Category Archives: Ultra Q Kaiju & Characters Makings

ANOTHER DIMENSION TRAIN (making)

Odakyū 3100 Train (the sign says Hakone)

The “Another Dimension Train” that appeared in the final episode of “Ultra Q” titled “Open Up!” was the miniature of the real-life train called “Odakyū (company’s name) Romancecar” officially identified as “Odakyū 3100 Train” while it was operated from 1964 to 2000 connecting Shinjuku, Tokyo, and Hakone, Kanagawa Prefecture, known for its picturesque scenery including Mt. Fuji.

The shape of the train truly evokes a feeling of nostalgia to me as the design appears to be typical to the Showa Period (1926-1989) I spent my childhood with. It should also be an unforgettable train for Ultra fans because it impressively appeared in “Ultraseven” Episode 2 with Alien Waiell in disguise of Ishiguro on board.

from Ultraseven Episode 2

The same miniature as the one used in “Open Up!” can also be found to appear in “Ultra Q” Episode 10 as a train passing through New Tokyo Station where Super Express Train Inazuma was about to leave for Kyūshū.

If my memory is correct, the miniature could still remain in existence and could have been covered in a book while I don’t remember which book it was.

It is widely known that this “Open Up!” episode was not aired when the series broadcast for the first time as the broadcasting of the episode was decided to be deferred because it could put a damper on the rising popularity caused by the Ultra Q episodes predominantly featuring kaiju characters while “Open Up!” had none of them and could have been too difficult for children to understand as it was a plot worked out as one of the “UNBALANCE” episodes before the show turned into “Ultra Q” in accordance with its shift into a kaiju series from the sci-fi show featuring mysterious phenomena.

from Ultra Q Episode 10

“Open Up!” was an episode Hajime Tsuburaya, Eiji Tsuburaya’s first son, put so much energy into by directing it while being inspired by the script written by an up-and-coming female script writer Mieko Osanai that triggered Hajime into deciding to join the staff for “UNBALANCE.”

Nevertheless Takashi Kakoi made up his mind to postpone airing the episode, and “Ultraman Eve Festival” was broadcast instead so as to develop the popularity of kaiju characters before the sequel “Ultraman” started broadcasting a week later.

It is said that Hajime reluctantly agreed to Kakoi’s suggestion to make the episode broadcast when the rerun of the series would air, and it was actually broadcast as the rerun was shown. It seems that there were some children who were surprised to see the episode they hadn’t watched abruptly aired (I don’t think I was one of them because I was too young then).

from Ultra Q Episode 10

TODOLA (making)

This snapshot is explained to have been taken in the Toho storage where the costumes of King Kong used as Goro in Ultra Q and Todola returned from Tsuburaya Productions can be found (with junior high student visitors?)

While Todola was a kaiju featured in “Ultra Q” before Tohl Narita got involved in designing kaijus for the series, there is almost nothing to say about the kaiju that was a mere giant form of a sea lion as his name was just based on the combination between todo (sea lion) and la, sort of a suffix that often follows a kaiju’s name.

As I described in my Kaiju Pictorial article on the character (linked as above), Todola was based on Magma, the kaiju that appeared in the 1962 Toho movie “Gorath” by having whiskers added to the costume.

It is said that the script of this episode had been written by Hiroyasu Yamaura when the show was being planned as “UNBALANCE,” the planned predecessor of “Ultra Q,” and it was rewritten by Tetsuo Kinjo into the final script on the occasion that Takashi Kakoi decided the series to be produced as a kaiju series instead of dealing with only mysterious phenomena as previously planned for “UNBALANCE.”

 

Therefore, chances are that this episode was not planned to feature any kaiju in it initially and that Todola was a character added to it when the script was rewritten by Kinjo. So this episode is described in a book on Ultra Q as the one that ended up being left at the mercy of the transition from “UNBALANCE” to “Ultra Q.”

