Another Tokusatsu-Related Actor, Chikara Hashimoto, Passed Away

Daimajin played by Hashimoto

An obituary of Chikara Hashimoto who played Daimajin in its suit was published. According to it, he died of lung cancer at 83 on October 11.

While I hadn’t known  it, he is described as an actor who used to be a professional baseball player. After his resignation from baseball due to an accidental injury, he turned into an actor at the suggestion of an assistant director of Daiei movie company.

Taking advantage of his height, he was picked for the role of Daimajin for its Daiei movies, and he acted the character for all the three episode of the series.

Dymon played by Hashimoto

It is known that, when he was about to act Daimajin, he was told not to blink, while his eyes were exposed through its mask with the eye parts uncovered, because it would be unsuitable for the guardian deity to blink like a human.

Therefore, it seems that Hashimoto never blinked while the scenes where Daimajin appeared were being filmed, and it is said that, as the dust swirling in the studio made his eyes bloodshot, which allegedly managed to make Daimajin’s furious expression on its face all the more impressive unintentionally as the result even with its mask covering Hashimoto’s face.

Hashimoto in “Fist of Fury”

Although I didn’t know this either, Hashimoto is likely to have also acted Dymon in the 1968 Daiei “yōkai” movie “Yōkai Daisensō (Yōkai Great War)” and got to make the character as much impressive with its suit designed to have his eyes exposed again.

And, moreover, I have just learnt he played one of the Japanese bad guy martial artists impressively in Bruce Lee’s 1972 “Fist of Fury.” It makes me feel somewhat ashamed that I didn’t notice it at all while both the “Daimajin” movie series and “Fist of Fury” are my favorites!

After he stopped being an actor in 1985, chances are that he showed up at some tokusatsu-related events and the like as the Daimajin actor.

The series of obituaries of tokusatsu-related actors such as Haruo Nakajima and Yoshio Tsuchiya really make me sad…


A Tokusatsu Show Almost Forgot: Majin Bander #3

The other head of Bander

As far as the outline of the story I described in my previous post, I think it sounds quite interesting. And I dimly remember the scene where the armed police squad fired at Bander in the field although I remember nothing else of the series.

While I should have watched it in 1969 when I entered elementary school, the memory is quite ambiguous probably because there should not have been any occasions when the show was rerun.

The greatest feature of Majin Bander as a character was that it had two heads to be replaced by one another according to his emotion. The face usually looks mild (or plain) as the guardian for the Paron but, when he gets mad, the mild-looking head goes down into the body and the other head with the angry-looking expression on it comes up from within the body instead.

This concept of a guardian changing into a majin is just like, in the Daiei “Daimajin” movie series, the haniwa-clay-figure-like statue with its gentle-looking face turning into angry-looking Daimajin when getting rid of villains.

Reissued Bander figures I found online; Bander looks somewhat awkward with the unwantedly long arms out of proportion to the body

About the two heads, it was properly sung in the theme song like “His face changes scary when he gets angry.” The phrases “Tonde Koi Bandā/Tonde Koi Bandā/Heiwa No Tsukai/Uchu No Hate Kara Yattekoi (come flying, Bander/come flying, Bander/Emissary of Peace/come from the farthest reaches of space)…” sung in the song still stays with me in my head.

It is known that the character Bander was played by Eiichi Kikuchi who acted Returned Ultraman in the 1970 tokusatsu show “The Return of Ultraman.” Kikushi says in an interview covered in a book that it was a costume that left him almost unmovable with inflexibility except the movement with which he just moved forward and backward.

When I talked about Bander to one of my colleagues at work a long time ago, he was astounded saying, “How come you can remember such stuff?”

Oh, well, that is the way a tokusatsu fan goes…


A Tokusatsu Show Almost Forgot: Majin Bander #2

The image of seemingly a record or sonosheet (flexi disc) consisting of “Song of Majin Bander” and “Bander March” borrowed from online

First of all, I have to apologize to you about a mistake I carelessly made in my previous post.

