Category Archives: My Days With Tokusatsu

What Ultraman represents

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“Incarnation of truth, justice and beauty” by Tohl Narita

In his book “Art of Special Effects,” Tohl Narita also refers to the words “Shin. Zen. Bi.”

Literally it means “truth, goodness and beauty.”

These words should be the symbol of Japanese spirit.

At least the spirit traditionally placed highest among the Japanese.

When I found Mr. Narita to mention these words in his book, I was so surprised at the depth of his thoughts about art.

In the book, he associates “Shin” with “learning,” “Zen” with “religion” and “Bi” with “art.”

Ultraman also represents “Shin. Zen. Bi.”

Mr. Narita’s painting of Ultraman in 1983 is titled “Incarnation of truth, justice and beauty.

With regard to “Shin. Zen. Bi,” a Japanese philosopher associates “Zen” with “affection” and “Bi” with “harmony.”

Ultraman may represent these, too.

That makes me remember Mr. Narita designed Ultraman as the symbol of cosmos.

To make it represent cosmos, Mr. Narita selected “extreme simplification” in designing Ultraman.

Mr. Narita’s son writes in “Art of Special Effects” his father pursued his life to the last in drawing a picture, making a sculpture and handing “What is the real thing?” over to the children of the future with confidence.

I hope I am one of the former children!!!


Tohl Narita’s “Art of Special Effects”

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The other day, I got Tohl (He signs this way for his paintings or designs instead of Toru. I will follow it from here.) Narita’s book titled “Art of Special Effects.”

I was astonished afresh to find Mr. Narita had his own philosophy firmly.

He says in this book this way (Sorry about my English!):

 

“Painters and sculptors learn at art schools.

The learning is a battle with themselves for self-discovery.”

“The more you learn the severity of the form, the harder you will try to get to the bottom by reconsidering a human base and so on.”

 

“An artist is those who keep questioning themselves strictly and create a new beauty .”

“Unless painters themselves draw impressed, they will not be able to impress people.”

“I think it can be said art is impression and artists are those who can be impressed.”

 

“To understand beauty of the theme, the viewers’ effort will be also required.

The effort is not knowledge.

A stack of life with real joy and real sadness.”

“What assists the willingness you try to learn the real thing is knowledge, and liberal arts.”

 

It is a shame my English is not good enough for correct translation.

I really hope you can understand what Mr. Narita means.

I think these are the remarks of someone who really knows the essence.

I think these are the remarks of someone who had battled with the form.

His form for Ultra was also created in this battle.

No wonder it still remains and is adored by many people.

That is what I thought.

Ultra is profound!!!

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“Ultraman Hakusho” 3

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“Ultraman Hakusho” also covers the works of Toru Narita and Ryosaku Takayama.

The above is transition in designs of Ultraman drawn by Toru Narita in an article written by Shinichiro Kobayashi titled “Morphological Design Theory of Ultraman.”

You can recognize the process that the spaceman in rather monstrous figure are changing to more sophisticated one.

Ultraman on the left is an illustration by Mr. Narita in later years and not the final version of design.

As Mr. Narita says here, there is no final version of design on paper for Ultraman.

He got stuck in designing Ultraman and switched to molding the mask without the final paper design together with his fellow Akira Sasaki.

Ryosaku Takayama was in charge of molding Ultra Kaijyu.

Ryosaku Takayama (1917-1982) contributed to creating attractive Ultra Kaijyu with his excellent skills of molding.

He is a painter actually.

In Ultra, a sculptor Toru Narita designed the characters and a painter Ryosaku Takayama molded them.

Interesting, isn’t it?

Being a sculptor, Mr. Narita was able to design imagining the form when molded.

And Mr. Takayama as a painter was able to interpret Mr. Narita’s drawing for molding actual forms.

Most of Ultra Kaijyu in the first trilogy of the Ultra Series were created by Mr. Narita and Mr. Takayama.

And we were grown up in touch with the works by the two great artists.

I very much feel grateful about their unforgettable works for Ultra.

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“Ultraman Hakusho” 2

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I got this “Ultraman Hakusho” when I was 20 years old.

At the age of 20, you are regarded as an adult socially.

You may have to face the realities in life as an adult.

In my case, I had to face the reality of university entrance.

Having much on my mind without much money, time with such books gave me a relief.

I really enjoyed the Ultra World as, at that time, DVDs like today were not available.

Even videos were not  out there so much.

In the 80’s, there was a “revival boom” in reviewing Tokusatsu like Ultra and anime in the past.

Those who had grown up with them in their childhood got the reviewing started.

When I was in high school, I remember the rerun of the first “Ultraman” started on TV.

In response to the voice wishing for the new Ultra, “Ultraman 80” was made and broadcast.

Ahead of that, “The Ultraman” was made as anime work.

The word “Otaku” was not heard of yet, though.

“Ultraman Hakusho” covers those series, too in addition to the early Ultra trilogy (Ultra Q, Ultraman and Ultra Seven).

As long as I remember, this should be the first book to spotlight the work of Toru Narita (Ultraman designer) and Ryosaku Takayama (in charge of molding Kaijyu suits) properly.

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“Ultraman Hakusho” (Ultraman White Paper)

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I bought a book on line I used to have again.
This is “Ultraman Hakusho”(Ultraman White Paper) first published in the 1982.

In the 80’s, very nice books on Ultra were published.
This is the one putting together the two books published earlier.

Looking back, I think the estimation of Ultra leading to today stemmed from that time in the 80’s.

