Director Akio Jissoji #11

By the by, Hiroko Sakurai says Jissoji told her to get closer and closer to the glass showcase when the scene of Akiko Fuji pressing her nose onto it until she looked so funny by saying to her, “Closer! Much closer!”

Although there seems to have been a notion and perception among the staff to film an actress as much nicely as possible while Toho actresses including Sakurai were known for their neat and clean images, Jissoji had no qualms about breaking it in his unique way.

As Sakurai was also filmed with a fisheye lens in Ultraman Episode 34 with Skydon featured, it seems that she got mad about it when she saw the scene for the first time on the occasion of dubbing (the series were dubbed afterwards every time by the actors and actresses with no sound recording while acting on the set). Moreover, Sakurai writes in one of her books that Jissoji just said to her with a laugh when she asked him why he did such a ridiculous thing, “Because I had ever wanted to film an actress with a fisheye lens one day.”

While Jissoji was trying to pursue his own principles to realize his own images in filming, there were times when he ended up having truly unsatisfactory and dishonored results.

In Ultraman Episode 23 with Jamyra featured, even though the scenes where the SSSP members were informed of Jamyra’s true identity by Alan were filmed with location shooting, people around Jissoji saw them as the scenes filmed nearby as the backgrounds were too dark. For the scenes of Robot Commander sitting in the set designed to aim at the effect like the Ames Room in Ultraseven Episode 43, his colleagues asked him if he had filmed the scenes using a hallway of TBS.

Furthermore, for the scene of bamboo woods in the 1990 movie “Ultra Q The Movie Legend From The Stars,” it seems that his colleagues said to him although the scene was filmed in real-life bamboo woods, “What a luxurious set you made! It must have taken a lot of work and money to prepare so many bamboos!”


Director Akio Jissoji #10

Ultraman Episode 14

Jissoji’s way of arranging performances that could have been seen as eccentric gave him a bad name from the actresses, Hiroko Sakurai as Akiko Fuji in “Ultrman” and Yuriko Hishimi as Anne Yuri in “Ultraseven,” with a lot of close-ups of them featured.

Those scenes included the one where Sakurai had to press her face onto the glass showcase in Ultraman Episode 14 so that she looked so weird, and Hishimi still complains in one of her books that her face covered with pimples was filmed with the close-up shots in Ultraseven Episode 8 while Jissoji was known for his daring way of filming to go so far as to have even pores of actresses caught on film.

There also seem to have often been argument and conflict with the tokusatsu staff and tokusatsu director Koichi Takano as Jissoji often trimmed the tokusatsu scenes filmed by them with no hesitation if he didn’t like them while they worked very hard to film the scenes overnight for days.

Ultraman Episode 34

It is also said that there were some actors who didn’t like acting under Jissoji’s direction as they saw Jissoji as the director who would deal with them like “props” to realize his own ideal images of the whole product. Nevertheless, actors including, if I put out the names related to tokusatsu shows, Minori Terada (1942-present), Shin Kishida (1939-1982) and Kimihiro Reizei (1947-present) have been known as the actors who liked working with Jissoji regularly.

Terada can be found to appear in Ultraman Episode 14 as the assistant driver of a dump truck attacked by Gamakugira. Kishida should be well known among Ultraman fans as the actor who played Ken Sakata (older brother) in Return of Ultraman while he also played a leading role in Kaiki Daisakusen (Operation Mystery) Jissoji also got involved in before Return of Ultraman. Furthermore, Reizei is known as Fukushin who appeared in Ultraseven 45 “The Boy Who Cried Flying Saucer” (Terada also acted the human form of Alien Metron in Ultraman Max Episode 24 directed by Jissoji).

Incidentally, the scenes of Akiko Fuji played by Hiroko Sakurai appearing beautifully wearing pearls in Episode 14 and kimono in Episode 34 of Ultraman, both of which were directed by Jissoji, were intended by him to make up to Sakurai for badly dealing with her by having her filmed with the scenes that made her look so funny while Sakurai recalls those scenes featuring beautiful Fuji with laugh saying, “(the scenes were shown) Even with shimmering lights…”


Director Akio Jissoji #9

Gōdo (top) featured on the cover of an issue of the tokusatsu-related figure magazine “Figure Oh (Figure King)”

Let me resume talking about Akio Jissoji from where I stopped in my previous post about him.

I remember the design of Space Beast God (Uchu Jushin) “Gōdo” was drawn by Noriyoshi Ikeya some time ago and featured in a magazine covering tokusatsu-related figures although I failed to buy the magazine at that time (a figure of Gōdo based on the design and produced in limited quantity came out from a toy figure merchandiser Billiken Shokai then too).

At any rate, I have to say Jissoji and Uehara were so smart that they plotted an episode they thought would be almost impossible to be realized with so many kaiju and alien characters to be featured as it led to the people concerned allowing them to make whatever episode they wanted without spending too much money.

Moreover, it is ironically interesting to find the episodes “Nightmare On Planet 4” and “The Boy Who Cried Flying Saucer (Here Come Flying Saucers!)” are seen as sort of masterpieces of the Ultraseven episodes now.

 

Personally, I feel like it is good to find that the episode “15 Aliens+35 Kaijus” ended up being left unproduced as it could have spoiled the concept of the show Ultraseven with the theme “aliens’ invasion of the earth from outer space” separately from the preceding show Ultraman as the rejected episode was supposed to have the aliens and kaijus who had appeared in Ultraman and Ultraseven show up together as I still have a notion that they are two separate series with no world to be shared between them except both of the heroes happened to be from Nebula M78, Land of Light.

