Human-sized Woo Appeared!!!

With the name TBS in the back assuming it says “TBS Ishiuchi Maruyama Ski Field”; the Ishiuchi Ski Resort might have been originally developed by TBS although I am not sure

It is known among ardent fans of Ultraman that there are pictures taken at the ski field (Ishiuchi Maruyama Ski Resort in Niigata Prefecture) where the location shooting for the Woo episode was done back then showing the costume of Woo with an actor inside in the snow field. Not much is referred to and known about the details of these photos while there are no scenes in the show where Woo appeared in the human-size.

Moreover, It is likely that Dorako accompanied Woo on that occasion although the combination is really unexpected while we can see this Dorako was the costume before it was remodeled into Reborn Dorako with some horns added to the costume from Imora by Kunio Suzuki maybe just for pleasure. Suzuki also played Woo in the show although it is uncertain the human-sized Woo had him inside as well.

Even though the Dorako costume still looks neat, marks can be found where it was repaired in some parts of the costume especially in the ditch-like sections between the tile-like surfaces.

According to the caption for the top photo, it seems that an event was held in the ski field in February 1967 to celebrate the completion of Episode 30 (the Woo episode) with the costumes brought over there.

By the by, in the talk among the cast about this Woo episode included in one of the memoirs authored by Hiroko Sakurai (Fuji), it was also revealed that, on a location shooting trip apart from this Woo episode, Masanari Nihei (Ide) got so drunk that he got out of control rampaging at night to the degree that the other people had to tie him up with a rope and that Nihei smashed the door of his room in the lodge (after getting out of the rope) while Iyoshi Ishii (Arashi) ended up paying for the damage at the request of the lodge employee as Ishii added in the talk he still remembered the amount he had paid (2000 yen at the monetary value of the 1960s).

At any rate, it looks very odd somehow to find the human-sized Woo among people in the snow field because it makes it look as if an UMA or something actually showed up there  with the smiling people including kids!

The staff on the location for the Woo episode at Ishiuchi Maruyama Ski Resort

WOO (making) #2

Woo costume sculpted by Ex Production that looks great!

Yuzo Higuchi, the director of this episode, agrees with the interviewer in a book article who asked him if this episode was meant to warn people about the excessive resort development which spread into every part of Japan back then.

“Woo” seems to be described as the name which came either from an Okinawan word (the script of this episode was written by Tetsuo Kinjo who was originally from Okinawa) denoting a kind of fabric pronounced in a similar way or from the title of the show “WoO” being planned along with “UNBALANCE” while “UNBALANCE”  finally turned into “Ultra Q.”

Woo with its eye lights off looks so horrifying like a spector

As it is likely they had a lot of snowfall on the location set they hadn’t had for the last 20 to 30 years, chances are it made the filming very hard. Higuchi recalls they had to walk very carefully not to leave any footprints on the snow and that none of the cast and staff were good at skiing so they had to hire ski instructors in the locality to have them perform for the long shot scenes showing the SSSP members skillfully skiing down the slope in a graceful manner instead of the cast members, Kurobe, Ishii (present Dokumamushi) and Nihei.

While having the instructors ski instead of them, it seems that the cast had to wait shivering in cold with their overcoats on as their SSSP uniforms were worn by the instructors while they didn’t bring the spare uniforms to the location.

Woo costume described in a book as the deteriorated one after the appearance in the show

Higuchi says they had a very hard time because, for the medium shot scenes showing the actual cast, the SSSP members were not able to stop on skis where they were supposed to play to be properly caught on film as they easily got out of the picture with the momentum out of skiing from a place a little way off with their skis on.

The ski field that appeared in this episode is likely to have had a resort facility affiliated with TBS, which should indicate how much popular going to resorts including ski fields was among people during Japan’s postwar high economic growth period.

Woo is also well known as a kaiju who appeared in “Ultra Fight” afterwards with its costume always having its long hair cover the face and with a completely different character as a violent fighter somewhat with an eccentricity who easily picks a fight with the other kaijus.


WOO (making) #1

A: primary design of Woo drawn by Tohl Narita

Tohl Narita: “In a word, it is a sen-nin. As there is nothing interesting if it’s all white (while the set would be white too*), I made its face dark. Even though I initially drew A, it looked too much like a sen-nin, and I drew B instead by flattening its head.”

*Narita’s own remark

Sen-nin means a wizard or hermit seen as immortal living in the mountains while it should have originated from Taoism and the word is often used in Japan to refer to someone living in the mountain, not necessarily in seclusion or for a religious purpose, saying something like “He’s a man just like a sen-nin living so deep in the mountain” apart from the Chinese religion (I believe most Japanese people are even unaware that the idea of sen-nin originally came from Taoism even though the word itself is so familiar to them).

