Category Archives: Charms Of Ultra Series

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

Differences Between Newly Made And Original Ultraman Suits

Newly sculpted costumes; as to the Type B mask of Ultraman, no replicas from the original mold seem to be available

Following my yesterday’s entry, when we are at it, I would like to tell you about how Ultra hero costumes are made now as it was described in a book by Fuyuki Shinada who is in charge of character costume sculpture with Tsuburaya Productions while he is nicknamed as “Kaiju Maestro.”

According to him, as far as masks of the original Ultraman are concerned, they scanned the form through the 3D printer from the replica mask in Akira Sasaki’s possession cast out of the original Ultraman Type C mask mold.

And masks are turned out of the printer after the size has been slightly reduced by a few percent because current suit actors are often shorter than Bin Furuya (the original Ultraman actor) while they are well built specializing in suit action as the original Ultraman mask was sculpted based on Furuya’s life mask.

Therefore, Shinada says, they reduce the size of masks a bit to avoid making the head look much larger in proportion to the body.

So the masks should be the same as the original mask in the form except the size. Nevertheless, they don’t look the same somehow although the new ones should be superior in symmetricity too.

One of the reasons I come up with is the size, position and angle of the eyes as they are additional parts separate from the mask and should be placed by hand.

I think the same is true of Ultraseven masks while the eye holes of the newly made costumes appear to be too close to each other.

And, as one of my readers points out in the comment section, the spray-painting, not the brush-painting applied to the costumes in the past, should also make the masks look different.

In my opinion, current masks look much better than the ones found at the time when the molds had been remodeled before Shinada joined Tsuburaya, and I believe his efforts to reproduce features of the original costumes are remarkable living up to his nickname “Kaiju Maestro” and worthy of high admiration.

At any rate, the costume even used in “Ultra Fight” and slightly worn out still has much of a presence and looks so great!


Amazing! “Ultra Fight” Ultraseven Costume Still In Existence!

It seems that an Ultraseven exhibition is now underway at Ehime Prefectural Museum of History and Culture in Ehime Prefecture on the island of Shikoku in Japan.

While I am not going to see the exhibition as it is too far from Tokyo, a variety of items including newly made costumes of Ultraseven characters and props actually used at that time are likely to be displayed as I find it will be a lot of fun although I should already have seen most of them at an exhibition held near Tokyo.

Meanwhile, what drew my attention about this exhibition is that, amazingly enough, the Ultraseven costume used in “Ultra Fight” for real is reported to be on display as well.

It comes as a total surprise that the costume still remains in existence as I have never heard of it, and it is a great thing to have it displayed at the exhibition.

As a man introduced as a toy collector described it as a “historical material” in a news show reporting on the exhibition, it is really a precious item that should also be displayed where it is more accessible from Tokyo.

While I think it is the same suit as the one I dealt with in my previous article with the eyes caved in, the condition of the costume is eloquent in making us feel it was actually used in the show “Ultra Fight” with deterioration in parts of it although it appears to have been well preserved (it should have been repaired to look nice enough).

The back of the head is still black as it was in the show, and, comparing it to the newly made costume, it makes me aware of the differences including the “presence” between the original Ultraseven mask and a newly sculpted mask.

While my understanding is one of the Ultraseven costumes used in “Ultraseven” was reused in “Ultra Fight,” they should have been cast from the same mold even if the “Ultra Fight” Ultraseven costume should have been the one made exclusively for stage shows or something.

I think it should deserve to be designated as a national treasure!

(The video of the news show covering the exhibition is available on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IgVZSfen9hE)

“Ultra Fight” Ultraseven
This should be a newly made costume of Ultraseven

Dressed Or Undressed?

I heard someone say Alien Pegassa looks as if he was wearing a fisherman sweater and Alien Goddora a red vest.

While they exactly look that way, when looking at Alien Pegassa’s costume, his lower part of the body appears to have been made of a fabric material instead of latex.

I had long thought they applied the material to the costume to reduce cost, I have just come up with another idea right after my post about the making of Alien Pegassa.

The thing is, there is a speculative explanation that Tohl Narita might have designed some of his aliens so that they were dressed with spacesuits.

Narita says in his art book that Alien Mefilas of “Ultraman” was a design he worked out when he started working on design development of “aliens” instead of kaijus and kaijins (mysterious human) in earnest.

