Tohl Narita: “This is a variation development of Alien Goddora. He turned out to look more like an animal than Alien Goddora.”
It is said that Narita got an idea for the design of Alien Pegassa from a hammerhead shark and, for lump-like risings on the body, acorn barnacles while I assume the former should have made him describe Pegassa as having more animal-like features than Goddora.
As Narita puts it, he seems to have thought of Alien Goddora and Alien Pegassa as the basic style of Ultraseven aliens with the eyes positioned on top of the heads.
Alien Pegassa’s episode “Dark Zone” is definitely a masterpiece and one of my favorites with an excellent and thought-provoking story that makes us wonder what is “justice.”
Unfortunately, however, it seems that Alien Pegassa is one of the aliens who didn’t get himself photographed so much (did he stay in the dark zone?) or he might not have so many pictures remain in existence while it should be a lot of fun if we could see the pictures of him, say, being sculpted at Ryosaku Takayama’s Atelier May.
It is so interesting to see his head look very much different when viewed from the side or diagonally from above as he bent forward.
Along with his appearance only with a human-size and the brief battle with human-sized Ultraseven, the episode featuring the alien who vanished into the darkness after losing his home was extremely impressive even when I watched it as a kid.
Tohl Narita: “I got the idea from a fan lobster. It became thinner in the final design.”
While he was not such a showy alien in appearance (at the same time, it was a puppet alien instead of a costume), Alien Vira was an impressive character along with the story featuring Dr. Yushima who was manipulated by the alien.
The primary version of the design looks more like a fan lobster as Narita says he designed the alien after it.
Alongside of Narita’s fascinating design and Takayama’s excellent sculpture, the movement of the alien’s legs was also very much attractive as the mechanism was devised by Shigeo Kurakata.
Kurakata says in an interview for a book that, in the case of Alien Vira, he built the mechanism and gave it over to Takayama so that Takayama set it into the puppet he had sculpted.
Kurakata also says he doesn’t remember how he made it work as, when he tried to make the same mechanism recently, he found it didn’t move well.
As to the miniatures used in this episode, Noriyoshi Ikeya commented that the set with the shrine gates was built imagining the areas including Ueno and Asakusa and that Alien Vira’s characteristically shaped space vehicles were made from the idea of making them look like they could connect infinitely.
Along with Alien Waiell who was severed into half with Eye Slugger and Alien Quraso who was actually set ablaze and destroyed at the end of his episode, Alien Vira should also have been burnt to ashes for real (what a waste!).
Tohl Narita: “I think of it as the basic style of “Ultraseven” aliens. I also applied the style with the eyes positioned on top of the head to Alien Pegassa. It did’t have the nippers for its hands initially as they were attached before the shooting.”
Alien Goddora is an impressive “Ultraseven” alien with his nippers reminiscent of Alien Baltan although Goddora’s are much smaller, but, as Narita says, he had no nippers first until he got them on the set presumably by the staff’s judgement.
As the nippers seem to be described as Goddora Gun in the settings, that makes me imagine he may have his real hands beneath the firearms.
Given Narita was against having Alien Baltan get the nippers that he thought could make the alien look unrealistic as he assumed highly intelligent aliens should not have such hands like nippers, the idea of dealing with Goddora’s nippers as weapons attached to his hands might be appropriate.
As Narita describes, the design drawn by him and the Goddora costume photographed at Ryosaku Takayama’s Atelier May surely have no nippers.
It is said that only the head was cast out of a mold when being sculpted, which should probably mean the body was modeled by directly putting urethane and latex onto it.
I think the design of Goddora is very much well-organized with its abstract form while I read somewhere before someone pointed out it was possibly incorporated from the cross section of a spiral sea shell as shown on the sides of its head.
It is fun to see him look like he wears a red vest, and Goddora’s white and red colors coordinate with the dress and gloves worn by the woman the alien transformed into.
Tohl Narita: “I got an idea from an Inca God mask.”
As I wrote before, Miclas looks more like a Balinese mask in my humble opinion instead of an Inca mask while it is also pointed out that the elements shown in Raijin (Thunder God) might also have been incorporated into the design.