Enlarged head part from the above image

It seems that Yuzo Higuchi who directed this episode featuring Woo had something more like an abominable snowman in mind and that he realized the actual costume had excessively long hair when he looked at it for the first time. But he says, as he didn’t know a kaiju like an abominable snowman (Guigass) had already appeared in the show then, the design of Woo is now fully acceptable to him.

As to its sculpture, the costume was made by Ex Production instead of Ryosaku Takayama following Goldon that appeared in the previous episode.

B: finalized design of Woo drawn by Tohl Narita

Keizo Murase who was with Ex Production back then says they used plant fabric of Manila hemp usually called “sutaffu (stuff?) among them. Even though the stuff is usually rather short in length, he says they obtained the long one from a bike store which used to be located right across Toho because the store owner had a lot of knowledge of the fabric material as they also dealt with ropes (I don’t exactly understand why ropes can be associated with a bike store).

Tetsuo Yamamura says the Woo costume was very light in weight with the long hair just covering the lower part of the body like a straw skirt with nothing to cover the actor’s body while the actor looked out through the bunch of hair so that his face could have been exposed if the covering hair should have been pushed aside.

Woo head design separately drawn by Tohl Narita apart from the above picture of the whole body; I find the preciseness of the drawing pretty impressive

Part-Timers’ Great Contributions To Kokusatsu #2

The woman on the right hand side could be Kato-san with Imora somehow

Judging from the woman found to be drying Goldon’s back in my Goldon making entry, I guess the smiling woman in these photos as if showing her good nature wearing a white kappogi (coverall apron) could be Kato-san although it is left unspecified in the issue of the Tokusatsu Hiho magazine containing these photos.

In one of the pictures shown in the magazine along with the talk between Kaimai and Murase, while it should have been taken at Toho with Baragon and the sculpting staff shown, the woman on the left hand side with a big smile could also be Kato-san as she and the woman shown in the photos taken at Ex Production look alike.

The woman on the left hand side could be Kato-san with Baragon at Toho

While the photo posted in this entry shows the Imora costume that was remodeled from the Banila suit with its head replaced, the caption of the Tokusatsu Hiho says it is unknown why Imora is included in the photo as it was written in Ryosaku Takayama’s diary that the sculpting of Banila and remodeling into Imora were done by himself without referring to the involvement of Ex Production.

At any rate, I like these photos as if showing an idyllic atmosphere of Japan we definitely had in those days with the people smiling happily. As there was a lot of demand for kaiju costumes when the “Second Kaiju Boom” arose with such tokusatsu products as “The Return of Ultraman,” “Spectreman (P Production)” and “Mirrorman” in the 1970s, it seems that many part-timers including housewives helped to sculpt the costumes.

Eizo Kaimai (left) and Keiso Murase in their talk featured in an issue of the Tokusatsu Hiho magazine

Around the “First Kaiju Boom” including the original Ultra Series it is said that a lot of art university students took part in the production such as costume sculpting or miniature modeling as part-timers while many of them were from Musashino Art University from which Tohl Narita and Noriyoshi Ikeya had graduated. Young, quiet and stoic-looking Ikeya devotedly working on the set seems to have gained much popularity from female students from the art universities.

Anyway, I believe this should be the first blog where Kato-no-obachan was referred to for people outside of Japan (I made her name into one of the tags)! I would like to thank those part-timers including her for their great job they did in enabling us to enjoy the tokusatsu shows when we were kids!


Part-Timers’ Great Contributions To Kokusatsu #1

As a statement made by Keizo Murase I wrote about a housewife who worked part-time for Ex Production in my previous post, and there seem to have been some housewives who helped to sculpt kauju costumes back then while working part-time.

A talk featured in an issue of Tokusatsu Hiho (secret treasure) made between Eizo Kaimai and Keizo Murase, both of whom were involved in sculpting work at Toho for the movies including the Godzilla series, revealed Kato-san referred to in my previous post was one of them, and it is likely that she could do almost every piece of work related to sculpting as she had been working for Toho as a part-time assistant for sculpting.

While the moderator in the talk says he has often heard of Kato-san’s name as Kato-no-obachan (obachan, not obaachan as it denotes an older woman, represents “auntie” but it can also be used for a middle-aged woman who is close to you when you call her or refer to her in a friendly way; no is a Japanese modifying particle explaining the attribute of the obachan in this case), Murase says in the talk that Kato-san was so helpful because she was kind enough to bring would-be part-timers together who would rally around her whenever she called them.