Actually, Magma also seems to have been the kaiju abruptly added to “Gorath” as Toho requested Eiji Tsuburaya to make a kaiju appear in the movie since it features tokusatsu by Tsuburaya.

It is explained that Magma was the first kaiju FRP was used for as a material (for his tusks) while Keizo Murase came up with the idea of using the material and that Eiji Tsuburaya admired the tusks saying, “Where did you find out such ivory?” And it seems that Tsuburaya looked so happy when he was told it was the new material.


PETER (making)

Peter design drawn by Tohl Narita: finalized design (above) and primary design (below)

Tohl Narita: “Chameleon – almost just as it is. I have had a principle not to merely make a real-life creature into its giant version, but on the other hand I was in the mood to go about it without feeling pressed. This should have been the first or second design I drew (for the Ultra Series).”

While the costume of Peter is alleged to have been sculpted by Ex Production that also made kaiju costumes for the Ultra Series including Hydra, I think it is a very well-made suit with a sense of being actually alive although the suit ended up inevitably exposing the shape of the actor (Haruyoshi Nakamura) who wore the suit with his knees bent.

Ryosaku Takayama about to remodel Bemlar into Gyango and Peter into Guesra

It is said that the costume was remodeled after the drama part was filmed and that the giant form of Peter had hair added around its mouth along with small mirrors embedded into the scales to make them reflect the light of flames in the scene of Peter being surrounded by fire.

The tongue that rolls out of its mouth also seems to have been added to the giant version of Peter.

It is said that such a remodeling could indicate what an unprecedented TV show Ultra Q was with an extraordinarily large budget spent on it as it started being aired after all the episodes had been filmed.

It is explained the Peter suit was put on display at the now-defunct amusement park Tama Tech for “Ultra Q Festival” held there in 1966, and it was remodeled into Guesra for Ultraman by Ryosaku Takayama.


DEVIL CHILD LILY (making)

Yoshio Kosugi as Akanuma

The “Ultra Q” episode that features Devil Child Lily was worked out in the stage when the series was produced as “UNBALANCE” prior to the title change that occurred in accordance with the show’s shift into a kaiju series, so it was before Tohl Narita joined the staff for designing characters.

This episode was a traumatic experience for most children who watched this back then including me.

The mysterious alter ego separated from Lily was so horrifying along with the scene where Lily and her alter ego were found walking on the railway track.

In the back row, Kenji Sahara (leftmost) and Akira Takarada (rightmost) as new actors debuted as “the 6th Period Toho New Face” (from Sahara’s book)

When I watched this episode again as an adult, however, I found the magician, Lily’s father, Akanuma who was played by Yoshio Kosugi (1903-1968) might be far more frightening than the existence separated from Lily.

Kenji Sahara who acted Jun Manjome in “Ultra Q” writes in his book titled “Wonderful Life of Tokusatsu (Subarashiki Tokusatsu Jinsei)” published from Shogakkan in 2005 that he himself found this episode so scary.

Sahara says, while Kosugi was an irreplaceable actor for Toho movies back then including Akira Kurosawa’s “Seven Samurai” (1954) with his impressive performance people would never forget once they have seen him in those movies.

Noriko Sakabe as Lily

Sahara goes on saying that Kosugi was also one of the strictest teachers they had at the Toho actors training school when they, including Akira Takarada who played the leading role in the first Godzilla movie (1954), had joined the movie company as new actors.

When Sahara saw Kosugi on the set for “The Devil Child” who greeted him saying “Good morning, Sahara-kun,” Sahara says he was just stunned without being able to say any words because, in addition to the fact that Kosugi was a strict teacher he learnt from, Kosugi’s unusual appearance as the mysterious magician horrified Sahara so much.

“Wonderful Life of Tokusatsu” authored by Kenji Sahara

Sahara recalls, every time Kosugi, dressed as Akanuma, looked at him during the filming, he came near to forgetting his lines in horror.

Sahara adds in the book one more thing that terrified him about “The Devil Child” was that the scene in which he rescued Lily on the railway track by a hair’s breadth was filmed with the steam locomotive actually rushing on the track toward them while it is unthinkable by today’s standards.

