Category Archives: My Days With Tokusatsu

“Anne Now And Then” Authored By Yuriko Hishimi #2

Hishimi-san’s latest book “Anne Now and Then” along with her  previous essay book “Seven Seven Seven Anne Once Again” (paperback edition) to the left

As the name Fukushin had ever made me wonder where it came from because it is an unusual name I have never heard of in real life, Hishimi-san is so nice to explain it in this book that it was from a real-life man named Shinichi Fukuda.

Mr. Fukuda, one of TBS directors, was friendly with Akio Jissoji who directed the Fukushin episode (Jissoji himself was also a director originally from TBS), and the character was named Fukushin after Mr. Fukuda’s nickname (as the family name customarily comes before the last name in Japan like Fukuda Shinichi, the nickname should have been from the abbreviation of his name).

This book also has an essay about the topic that Hishimi-san ended up playing Anne instead of another actress who was originally cast for the role of Anne while the topic started being talked about quite much in recent publications on Ultraseven. I would talk about it on this blog sometime later.

It is always fun to read a book written by the cast members of the time, and I am really glad to see Hishimi-san and her fellows doing well while 50 years have passed since the show aired for the first time.

I always wish them good health, happiness, further success and longevity.


“Anne Now And Then” Authored By Yuriko Hishimi #1

“Anne Now and Then, Ultraseven Forever!” authored by Yuriko Hishimi

I purchased another book authored by Yuriko Hishimi who played Anne in “Ultraseven” published this month while I had been looking forward to it since it was announced to be released.

Her first book was published in 1997 titled “Seven Seven Seven My Sweetheart Ultraseven” and was formed into a paperback edition titled “Seven Seven Seven Anne Once Again” after revision in 2001 while the one I have at home is the paperback edition.

The new book “Anne Now and Then, Ultraseven Forever (Annu Konjaku Monogatari, Urutorasebun Yo Eien Ni)” consists of essays about her memory of each Ultraseven episode in the form of complementing her previous book along with the memoir of her childhood and the newest things disclosed after the publication of the previous book also featuring a special talk made among actresses who played aliens’ human forms in “Ultraseven.”

Among fun stories about Ultraseven episodes, a hilarious one is about Kimihiro Reizei who played Fukushin in Ultraseven Episode 45. As a story he himself introduced to fans quite recently, he went to a public bath in an area outside of Tokyo he visited to perform at a theater in the locality as he likes to bathe in public bathes (me too!).

While he had/has been addressed by a stranger as “Fukushin-san” over and over in any other places, the same thing happened to him then while taking a bath as a young man around 18 spoke to him asking, “You are Fukushin-san, aren’t you?”

And they shook hands all naked.


Ultraman Ace & Dyna Featured In Sporting Newspaper

The interview with Keiji Takamine

While the articles featured in the sporting paper were, of course, centered on “Ultraseven,” it also included “Ultraman Ace” and “Ultraman Dyna,” each of which has marked the 45th and 20th anniversary this year respectively with the interviews made with Keiji Takamine (for Seiji Hokuto in “Ace”) and Takeshi Tsuruno (for Shin Asuka in “Dyna”).

Expressing his pleasure about the longstanding popularity of “Ultraman Ace” with a lot of fans, Takamine says he was very much impressed to find out an increasing number of younger fans abroad while they have come to like the show over the last decade.

The interview with Takeshi Tsuruno

He adds that (the attraction of) period dramas and tokusatsu shows remain unchanged no matter how many years have passed although modern dramas get outdated in 10 years.

Takamine says he wanted to say the last words Ultraman Ace uttered while he dimly remembers his request to do so was refused by the director (the quote should have been spoken by Goro Naya who voiced Ultraman Ace). Takamine jokingly admits he can’t resist feeling jealous of Koji Moritsugu because “Ultraseven” has won the highest reputation among the series.

Takeshi Tsuruno also says he still likes the quote uttered by Asuka in the show “although it may be reckless/unreasonable, it’s not impossible (muchakamo shirenaikedo murijanai)” and that he speaks the line to himself even now every time he faces difficulties in his daily life.