Kaimai and Murase say pasting the scales onto the King Ghidora costume was the work done by those obachans including Kato-san as those including her and her kids spread latex onto the scale mold, cast it out, cut each scale out of the sheet cast out of the mold with scissors and pasted them from the lower part of the costume (to make the scales come over one another).

While the Ghidora heads and legs were sculpted separately from the body to be put together later, it seems that the scales were pasted temporarily leaving some marginal space scaleless about 10 centimeters in length from each end of the separate parts so that the people could put the scales onto the joined sections after the separate parts came together.


GOLDON (making)

Finalized design of Goldon drawn by Tohl Narita
Primary design of Goldon drawn by Tohl Narita

Tohl Narita: “This is the underground kaiju based on the caterpillar I got the idea from.”

Featuring Goldon, this was another impressive episode with two of the same kaiju appeared even using one single costume with the other one set to appear after the previous one died.

And I feel like the appearance of Senkichi Omura who eccentrically played the miner Yamamoto obsessed with gold made this episode even more unforgettable along with the Ultraman’s Type B costume badly showing the deterioration including Dada’s episode.

The Goldon costume was sculpted by Ex Production instead of Ryosaku Takayama while the production company had made the costumes of Peter for “Ultra Q,” Hydra and Guigass (remodeled from Hydra) for “Ultraman” and Woo was added to these three with the episode to come right after Goldon.

Tetsuo Yamamura says the Goldon costume had no opening with the zipper on its back through which the actor could get inside but that it was the costume that could be separated into the upper and lower parts while they met where one of the dents lied between the segments of the body with the ingenuity uniquely featured for this particular kaiju costume.

Keizo Murase who worked on the Goldon costume at Ex Production back then before he founded his own company “Twenty” later states that Goldon was painted with gold powder (I think he means gold-colored powder) mixed with lacquer paint.

According to him, they made its back rough by spreading latex mixed with sawdust over it while he adds, because it will become sticky unless the part coated with latex containing sawdust get immediately dried, they had a housewife, who worked part time for them, make it dry with the heat of reflector lamps.

Murase says they regularly had a housewife named Kato-san (Ms. Kato) come to help them as a skilled, seasoned part-time assistant for their job while she had also been involved in the sculpting work at Toho as a part-timer.

Goldon costume seemingly at the back of the Bisen studio

“Ike(Go)! Godman” #3

This is an image I found online although no detailed information is available about it; I think it is more likely that this is a mask of Godman recently reproduced while I am not sure.

The show “Godman” seems to have had some Toho kaijus appear such as Kamoebas, Gabara, Gorosaurus, Sanda and Gaira although it is left undescribed whether they were the real costumes used in the movies.

Godman’s mask was allegedly sculpted by Nobuyuki Yasumaru (1935-present), sculptor of Toho. It might have been new and unique to apply the part shaped like goggles to the mask design to cover the hero’s eyes that I believe managed to make Godman look distinctive enough from the Ultra Heroes of Tsuburaya Productions along with his hair.

And the newly produced kaijus were designed by Teizo Toshimitsu (1909-1982) while both of them are known to have been deeply involved in the Toho tokusatsu movies including the Godzilla series (Gorosaurus in the movies was the costume sculpted by Yasumaru while I think it was so excellently sculpted that it looked absolutely real).

Kaiju Ojisan of the time

It is likely that Kaiju Ojisan (Uncle Kaiju) played by Tetsuya Asado (1935-present) also appeared in the show “Godman” following the previous show “Redman” as the commentator who would make comments on the characters before and after the show, and there seem to have been episodes in which Kaiju Ojisan appeared in the episode as one of the spectators who watched Godman and a kaiju/kaijus fighting.

Even with some human characters who appeared in the episodes, it seems that there were no episodes with particular stories that were worth being called “stories” only featuring fights between Godman and the kaiju characters while the human characters always rushed away as they were threatened by the appearances of the kaijus on Mondays or Thursdays (the day when the new story began) and cheered for Godman without uttering no lines just watching him fight with the kaiju(s).

Kaiju Ojisan at present with Redman

It is explained that the episodes that had Kaiju Ojisan appear as one of them included something like a story properly with the lines spoken by them.

At any rate, I keep remembering the scene with the same miniature used every time where Godman and a kaiju showed their fight somewhat awkwardly (seemingly trying not to break the miniature) while I felt like the brave-sounding theme song (or its instrumental version) that played there without fail made the fighting scene look even odder.


“Ike(Go)! Godman” #2

I hope the name “Godman” will not be offensive to religious people as it is just the name of the show and the hero, and as long as the show actually existed in one way or another, I have got to refer to it when talking about the history of tokusatsu.

