Category Archives: Ultraseven 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)

ALIEN PLATIC (making)

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


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.”


DINO-TANK; ALIEN KILL (making) #2

Dino-Tank being sculpted

At any rate, I still find it quite odd that Dino-Tank didn’t even have its legs, which I assume was designed to make it look like it was integrated with the tank while it is an unlikely creature on the earth.

The brick-like parts covering its lower part of the body were made from the brick toy called “Daiya Burokku (daiya is from diamond)” by fastening them onto the surface. The brick-like parts should have been placed so as to make the dinosaur’s body look united with the tank part while the brick-like parts are found to have been drawn on Narita’s design as well.

When closely looking at the Dino-Tank costume, it makes me aware that the head and arms appear to have been attached to the body with a feel of different texture although such a process of putting separately sculpted parts together was not unusual.

Dino-Tank at Ryosaku Takayama’s Atelier May

This makes me speculate the body part could not possibly have been made by Takayama as, in my personal view, the body looks rather crude compared to the other parts elaborately sculpted while I am not sure…

The tank is said to have been based on the miniature of the type 61 tank borrowed from Nikkatsu movie company with details added to it while it was used in the 1967 Nikkatsu kaiju movie “Gappa: The Triphibian Monster.” The Daiya Burokku parts are also found to have been used for the surface of the tank Dino rode.

Regarding the story of this episode, it is said that the preparatory script didn’t have the concept of Amagi getting over his weakness caused by his traumatic experience he underwent in his childhood and that the one who removed the time bomb from Spiner was set to be Furuhashi. Thus, it can be said that the content of this episode was deepened by applying Amagi’s personal experience to it.

As to the making of Alien Kill, there is nothing to say about it as they were just portrayed as looking the same as humans. Although there seem to be fans who are interested in which actors played the aliens, I have to admit I am not so much drawn to the topic!

The back of Dino-Tank

DINO-TANK; ALIEN KILL (making) #1

Dino Tank design drawn by Tohl Narita

Tohl Narita: “This is based on a weird idea of a dinosaur riding on a tank, but I personally don’t like to design such a thing.”

While it is unknown who came up with the idea of Dino-Tank as “a dinosaur on a tank,” I think it is a weird idea as Narita says as they look so irrelevant.

I was a bit disappointed when I was a kid at the mere combination of an ordinary dinosaur and ordinary tank. The significance of the story in which Amagi finally overcame his weakness was slightly hard to understand for a kid back then.

So this was not such an impressive episode when I watched it as a kid although I find it enjoyable enough now after I have learnt the significance of overcoming one’s own weakness and how hard it is.

Enlarged head part of the above design that looks excellent

When looking at the design and sculpture now, the dinosaur drawn by Narita and the head and arm parts of the Takayama-made costume look so excellent seemingly reproducing a now-extinct real-life dinosaur.

Generally speaking, it should be even harder to sculpt something simple and plain like the dinosaur with a touch of reality than to sculpt a character with a complex design. It is also interesting that the dinosaur had his teeth curved outwards.

Actually, I like Dino Tank’s roar as it is very much impressive. It is said that Kazuho Mitsuta who directed this episode decided not to use any background music for the scene where the kaiju fought with Ultraseven to make the tank caterpillar sound conspicuous as the director thought it would make the scene more thrilling.

While Narita’s design includes a tank design, it seems to have been left unused

ALIEN BORG (making) #2

Alien Borg costume at the Bisen studio

Narita’s remark tells us that the soft-looking appearance of the costume was somewhat unsatisfactory to him as it is meant to be an alien with the solidity and rigidity of the armor, so he seems to have thought of bringing the costume sculpted by Takayama over to Gunji modeling factory where such props as the Ultra Hawks were made.

It is interesting that the costume photographed at Takayama’s Atelier May apparently has a shorter and smaller head while what happened to it is left unknown even though at least the height should obviously have been extended sometime later.

As to the suit actor who played this alien, it had long been told it was Eiichi Kikuchi who acted Ultraman in “Return of Ultraman” in later years, but Kikuchi himself says in a book he doesn’t remember it at all.

Tetsuo Yamamura says it could have been Kunio Suzuki as he remembers he felt it was a  bit shame to find the good-looking costume didn’t fit Suzuki perfectly. There is an explanation that the human-sized Alien Borg was played by Kikuchi.

In my personal experience, I vividly remember one of my friends knowlegeably told me that this was the kaiju who would appear in the Ultraseven episode to come next pointing at the cover of an issue of Shonen Magazine (above) we happened to find when we were kids and the series was just being aired for the first time.

I found a blog seemingly run by the daughter of Soya Kondo who played the human form of Alien Borg by chance, and the daughter writes it makes her happy to find her beloved mother still stays in people’s minds through the show Ultraseven.


ALIEN BORG (making) #1

Alien Borg illustration drawn by Tohl Narita

Tohl Narita: “Pitt, Shaplay, Cannan and Borg are a series of aliens with abstract forms. I had the armor and helmet in mind for Alien Borg. This type of alien has to be made of metal, or at least metallic parts should be applied to its large part to realize the image. I thought of bringing the costume sculpted by Takayama to the model factory Gunji to complete it, but I gave up the idea.”

