Category Archives: Kaiju Makings

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

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

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


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

DADA (making) #3

Dada A, B, and C illustrated by Tohl Narita at a later time

As to the body of Dada, a black wet suit was painted into a zebra pattern by spraying white paint on it while being masked with tapes so that the black parts could be left out.

The face of Dada specified as “Dada A” damaged by the shot of Ultraman’s Spacium Beam was apparently portrayed using an additional face with scars and burns whose eye parts left open attached onto Dada A’s face that remained intact.

As Dada appears to have been one of Narita’s favorite characters, chances are the alien had been newly illustrated by Narita as his art works (without the okappa hairdo) in later years.

Another illustration of Dada drawn by Tohl Narita

While Dada is one of my favorites as well and I like this episode with a mysterious touch also featuring Ultraman who was shrunk to the human size, it was a bit shame that the mysterious alien made himself look so weak as to be defeated even by Captain Muramatsu!

Come to think of it, the scene where Ultaman turned human-sized was somewhat misleading to us when we were children, and there were kids including me who wrongly took it as Dada’s attack by his Micronizer took no effect on Ultraman and as Ultaman reduced his size of his own accord to try to catch or fight with human-sized Dada.

It caused us to mistakenly think of both Ultraman and Ultraseven as aliens who could adjust their sizes freely. I assume there should still be people who are mistaken about it even now except ardent fans of Ultraman as they would say, “I dimly remember I have seen Ultraman also shrink to the human size in an episode.”

DADA (making) #2

Clay mold of the Dada head at Ryosaku Takayama’s Atelier May; it tells us that the one single head was planned to have the three faces placed at different angles; the female molds of the faces perhaps cast out of the clay mold are found at the bottom of the platform

Takayama is likely to have written in his diary that Narita spent two or three hours in Takayama’s Atelier May while correcting the design of Dada looking at books of ancient art and African art borrowed from Takayama although Narita had come to the atelier with the Dada design three days before to stand by for having the Gomora costume tried on by someone.

Narita and Takayama seem to have initially tried to design the head to rotate so that the three different faces show up sequentially with the other two covered with lids in the double-door style while one of the three would face forward, whereas it didn’t do the trick. So it was redesigned to enable the head to show the different faces in another way.

Tetsuo Yamamura says in a book that it was decided they would simply replace the faces by attaching one of them onto the core part that looked like a head with black hair (such a hairstyle is called okappa in Japan, probably from the imaginary creature kappa. So Dada is often associated with the hairdo jokingly like “Dada with an okappa hairdo.” The Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama characteristically has that hairstyle).

Yamamura also says that is why a slight gap can be found between the face and black core head and that, if closely watched, you can find wires between them to tie them together.

As you know, the idea of showing three different faces based on the same head was inherited to “Another Dimensional Man Gigi” in the show “Ultraman Cosmos” that had the varying faces depicted with the use of computer-generated images.

You can see the process of trial and error through these photos including the above ones. It seems that Dada B in the center was not planned to have any nose although his piggy nose is the outstanding feature of that version along with the pattern on his face that looks like a mustache

DADA (making) #1

Dada design drawn by Tohl Narita

Tohl Narita: “It has three faces on a single face (head). I aimed at making the face vary properly according to the camerawork rather than showing the faces like a multi-headed statue of Buddha. I think of the depiction as what we need to work on better in the future.  It can be called an op art human overall. The illustrations of A, B, and C are the works I recently drew .” (*the illustrations drawn by Narita will be shown in the last of my serial posts to come.)

In my personal view, Dada was one of the most impressive alien characters featured in the original Ultra Series while he is just called “Dada” without any title as it is the name that sounds pretty unusual consisting of the simple repetition of the same syllable so that it makes the name sound more unique along with his zebra-patterned body design that makes him look like an abstract art work.

Enlarged head part of the above image

It is not surprising that his name sounds somewhat mysterious in itself as Masahiro Yamada, who wrote this episode, named him as such from “Dadaism” with a space creature to be thought outside of the box in mind.

The sounds like the pumping heart he constantly makes (it sounds like saying “dada” as well) and his creepy roars and groans also make him outstandingly mysterious in a different way from any other aliens who appeared in the series.

As Narita described in his art book, there seems to have been a lot of trial and error in designing the character and having Ryosaku Takayama sculpt the head.

ALIEN PROTE (making)

Alien Prote design drawn by Tohl Narita; how this design is deal with in his art book is terrible with such an image of poor quality that we can’t tell what the face looks like…

Tohl Narita: “I drew this design as I wanted to design something limp.”

Alien Prote was the alien with its yellow eyes like fried eggs and parts on the head shaped like pearl shells that impressively lit up in the dark.

Tetsuo Yamamura who played Alien Prote says in a book interview that, although it was found to have been painted grey when the costume was delivered to the Bisen studio from Ryosaku Takayama’s Atelier May but it was repainted into a dark blue on the set at Narita’s instruction.

Yamamura adds that the parts from the toy bricks Daiya Brokku were used to cover its body they had found too smooth while the bricks were also used for Dino-Tank. According to Yamamura, as there were scenes that were filmed with low-angle shots, he saw the art staff trying to make the trees and flowerbeds elaborately.

The pyramid-shaped building that appeared in the set was based on the real-life architecture that used to exist in Gakushuin University, a renowned private university in Tokyo. A talk show with this episode shown there and Kazuho Mitsuta who directed this episode invited was held in 2008 before the building was demolished due to deterioration.

Alien Prote costume without the spines to cover his body at Ryosaku Takayama’s Atelier May; the whole head seems to have been made from a translucent material

As I used to live near Gakushuin University in my childhood, I remember some of my friends told me that the artificial pond surrounding the Pyramid-shaped building was inhabited by red swamp crayfish and that they would catch them there although I had not given it a try (I fished crayfish in a different place with the other friends).

While it was set to be in early spring probably assuming a weather getting warmer in the script, there was an unexpected snowfall as you can see in the show, which makes the scenes related to the university even more impressive.

Sanae Kitabayasi (1944-present) who played Saeko Nanbu, Soga’s fiancée, says in a book that she has been friends with Tomoki Kenmochi (1943-presennt), who acted Ichinomiya tricked by Professor Niwa whose true identity was Alien Prote, since they were high school students. Kenmochi is also known as the voice actor who played Alan in the Japanese version of the British sci-fi TV show “Thunderbirds.”