Category Archives: Ultraman Kaiju Makings

GREEN MONSE (Making)

Design drawn by Tohl Narita

Tohl Narita: “It is very hard to design plant monsters. At any rate, I designed it based on the cactus with its balance disrupted.”

While it seems to have been said that the costume of Green Monse was modeled by Kaimai Production led by Eizo Kaimai who used to be with Toho as a sculptor as his production company was largely involved in the monster costumes production for the tokusatsu TV shows in the 1970s including “The Return of Ultraman” and “Mirrorman.”

According to a recent book interview, Kaimai himself denied it and revealed it was made by the Toho art crew including himself back then: Teizo Toshimitsu, Yagi brothers and Eizo Kaimai to be more specific.

Therefore the Green Monse costume was made through the same process as the Toho monsters: forming the costume with urethane and latex on the fabric pasted over the core made of wires and then removing the core finally by squeezing it (the rough surface was made of sawdust mixed with latex).

He says, although it was supposed to be stuffed with urethane on the set, the costume is likely to have been used as it was without the stuffing and it made the monster look rather thin.

Back of Green Monse

According to Toshihiro Iijima who directed this episode, as the costume was first used to shoot the special effects scenes (including the battle scenes), it looked untidy with its bottom part rubbed off when it appeared for drama scenes with humans.

After that, it is said that the costume was set ablaze in real life for the ending scenes which showed the monster burned up after being shot by Spacium Beam.

It makes me feel a bit sad to find Green Monse seems to have been unduly treated (even with lack of nice pics) while I quite like the amorphous-intended monster designed by Narita.


RAGON (Ultraman Version: Making)

Ragon who appeared in Ultra Q reappeared in Ultraman as it shows the two series share the same universe in common: Ultra Q Ragon; Ultraman Ragon.

While the Ultra Q Ragon was played by Satoshi (Bin) Furuya, as he was playing Ultraman this time, the Ultraman Ragon was performed by another actor, Umenosuke Izumi.

As the Ragon suit used in Ultra Q was made to fit Furuya, another wet suit body was prepared for Izumi while he also seems to have been a tall man.

Ryosaku Takayama; the flying dummy doll of Ultraman can be seen in the back along with another doll of Ultraman behind Red King probably in the Tsuburaya storage

The monster designed by Tohl Narita was sculpted and remodeled by Ryosaku Takayama.

The difference in appearance between the two Ragon suits is the presence of the breasts shown by the Ultra Q Ragon as she is set to be a female Ragon who has come ashore in search of her baby although I am not sure we were fully aware of the difference back then until it was pointed out in publications which became available in later years.

Two of the Ragon body suits are found with one of them hung on the wall; the boy holds the baby Ragon along with Chandlar being remodeled from Peguila in Takayama’s Atelier May

Whereas the same head should have been used for the two of them, the Ultraman Ragon head appears to show a moderate deterioration with his fins seemingly faded slightly.

Umenosuke Izumi is also alleged to have acted Gamera in the movies “Gamera vs. Guiron” and “Gamera vs. Jaiger” along with Antler at the Ultraman Eve Festival (so he was made to wear the Antler suit back to front) and Magulla in Ultraman Episode 8.

In addition, it is widely known among fans across the world that the body suit of this Ragon was reused for Alien Zarab in Ultraman Episode 18.


NELONGA (making #2)

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A

For Satoshi (Bin) Furuya, the original Ultraman actor, Haruo Nakajima who played Nelonga was a senior fellow as both of them were actors belonging to Toho Company.

The battling scenes with the veteran kaiju actor seems to have been tough and requiring.

Furuya states in his memoir, every time he was asked which kaiju was toughest to beat, he would answer it was Mr. Nakajima.

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B

The mechanism to make the translucent horn glow with a light moving from bottom to top inside was the work of Shigeo Kurakata who was in charge of mechanisms.

He says the antennas which turn forward when emitting electric shock were not his work.

He assumes it was manipulated by piano strings manually on the set.

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C

Tohl Narita stated in his art book that he wanted to make a typical four-footed monster and that he added a pattern of stripes like a tiger to make it look more colorful (photo C).

In a well-known still photo for promotion having Ultraman, Alien Baltan and Nelonga, the suit of Nelonga seems to be unfinished.

D
D
Tohl Narita's art work of Nelonga (close-up)
Tohl Narita’s art work of Nelonga (close-up)

It didn’t have the tiger pattern on the back with no antennas on the head yet as shown in photo A, B and D. (In addition, the eyes of Ultraman seem to have no eye holes yet, either.)

Incidentally, Tohl Narita’s art work of Nelonga has no antennas, so they must have been added to the suit just before the shooting.

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Tohl Narita’s art work of Nelonga

NELONGA (making #1)

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Still photo for promotion of the time on the set of the Third Heat Power Plant

Nelonga‘s suit was the one remodeled from Pagos of Ultra Q.

