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