The word “majin” could have two different meanings according to the Chinese characters used for the term. One is “evil human” and the other “evil god” while the two words are pronounced the same way in Japanese.

And this “Majin Bander” is applicable to the latter case. Making an excuse, these two words are often confused even among Japanese. The name “Daimajin” from its famous Daiei tokusatsu movies means “great evil god,” and the name “Mazinger” should have been derived from the term “evil god” as well while both of them are good guys.

Therefore, it might be better to interpret the term “majin” literally representing “evil god” as a character with such mighty power that it could be intimidating.

 

As to the story of “Majin Bander.” while I don’t remember it at all, it seems to go like this:

Space energy called “Oran” alleged to be some thousands times as much powerful as a hydrogen bomb was stolen from Planet Paron. To get the Oran back, Prince of Paron accompanied by the character named X1 came to the earth along with Majin Bander.

The emergence of the prince with scissors-like hands caused the government to send in the armed police squad to attack them.  Prince called Bander to make it defend him.

In the meantime, the villain Gōdā (maybe Goder or something if put in English) was plotting to conquer the world with the use of Oran. Dr. Tachibana who learnt about the object of Prince of Paron having come to the earth decided to fight with Goder in cooperation with Prince, X1 and Bander.


A Tokusatsu Show Almost Forgot: Majin Bander #1

“Majin Bander”

While I have many tokusatsu shows I hope to watch again even besides the Ultra Series out of the ones I enjoyed watching when I was a child, the show “Majin Bander/Bandā” is also one of them.

“Majin” is the Japanese word to be literally translated into English as “evil human” often representing a being that has a magical power even if it is not exactly a human. It could be translated as “warlock” or, according to the nature of the character, “genie” in English.

Incidentally, it is known that the name of the popular anime robot “Mazinger Z” was from the association between this word “majin” and “mashin (machine)” as they phonetically sound similar in Japanese.

 

It is said that “Majin Bander” was the tokusatsu show aired in 1969 with 13 episodes while the series was shortened for an unknown reason although it had been planned to have 26 episodes in the first place.

It seems that it was initially planned to have a tokusatsu series feature “Majin Garon” based on the manga authored by Osamu Tezuka, but it didn’t go well and it is likely that the plan was replaced by the one about the show “Majin Bander.”

In my impression, the show looked very much old-fashioned or outdated even when I watched it as a kid. And it is no surprise when I have learnt that the series had finished being produced in 1966 and that the broadcasting had been postponed indefinitely due to affairs to secure the time slot for this show.


DINO-TANK; ALIEN KILL (making) #2

Dino-Tank being sculpted

At any rate, I still find it quite odd that Dino-Tank didn’t even have its legs, which I assume was designed to make it look like it was integrated with the tank while it is an unlikely creature on the earth.

The brick-like parts covering its lower part of the body were made from the brick toy called “Daiya Burokku (daiya is from diamond)” by fastening them onto the surface. The brick-like parts should have been placed so as to make the dinosaur’s body look united with the tank part while the brick-like parts are found to have been drawn on Narita’s design as well.

When closely looking at the Dino-Tank costume, it makes me aware that the head and arms appear to have been attached to the body with a feel of different texture although such a process of putting separately sculpted parts together was not unusual.

Dino-Tank at Ryosaku Takayama’s Atelier May

This makes me speculate the body part could not possibly have been made by Takayama as, in my personal view, the body looks rather crude compared to the other parts elaborately sculpted while I am not sure…

The tank is said to have been based on the miniature of the type 61 tank borrowed from Nikkatsu movie company with details added to it while it was used in the 1967 Nikkatsu kaiju movie “Gappa: The Triphibian Monster.” The Daiya Burokku parts are also found to have been used for the surface of the tank Dino rode.

Regarding the story of this episode, it is said that the preparatory script didn’t have the concept of Amagi getting over his weakness caused by his traumatic experience he underwent in his childhood and that the one who removed the time bomb from Spiner was set to be Furuhashi. Thus, it can be said that the content of this episode was deepened by applying Amagi’s personal experience to it.