He says Asuka who was a hot-blooded and clumsy guy reflected his own character just as it is. And he states he still keeps the transformation item Reflasher by enshrining it in the household shinto altar (kamidana) in his home.

As the youngest actor who was given the protagonist role for the latest show “Ultraman Jeed,” Tatsuomi Hamada modestly says records are made to be broken and that he hopes his play will encourage younger viewers to follow him to become the youngest hero flaring up a competitive spirit (yeah, even an elementary school kid may not be impossible although it may be unreasonable).

He seems to be from the generation who were excited with Ultraman Nexus, Max and Mebius aired on TV when he was a child. I may have to retire now…

Hair grower advertised with the appearance of Father of Ultra (left) with a catchphrase “Ultra Hair Grower”

Ultraseven Featured In Sporting Newspaper #2

From left: Bin Furuya, Yuriko Hiishimi, Sandayu Dokumamushi and Koji Moritsugu featured in Sports Hochi

Dokumamushi (formerly Ishii) says in the talk he felt sorry for the other people who played the SSSP members as he was the only one who was decided on for the role of an Ultra Garrison member in subsequent “Ultraseven” after “Ultraman” while he was delighted as he could get a regular role in a show for another whole year.

When he asked the staff if he should change something including the appearance because he was to act a different person in “Ultraseven,” he was told it would be unnecessary to do so.

Therefore, he says kid viewers should have been confused as Furuhashi turned out to be something like a human clone from Arashi.

Brief episode reviews

Koji Moritsugu says, while the commute to the Bisen studio took him one hour and half for one way everyday by train, he had to get up at 5 in the morning to arrive at the studio in time and that children of the time didn’t make a noise letting out a cheer (even if they found Moritsugu on the train) as they didn’t think Dan would take a train. (In his memoir published in 1998, he writes he was in trouble when children found him on the train saying to each other, “Oh, That’s Dan! Dan is on the train! Ultraseven should be able to fly in the sky, though,” and they came over to ask him, “Why?”)

Yuriko HIshimi also referred to fun things she had experienced back then, but I like to introduce one in my post to come shortly afterwards as a new book authored by her has been released lately and the same story I want to tell you about is shared between this article and the newly published book.

The cross section image of the TDF Far Eastern Base newly drawn

Ultraseven Featured In Sporting Newspaper #1

The other day, I happened to drop by at a convenience store and found a sporting paper featuring Ultraseven. Although I don’t usually purchase such a paper, I bought one because it was about Ultraseven.

While it is apparently a special feature with the 50th anniversary of the show in mind, the content was a fun talk made among the actors and actress who played the Ultra Garrison members, brief reviews of each episode, and other articles including interviews given to Keiji Takamine (Seiji Hokuto for “Ultraman Ace”) and Takeshi Tsuruno (Shin Asuka in “Ultraman Dyna”).

The content is filled with much more fun things than expected from a sporting paper also encompassing the latest show “Ultraman Jeed” with an interview with Tatsuomi Hamada who was picked as the youngest protagonist in history for the Ultra/Ultraman Series to transform into Ultraman Jeed.

The talk featured in the paper was made among Koji Moritsugu (Dan), Yuriko Hishimi (Anne), Sandayu Dokumamushi (formerly Iyoshi Ishii; Furuhashi) and Bin Furuya (Amagi) as Shoji Nakayama (Kiriyama) and Shinsuke Achiha (Soga) already passed away.

While the topics were the ones that sound familiar to fans about such things as memories of the time when the series were actually filmed, if I pick up amusing parts of them, Bin Furuya says Tohl Narita said to him, “The shape of the suit will change a bit this time, but you can act in the same way (as Ultraman).”

Furuya adds Tetsuo Kinjo, the main writer of the original Ultra Series who was deeply involved in the whole production of the series, had secretly told him beforehand that he would be picked for the role of an Ultra Garrison member (to be Amagi) for the series to come.