At any rate, it seems to have been designed after mythological deities from various parts of the world, and I find it extremely attractive.
The eye holes an actor inside looked through were described as positioned in the nostrils.
It is also said that every part of the costume got out of shape including the excellently sculpted horns as it was used in water in the shootings of Ultraseven Episode 3 in which the capsule monster battled with Eleking as it tells us a costume soaked in water deteriorates rather easily.
It is explained that Tetsuo Yamamura got in the Miclas costume in the shootings for boy magazine coverage, and Miclas in the pictures shown on this page except the ones taken at Takayama’s Atelier May seems to have had Yamamura inside.
The costume looks a bit loose because Yamamura was shorter than the other suit actors as these pictures are said to have been taken with the outdoor set used in Ultraseven Episode 3 in the background (probably for the scenes in which Eleking tried to chase and attack the UG members on the boat).
As it seems that these pictures were taken while Episode 3 was being shot, how the leaf-like part below the mouth and thorn-like parts sticking out from both sides of the face look might show the deterioration of the costume already used in water.
Tohl Narita: “Eleking has nothing I got the idea from either. I can call it an absract form I finally drew up on a piece of Kent Paper. I mostly ignored the concept of the eyes, ears and mouth.
(As to Baby Eleking) “It is a design of Eleking shaped like a fish before it becomes a giant.”
Eleking is a monster which makes us feel this is a typical extraterrestrial monster as it features rotating crescent-shaped horns where the eyes are supposed to be and an inanimate, meshed glowing part instead of the mouth.
While the counter-rotating horns look truly fascinating, Shigeo Kurakata, who was in charge of equipping characters with inner mechanism back then, recalls it was so tough to install the device to rotate the horns into its small head.
According to him, the horns were originally attached by Ryosaku Takayama when Takayama sculpted it, and then Kurakata took them off to set the inner device and put them back where they had been while Kurakata had to tear the costume where the scar would not stand out for the installation.
It seems that the mechanism Kurakata built was embedded in the same way as above for each monster, and it is also explained two tails in different lengths (3 meters and 6 meters) were prepared for Eleking and used according to the scenes.
It is also fun to find the horns in Natira’s design look different in shape from those of the costume (Baby Eleking has the same kind of horns as the design) as it is pointed out Keylla has antennas similar to Eleking’s in Narita’s drawing.
Incidentally, the counter-rotating horns were originally applied to Gango, and, in Gango’s case, it is likely that one single motor was set in the head so that the horns connected to it could spin in different directions opposite each other as I guess the same type of device was used for Eleking as well.
Tohl Narita: “I got the idea from a dragonfly, if any. This is one of the aliens I like best as I got to organize it well into an abstract form.”
According to a book interview with Tetsuo Yamamura, while Alien Pitt‘s eyes were made of FRP and the face of latex, the eyes and face were cast all together so there was no separation between them where they met each other.
Although body tights were used for the body part apparently to reduce the cost, the twin aliens were impressive enough with their excellent design and sculpture.
I am amazed at Takayama’s sculpting ability to reproduce the design faithfully into the costume even applying his own idea to it.
It is explained that the name Pitt came from Cupid as the aliens were set to shapeshift into cute-looking girls like Cupid.
While two identical alien girls appeared in the show, it is revealed that they were acted by Reiko Takahashi (she was 15 years old then) and one of her school friends in almost the same size and shape as Takahashi also with hair about the same length.
It was Takahashi’s friend who played the other alien girl for the scenes showing her back side.
Takahashi recalls in a recent book interview that she was asked if she had a friend who was about the same size, shape and hair length among her school mates, laughing, “I wonder what they would have done if I had answered I had no friend like that.”
Takahashi says she quit acting right after the shooting of this episode was finished as she found acting too tough while almost a month long shooting made her use up her school summer vacation.
Although it was once explained Takahashi acted Alien Pitt as well wearing the costume, she says she doesn’t think she did.
Tohl Narita: “I made a horned owl’s face look mechanical.”