As to the making of Alien Kill, there is nothing to say about it as they were just portrayed as looking the same as humans. Although there seem to be fans who are interested in which actors played the aliens, I have to admit I am not so much drawn to the topic!

The back of Dino-Tank

DINO-TANK; ALIEN KILL (making) #1

Dino Tank design drawn by Tohl Narita

Tohl Narita: “This is based on a weird idea of a dinosaur riding on a tank, but I personally don’t like to design such a thing.”

While it is unknown who came up with the idea of Dino-Tank as “a dinosaur on a tank,” I think it is a weird idea as Narita says as they look so irrelevant.

I was a bit disappointed when I was a kid at the mere combination of an ordinary dinosaur and ordinary tank. The significance of the story in which Amagi finally overcame his weakness was slightly hard to understand for a kid back then.

So this was not such an impressive episode when I watched it as a kid although I find it enjoyable enough now after I have learnt the significance of overcoming one’s own weakness and how hard it is.

Enlarged head part of the above design that looks excellent

When looking at the design and sculpture now, the dinosaur drawn by Narita and the head and arm parts of the Takayama-made costume look so excellent seemingly reproducing a now-extinct real-life dinosaur.

Generally speaking, it should be even harder to sculpt something simple and plain like the dinosaur with a touch of reality than to sculpt a character with a complex design. It is also interesting that the dinosaur had his teeth curved outwards.

Actually, I like Dino Tank’s roar as it is very much impressive. It is said that Kazuho Mitsuta who directed this episode decided not to use any background music for the scene where the kaiju fought with Ultraseven to make the tank caterpillar sound conspicuous as the director thought it would make the scene more thrilling.

While Narita’s design includes a tank design, it seems to have been left unused

DORAKO; REBORN DORAKO (making) #2

Reborn Dorako introduced as Dorako (II) in the “Fantastic TV Collection No. 2” published in 1979

While Dorako uniquely had a red lamp on the tip of its tail, it can be found that it was instructed as such in Narita’s design.

At any rate, there are no other words left to say than excellent and fabulous about Takayama’s skill of sculpture that enabled him to make the Dorako costume look totally identical to Narita’s design reproducing the details and entire shape.

To be honest, I ever thought Dorako had sickle and tape-measure hands without noticing it actually had two sickle hands in my childhood as the sickle and tape-measure hands were described as such in kaiju pictorials that were available at that time.

Deteriorated Reborn Dorako used as a stage show costume

For instance, one describes the tape-measure hand as giving out a whip from it and another as a magnetic hand.

Regarding Reborn Dorako that appeared in Ultraman Episode 37, as it is well known, the appearance is so much different from the original Dorako.

Although it is understandable that it had no wings given that it was its “reborn” version brought back to life by the superability of Geronimon as the wings were torn off by Red King (II), it is not as convincing that it had human-like five-fingered hands instead of the sickles and that it had 4 horns while the original Dorako had only a single horn.

Dorako’s right hand is described as a magnetic hand in the 24th edition of “Kaiju Ultra Zukan (Pictorial)” published in 1971 (the first edition was released in 1968)

The statement made by Tetsuo Yamamura covered in a book revealed that it was Kunio Suzuki, one of the Ultra kaiju suit actors, who took the liberty of fastening the additional horns onto the costume for no particular reason at his discretion. And the additional horns were the horns removed from the suit of Imora that appeared in “Kaiju Booska.”

Yamamura says Suzuki was in charge of maintaining kaiju costumes along with his role as a suit actor back then. While this story might amusingly show the easy-goingness of the good old days, it remains unknown why Reborn Dorako ended up having five-fingered hands.

Incidentally, “Reborn Dorako” along with the other resurrected kaijus that appeared in this Geronimon episode used to be called “Dorako II” in publications although it was just called Dorako in my childhood with no particular specification.