made the massively sculpted costumes of Vakishim and Verokron for “Ultraman Ace.”

Among other things, it is said Vakishim was too large to take out of the workshop and that they had to sever the costume temporarily for delivery to the studio.

Hydra at the back of the Bisen studio

According to Murase, Hydra’s scales all over the body were made from an artificial leather material by cutting each piece apart and pasting them over each other.

He says they made scales for King Ghidorah by casting the latex pieces from the mold, which enabled them to give the scales more solidity with the center part of each piece slightly elevated while the same method could not be applied to a TV show kaiju due to the budget and schedule.

The Hydra costume was remodeled into Guigass by Ex Production afterwards. In the 1970s, Ex Production and Twenty seem to have played their active roles in sculpting characters mainly for the shows featuring human-sized heroes such as Kamen Rider and Kikaider.

Incidentally, it is likely that Izu Shaboten Park has changed its name into Izu Shaboten Zoo Park (Izu Shaboten Dobutsu Koen) with the Kōgenryū statue remaining as it had been.

Izu Shaboten Zoo Park Map shown at their website (I added the Kogenryu statue inscription)

BOSTANG; ALIEN KEEL (making)

A: Clapton primary design drawn by Tohl Narita

Tohl Narita:

(about Clapton & Bostang) “We were supposed to have an episode titled “OIL·SOS,” and I designed A (specified as such in this blog) as a plankton kaiju feeding on oil. While it developed into B1 and B2, the production of the episode was called off, and we got “Space Directive M774″ instead in which the kaiju changed into a stingray kaiju. I made a stingray into the design from my favorite photo almost as it was. (C1 and C2) ”

(about Alien Ruperts’s Spacecraft) “I didn’t like making it just an ordinary spacecraft, and it came to be shaped this way.”

(about Bostang egg) “I wanted to make the surface look like the Jupiter pattern rather than physiological (organic) colors expected from a giant fish egg.”

Although this entry is titled as “Bostang; Alien Keel” in accordance with my “Kaiju Pictorial” article on them, Alien Keel didn’t appear in the show while its name was just referred to by Alien Ruperts Zemi. Narita’s remarks make us aware that the kaiju’s name Clapton should have been an anagram of “plankton” by putting syllables into a different order, not after the famous guitarist.

While I find the spacecraft designed by Narita looks attractive enough, it didn’t come up actually in the show as a differently shaped equivalent appeared instead as I happened to post the picture in my previous entry on the “making” of Alien Ruperts.

Even though the prop of Clapton was being sculpted by Ryosaku Takayama, on the occasion of the episode changing into “Space Directive M774” through the other version of the script titled “The Targeted Planet,” it is said that the prop was remodeled into Bostang, and it is known that the prop used in the show still remains in existence.

Including this prop, at any rate, the stuff Takayama sculpted strangely makes us feel a sense of life even if it looks shabby after being deteriorated by the passage of time while the same is true of the heads of Gomora, Abolas and Banila.

It seems that the word “Bostang” is fictionally set to mean “eternal/immortal life” in the Alien Keel language.


“Anne Now And Then” Authored By Yuriko Hishimi #2

Hishimi-san’s latest book “Anne Now and Then” along with her  previous essay book “Seven Seven Seven Anne Once Again” (paperback edition) to the left

As the name Fukushin had ever made me wonder where it came from because it is an unusual name I have never heard of in real life, Hishimi-san is so nice to explain it in this book that it was from a real-life man named Shinichi Fukuda.

Mr. Fukuda, one of TBS directors, was friendly with Akio Jissoji who directed the Fukushin episode (Jissoji himself was also a director originally from TBS), and the character was named Fukushin after Mr. Fukuda’s nickname (as the family name customarily comes before the last name in Japan like Fukuda Shinichi, the nickname should have been from the abbreviation of his name).

This book also has an essay about the topic that Hishimi-san ended up playing Anne instead of another actress who was originally cast for the role of Anne while the topic started being talked about quite much in recent publications on Ultraseven. I would talk about it on this blog sometime later.

It is always fun to read a book written by the cast members of the time, and I am really glad to see Hishimi-san and her fellows doing well while 50 years have passed since the show aired for the first time.

I always wish them good health, happiness, further success and longevity.


“Anne Now And Then” Authored By Yuriko Hishimi #1

“Anne Now and Then, Ultraseven Forever!” authored by Yuriko Hishimi

I purchased another book authored by Yuriko Hishimi who played Anne in “Ultraseven” published this month while I had been looking forward to it since it was announced to be released.

Her first book was published in 1997 titled “Seven Seven Seven My Sweetheart Ultraseven” and was formed into a paperback edition titled “Seven Seven Seven Anne Once Again” after revision in 2001 while the one I have at home is the paperback edition.

