Category Archives: SFX Art

From Zoffy To Returned Ultraman 2

Rejected version of the Returned Ultraman suit

After being used at attraction performance shows around the nation, the Zoffy suit converted into Ultraman is said to have appeared in the cyclorama film featuring Ultraman and Ultraseven shown in an amusement park in 1969.

After that, the head of the suit is speculatively described as it was used for the Returned Ultraman costume while it means the Returned Ultraman head was not the one modeled from the original mold of the Type C Ultraman head.

And it is also explained a strip of the wetsuit material (assumed to be the Type A suit of the original Ultraman) found to slightly remain on the end of the mask proves it was from the Zoffy costume converted into that of Ultraman (the mask still seems to exist even now).

It is said that the head of the rejected version of the Returned Ultraman suit was from the Zoffy suit mentioned above.

As to the rejected version suit, it is known that it was finally rejected after shooting battle scenes with Arstron so that the rejection made them reshoot the scenes in the end.

The Returned Ultraman suit initially had the same red pattern as the original Ultraman even with thin lines added to each end.

And it is said the costume was replaced by the one with the markings as currently seen so as to make the character look more distinctive from the original Ultraman in consideration of merchandising (the mask seems to have continued being reproduced (copied) from the Zoffy mask).

I read somewhere the Returned Ultraman masks used in the shooting were reproduced (maybe throughout the series) by Hiruma Model Craft known as a modeling company for the production of special effects props.

In summary of the above complex story:

  1. Zoffy suit used in the final episode of Ultraman (with the wetsuit body of the Type A Ultraman suit)
  2. Used as Ultraman at attraction performance shows
  3. Used as Ultraman in the cyclorama film
  4. (Only the mask) used for the rejected version suit of Returned Ultraman


From Zoffy To Returned Ultraman 1

As widely known among ardent fans, the Zoffy costume used in the final episode of Ultraman (while also worn by Satoshi Furuya) is said to have been the reused Type A suit of Ultraman with the newly made Type C Ultraman mask attached to it.

According to the information shown in a recent book, however, it is speculatively explained the Zoffy mask could have been one of the three masks Akira Sasaki made out of the original mold of the Type C Ultraman mask.

These three replica masks were made by Sasaki for his own possession and to gift Tohl Narita and Satoshi Furuya with the other two masks in commemoration.

 

The speculative explanation puts it as it might have been done right after the Type C Ultraman suit was completed and the replica mask Sasaki had could have possibly been used for the Zoffy costume.

It might be plausible given the Zoffy mask has no eye holes just like the masks possessed by Narita and Furuya.

After the shooting of the final episode, it is also speculatively explained the Zoffy costume was used as Ultraman at the attraction performance shows held around the nation after removing the rivets off the chest and the upper arms with the added lines repainted.

The photo borrowed from online and shown above is said to be the Ultraman costume possibly remodeled from the Zoffy suit used in the final episode of Ultraman with the details left unknown (the actor is apparently not Satoshi Furuya).


The “Ultraman Treasures” Is Here!

I have finally bought the Ultraman Treasures that came on sale in commemoration of the Ultraman 50th anniversary so that I can enjoy it with my readers.

I think of writing about interesting features of this book in my future posts alongside of a pack of “treasures” that came with it after having a better look through them all.

And now I would like to talk about the mask of Ultraman featured on the cover of the bulky book as it looks a bit different from the mask used in the show while it is apparently the Type C mask of Ultraman.

While it is left undescribed where the mask shown on the cover came from, it looks different from those possessed by Satoshi Furuya and Tohl Narita I posted about before as none of them has eye holes in the eyes (the mask on the cover has eye holes as shown above).

The cover mask may be the same mask as the one shown in the Ultraman Art exhibition I saw in 2012 as it is said to be a replica (from the original mold) made in the 1970s (it has the eye holes).

The point is that the mask on the cover looks more like that of Returned Ultraman or Zoffy instead of the Type C mask of Ultraman as the cover mask has its eyes positioned a bit higher and apart from each other than Ultraman and the shape and size of the eyes also make it look more like them.

Let me talk more about the relationship among the Type C mask of Ultraman, the Zoffy mask and also the Returned Ultraman mask in my upcoming post!


Ultraseven Is Possibly Samurai Warrior

As I wrote in my previous post, Koji Uenishi performed Ultraseven so that he made the hero look like a samurai warrior while he was from a group of sword action actors under Toshiro Mifune (Uenishi is alleged to have been with Mifune Production back then).

According to the autobiography “A Man Who Became Ultraman”authored by Satoshi (Bin) Furuya, Narita told him that the actor for Ultraseven was brought to Narita as Tsuburaya Productions decided to place more emphasis on action for the upcoming product and he redesigned Ultraseven he was working on assuming Furuya was supposed to play the new hero.

And, when he looked at Ultraseven in the studio for the first time, Furuya also says the appearances made him imagine a bushi (samurai warrior).

When looking at the prototype model (small statue to see what it would look like before making the costume for real) sculpted by Akira Sasaki, it makes us aware the shape of Eye Slugger looks slightly different from the costume actually worked out.