Unfortunately, it seems that the design of Alein Borg drawn by Narita doesn’t remain in existence, and his illustration of the alien is covered in one of his art books instead.

Alien Borg is one of my favorite aliens with excellent looks while it is also fun that it is set to be a female alien although she looks so masculine with the armor-and-helmet-like appearance.

Alien Borg costume at Ryosaku Takayama’s Atelier May

While the design is supposed to be based on the armor, I find it so fascinating that Narita’s sculptural ideas were incorporated into every part of the design including the thin lines patterned all over the body. The head with the crest-like rises and radiating lines instead of the eyes are also very much unique and attractive. The asymmetrically shaped shoulder protectors are fun to see as well.

It is said that Alien Borg was originally designed as Kacchū-Ningen (Armor Human) that was to appear in the rejected episode titled “Vengence of 300 Years” written by Shozo Uehara. Kacchū-Ningen seems to have been set as the butler who serves Alien Tōku (maybe Tawk or something if spelled in English) in the episode left unrealized.


STAR BEM GYERON (making) #2

According to Tetsuo Yamamura, the costume was found painted light purple (fuji-iro=wisteria color) when it was delivered to the set, and he says it was very much beautiful.  He states the repainting work was done by the staff from the art section of Tsuburaya Productions as repainting often happened to kaiju costumes delivered to the studio.

The set where Gyeron appeared with flowers in bloom all over the field and a stream meant to be a river flowing was fantastic, and I am fully aware that the use of the fluffy stuff coming out of the wing torn off the body was a considerate arrangement not to show blood to kid viewers along with the yellow blood spewing out of the kaiju’s throat cut by Ultraseven with Eye Slugger held in his hand that looked different from real blood.

I do love Uenishi Seven as much as Furuya Ultraman!

Nevertheless, the scene of having Ultraseven tear off Gyeron’s wing could have been too cruel, and there seem to have been some children who thought along with the sympathy they felt for the stellar beast, “Oh, stop it, Seven! That’s enough!”

I myself find the scene a bit repulsive when I watch it now, but this episode featuring Gyeron is very much thought-provoking at any rate, and it could be one of the reasons that “Ultraseven” is often described as the series “worthy of appreciation by adults” although I personally don’t like this hackneyed Japanese cliche very much (also wondering if it makes sense in English) as I heartily admire Tohl Narita’s attitude while he put it as “the show to be watched by children makes the work even harder because you can’t fool them.”


STAR BEM GYERON (making) #1

Star Bem Gyeron design drawn by Tohl Narita

Tohl Narita: “This is a kaiju that has metallic wings.”

While Narita’s description of Star Bem Gyeron is so much simple that it might indicate he was not emotionally attached to the kaiju that much although it was so impressive for us as a tragic kaiju along with Jamyra who appeared in Ultraman.

It is also interesting that Gyeron is the only kaiju in the original Ultra Series who bears the title “Seijū (stellar beast),” while it seems to be translated as “Star Bem,” corresponding to “Seijin (stellar human)” that is the regular title for alien characters in the series.

Star Bem Gyeron at Ryosaku Takayama’s Atelier May

Although I had an impression that Gyeron was a sharp-looking kaiju, when taking a second look at the design by Narita, it makes me aware that it had a shape that was quite different from real-life creatures while it could be another example where Narita tried to hide the human body shape not to make it look like someone just wearing the costume.

It is said that real metal plates were used for the blade-like parts of its head and wings, and, while the costume was sculpted by Ryosaku Takayama, I think the look of its face with the slanting eyes as if expressing hatred and hostility of the stellar beast whose home was destroyed by the earthlings is excellent.

It is intriguing to find an enlarged eye added to the side of Gyeron in the drawing, which could show Natita might have been particular about how it should look.


ALIEN POLL; GANDER (making) #2

Alien Poll puppets at Ryosaku Takayama’s Atelier May (Alien Cannan’s head can be seen behind)

Without sufficient snowfall in any easily accessible places, it was decided to film the scene of Dan wandering in the snow storm inside the Bisen studio where the Ultra Series were predominantly filmed except location shooting although they finally got real snowfall only for the ending scene.

It is said that, while Koji Moritsugu was surprised at Pointer, the real one, brought into the studio, they obtained a large amount of baby powder to be disposed of, perhaps, for free and used it for snow along with salt (in Moritsugu’s autobiography, it is described as snow made from styrofoam and salt). It seems that the powder blown by a big fan in the studio made the filming even harder as it got into the eyes of the staff and some of them had their eyes swollen.

Gander costume at Ryosaku Takayama’s Atelier May

Tetsuo Yamamura debuted as a kaiju actor with Gander, and, as Koji Uenishi who played Ultraseven was known for his fighting performance with all his might (Uenishi was originally a sword fight actor and choreographer), Koichi Takano, tokusatsu director who worried Yamamura could get severely injured in the fight with Ultraseven, arranged the fight scene into a simple one in which Ultraseven’s telekinesis made Gander do somersault in the air with Yamamura absent in the suit.

Gander with its head cut off by Eye Slugger seems to have forced Yamamura into a squeezed position in the suit by bending his neck.