Until then, maniacs like today were not here and there.
Even though Ultra was recognized in public, it did not go beyond just a nostalgic TV program seen in childhood, I guess.

Such publications as “White Paper” should have been the first attempt ever to spotlight Ultra as the work not only just nostalgic but worth appropriate evaluation.

It may also be the first work to deal with Ultra systematically including the making.

The job was done by those a bit older than me in generation.
By those who directly and intentionally experienced the early Ultra, maybe, in their elementary school age.

The current books on Ultra may be more accurate and precise in information.
But I feel the books in those days compare favorably with the current ones in terms of love for Ultra .

The vital point should be enough, I think.

This should be the work done by those who were given dreams by Eiji Tsuburaya and his staffs for sure.

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Baltan illustrated by Toru Narita on the back cover

Two actors who became Ultraman

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Mr. Furuya (left) and Mr. Kikuchi

The actor for the original Ultraman is Satoshi Furuya.

Mr. Furuya was an actor of Toho (movie company) when he acted Ultraman.

He acted “Amagi” of Ultra Keibitai (Ultra Garrison, defense team) in “Ultra Seven” after “Ultraman” without a mask.

After years of no publication, he came back in front of us in 2007.

It was a great pleasure for Utra fans to see him fine.

On March 11 in 2012, a talk event was held in a small theater in Tokyo.

Satoshi Furuya and Eiichi Kikuchi who acted “Kaette-kita Ultraman” joined to appear in front of the audience.

They held the talk show on March 11, one year after the 3.11 earthquake.

I felt their intention to cheer up Ultra fans by the appearance of the two heroes in front of us.

I also went to see them although I rarely go to see such events.

Mr. Kikuchi is a very funny person making us laugh with his jokes.

Mr. Furuya was gently smiling beside him.

They sincerely answered each question gathered Ultra fans asked them.

It was really a heart-warming event.

I cordially thank the two of Ultraman for the wonderful opportunity.

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Charm of “Ultra Kaijyu Nyumon”

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Zetton (left), the strongest Kaijyu which defeated Ultraman,

Following the previous post, what is enjoyable with this kind of book of those days is that you can expand the view of the Ultra world by the settings presented in these books only.

In those days, the settings of this kind of book often get away from the ones depicted in the drama.

That may mean freer interpretation of the drama was allowed at that time than now.

For example,”Zetton”, Ultra Kaijyu which defeated Ultraman in the last epidode of “Ultraman”, is said in this book to spit fireball as hot as one trillion degrees in centigrade.

Zetton does not spit such fireball in the drama.
But such “another setting” managed to make us feel Zetton is strong enough to defeat Utraman.

“Twintail”, which appears in “Kaette-kita Ultraman” (Return of Ultraman,1971), is said to taste like shrimps when eaten.

Boys like me in those days read such things and found them really enjoyable.

You could say our imagination was expanded so much by these books.

Shoji Otomo was the key player in editing such books.

Not in this book, but we also find anatomical drawings of Ultra Kaijyu in this kind of books.

It is said it was also Otomo’s idea.

He is a legendary guy as long as you talk about the other world of “Ultra.”

Each Kaijyu is presented with its footprint as you may find below.

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Twintail (lower left) tastes like shrimp

“Ultra Kaijyu Nyumon” (Begginner’s guide to Ultra Kaijyu)

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“Ultra Kaijyu Nyumon” (published by Shogakkan, 1990)

Recently I have bought online the books of Ultraman I used to have when I was a kid.

I had this book “Ultra Kaijyu Nyumon” (“Nyumon” means beginner’s guide) of the first edition (1971)  with the cover of “Kaette-kita Ultraman” (Return of Ultraman,1971) facing Kaijyu “Twintail.”

This 1990 edition features Ultra Seven and Bell Seijin instead.

When I turned the pages again, the feeling of old days fills me.

The content should be the same as the one I used to have.
But it looks a bit different from what I remembered.

The original Ultraman (1966) began to be called as “Shodai Ultraman” (Ultraman the First) .
Because the new “Kaette-kita Ultraman” was broadcast at that time.

This book also gives the name “Shodai” to the original Ultraman.

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The picture on the right shows Eiji Tsuburaya talking to Ultraman

Probably,  by this picture of Shodai Ultraman, I noticed the B-type Ultraman as I mentioned in the previous post.

The caption says, “The heroes who protected the earth.”

It is interesting to learn Ultra Seven is explained here as “the best friend of Ultraman’s.”

You can see the concept to link Ultraman, Ultra Seven and Kaette-kita Ultraman in the same world setting because they were set up as “Ultraman Family” or “Ultra Brothers” since Kaette-kita Ultraman.

Originally, Ultraman and Ultra Seven have the totally different world setting with no specific link with each other except that both of them are from Nebula M78, Hikari-no-kuni (the Land of Light).

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Idyllic times of Japan

Watching ULTRA Q now, the SFX filmed in monochrome is the more impressive and looks real.

I also find idyllic times of Japan in it.

Enjoying the years of high economic growth, simple and homely culture still existed in Japan at that time.

The storyline may be slow-paced.

The way to defeat KAIJYU may be too easy.

But I still find warmth of times, for example, in the conversation the characters have there or good old landscape of Japan.

It seems to have been a good time for making things.

I see lots of passion or soul in each work of the early ULTRA SERIES.

That is why I still love ULTRA Q, ULTRAMAN and ULTRA SEVEN.

They makes me feel really nostalgic, NATSUKASHI in Japanese.