That having been said, on the other hand, it is true that I slightly wish I could have watched the characters from the both series appear in the same show not in the form of such a cheep-looking show as “Ultra Fight” even though I have to admit I realize the cheep-looking tokusatsu shows including “Ultra Fight” are also attractive in their own ways!


For Ultopia Readers


My Heart-felt Gratitude To Tokusatsu


No Words To Say As I Am Choked With Happy Emotion!

I borrowed your wonderful illustration for my Facebook Page, Pisit-san! Hope this is not embarrassing you!


I’ve Done It!


Godzilla In Shinjuku #3

This place where the Shinjuku Toho Building including the Toho Cinemas and Gracery Hotel is located used to have a time-honored performance theater called “Koma Gekijo (Koma Theater)” that was seen as a landmark of the Kabukicho district. The Koma Theater seems to have been demolished because of deterioration in 2011 after the theater got out of business due to less popularity while I didn’t know it at all.

The Koma Theater seems to have been here since the 1950s and gained great popularity in the 1970s for the shows performed at the theater although I had never entered the theater. In my impression, it looked more like a theater that attracted older people when I was in my 20s.

Turning around the corner of the newly built Shinjuku Toho Building, I tried to head for a movie theater I often visited to see movies in my youth to see what happened to it as I have not been there for a very long time.

Oh, my goodness, this is unbelievable! The whole movie theater is gone!!! This is exactly where it used to be! There used to be a fountain-like structure in the center of this square with a large movie theater in front while I forgot the name (I think it was “Shinjuku Plaza Theater”). I remember I often went to see movies there with my friends in my teens and 20s…

Well, I have no choice but to accept the reality. I am going back to the station to go home. This is the street with the fruit store I showed to you in my previous post when I looked back.

These are pictures put up on walls near the entrance of the JR Shinjuku Station that show what this area looked like in the past. They have descriptions that the one on the left side was taken in 1932 and the other one in 1958. As I was born in 1962, a view similar to the one on the right should have unfolded if I had visited this area at that time. (If you are interested in retro-looking townscapes of Japan, you can visit another blog I am running about it!)


Godzilla In Shinjuku #2

This is the view you will get when you have crossed the street I showed in my previous post and looked back. The picture on the right shows where I came from.

And you can head for the Godzilla by walking straight down the street named “Godzilla Road” that comes into view with the Godzilla head popping out of the building. This part of the area is called “Kabukicho” and widely known as one of the largest entertainment and also red light districts in Japan.

Oh, I can’t resist the excitement I feel as I approach the Godzilla ahead of me! It looks pretty nice with the blue sky in the background!

It is much more impressive than I thought. It is truly a well-made Godzilla head! As it is shown with the sign on the wall, this building includes the movie theater “Toho Cinemas,” and the hotel sticking out of it seems to called “Gracery Shinjuku.” The hotel is likely to be affiliated with Washington Hotels run by Fujita Kanko alleged to be the leading Japanese tourism company having many hotels all over Japan. And chances are the latest Star Wars episode is on now in the movie theater.

This Godzilla head seems to have started being shown to the public in 2015 when this “Shinjuku Toho Building” was completed including the movie theater and the hotel. It is said that the head is based on the Godzilla that appeared in the 1992 Godzilla movie “Godzilla vs. Mothra” as the movie turned out to be most popular among the series of the Godzilla movies that have been screened since the Showa Period (up to 1989).

I have just learnt now that this Godzilla head roars at noon and at some other times making the sound of roar with a blue light lit in the mouth (it seems that it also gives out smoke then. It is unlikely that the mouth moves) although it didn’t roar unfortunately when I visited the place. The size of the 12 meter high Godzilla head is said to be located at the point where it measures 40 meters from the ground (the first Godzilla is likely to be set as 50 meters high).


Godzilla In Shinjuku #1

Happy New Year to all of you, my friends! Thank you for having waited for my new posts! I had not been able to post any entries till now as I had been very busy with chores I had to do over the end and beginning of the year.

With a couple more entries on Akio Jissoji to be posted soon afterwards, I would like to show you some pictures of GODZILLA who appeared in Shinjuku, Tokyo, as I went there to see it after I had happened to glance at it from the train when passing through Shinjuku the other day although you may already know this issue better than me.

For people who would like to take a look at it when visiting Japan, I will show you the way to Godzilla with pictures rather precisely. I hope that helps.

Sorry for the blurred photo above but this is the JR Shinjuku Station. For the Godzilla, you can get through the east exit of the station while this is exactly the east exit where I came from.

When getting out of the east exit of the JR Shinjuku Station, be careful about which exit you have to get through as the station is huge enough to get you lost, this view unfolds before your eyes. The Studio ALTA in front is one of the famous landmarks in Shinjuku where people often meet up.

Right across the street, you can find a street with trees like this with a fruit store on the right-hand corner with a conspicuous signboard of fruits brightly painted.

Just go down the street. There are so many people. While the fruit store on the right hand side is closed with the shutters, I took this picture before it opened and the above one after it opened. That’s why.

After going down the street, it is just a short distance, you will find another street (Yasukuni Dori Street). Can you recognize Godzilla’s head popping out of a building ahead? The people in front are just waiting to cross the street, and it is not that they were frozen in place at the emergence of Godzilla!