Category Archives: My Days With Ultra

Ultraman With Chiropractor

In a certain place of Tokyo I visited the other day, I found a display ad board in front of a chiropractic office. It says “Getting rid of the villains. Leave it to us!” apparently comparing such disorders as tight shoulders and neck or lower back pain to “villains.”

The thing is, the Ultraman thrusting his fist like he pops out of the blinding light in the scene where Hayata turns into Ultraman is excellently drawn! Every detailed part of the drawing including the eyes with the diamond cut pattern properly featured and the nicely shaped red marking that looks like it was drawn faithfully copying the way it looks in the actual costume makes me aware the owner or an employee of this office should be a big fan of Ultraman!

Incidentally, tense shoulders and neck are disorders often described as “national disease” a large number of Japanese suffer from (except me somehow). I guess it is not because of the matter of the genetic body structure or something but they should be sort of lifestyle diseases as many Japanese have to do a lot of desk work at their workplaces till late in the evening.

Last but not least, the Ultraman who faces forward in his pop-out scene like this fabulous drawing is Returned Ultraman instead of the original Ultraman who shows the top of his head in that particular scene.


Glancing At A Toy Store With Ultraman Gaia On Display

The other day, I visited a certain place of Tokyo as I had something to do there and found a toy store on the street. Toy stores in town are becoming a real rarity these days in Japan as many mom-and-pop toy stores have been replaced by major electric appliances chain stores that sell toys as well and also probably with fewer children due to the decreasing birthrate here in Japan.

Although I didn’t have time to take a close look at the items the store had, at a first glance, a figure of Ultraman Gaia came into my sight.

Ultraman Gaia was, as you surely know, one of the series usually called “Heisei (the current era of Japan starting in 1989) Trilogy” consisting of “Ultraman Tiga,” “Ultraman Dyna” and “Ultraman Gaia.”

 

While I have to admit I have not been so much drawn to the Heisei Trilogy as the original Trilogy comprising “Ultra Q,” “Ultraman” and “Ultraseven” aired in the Showa Period (1926-1989), I am fully aware that each of the Heisei series is enjoyable enough.

Especially, Ultraman Gaia is an unforgettable show among the Heisei Trilogy for me because I enjoyed watching it with my sons when they were cute little children.

Although they have already outgrown TV shows featuring superheroes, the memory of fun time I spent with my sons watching Gaia with a lot of excitement shared with them still remains etched vividly in my mind.

At any rate, the Heisei Trilogy is the series I hope to enjoy someday when I have time in the near future.


My Condolences: Mr. Godzilla Haruo Nakajima Died At 88

The original Godzilla actor Haruo Nakajima known as “Mr. Godzilla” died of pneumonia at 88 on August 7 (JST).

Although I am not so familiar with Godzilla movies as I am with the original Ultra Series (my parents never took me to movies when I was a kid), the news has made me feel so sad as Nakajima greatly contributed to the tokusatsu TV shows as well by playing many Ultra Kaijus impressively: Gomess, Pagos, Nelonga, Jirass, Keylla and U-tom (there is an explanation that he also played Kemur II).

Given the Ultra Series would not have happened if it had not been for Godzilla, his contribution to the rise of the TV series is immeasurable  in this light too. I think we should be fully aware that today’s Japanese tokusatsu products could not have existed without the efforts the people involved made including Nakajima while the same is true of Bin Furuya who played the original Ultraman.

The reason I had wished Nakajima good health and longevity was not only because of his great achievements as the original Godzilla actor but he was from a generation who were deprived of happy days of their youth by the war while he himself was drafted.

 

His biography tells me that, even after he acted Godzilla, it was not that it brought him happiness he should have been worthy of as many actors including Nakajima were laid off amidst the downsizing of Toho company.

So, seeing him warmly welcome abroad surrounded by a large number of fans with popularity possibly surpassing the equivalent in Japan, it had made me feel very much happy.

While a man who runs a blog related to martial arts that I often read also referred to Nakajima (as the  blog writer also describes himself as a tokusatsu fan), he writes he once saw a well-built old man at a tokusatsu event who made him think of that old man as a master of a martial art due to the old man’s presence, behavior and vibe.

He says the old man responded with a friendly smile to a young man who asked to shake hands. And that made him notice that the old man was Nakajima. Such a story makes me aware that Nakajma might have been another of the last Japanese with the samurai spirit.

It is truly a shame to lose the cast and staff who actually experienced the dawning of Japanese tokusatsu.

May he rest in peace.


Ultraseven Big Soft Vinyl Figure Released!

The Ultraseven big soft vinyl figure (9.2″) has been released from Bandai and I purchased one the other day.

As you may know, this figure is from the Bandai big soft vinyl figure series dealing with Ultra heroes including the figure of Ultraman I got last year.

This Ultraseven figure should have become available this year when the 50th anniversary of the show is marked, and I think it is a satisfactory product in sculpture that deserves the item for the anniversary year.

As an enthusiastic fan of the original series, however, the head slightly looks too small for Ultraseven played by Koji Uenishi, and it looks too good in body proportion while I am fully aware that there should not be people who are so much fussy about such trifles.

The figure gives me an impression that they sculpted it based on recently made Ultraseven costumes rather than the 1967 original Ultraseven, which has made it look much more stylish in a way than the original “Uenishi Seven” characterized by his stubby body shape with shorter limbs than the original Ultraman acted by Bin Furuya.

Like the smaller-sized soft vinyl figure of Ultraseven, Eye Slugger has no openings as it is monolithically molded with the head with its curled lower end left uncut although these should be unavoidable due to the material and the production process.

Skillful modellers may be able to hollow out and cut off the unwanted parts so as to make it look more real.  It might also be a bit shame to see its eyes plainly painted orange gold without the white parts and to find the dented patterns on the head painted gold instead of the original whitish color.

Nevertheless, I still find it a  very nice product worth getting as I had been looking forward to the release.

And, as I have listed extra items I bought and have left unused or unassembled on eBay because I can purchase them anytime easily even at a nearby store here in Japan, your visit to take a look at the items will be appreciated if you are interested. To see the items I listed, click here.


“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!)