Director Akio Jissoji #2

Akio Jissoji in 1962 (the year when I was born!)

At any rate, Akio Jissoji appears to have been a man seen as someone who thinks outside the box far exceeding behavioral patters often found among Japanese, which can probably make him called a “maverick” in this sense while I can’t resist feeling some sort of empathy with him as I have been dealt with as sort of a maverick among the Japanese somehow too (I hope I will not sound boastful).

He is described as the only Japanese director who dealt with movies and operas while it doesn’t seem to be a rarity overseas, which might indicate how much different he had been from conventional Japanese people.

Anyway, after he joined TBS, it is said that he played active roles in his work for TV dramas and live coverage shows as a director whereas his staging didn’t get to win approval of the TBS producers because it could have been thought of as too surreal in a way as Jissoji had a lot of still photos included in the scenes (I guess it could have been done like Ultraman Episode 35 showing the fight scenes between Ultraman and Seabose with the still photos as you should know) or had a street interview appear abruptly and irrelevantly in the midst of the show.

 

It is told that he went so far as to have snow fall in the ending scene of a TV drama aired in 1962 by applying abrupt cut-to-black to the scene even though the snowfall was totally irrelevant to it. Of course Jissoji was yelled at by the TBS producers who strongly complained to him, “Why did you have snow fall of all things???”

They say it was Eiji Tsuburaya who praised young Jissoji for the staging by saying to him, “It was a pretty nice arrangement. You should have had much more snowfall, though.” (I definitely love these people’s crazy thoughts!)

Moreover, while dealing with Hibari Misora, a late Japanese major star singer who had prominently gained unparalleled popularity (I think she is often referred to as one of the greatest Japanese singers of all time who goes down in history), in a live coverage TV show in 1963, Jissoji’s strange way to stage the show allegedly sparked a flood of complaints from the audience and producers because Jissoji had the back of her throat persistently shot while she was singing so that even the close-up of her uvula was shown to the audience through the screen or, conversely, had her shot in such full shots that she kept being shown just as small as a pea on the stage.


Director Akio Jissoji #1

Akio Jissoji

While Akio Jissoji (1937-2006) was born in Yotsuya, Tokyo, in 1937, he was brought up in Qingdao, China, until he came back to Japan with his family at the end of the war when they were in Manchuria.

Because of this, it seems that Shozo Uehara, one of the script writers for the Ultra Series who was from Okinawa along with Tetsuo Kinjo, referred to Jissoji as a man with a “continental perspective” in contrast with the perceptions that could be raised while being born and living in the island nation Japan including Okinawa.

It is said that, as Jissoji loved Europe, it was also because of his longing for “continental” European landscapes that have remained unchanged over hundreds of years.

I personally think having a “continental perspective” should cause a lot of difficulties in living in Japan, as I feel like it doesn’t match this island country. So Jissoji could have been a person who could hardly get himself easily understood by others in this nation.

 

After Jissoji graduated from Department of French, Faculty of Literature, Waseda University in Tokyo in 1959, it is explained that, surprisingly enough, he worked for Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs for a short while as he had passed the public servant exam.

After resigning from the Foreign Ministry, he joined TBS that seems to have been called “Rajio Tokyo (Radio Tokyo)” back then to become a TV show director.

Having written all this so far, I find his actions seem, by the common standards, truly unpredictable and abrupt about why and how he transferred to the TV station from the Foreign Ministry as it may indicate a part of his “continental view.”

I personally like Jissoji’s way of thinking and acting that could show sort of his easy-going nature that makes me feel like I can share a lot of it with him in a way while I am not sure whether his actions came from an easy-goingness or not.


Ultraman With Chiropractor

In a certain place of Tokyo I visited the other day, I found a display ad board in front of a chiropractic office. It says “Getting rid of the villains. Leave it to us!” apparently comparing such disorders as tight shoulders and neck or lower back pain to “villains.”

The thing is, the Ultraman thrusting his fist like he pops out of the blinding light in the scene where Hayata turns into Ultraman is excellently drawn! Every detailed part of the drawing including the eyes with the diamond cut pattern properly featured and the nicely shaped red marking that looks like it was drawn faithfully copying the way it looks in the actual costume makes me aware the owner or an employee of this office should be a big fan of Ultraman!

Incidentally, tense shoulders and neck are disorders often described as “national disease” a large number of Japanese suffer from (except me somehow). I guess it is not because of the matter of the genetic body structure or something but they should be sort of lifestyle diseases as many Japanese have to do a lot of desk work at their workplaces till late in the evening.