Windom is set to be a space monster with an appearance like a robot while his emergence in the first episode of “Ultraseven” might have successfully helped make the series look distinctive from “Ultraman” in which we didn’t see any robot monster appear in the preceding show unfortunately.
Although not much can be heard from Narita about the excellent design of Windom, I like the design very much and it is fun to find in it features similar to the design of Ultraseven such as the crest on top of the head and hollowed eyes with radiation lines from each center.
The mechanical-looking antennas sticking out of the eye centers and the lower parts of the head make the design of Windom fully attractive.
I remember Ryosaku Takayama said in his kaiju sculpting diary covered in a tokusatsu magazine Uchusen back then the complex design of the face gave him a hard time to sculpt it as I find it really cool and I think he did a great job in spite of the presumably limited time to form the design faithfully into the real-life head.
It is also attractive to see Windom’s mouth open with a roar like a monster with a biological look, and the roars are said to have come from those of Mechani-Kong that appeared in the 1967 Toho movie “King Kong Escapes.”
Whereas it seems that the original head of Windom doesn’t remain anymore regrettably, a replica head with precisely reproduced features can often be seen at an exhibition as I actually saw it while it is uncertain whether it is from the original mold (as it is described just as a replica).
Tohl Narita: “Mirrors were embedded into the costume so as to make it look like the entangled plant-like stuff has a hollow space inside, but it did’t do the trick. This is one of the issues we have to overcome in the future.”
As Narita says the mirrors were meant to make the alien appear as if we see through to the other side, it is a shame to find it was not so effective as expected.
Alien Waiell is allegedly the first costume Ryosaku Takayama sculpted for “Ultraseven.”
Tetsuo Yamamura says in a book about the vine-like parts all over the body that they were made of urethane to the tip with no latex plastered on the surface, so they are assumed to have been made through the same process as Garamon‘s thorn-like parts covering its entire body.
The costume of Alien Waiell was severed into two pieces for real at the end of the battle scene with Ultraseven (they didn’t look ahead at that time while the same thing happened to Green Monse).
In a book interview, Kokichi Sasaki, assistant director of the drama part, reveals he wore the costume for the scenes in which the human-sized Alien Waiell showed up after transforming from Ishiguro in a train as Sasaki failed to book the suit actor for the shooting of these scenes.
Although Alien Waiell is an alien who doesn’t stand out at all seemingly even without so much popularity throughout the episodes of “Ultraseven,” I like the appearance of this plant alien along with this episode while it successfully illustrated the wordless alien’s creepiness with a lot of sci-fi feel all over the episode.
Tohl Narita says in his artbook about Alien Cool, “I came up with the design from mite.”
I think the design showing the alien shaped like a spider positioned upside down is very much attractive with his big head seemingly showing his high intelligence as it implies the upcoming battles to unfold between extraterrestrial intelligence and the Terrestrial Defense Force, the theme predominantly featured in Ultraseven.
I think the design fully reflects their intention to make the new tokusatsu series Ultraseven totally distinctive from Ultraman, and the alien was sculpted by Ryosaku Takayama while one of its arms still exist even now.
Some characters worked out as puppets instead of costumes worn by actors appeared in Ultraseven although none of them were featured in Ultraman, and that seems to have made Narita happy as it enabled him to design characters more freely while costume monsters could impose various restrictions on the forms of the characters to be worn by actors.
Puppet monsters might be a feature of the tokusatsu practiced when no computer-generated characters have emerged yet, and it should have been an ambitious and innovative attempt to broaden expressiveness of the tokusatsu even though it was a means worked out to reduce the cost.
That being said, puppet monsters seem to have gained poor reputation from among us kid viewers who hoped to see excitingly fierce battles between the hero and the monster as puppet monsters fatefully manipulated by wires are utterly unfit for the job.
Especially, Alien Cool ended up being instantly beaten by Ultraseven at a single blow only with the scenes in which they fought remaining human-sized, and it made the alien less impressive among kids back then unfortunately.
The entire episode, however, can be found excellent with the scenes finely portraying the greatness of the TDF base including their futuristic equipment as it makes the series more likely to be a science fiction story than the preceding Ultraman.