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 Toy stores in town are becoming a real rarity these days in Japan as many mom-and-pop toy stores have been replaced by major electric appliances chain stores that sell toys as well and also probably with fewer children due to the decreasing birthrate here in Japan.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.
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.
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of) period dramas and tokusatsu shows remain unchanged no matter how many years have passed although modern dramas get outdated in 10 years.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…
When looking at Telesdon who appeared in the show “Ultra Fight,” the costume just barely seems to keep its original shape of Teleston who appeared in “Ultraman” in one way or another while lacking its sharpness that used to be a great feature of the underground kaiju.
Meanwhile, the Detton cosume that appeared in “Return of Ultraman” has been described as the deteriorated costume of Telesdon used in “Ultraman,” and these two kaijus have often been referred to as siblings in publications.
It is likely that, although Telesdon was to reappear in the “Return of Ultraman” episode (Episode 3), the costume was eventually used as another kaiju because it was found badly deteriorated.
If it is true, the Telesdon costume that appeared in “Ultra Fight” should explicitly illustrates the transitional state of the suit in between “Ultraman” and “Return of Ultraman.”
On the other hand, there is an explanation in which it is pointed out that Telesdon and Detton differ in number of the segmented parts of their tails or Detton had only four fingers on each of his hands (Telesdon had five fingers) while suggesting possibility that they might have been different costumes or assuming the Detton costume could have been from another Telesdon suit sculpted for stage shows.
In my impression and speculation, however , I feel like the differences mentioned above just tell us how much badly the original Telesdon suit was decayed and it should have been repeatedly repaired before it was used as Detton (the original Telesdon costume should often have been used for stage shows in those days).
At any rate, I think the idea of making a deteriorated costume appear as a different monster is just unbelievable while it sounds funny.
Alien Baltan was already acknowledged as the rival villain of Ultraman while enjoying great popularity among us kinds in those days, and he also appeared in the show “Ultra Fight” on the frequent basis although he is described just as “Baltan” in the show.
The costume of Baltan is said to have been the one made for stage shows even though it ended up, as it is often the case with stage show monsters, looking so much different from the original Alien Baltan with the surface parts simply attached to the body suit (it looks like fabric but the body shown in the other photo on this page looks like a wetsuit).
Amazingly enough, Baltan who appeared in “Ultra Fight” Episode 195 had human-like hands instead of nippers while holding a wooden stick along with the other monsters to fight against Ultraseven, which I believe will tell you what a crazy show it was.
He dishonored himself exposing even the actor’s chin when he was found lying on the ground after being defeated by Ultraseven.
There is speculation that the costume of Alien Baltan Jr. who appeared in “Return of Ultraman” was sculpted by casting its head out of the mold copied from the “Ultra Fight” Baltan.
Whether true or not, they look quite similar for sure while the Baltan Jr. costume was modeled by Kaimai Production that sculpted most of the monster suits used in the second Ultra Series starting with “Return of Ultraman.”
I have to admit, however, along with “Ultra Fight” Baltan, I found Alien Baltan Jr. pretty disappointing when I saw him when I was a kid as he ended up falling far behind the original Alien Baltan (and Alien Baltan II) in reality.
The aliens who appeared in “Ultra Fight” seem to be customarily called just by their names somehow such as “Baltan”or “Goddora” without the title “Alien,” and Keronia is described as Keroniya; Keylla as Keyllar while I think these two names were just misused.
The costume of Woo who often appeared in the show was getting dirty with dust as the episodes went on while his face was found hidden by hair almost all the time so that it made him look just like an unknown hairy monster.
What we talked about a lot as kids because we found it funny was Eleking with his horns always hanging down and dangling seemingly without any rigid core in them (the horns didn’t rotate of course and the mouth appears to have been expressed just by painting the part) as it looked pretty bad and Icarus painted green.
The green color is alleged to have come from soft vinyl figures of Icarus that were available back then while they were painted green somehow.
Both Eleking and Icarus were the costumes made for stage shows or advertisement as such kaiju costumes were also used for marketing events at shopping streets (I hear there were occasions when local businesses rented kaiju costumes as they got someone among them ready to wear the costumes).
Each of the newly shot episodes had no particular story as it was a five-minute long show in which the characters abruptly came across one another in a plain field and started fighting for no particular reason with voice-over commentary by a (fake) play-by-play announcer that made it look like a live coverage.
The shows “Ultraman” and “Ultraseven,” especially the former, tended to be criticized as a “kaiju wrestling show” by adults who perceived that battles would just unfold between the hero and a monster in the shows like professional wrestling matches that aired on TV with great popularity in Japan back then although the shows were meant to be tokusatsu science fiction products.
Therefore it can be said “Ultra Fight” was a show that dared to take advantage of such criticized features in a way.
The plot development, if any, was so surreal and abrupt each time only with crazy episodes featuring the monsters such as Eleking who plunged into fighting as he went mad because another character disturbed him while napping, Keylla who just kept devouring an apple, and etcetera.
One-to-one or one-to-many battles were fought between Ultraseven and kaijus while there were a lot of episodes featuring battles between/among kaijus with no appearance of Ultraseven.
There is no segregation between the Ultraman kaijus and Ultraseven kaijus either as they fought with each other jumbling together.
The shooting of each episode seems to have been carried out with no script and no rehearsal simply bringing the costumes to each location by car.
Every monster costume looks so much worn out after being used at stage shows held all over Japan as some of them were costumes actually used in “Ultraman” and “Ultraseven” and others were sculpted for stage shows while the deterioration or crudity of the costumes could have made them look like a mere shadow of what they should have been.