It is told online that the show was roughly produced for a tokusatsu show as a Godman’s weapon was found to get stuck on the costume of a kaiju, the toxic gas a kaiju sent out toward Godman permeated in a weird way according to the wind direction, an actor’s back got exposed through the opening of the costume, it was shown that a character hit the reflector board and the like.

And it is also pointed out that, although it was often found that the previous episode ended with the scene where Godman was driven to the wall, the following episode just began as if nothing had happened to him.

 

Godman has the ability to enlarge the size himself by shouting “Godman Kaku Dai! (Godman Enlarge!; maybe a brief pause between en and large if put into English)” after initially showing up in his human-sized form. As he shrinks back to the human size the moment his leg bands worn around the ankles were taken off by an opponent, the weak point seems to have often troubled him.

As to the way he fought with kaijus, chances are there were times when it didn’t make him look like a hero by hitting the opponent on the groin, going at the kaijus while they were fighting between them, begging the kaijus to spare his life and so on.

Incidentally, the weapon held in his hand in the above picture is likely to be called “God Circle” described as a weapon used like throwing the Frisbee as it was set to explode when hitting the opponent (probably with the use of gunpowder).


“Ike(Go)! Godman” #1

“Ike! Godman”

After writing about the Tsuburaya tokusatsu show “Redman” in my previous posts, I “have no choice but” to refer to another tokusatsu series titled “Ike! (Go!) Godman” aired in the same way as “Redman.”

The show “Godman” broadcast from 1972 to 1973 as a 5 minute segment for the show “Ohayō! Kodomo Show (Good Morning! Kids Show)” aired in the same time slot from Monday through Friday in the morning back then.

“Godman” was produced by the movie company Toho instead of Tsuburaya Productions with the 52 stories consisting of its 260 episodes as each complete story broadcast being divided into six or three episodes (so you could watch one story a week or two stories a week).

 

As they got a higher budget than the previous show “Redman,” it is likely that newly designed kaiju characters and tokusatsu scenes with miniatures were featured along with the appearances of some Toho kaijus that appeared in their movies although the used costumes of kaiju characters or the stage show costumes were exclusively used for “Redman” that included the fights that just unfolded in the plain field while the location set didn’t make them look like giants at all in spite of the settings with which they were set to be 40 meters tall or so.

That being said, I remember the same miniature building was used every time for “Godman” with Godman and a kaiju fighting around the prop as if they were carefully trying not to break it seemingly with the consecutive use of the miniature in mind and that their fights could have been fought on the same outdoor cliff (I feel like the cliff had the miniature building built in an unnatural position) all the time even though I don’t remember much about the show “Godman” because I didn’t find it much enjoyable when I watched it just a couple of times as a kid.


ALIEN PLATIC (making)

Alien Platic design drawn by Tohl Narita

Tohl Narita: “I designed this alien putting more energy into the skeleton version than the plastic-like alien that initially appeared. This turned out to be the last design I drew for the Ultra Series. Mr. Noriyoshi Ikeya took over the subsequent job of designing.”

As Tohl Narita describes, Alien Platic is the very last alien he designed for the Ultra Series, and he had never worked on any designs for the subsequent Ultra Series again since then.

As to the design of Alien Platic, it didn’t have any fluffy materials that were finally placed to cover its body. It is said that they were added by the art staff on the set while they are obviously found to have been added to the design drawing afterwards.

Along with the fluffy stuff assumed to have been added to it to make it look more like “plastic-related” alien, I have to admit the design made me feel somewhat odd when I was a kid as the alien seemed to be forcibly associated with the material in a sort of irrelevant manner while I think it was rare in the original Ultra Series and I feel like such a forcible association ended up making this alien look kind of superficial even though I am fully aware that the “plastic alien” was not the idea Narita came up with.

What I vividly remember was that I was so shocked and frightened at the skeleton version of the alien with the bone parts coming together to try to attack Dan and Aoki even after the alien’s body had burned down into ashes. As Narita says he put much energy into it, the skeleton version was so impressive to me back then while it was operated as a puppet also sculpted by Ryosaku Takayama.

As I said in my previous posts, Takayama seems to have been involved in sculpting puppets for doll plays before he started making kaiju costumes, so he should have known his stuff in making puppet aliens for the show “Ultraseven” in which many of them were featured although it was mainly for the purpose of reducing the cost.

Although it is Narita’s last Ultra Series alien, it is a bit shame that Alien Platic was not such an attractive alien in design apart from the depiction in the show that portrayed him as a strong alien who put Ultraseven into crisis.

The skeleton puppet with Takayama operating it on its side