As to Noriko Sakabe credited as the kid actress for Lily, little is publicized and known about her unfortunately.

The back cover of the above book

GOGA (making)

The primary design of Goga drawn by Tohl Narita

Tohl Narita: “The idea came from a shell and a slug.”

It is explained that the concept of a shell monster originated from a rejected script titled “Fossilized Castle.”

It is said that the script was based on a sample story titled “Living Fossil” worked out in the planning stage of the show featuring a shell monster named “Kaigeru” (probably it came from the Japanese word “kai” that means shell).

It is very much intriguing to find the design of Goga drawn by Narita has the settings meant to be instructions for sculpturing, and, probably based on this, three puppets of Goga in different sizes, large, medium and small, were made by Ryosaku Takayama.

The finalized design of Goga drawn by Tohl Narita
A sketch of Goga with the settings and instructions for sculpturing (click to enlarge)

The instructions put down by Narita are:

(about the eyes) Freely extendable. Firing from the tips.

(about the mouth) Mouth (just the specification)

(about the skin) Skin like a slug. (The body) Comes further forward than it is in this drawing when the entire body shows up. (with another arrow) Darker than the shell.

(about the front part of the shell) Smooth (like a steel board)

(about the shell) Whitish

(about the drill) This is where it rotates. Like a drill. It digs into the roof and ground.

(about the way it moves) Crawling with up-and-down movement. Usually walking with its bottom up.

Goga puppets at Ryosaku Takayama’s Atelier May

Along with these settings, specifications about the sizes can be found to the right as “diameter 3 jaku (shaku) =approx. 36 inches; 1 shaku =approx. 12 inches; 2.5 sun = approx. 3 inches.

Incidentally, shaku and sun (pronounced like shortened “soon”) are almost obsolete Japanese units of length people of my generation and younger are unfamiliar with.

It is a rarity to see such settings added to a design by Narita while it might indicate that they had time to spare for precise arrangements at this point when they were working on “Ultra Q” as all the details of such settings should have been decided through discussion with those concerned.

The largest puppet is said to have been burnt and destroyed for real in the ending scene of the show…

The drill mechanism is said to have been installed by Shigeo Kurakata.

A snapshot of one of the Goga puppets with the puppet of M1 behind

SUDAR; KAIGYO (making)

This snapshot shows the size of the Sudar puppet

Tohl Narita: (about Kaigyo) “As an experimental design of a kaigyo (mysterious fish), this is a design I like very much. But I was told that they would like to make an octopus appear as the script was written assuming the octopus from Toho. If the kaigyo had appeared, it would have become one of the best kaijus.”

As Narita explains in his art books, the monster to be featured in Ultra Q Episode 23 “Fury of the South Sea” was changed from the kaigyo to the giant octopus Sudar with the use of the puppet used in the 1965 Toho movie co-produced by the US company Benedict Pictures “Frankenstein vs. Baragon/Frankenstein Conquers the World.”

Sudar’s tentacle at Ryosaku Takayama’s Atelier May

Incidentally, “kaigyo” represents “mysterious fish” and not the individual name of the giant fish monster (it should have been dropped before getting any specific name).

As to Surar, while scenes with a real octopus used were added, the puppet octopus also looked real as it was excellently sculpted.

A giant tentacle was sculpted by Ryosaku Takayama and was used for a scene of the tentacle attacking Manjome while the prop was also excellently sculpted.

It is said that the idea of this episode “Fury of the South Sea” can be traced back to a sample story titled “The Counterattack of Giant Octopus” covered in the first planning paper of “UNBALANCE,” the planned show that turned out to be “Ultra Q” in the end.

Kaigyo design drawn by Tohl Narita

In “The Counterattack of Giant Octopus,” Manjome seems to have been planned to fight with the giant octopus with a supercar he boarded including fight scenes in the sea and the showdown at Haneda Airport (this sounds like sort of an off-the-wall story that makes me feel like watching it).