As to the crest-like part including that of Ultraman and Ultraseven’s Eye Slugger, I remember I read somewhere someone says Narita told him that those parts came from the chonmage (traditional topknot hairstyle) worn by samurai warriors when asked where they came from.

Although I am not sure if this is true (partly as Narita seems to have been a cheerful man who was very much fond of joking all the time), I think Ultraseven is certainly a hero who could be associated with the samurai warrior along with his powerful-looking, brisk movements performed by Uenishi.

At any rate Uenishi Seven is one of the unforgettable heroes alongside of Furuya Ultraman.


How Was The Ultraseven Design Worked Out? 4

Prototype model sculpted by Akira Sasaki

Tohl Narita himself described the Ultraseven design as he tried to make it look a bit intricate while he attempted to make the Ultraman design extremely simple while he thought cosmos representing justice must be simple (he made kaijus defined to symbolize chaos).

When looking at the Ultraseven design transition shown by Narita’s design drawings, we can see it developed from an astronaut-like armored character into the design known today.

It is also known that Narita was initially working on the Ultraseven design on the assumption that Satoshi (Bin) Furuya who played the original Ultraman would continue to act Ultraseven.

Ultraseven Type A costume with the mask and protector sculpted by Akira Sasaki

As I mentioned in my post before, Furuya told Narita that he was unwilling to take the role of the new hero as he had played Ultraman wearing the costume with his masked face while he found the face should be the essence of actors.

In the end, Furuya was appointed to the role of one of the Ultra Garrison members Amagi as he hoped to play without the hero costume.

Although this decision disappointed Narita very much, he allegedly finished designing Ultraseven while he made the intricate parts come together intensively on the upper part of the body to cover up the short limbs of Koji Uenishi who was decided to play Ultraseven.

The white (to be repainted silver afterwards) lines sharply extending to the boots were intended to make the legs look longer than in reality.

As Uenishi was an actor specializing in sword action under world-famous Toshiro Mifune, his performances got to make the new hero look as impressive as the samurai warrior in contrast with Furuya’s Ultraman that made us imagine the extraterrestrial life form.

At any rate, I can’t help but to admire Narita’s attitude as an artist as he tried to and managed to create a completely different hero from Ultraman whereas the latter was created as the hero nobody had ever seen before.


How Was The Ultraseven Design Worked Out? 3

Ultraseven design drawn by Tohl Narita

Although it is known among fans that Tohl Narita really loved the finished design of Ultraman created by him with assistance of Akira Sasaki in its sculpting stage, it seems Narita were very much unsatisfied with the Color Timer and the eye holes the costume finally had.

As I previously wrote, the Color Timer was added to the Ultraman costume in the judgement of people on the set without Narita’s permission so as to apply activity limitation to the hero as his weak point because they found a too perfect hero should be boring and also for the sake of minimizing scenes which would require costly special effects.

Final version of Ultraseven design drawn by Tohl Narita

Therefore Narita relocated the Timer to the hero’s forehead to avoid allowing someone else fiddle with his design assuming such a gadget he found ugly might be applied to the new hero again.

And the eye holes were positioned in the center of each eye so that they wouldn’t look unnatural while the costume would inevitably get such eye holes to enable the actor inside to look out.

It is fun to find these design drawings done as Redman as shown in them posted here.

While it is uncertain exactly when the title was decided to be “Ultraseven” in the end, the title actually came from another tokusatsu TV comedy show to be produced by Tsuburaya featuring an ancient apeman family titled “Ultra· Seven” although the comedy show was left unproduced.

Head design of Ultraseven drawn by Narita with the scribbled letters as Redman

As the Fixed Star Observer #340 borrowed his name as Dan Moroboshi, he also borrowed his name from this comedy show, and the hero was named Ultraseven meaning the seventh member of the Ultra Garrison along with the program title as such.

And, moreover, the product ended up being produced with no relationship, as far as the story is concerned, with the preceding two series Ultra Q and Ultraman while these two shared the same universe except Ultraseven was also from the same Nebula M78 Land of Light as Ultraman.

That makes it possible to be interpreted as a parallel world story to Ultraman from today’s perspective.


How Was The Ultraseven Design Worked Out? 2

Design for Ultraseven drawn by Tohl Narita

While I admired the enterprise the Tsuburaya people had on the occasion of working out “Ultra Garrison” with no Ultra hero to appear in it, they applied another Ultra hero to the new series in the end.

The title provisionally changed into “Ultra Eye” that was supposed to feature a new Ultra hero Redman (it is also said he was set to be Ultraman Jr. although it is uncertain if it means he was seen as a/the son of Ultraman) from Nebula M78, and the name of Ultraseven’s super weapon Eye Slugger came from this provisional title (named by Keisuke Fujikawa, one of the Ultra Series screenwriters).

Design for Ultraseven drawn by Tohl Narita

The human protagonist who transforms into the hero was decided to be Dan Moroboshi set to be an apprentice member of the Ultra Garrison as the Pointer driver.

And looks like it was decided to make the hero’s eyes distinctive and impressive in association with the title, and the goggle-like feature seems to have been applied to the hero’s design by Tohl Narita.