Last but not least, the Ultraman who faces forward in his pop-out scene like this fabulous drawing is Returned Ultraman instead of the original Ultraman who shows the top of his head in that particular scene.


DALLY (making)

Dally design drawn by Noriyoshi Ikeya

Dally is the first Ultra Kaiju that was designed by Noriyoshi Ikeya who took Tohl Narita’s place in designing kauju characters after Narita resigned Tsuburaya Productions with Alien Platic as his last kaiju design while I am thinking of referring to why Narita left the production company in my post to come sometime later.

I hear the work of designing a kaiju troubled Ikeya a lot initially as Narita suddenly quit before he knew. It is said that it was Ryosaku Takayama who suggested Ikeya to design a kaiju by hiding the shape of the human body when Ikeya was in trouble with the Dally design while the design allegedly came from the tick, the same source as Alien Cool designed by Narita.

Dally costume at Ryosaku Takayama’s Ateler May

It is fun to see Alien Cool and Dally designed in such a different way even though the same creature was used for designing while Alien Cool appears to have had the shape of the spider incorporated into its design as well.

That being said, the design and costume ended up unavoidably showing the human body shape by some degree, and a lot of smoke was used to cover it up in the show. Dally was acted by Tetsuo Yamamura following Gander and Alien Prote.

Yamamura says Shigemitsu Taguchi (1944-present), noted as one of the script writers who played major roles for the secondary Ultra Series (Ultraman Series) including “The Return of Ultraman” and the subsequent series that ended with “Ultraman Leo,” measured Yamamura for the size of the Dally costume and informed Takayama of the measurements over the phone as Taguchi served as assistant director while the show Ultraseven was being produced.

Dally costume at the Bisen studio
Same as above

Yamamura’s remarks indicate the costumes of Gander and Alien Prote were sculpted without accurate measurements taken from Yamamura.

Yamamura also states the Dally suit was found to be faintly painted with an orange that was slightly fainter than the suit of Ultraseven but it was repainted pink on the set at Ikeya’s instruction while Yamamura assumes it was because it looked just like a shrimp even though it sounds a bit contradictory to the design with its body that appears mostly painted pink all along.

It is alleged that the name Dally was derived from Salvador Dali, the renowned Spanish surrealist painter.

I think the large eyes neatly positioned in the hollows/sockets on its face and the well-shaped fangs and jaws like a stag beetle (distinctive from the subtly curve jaws Antlar had) successfully made this creature described as a “space bacterium” in the show look pretty attractive!

Dally looks like it is hung in the air with someone inside (see the feet); this picture tells us what the Bisen studio exterior was like (in the back)

KERONIA (making)

Keronia design drawn by Tohl Narita

Tohl Narita: “This is a kaiju in the form of leaves put together and it is asymmetric.”

I think Keronia was an attractive kaiju in its own way, while the design itself may not be so appealing by today’s standards, with the impressive fight with Ultraman and the idea that a “plant” life form species on the earth, instead of an alien, challenged humanity after gaining the intelligence and ability that grew to the level that could far surpass the human race.

I find how the asymmetry made the design attractive even moderately in this case indicates it is the work done by Narita who was an excellent sculptor as it would have looked too simple and plain otherwise.

Enlarged heads part from the above design; I like how the side view looks

The human-sized Keronia who appeared from the closet was extremely creepy while the actor seems to have nearly tripped and fell down behind the scenes after he ran out of the room probably because he had to run with the costume’s huge head unproportional to his body hardly held in the proper position and with the poor visibility through the head.

It seems that Ryosaku Takayama wrote in his kaiju sculpting diary that he made about 35 pieces of the leaf-like surface and that it took a lot of work so that he had to make a particular box to dry them with two infrared lamps set on it while working throughout New Year holidays pressed for sculpting kaiju costumes to meet the deadlines.

Giant Keronia head (left) and human-sized Keronia head; Keronia was another kaiju whose “Takayama eyes” were very much impressive with the eyes that, strangely enough, fully make you feel the creature is actually alive

The head of the human-sized Keronia was also sculpted by Takayama along with the head of the giant Keronia although the giant Keronia costume also had its head and body separated to be worn. Hiroko Sakurai who played Akiko Fuji attacked by the human-sized Keronia says she was so frightened, while acting, by the scene because of the situation of the plant human suddenly showing up from inside the closet.