Initially Pagos’ suit was remodeled from Baragon which was a Toho monster lent out to the Tsuburaya Productions.

The head of Baragon was replaced by that of Pagos for Ultra Q, and then Nelonga for Ultraman.

Nelonga’s suit was also converted into Magulla and Gavora of Ultraman later.

 

Therefore the body of all these monsters remained the same as Baragon with the characteristic fins on the back though the black spines covering Magulla’s back made the fins invisible.

It was described in the past that the head of Nelonga was sculpted by Akira Sasaki known as the sculptor for the masks of Ultraman and Ultra Seven.

But he himself admits he doesn’t remember it, so it was possibly sculpted by someone else.

 

All these monsters above were played by Haruo Nakajima, the original Godzilla actor, who states the monster suits for TV products were too light for him.

Baragon was made by the Toho SFX Art crew to make it fit Nakajima, and I guess that’s why he played all the monsters above.

Tetsuo Yamamura says the inside of the suit had urethane just exposed unlike Takayama-made suits covered with cloth inside and that the suit was so heavy in weight.


Alien Baltan (making 2)

According to Tamotsu Sato, he worked on the making of a monster costume for the first time when sculpting Baltan.

He says in an interview for a recent book he sculpted Baltan’s back as he imagined because Tohl Narta‘s artwork didn’t have it.

As it seems Baltan doesn’t have any photos of the back view, what its back looked like also remains uncertain.

 

There was a scene in which the back of its skirt was shown instantly in the drama as seen in the below photo.

It’s also regrettable as a fan to find no particular photos of the making are likely to remain now though I know it should have been inevitable given the circumstances at the time.

It’s also still uncertain if the head of Balatan was recycled from that of Cicada Man or the whole body including the head was newly sculpted.

It was a long time ago anyhow.

 

Incidentally the head of Cicada Man was sculpted by Ryosaku Takayama.

I’m aware that both Cicada Man and Baltan have a tiny projection to the side of each eye (between the center and the eye) in common and the entire shape of each head looks similar with the position of each part looking alike.

A costume newly sculpted entirely by Akira Sasaki was used for Baltan’s reappearances in Episode 16 and 33, which are known as Baltan II and III respectively.

The movement of Baltan’s eyes which gleam, rotate and move sideways is also extremely attractive!

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Alien Baltan (making 1)

Alien Baltan is one of the most popular monsters throughout Ultra/Ultraman Series even now.

But it seems Tohl Narita was not so much emotionally attached to Alien Baltan.

According to his statement in life he just designed it to meet the request made by Toshihiro Iijima, director.

Iijima asked Narita to give nippers like a crayfish to Cicada Man of “Ultra Q” who controlled Garamon in the drama.

 

Narita should have been unwilling to design a recycled monster.

His description of Baltan simply as Cicada Man with nippers in his art book might also show it.

Assuming an intelligent life form should not have such nipper-like hands, he drew the artwork with human-like hands first, and it was rejected.

And then he drew Baltan with rather small nippers, but the finished costume eventually had huge ones as you know and see now, maybe, at Iijima’s request.

 

It’s also explained Toru Matoba, SFX director, came up with the idea of Cicada Man with nippers and he liked it, which makes us confused.

It remained unknown for long who sculpted the first Baltan.

Now it’s said Tamotsu Sato, involved in the artwork for Toho at the time, did the job.

As to the making of  this alien, it has lots of enigmas despite the popularity.

The thing is it was a product dating back to 50 years ago and no one imagined the series would remain popular for so long at the time.


BEMLAR (making)

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Artwork by Tohl Narita

Though Bemlar might give an unspectacular impression in comparison with monsters in the later episodes, it’s my favorite as the feeling of vitality it shows is so much attractive.

It’s explained Tohl Narita designed Bemlar so it had small arms (they don’t have the actor’s arms inside) to make it less likely to have an actor inside by hiding the shape of the human body.

It shows Mr. Narita’s enthusiasm to create an Ultra monster in succession to preceding “Ultra Q” unlike Toho’s monsters

He stated in his art book he tried to make a typical biped monster modeling its face after shishi’s.

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Bemlar in Bisen shooting studio; Teruo Aragaki acted it with an oxygen bottle in the water

Incidentally shishi is a lion-based legendary or mythical creature descending from China as traditional Japanese shishimai (dance) and Okinawan lion-shaped roof ornaments named shiisa show.

Shrine guardian dog statues called komainu should have the same origin.

Mr. Narita also stated in the above book he plotted to make its ear movable by being manipulated with the actor’s hands from inside but it was not realized.

Ryosaku Takayama also did a great job as always in sculpturing Bemlar so it looked like a living creature.

It’s well known the name “Bemlar” was the provisional title and the hero’s name for the product turned into “Ultraman.”