Design for Ultraseven drawn by Tohl Narita (written as Redman along with Narita’s signature)

I think that it is exactly Narita’s excellent job as he finally designed it so that it had a hollowed goggle shape around the eyes instead of making it look like the hero actually wears goggles with an embossed goggle shape applied to that part.

It is also said it was decided Koji Moritsugu was going to play Dan Moroboshi as they found the look of his eyes pretty impressive in connection with the title.

Although the program title was changed into “Redman” afterwards, it is explained this is another provisional tile applied until the trademark registration of the title was finished so that it wouldn’t be ripped off (They did the same on the occasion of producing Ultraman).

Design for Ultraseven drawn by Tohl Narita (written as Redman along with Narita’s signature)

How Was The Ultraseven Design Worked Out? 1

Proposal paper of the new series provisionally titled “Ultra Q  Kūsō Tokusatsu Series Ultra Garrison” with the circled letter “secret” scribbled on top right

While I have talked about Human designed by Tohl Narita, I already wrote about how the Ultraseven design was worked out by him in my previous article posted long ago.

Nevertheless I have an urge to put the subject in review as the year 2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the TV show Ultraseven and I actually find there are quire a few people out there who wonder why Ultraseven looks so much different from the rest of the Ultra heroes.

In the planning stage which started when the shooting of Ultraman was still under way, the series to come next was provisionally titled “Ultra Garrison.”

The script of Ultraseven Episode 1 “The Invisible Challenger” with the words “Kūsō Tokusatsu Series” on top

It was supposed to be about, literally, the Ultra Garrison featuring no Ultra hero like Ultraman while it tells us that the series starting with Ultra Q stayed within the boundaries of “Ultra” Series (officially subtitled “Ultra Q Kūsō (fantasy/imaginary) Tokusatsu Series”) back then with no concept of “Ultraman” Series yet.

It can be said that it was tokusatsu with imaginary, futuristic objects featured as a science fiction story that they wanted viewers to enjoy and featuring a superhero and monsters was not everything about it.

In this light, I can’t resist being drawn to and admiring their enterprise to create a completely new series without incorporating into it any features such as a superhero and monsters which proved they got to earn unprecedented popularity among viewers.

It is also pointed out that they planned the series “Ultra Garrison” while they were inspired by the UK SFX TV series “Thunderbirds” that won great popularity as it aired from 1966 to 1967 in Japan.

The script of the final two-part Ultraseven episodes “The Greatest Invasion in History”

 


Who Is Fuminori Ohashi? 3

Agon

Ohashi also seems to have been involved in the production of the kaiju TV series “Agon” aired in 1968 (4 episodes).

It is explained online, although it was produced  in 1964, the broadcast was delayed as they couldn’t get any sponsorship.

According to the information on the Net, the Toho people protested that Agon’s design was a rip off from Godzilla, but the dispute came to an end as it was figured out that Ohashi was also involved in sculpting the first suit of Godzilla.

Nevertheless, as there seem to be the crew members involved in the production of the movie who maintain they had never seen Ohashi on the set, the truth remains unknown.

I dimly remember there was an explanation that the costume of Agon was converted into that of  Magma Taishi’s Aron. (Ultraseven has another Aron.)

While Agon and Magma Taishi’s Aron certainly look alike, it seems that the costume of Agon also had a balloon in the neck to be blown up to show the inflation and deflation of the throat just like Aron.

Ohashi seems to have claimed that it was him who taught Ryosaku Takayama how to deal with latex to model monster costumes.

Besides all these, Ohashi is alleged to have been involved in making many of the ape masks and hands for the 1968 US movie “Planet of the Apes” after participating in the production of the 1967 UK 007 film “You Only Live Twice” as an art member.


Who Is Fuminori Ohashi? 2

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Magma Taishi

Making the most of his height, Ohashi seems to have played an active role in performing as a suit actor in the 1930s.

Inspired by “King Kong” screened in 1933, he is said to have acted King Kong in the 1938 Japanese King Kong movie “King Kong appears in Edo” while the title sounds pretty attractive and exciting.

As shown in Aron whose photo is featured in my previous post, he had excellent sculpting skills as he was even requested to join the modeling work for the Disneyland props and, later, the production of a TV tokusatsu series under contract with a US production company.

It is said that the suit of Aron was equipped with a balloon inside the neck to show the trembling movements of its throat.

 

Alongside of Aron, Ohashi sculpted the mask of Magma Taishi whose fine features have seemingly been admired by those including Toru Matoba (SFX director of the primary Ultra Series) and Eizo Kaimai (kaiju sculptor who participated in the Godzilla movies and Ultra Series).

Ohashi is alleged to have worked out his own modeling materials such as compound latex to be patented later.

Nevertheless, as he overly elaborated details of the costumes, the suits he modeled seem to have been extremely heavy and rigid while the surface was coated over and over so it is likely that those including Eizo Kaimai and Ryosaku Takayama were called in to remodel Ohashi’s monster costumes making them thinner by hollowing out the inside of the costume.