Looking at the expressive actions of Ultraman performed by Bin Furuya, it makes me feel enthusiastic teamwork of the staff on the set joining forces to try to make the show more attractive by featuring impressive fights between Ultraman and a kaiju as explicitly shown by the scenes, for example, where Ultraman smashed out of the building in the sequence of Hayata turning into Ultraman (I would really sympathize with the building owner if it were real) or Ultraman sort of somersaulted on the ground while fighting with Keronia, including “Ultra Attack Beam” Ultraman unexpectedly fired at the plant human his Spacium Beam didn’t work on.

At any rate, it is hilarious to see the baby Keronia set to be flammable and useful as a household fuel. The appearance of Shoji Nakayama as Dr. Ninomiya who would play Captain Kiriyama in “Ultraseven” made this episode even more impressive.

Giant Kenonia costume in the Bisen studio

Enigmatic Ultraman Suit #2

Thus, are you ready for my guess?, the Ultraman shown in this picture could have been the costume with the combination of the duplicated Type C mask and the Type A body suit before it turned out to become, are you ready?, the Zoffy costume that appeared in the final episode of “Ultraman”!!!

Come to think of it, the eyes of the Ultraman in the picture appear to be positioned slightly higher than the authentic Type C mask while the eyes positioned somewhat higher than Ultraman is a characteristic of the Zoffy and Returned Ultraman masks! (along with that entry, you can also see this post about it)

Unfortunately enough, it is unknown when this picture was taken for what show and where this Ultraman costume came from and how it was made including whether this costume was truly the one that was made into the Zoffy costume finally as this photo makes the things more enigmatic.

Ultraman Type A suit worn by Bin Furuya (the unwantedly bright part beside the head in this photo exists all along in the publication. Sorry!)

If my guess is right, this picture can shed new light on how the Zoffy costume was produced to possibly revise the long-held idea that it was made exclusively for Zoffy rather hastily to have it appear in the final episode of the show “Ultraman” with a tight schedule while a possibility has arisen that the costume with the Type C mask duplicated from the original mold and the Type A suit put together DID EXIST EARLIER than Zoffy.

Or another possibility is that this picture includes the so-called Type D costume of Ultraman allegedly turned from the Zoffy costume into Ultraman to be used at events if it is supposed that the picture was taken LATER than the show “Ultraman” had ended…

As to the lodge shown in this photo with the name Kirigamine Hotel, the facility and business seems to have folded in 2011 with a huge amount of debt although it had been in business since 1951. Pertaining to my entry on the making of Woo, this bankruptcy story can indicate what has happened to the resort development recently that flourished in the 1950s and 1960s in Japan.


Enigmatic Ultraman Suit #1

Following the pictures that show the authentic costume of Woo used at an event back then in the ski field, there is another note-worthy picture in which Ultraman is contained in a publication.

It is described as a photo taken on the occasion that a TV show or segment having Ultraman appear was shot. As the show/segment was filmed in Kirigamine Plateau, Nagano Prefecture, this picture shows a building with the name “Kirigamine Hotel” inscribed on the wall in the back.

What is enigmatic about this picture is that it shows the Ultraman suit that did not have Bin Furuya in it apparently judging from the body shape and that, nevertheless, the costume mask is obviously the one of the Type C suit of Ultraman.

While it also draws attention that the Ultraman is found to have seemingly worn “sandals” instead of the boots with the feet of the person inside seen as they were maybe because they did not need to film the whole body of Ultraman for the segment just using the bust shots or something.

Enigmatically enough, the body part of the suit is the one that looks so similar to the Type A Ultraman suit even though the body shape of the actor may make it look different from how it looked when it was worn by Bin Furuya.

The back of the head with a silver part right behind the ear to the top fully indicates it is the same as the Type A suit while the Type C costume has no such part with the back of its head painted all red.

Regarding the coloring of the back of the Type C costume head part, there are some Japanese fans who complain about it as it makes the mask of the Type C costume look like a “mask” while the Type A and B costumes properly had the parts painted silver behind the ears showing the feel of integration between the mask and the costume while the presence of the narrow silver parts behind the ears more or less helped to avoid making the masks look like mere masks as they are supposed to be the “faces” of the alien from Nebula M78 instead of the masks.

The back of the Type C suit head painted all red without any silver portions behind the ears the Type A and B costumes had, which could have made the mask look more like a mask rather than the alien’s face