I have to admit I personally found it a bit disappointing to see this episode just feature a giant octopus when I was a kid, but, given how Bostang was portrayed in the show, it makes me wonder how well the kaigyo could have been depicted with techniques of the time although the design variations Narita drew make me fully aware that he should have put a lot of energy into designing it while I find his kaigyo attractive enough.

Kaigyo design variations drawn by Tohl Narita

GIANT (making)

Snapshot from “Metamorphosis” with Keiji Kawakami, tokusatsu director, in the middle giving instructions to Kozo Nomura (Giant)

As Giant was just a giant human instead of a costume kaiju, I have little to tell you about the making of the character (There is nothing to talk about regarding the making of Giant Morpho either as you may expect).

While the man who became giant was named Koji in the show, it came from Koji Ishizaka who served as the narrator for “Ultra Q” and the first half of the series “Ultraman” because Kyoko Kitazawa who wrote the script of this episode had known Ishizaka since they were university students through workshops sponsored by broadcast writers.

Koji Kajita who directed this episode, however, is said to have jokingly complained about the name as the heroin kept calling his name throughout the episode.

It seems that this episode story originated from the idea worked out by Tetsuo Kinjo based on a folktale in which the leading character transforms into a dragon.

 

It is said that they were also thinking about the likeliness of another ending for this episode in which Giant spoke to the heroin asking her why she left him behind when he had become giant.

In that version of the script, Koji was to die after he returned to normal size by being exposed to Heat Atomic X-ray saying, “I just wanted your heart…”

It is good to know that their love made a miracle happen in the end in the aired version of the episode with the theme to question if love would remain unchangd even if the significant other has turned into a giant.

Kozo Nomura (1931-present) who acted Koji seems to have retired from show business although he is also known among Ultra fans for his role as Dr. Miyabe in Ultraseven Episode 19.

Machiko Naka (1936-present) who played the heroin Ayako is doing well and appeared in an interview covered in a book. She is also known as Mrs. Ishiguro she played in Ultraseven Episode 2, and it is likely that she is very happy about her appearances in each episode.


BOSTANG; ALIEN KEEL (making)

A: Clapton primary design drawn by Tohl Narita

Tohl Narita:

(about Clapton & Bostang) “We were supposed to have an episode titled “OIL·SOS,” and I designed A (specified as such in this blog) as a plankton kaiju feeding on oil. While it developed into B1 and B2, the production of the episode was called off, and we got “Space Directive M774″ instead in which the kaiju changed into a stingray kaiju. I made a stingray into the design from my favorite photo almost as it was. (C1 and C2) ”

(about Alien Ruperts’s Spacecraft) “I didn’t like making it just an ordinary spacecraft, and it came to be shaped this way.”

(about Bostang egg) “I wanted to make the surface look like the Jupiter pattern rather than physiological (organic) colors expected from a giant fish egg.”

Although this entry is titled as “Bostang; Alien Keel” in accordance with my “Kaiju Pictorial” article on them, Alien Keel didn’t appear in the show while its name was just referred to by Alien Ruperts Zemi. Narita’s remarks make us aware that the kaiju’s name Clapton should have been an anagram of “plankton” by putting syllables into a different order, not after the famous guitarist.

While I find the spacecraft designed by Narita looks attractive enough, it didn’t come up actually in the show as a differently shaped equivalent appeared instead as I happened to post the picture in my previous entry on the “making” of Alien Ruperts.

Even though the prop of Clapton was being sculpted by Ryosaku Takayama, on the occasion of the episode changing into “Space Directive M774” through the other version of the script titled “The Targeted Planet,” it is said that the prop was remodeled into Bostang, and it is known that the prop used in the show still remains in existence.

Including this prop, at any rate, the stuff Takayama sculpted strangely makes us feel a sense of life even if it looks shabby after being deteriorated by the passage of time while the same is true of the heads of Gomora, Abolas and Banila.