And there is speculation that Alien Mefilas was designed as an alien wearing a spacesuit, and, come to think of it, that might be the way he looks.

This speculation might make it more plausible that Ultraseven aliens were designed on the assumption that they were dressed with space suits although the suit appears to have been integrated into the whole body of the alien.

It is true that we find many aliens who are actually dressed like Alien Shaplay or Alien Shadow in “Ultraseven” although they got dressed for cost cutting while it saved time and money to sculpt their bodies.

If the speculation should be true, Alien Pegassa’s fabric-looking lower body might have been meant to be his space suit along with his fisherman sweater.

It is only natural that kaijus are undressed, certainly, but aliens could be in their space suits.

Now that Narita is not alive, I don’t think there is any way to make it sure without him whether he designed the aliens with their space suits in mind.

Incidentally, Alien Pumpkin was a dressed alien with a cape while it is unknown who designed and sculpted the character…sorry for my irrelevance!


Type B Ultraman & Baltan III Displayed At An Exhibition

I wrote about what happened to the Type C costume of Ultraman after the original TV series ended in my previous article, and I already talked about the transition from the type A Ultraman costume to Zoffy in this blog.

Then what happened to the Type B costume of him after the use?
It has been said that the Type B suit was stolen from the Tsuburaya storehouse while it had been stored there and displayed at exhibitions regrettably.

And the incident has made it impossible to see what the mask was actually like and to duplicate it from the original form although some people have attempted to reproduce the mask on their own so far.

The Type B mask shown at exhibitions held today is one of these masks sculpted by enthusiastic modelers professionally involved in tokusatsu products while the Type C mask displayed at such exhibitions is a replica duplicated from its original mold (so not exactly the same thing as the one used in the shooting).

Meanwhile, precious and rare photos of the Type B Ultraman costume displayed at an exhibition are found to be shown in the Ultraman Treasures I bought the other day.

Furthermore, amazingly enough, the costume is seen displayed along with the suit of Alien Baltan III that was apparently repainted after the shooting of Ultraman Episode 33.

The Ultraman Treasures book says the exhibition was held in 1967 at a now-defunct facility in Hyogo Prefecture under the direction of, surprisingly, Eiji Tsuburaya, and the costumes equipped with a machine inside to move them were exhibited along with Mothra and King Ghidorah that were also on display.

As these real costumes used in the shooting can never be seen anymore today, the people who saw the exhibition back then should not have been aware of what it would mean in the future in spite of the excitement they are assumed to have experienced!


Giant Alien Ghose

Design of Alien Ghose drawn by Ikeya

As it is widely known, Alien Ghose and the monster manipulated by them Pandon appeared in the final two parted episode of Ultraseven.

And it has been explained online that the giant form of Alien Ghose was also supposed to emerge in the episode along with the normally human-sized aliens and Pandon.

Meanwhile, the Tokusatsu Hiho magazine with tribute articles to the designer Noriyoshi Ikeya showed the design of Giant Alien Ghose drawn by Ikeya back then among the representative monsters he designed.

To me, this is definitely the first time I have seen it, but, according to the Hiho article, surprisingly enough,  Giant Alien Ghose was not included even in the script with no plan at all to make it appear in the episode.

Giant Alien Ghose drawn by Ikeya

It seems that Ikeya himself described it in his art book as the alien he designed with a western armor in mind having something in common with the aliens he also designed for “Silver Kamen” in later years without referring to any other details about the character.

Therefore this leaves it unknown why Ikeya designed this giant version of the alien regrettably.

The dark-colored alien design with no features on its face and nothing outstanding makes the character look very much creepy deserving the name of Ghose that came from ghost though it surely looks attractive in its own way.

I think it is an excellent job with much of an Ikeya feel to it, and it is also impressive to find he designed it as the giant version has nothing in common with the human-sized form.

Incidentally Pandon is the monster remodeled from his original design, and, if you are interested, see this post.


Noriyoshi Ikeya Featured In Tokusatsu Hiho 2

“Fireman” monsters designed by Ikeya

As Noriyoshi Ikeya himself said, it is not that he entered the field of film art because he wanted to be involved in tokusatsu and kaiju while he was initially called in by Tohl Narita to participate in the production of the series Ultraman.