While I don’t think these things were referred to in Furuya’s memoir, both of them are intriguing stories.


All Night Show Of Akio Jissoji Products (March 18, 2017)

The event flyer

I went to see an all-night movie show at the Shin Bungeiza movie theater last Saturday (March 18) where the TV tokusatsu shows directed by Akio Jissoji were screened.

The event was held in commemoration of a newly released book on Jissoji (this year seems to mark the 10th anniversary of his death) authored by Naofumi Higuchi, and a talk show was also held at the outset in which Yuriko Hishimi who played Anne appeared along with Hitomi Miwa, actress who also appeared in the products directed by Akio Jissoji including Ultraman Tiga Episode 37, and Higuchi.

Entrance of the Shin Bungeiza movie theater

It is not that I am a Jissoji enthusiast, I looked forward to seeing Hishimi-san appear in the talk show and enjoying some of Jissoji-directed products, and I found Yuriko Hishimi was a very unassuming, straightforward and friendly person as I expected.

The Jissoji products shown there were (the number in the parentheses shows the episode number):

From “Kaiki Daisakusen (Great Operation Mystery)”: “Fearful Telephone” (4); “A Lullaby Of Death God”(5); “Pottery Of Curse” (23); “I Am Buying Kyoto” (25)

From “Siver Kamen”; “My Home Is The Planet Earth” (1); “The Shine Of Youth” (7); “Call From A Cold-blooded Alien” (8); “Chased In An Unfamiliar Town” (9); “Burning Horizon” (10)

A lot of Jissoji enthusiasts got together although it was late at night (the event started around 10:30 pm)

After these episodes were shown, the movie “Jissoji-directed Ultraman” was shown for us as the movie that featured the edited episodes of the TV show “Ultraman” was first screened in 1979 covering the episodes about Gavadon, Telesdon, Jamyra, Skydon and Seabose while all of them were directed by Akio Jissoji

As I am too familiar with these Ultraman episodes, I found the showing of “Kaiki Daisakusen” and “Silver Kamen” enjoyable enough although it was so tough to stay up all night to see all these things as it was for the first time in such a long time since I was younger.

The person in the middle is Hishimi-san; she generously allowed us to take pictures that were prohibited otherwise (Darn, what a bad photo!)

Super Hero Actors: Why Do They Look So Young?

When it comes to talking a bit more about Bin Furuya and Hiroshi Fujioka I previously posted as they are those who played the super heroes, the original Ultraman and the original Kamen Rider respectively, it comes as a surprise to see them look so young for their age although Furuya’s birth year is 1943 and Fujioka’s 1946.

While I say Fujioka played the hero, it is widely known that he acted the Kamen Rider for real wearing the costume in the primary episodes before Fujioka got severely injured in a motorcycle accident which took place during the shooting and suit actors started acting the hero alternately instead of him.

Is there any secret of performances with hero costumes worn that made them look so young? Because he is from Land of Light or a cyborg built by the evil secret organization Shocker? (No way!)

I think the secret could be that they are the type of people who have something to dream of without giving it up no matter how old they get.

Needless to say, it doesn’t mean immaturity. It is known they are sort of men of self-discipline to remain a role model as those who played a hero never to shatter children’s dreams as Fujioka still practices martial arts he has allegedly trained since childhood.

While Furuya describes himself as a man in perpetual pursuit of dreams, they should have the best self they want to be/remain in mind.

It is amazing to find Furuya wore the Ultraman costume in front of audience at the age of 70 and Fujioka played Kamen Rider 1 in its latest movie even wearing the costume (not throughout the movie though I haven’t seen the product).

At any rate, it makes me happy to see them remain young and vigorous as a former kid who enjoyed watching them act the super heroes in my childhood while the two characters now represent Japanese tokusatsu heroes.

I wish them good health and every success in life.


Noriyoshi Ikeya Featured In Tokusatsu Hiho 2

“Fireman” monsters designed by Ikeya

As Noriyoshi Ikeya himself said, it is not that he entered the field of film art because he wanted to be involved in tokusatsu and kaiju while he was initially called in by Tohl Narita to participate in the production of the series Ultraman.