It seems that the word “Bostang” is fictionally set to mean “eternal/immortal life” in the Alien Keel language.


ALIEN RUPERTS (making)

As Alien Ruperts named Zemi was a human-shaped alien, there is nothing to talk about regarding the design and sculpture. Zemi was played by Keiko Mizuki. It seems that she was an actress Kazuho Mitsuta who directed this episode had ever been drawn to.

Although I don’t remember which book has this story, I think Mitsuta wrote he had hoped to associate with her but that he gave it up as he heard Mizuki would be getting married.

When Mitsuta started seeing another woman, he came across with Mizuki waiting for a bus at the bus stop and asked her if she got married. She answered no as she decided not to marry the man.

Alien Ruperts’ spacecraft that is not talked about much

Mitsuta admits, the moment the word/words “(Would you marry) me?” got stuck on the tip of his tongue, she got on the bus and it drove away. He jokingly says the bus should have been an incarnation of the woman he was seeing then.

As to Zemi, I feel like Mizuno’s low-pitched voice suited the friendly alien who warned of Bostang coming to invade Earth sent by Alien Keel. I vividly remember the mysteriousness with which her voice was heard from the jukebox when I watched this episode as a kid.

Come to think of it, while Alien Ruperts was a forerunner of subsequent human-shaped aliens who appeared in “Ultraseven,” an equivalent Alien Magellan Maya was also associated with a jukebox. No wonder I tried to stay away from jukeboxes when I found one as a kid because I would hate to hear an alien’s voice come from it or to vanish with smoke given out of it.

The optical compositing was used for the scene in which Manjome and Ippei were found coming close to the bar viewed from the inside of the bar through the door, and I think it is  a great job.

Along with the ostentatious tokusatsu scenes using miniatures, props and costumes, I also find such a subtle usage of tokusatsu attractive enough.

The last quote spoken by Zemi “the person right next to you might be an alien” could be a theme developing into Ultraseven Episode 10 “The Suspicious Neighbor.”

Unfortunately, little is known about what happened to Mizuki in later years although she seems to have continued to appear in TV shows until the 1980s.


RAGON (making)

Ragon design drawn by Tohl Narita

Tohl Narita: “I designed a han-gyojin (merman/gill-man) just as it is.”

Judging from Narita’s simple and brief description of Ragon, it might not have been his favorite unfortunately. But, presumably with the excellent sculpting by Ryosaku Takayama, it turned out to be a kaiju who gained much fame and popularity.

While I have referred to it repeatedly, this Ragon has its breasts as it was set to be a female Ragon. The Giant Ragon that appeared in “Ultraman” was a male Ragon without breasts.

Kaiju costume that expresses “emotions” along with the performance by the actor

As Ragon’s face looks different from the drawing by Narita, it might be another kaiju Takayama’s skills of sculpture made more attractive. I think the head sculpted by Takayama looks real and is very much expressive especially with its eyes typical to Takayama’s sculpting. At any rate, Ultra Kaijus sculpted by Takayama have eyes that make us feel as if they are living creatures in real life.

Baby Ragon was a marionette sculpted by Takayama.

This Ultra Q Ragon was played by Bin Furuya after he acted Kemur, and both of them look great reflecting his slender body shape with the use of wetsuits. (While I forgot to mention it in the article about the making of Kemur, the alien might be the first character in Tokusatsu shows for which a wetsuit was used for the body.)

Ragon costume at Ryosaku Takayama’s Atelier May

Furuya says in a recent book the costumes of Kemur and Ragon just fit him even without taking measurements and jokingly adds that he thinks it should have been “some kind of conspiracy.” After performing these two characters, Furuya was chosen for the role of the original Ultraman.

In addition, it is said that this episode was based on the idea worked out by Shoji Otomo, who first planned kaiju anatomy charts, while he came up with the story from the 1954 U.S. movie “Creature From The Black Lagoon,” and the name Ragon was from the word “lagoon” as “L” and “R” are not distinguished from each other in the Japanese language.

Baby Ragon