(I forgot to add a photo of Keylla in “Ultra Fight.” Here it is if you would like to take a look. No pic was found online about the “Ultra Fight” Gomora unfortunitely)
The hero who appeared in the newly shot episodes of “Ultra Fight” was exclusively Ultraseven while I assume it should have been simply because the Ultraman costume was unavailable for some reason.
The Ultraseven costume used in “Ultra Fight” should have been the one used in the show “Ultraseven” although it looks rather worn out with dirt all over the suit.
It is often found that the back of his head and neck part of the Ultraseven costume that appeared in the newly shot episodes seem to have been painted black.
There is an explanation, however, that it was the original color of the material used for those parts while a different material from the body part (wetsuit) had been used for the neck and back head parts of the Ultraseven costumes that appeared in the original show so as to make the suits easier to move.
His eyes and Beam Lamp didn’t light up, and the elevated part on the back each of the original costumes used to have to hide the zipper is found to have been removed.
Above all, Ultraseven featured in “Ultra Fight” should be thought of as a different hero from Ultraseven who appeared in the original “Ultraseven” while he didn’t use any of his beam attacks in “Ultra Fight” (for cost cutting of the show) as he and monsters exclusively performed hand-to-hand combat fighting.
His personality is also a bit different from that of Ultraseven who appeared in the original series, and, in an episode, he was found to keep apologizing to Eleking without fighting as he accidentally woke up the monster with falling rocks who was taking a nap below a cliff.
Ultraman’s shouting and yelling voices were used for this Ultraseven (he speaks no words) probably because the hero was voiced by Koji Moritsugu who played Dan Moroboshi for each episode without using prerecorded stock voice effects.
Thus the show “Ultra Fight” was produced with a strict cost-cutting policy.
As shown in my yesterday’s post, the show title simply features intensely blazing flames in the background with a nicely handwritten subtitle appearing after that each time (It seems that there was another opening title in the “edited episodes” part).
Using the films edited from the original series, only the battle scenes from each episode was shown while it was made to look like a live coverage of a professional wrestling match that was so popular in Japan back then with a play-by-play announcer commenting on what was happening in the fight.
As to the “newly shot episodes,” they made the most of the character costumes that remained in storage including the ones exclusively used for stage shows.
Therefore the characters that appeared in “Ultra Fight” turned out to be quite unlike the ones found in “Ultraman” and “Ultraseven” even including the costumes that were actually used in the shows due to deterioration while they have gained popularity of their own among fans.
The location shootings were carried out mostly in plain fields where land development was going on in those days.
Although this measure seems to have been criticized by those in the industry as Tsuburaya Productions was trying to make a business out of “used tea leaves,” the show “Ultra Fight” got to win great popularity among kids unexpectedly.
Moreover, the significance of “Ultra Fight” lies in having triggered the momentum to produce a new Ultra Series after the original series ended with “Ultraseven” in 1968 as it led to the beginning of the second Ultra Series starting with “Return of Ultraman” in 1971.
“Ultra Fight” was a five-minute long tokusatsu show (I am not sure how much appropriate it is to call this show tokusatsu) aired from 1970 to 1971 with 196 episodes at 5:30 pm from Monday through Friday in the same time slot on TBS.
Tsuburaya Productions was in a financial crisis back then as their “Mighty Jack” that started broadcasting with a lot of fanfare failed to win so much popularity as expected.
“Kaiki Daisakusen” that started after “Ultraseven” ended was also shortened than originally planned by judgement of TBS on the ground that it ended up gaining a lower viewership than the Ultra Series while the average rating itself alleged to have been 22.0% should have been fair enough even by the standards at that time.
Meanwhile, “Ultra Fight” started being produced as Hajime Tsuburaya, Eiji’s first son, took an initiative suggesting to work out a show with little expense.
Although it was planned to make each edited episode a five-minute long show in the first place extracting only the battle scenes between Ultraman/Ultraseven and a kaiju from the shows “Ultraman” and “Ultraseven,” as they found fewer battle scenes were long enough for the new show than they had thought, many newly shot episodes were added to the series while each part is described today as the “extracted episodes (71 episodes)” and “newly shot episodes (125 episodes)” respectively.
After being used at attraction performance shows around the nation, the Zoffy suit converted into Ultraman is said to have appeared in the cyclorama film featuring Ultraman and Ultraseven shown in an amusement park in 1969.
After that, the head of the suit is speculatively described as it was used for the Returned Ultraman costume while it means the Returned Ultraman head was not the one modeled from the original mold of the Type C Ultraman head.
And it is also explained a strip of the wetsuit material (assumed to be the Type A suit of the original Ultraman) found to slightly remain on the end of the mask proves it was from the Zoffy costume converted into that of Ultraman (the mask still seems to exist even now).
It is said that the head of the rejected version of the Returned Ultraman suit was from the Zoffy suit mentioned above.
As to the rejected version suit, it is known that it was finally rejected after shooting battle scenes with Arstron so that the rejection made them reshoot the scenes in the end.
The Returned Ultraman suit initially had the same red pattern as the original Ultraman even with thin lines added to each end.
And it is said the costume was replaced by the one with the markings as currently seen so as to make the character look more distinctive from the original Ultraman in consideration of merchandising (the mask seems to have continued being reproduced (copied) from the Zoffy mask).
I read somewhere the Returned Ultraman masks used in the shooting were reproduced (maybe throughout the series) by Hiruma Model Craft known as a modeling company for the production of special effects props.
In summary of the above complex story:
Zoffy suit used in the final episode of Ultraman (with the wetsuit body of the Type A Ultraman suit)
Used as Ultraman at attraction performance shows
Used as Ultraman in the cyclorama film
(Only the mask) used for the rejected version suit of Returned Ultraman