Therefore the work he did in the field is not confined to kaiju design but he played an active role involved in film art including the films produced by renowned directors and TV commercials after leaving Tsuburaya so that he was awarded the Japan Academy Prize for the Outstanding Achievement in Art Direction twice in the 1990s.

Among the Ikeya monsters, it is fun to learn Takkong that appeared in “The Return of Ultraman” is likely to be thought as a challenge to the Narita design with the quirky shape after Ikeya took over the designing of Ultra kaijus from Narita.

I myself like the design of Twintail as it is admired as a masterpiece created by the combination of Ikeya and Ryosaku Takayama as Takayama modeled the costume along with Gudon and Stegon (the “Siver Kamen” alien costumes were also allegedly made by Takayama while he seemingly modeled the majority of the “Fireman” monster suits as well).

I wish I could have seen more of the monsters worked out by them in “The Return of Ultraman” (by the way, I feel like I wanted to see Zetton II modeled by Takayama again…).

According to an article, Ikeya seems to have said he had in stock design drawings of unreleased new monsters he had drawn every once in a while in his spare time.

I definitely hope these designs will see the light of day in the form of characters shown in film/video products someday.

Aliens designed by Ikeya for “Silver Kamen” (right); Multi for “Mirrorman” (top left); robots for “Iron King”

Noriyoshi Ikeya Featured In Tokusatsu Hiho 1

“Tokusatsu Hiho vol. 5” issued in January, 2017 with a tribute to Noriyoshi Ikeya

The  Tokusatsu Hiho (secret treasure) I mentioned yesterday is a fun magazine with a lot of detailed articles and quite a few pictures about tokusatsu products including the old ones and new ones from both movies and TV shows while I don’t know whether this is a periodical publication as the issue is always found to come out unexpectedly.

The same publisher released the Ultraseven Research Book and Ultraman Research Book in 2012 and 2014 respectively in this order as I find both of them very much informative and a lot of fun.

Colored articles from the above Tokusatsu Hiho

The latest Tokusatsu Hiho recently published features Noriyoshi Ikeya as a special who passed away the other day regrettably.

I don’t think the attraction of the monsters designed by Ikeya has been publicly talked about so much as those by Tohl Narita, but it was fun to learn from the articles how the Ikeya monsters are perceived among people.

Reading the articles, they seem to view the Ikeya monsters as sensitive and feminine in contrast with the bold and masculine design of the Narita monsters as it is known that Ikeya often referred to fashion magazines to design his monsters rather than real-life creatures.

It is also mentioned that his sensitive, graceful and stylish behaviors with gentleness and a perpetual soft smile on his face charmed people around him a lot while he was a silent type working on his task with few words.


The “Ultraman Treasures” Is Here!

I have finally bought the Ultraman Treasures that came on sale in commemoration of the Ultraman 50th anniversary so that I can enjoy it with my readers.

I think of writing about interesting features of this book in my future posts alongside of a pack of “treasures” that came with it after having a better look through them all.

And now I would like to talk about the mask of Ultraman featured on the cover of the bulky book as it looks a bit different from the mask used in the show while it is apparently the Type C mask of Ultraman.

While it is left undescribed where the mask shown on the cover came from, it looks different from those possessed by Satoshi Furuya and Tohl Narita I posted about before as none of them has eye holes in the eyes (the mask on the cover has eye holes as shown above).

The cover mask may be the same mask as the one shown in the Ultraman Art exhibition I saw in 2012 as it is said to be a replica (from the original mold) made in the 1970s (it has the eye holes).

The point is that the mask on the cover looks more like that of Returned Ultraman or Zoffy instead of the Type C mask of Ultraman as the cover mask has its eyes positioned a bit higher and apart from each other than Ultraman and the shape and size of the eyes also make it look more like them.

Let me talk more about the relationship among the Type C mask of Ultraman, the Zoffy mask and also the Returned Ultraman mask in my upcoming post!