The new book “Anne Now and Then, Ultraseven Forever (Annu Konjaku Monogatari, Urutorasebun Yo Eien Ni)” consists of essays about her memory of each Ultraseven episode in the form of complementing her previous book along with the memoir of her childhood and the newest things disclosed after the publication of the previous book also featuring a special talk made among actresses who played aliens’ human forms in “Ultraseven.”

Among fun stories about Ultraseven episodes, a hilarious one is about Kimihiro Reizei who played Fukushin in Ultraseven Episode 45. As a story he himself introduced to fans quite recently, he went to a public bath in an area outside of Tokyo he visited to perform at a theater in the locality as he likes to bathe in public bathes (me too!).

While he had/has been addressed by a stranger as “Fukushin-san” over and over in any other places, the same thing happened to him then while taking a bath as a young man around 18 spoke to him asking, “You are Fukushin-san, aren’t you?”

And they shook hands all naked.


ALIEN SHAPLAY: GIRADORUS (making #2)

Giradorus primary design drawn by Tohl Narita

Tohl Narita: (about the primary design of Giradorus) “Although this was a kaiju I wanted to make, I dropped it because I thought there could be some difficulties when filming rather than when sculpting.”

(about the final design of Giradorus) “We had a kaiju for the first time in a while after consecutive appearances of aliens. A man got in by standing on his knees moving the kaiju’s head with his arms put into it.”

Following yesterday’s entry, Takashi Kitahara who played Alien Shaplay’s human form also says he voiced the alien in the scene of crying “Giradorus! Giradorus!” while falling off the cliff as much expressively as possible as if the alien would be possessing the kaiju.

Giradorus final design drawn by Tohl Narita

Kitahara says his grandson who watched this episode on DVD with him cheered Alien Shaplay and Giradorus in tears shouting, “Come on! Hang in there, Grandpa!” Kitahara adds that he has been very much proud of this role he played in the glorious show “Ultraseven” in his long career as an actor thanking all viewers.

As to Giradorus, the design was drastically changed from the primary version to the final one by Tohl Narita, I think the one dropped also looks attractive enough.

With the same method as Zumbolar of “Ultraman” applied to Giradorus for its luminescent parts, Shigeo Kurakata (in charge of mechanism) says in an interview that, as the translucent parts were made from FRP by Ryosaku Takayama as thinly as possible so as to make them lit up from inside and that the thinness gave Kurakata a hard time because the heated light bulbs set inside could have melt them.

The style of having a man act standing on his knees is the same as Alien Iyros.  Tohl Narita seems to have got back on right track in his kaiju designs as well along with alien designs.

By the way, Dr. Iwamura, Sakaki’s superior, played by Yoshio Yoshida (1911-1986) was so impressive with such a grumpy nature as to make the Ultra Garrison members cringe even including Dan supposed to be the superhero while I found it so funny when I watched this episode as a kid.

Yoshida is also known to have acted Mephisto (older brother), the lazy devil summoned by the protagonist boy, in “Akumakun” (the younger brother was played by Kenji Ushio known as Jigoku Taishi/Ambassador Hell in “Kamen Rider”).

Yoshio Yoshida as Mephisto in “Akumakun”

ALIEN SHAPLAY: GIRADORUS (making #1)

Alien Shaplay primary design drawn by Tohl Narita

Tohl Narita: (about Alien Shaplay) “I had been thinking of the style of covering the upper half of the head with something like a helmet making the most of the actor’s face rather than a mask covering the whole head. But I gave it up as I thought (the tight schedule of) the Ultra Series would make it impossible to decide on an actor, to sculpt the mold and to make further adjustments to it.”

Although the Alien Shaplay design turned out to be the one Narita didn’t like so much running counter to what he originally had in mind, I find it very much attractive with its mechanical appearance seemingly combined with a creature like an insect.

Intermediate design by Tohl Narita; looks like a rectangular grid pattern was being thought of for the head with the fanged mouth
Final design drawn by Tohl Narita

While it is said the upper part of the mask was made from FRP and the lower part from latex, I am really drawn to the appearance like a creature merged with mechanical parts.

This design makes it look like Narita broke new ground for his design after he appears to have slightly got stuck with some preceding alien designs as if making Alien Shaplay herald some masterpiece characters he had worked out subsequently before he pulled out of the show.

Along with the dotted part of the head, I find its shape viewed from the side is fantastic.

Alien Shaplay head at Ryosaku Takayama’s Atelier May

The clothes the alien wore were allegedly made by the dress making section of the Tsuburaya Productions. The curly-toed shoes remind me of those of the Type B Ultraman costume. I personally like to see aliens including Alien Bado wear such shoes while I don’t think of putting them on myself (I would apologize for my inconsistency if someone finds me wearing ones in the future).

Takashi Kitahara who played Alien Shaplay’s human form Sakaki says in a recent interview which appeared in a book that he got very much excited with the role of an alien as he had never played such a character in his career.

Alien Shaplay at the back of the Bisen studio