Therefore the work he did in the field is not confined to kaiju design but he played an active role involved in film art including the films produced by renowned directors and TV commercials after leaving Tsuburaya so that he was awarded the Japan Academy Prize for the Outstanding Achievement in Art Direction twice in the 1990s.

Among the Ikeya monsters, it is fun to learn Takkong that appeared in “The Return of Ultraman” is likely to be thought as a challenge to the Narita design with the quirky shape after Ikeya took over the designing of Ultra kaijus from Narita.

I myself like the design of Twintail as it is admired as a masterpiece created by the combination of Ikeya and Ryosaku Takayama as Takayama modeled the costume along with Gudon and Stegon (the “Siver Kamen” alien costumes were also allegedly made by Takayama while he seemingly modeled the majority of the “Fireman” monster suits as well).

I wish I could have seen more of the monsters worked out by them in “The Return of Ultraman” (by the way, I feel like I wanted to see Zetton II modeled by Takayama again…).

According to an article, Ikeya seems to have said he had in stock design drawings of unreleased new monsters he had drawn every once in a while in his spare time.

I definitely hope these designs will see the light of day in the form of characters shown in film/video products someday.

Aliens designed by Ikeya for “Silver Kamen” (right); Multi for “Mirrorman” (top left); robots for “Iron King”

Noriyoshi Ikeya Featured In Tokusatsu Hiho 1

“Tokusatsu Hiho vol. 5” issued in January, 2017 with a tribute to Noriyoshi Ikeya

The  Tokusatsu Hiho (secret treasure) I mentioned yesterday is a fun magazine with a lot of detailed articles and quite a few pictures about tokusatsu products including the old ones and new ones from both movies and TV shows while I don’t know whether this is a periodical publication as the issue is always found to come out unexpectedly.

The same publisher released the Ultraseven Research Book and Ultraman Research Book in 2012 and 2014 respectively in this order as I find both of them very much informative and a lot of fun.

Colored articles from the above Tokusatsu Hiho

The latest Tokusatsu Hiho recently published features Noriyoshi Ikeya as a special who passed away the other day regrettably.

I don’t think the attraction of the monsters designed by Ikeya has been publicly talked about so much as those by Tohl Narita, but it was fun to learn from the articles how the Ikeya monsters are perceived among people.

Reading the articles, they seem to view the Ikeya monsters as sensitive and feminine in contrast with the bold and masculine design of the Narita monsters as it is known that Ikeya often referred to fashion magazines to design his monsters rather than real-life creatures.

It is also mentioned that his sensitive, graceful and stylish behaviors with gentleness and a perpetual soft smile on his face charmed people around him a lot while he was a silent type working on his task with few words.


What Happened To Type C Ultraman Suit?

Tokusatsu Hiho vol.1 published in 2015

In yesterday’s post I explained the possible transition shown by the Zoffy mask used from the Zoffy suit to the Returned Ultraman costume speculatively publicized in a book and online.

Just to make sure, it was the Zoffy mask that is assumed to have been used for the Returned Ultraman costume, not the whole costume.

Then all of these make us wonder what happened to the Type C Ultraman suit after being used in the TV show.

The caption says “Kaiju Paradise 196X”

Putting together the pieces of information referred to, there was no idea back then of producing costumes to be used solely for attraction performance `shows, at such shows the costumes actually used in the shooting appeared while it is quite a luxury by today’s standards to be able to see the “real” costumes.

Therefore they had no thought of producing plural costumes of the same character while such events as attraction performance were held in every part of the nation with great popularity in those days.

Meanwhile it can be imagined the Zoffy costume and the Type C Ultraman suit should have been used as Ultraman at such events.

Dada and Magma Taishi can be found behind Ultraman

In the magazine “Tokusatsu Hiho (secret treasure)” precious photos taken at an event back then are shown with exactly the legendary Type C Ultraman costume and the other tokusatsu characters.

As the wetsuit material deteriorates as time passes, these costumes should have been disposed of after the masks were taken off the costumes, and the Zoffy mask might have been used for the Returned Ultraman (rejected) suit while it remains unknown why the Type C mask was not used as it is unthinkable the mask was disposed of along with the wetsuit body.