Category Archives: Ultra Q

“Kanegon’s Cocoon” With Aliens Included

Aliens talking to each other in spacecraft (top right); Kaneo looks much more handsome (leftmost in the circle at the bottom)

The “Ultra Q Pictorial” I purchased the other day also has a read of “Kanegon’s Cocoon” adapted for kid readers of the magazine of the time that covered the story.

Surprisingly enough, the story includes the appearance of aliens and it is found that the aliens made Kaneo Kaneda transform into Kanegon.

The aliens came to dwell on Earth and were talking with each other in their spacecraft staying at the height of 10,000 meters above Earth.

Researcher Alien: “Captain, there seem to be too many people on this planet who would do anything for money.  Unless we do something about it soon, it may give us a hard time when we start to live there. […] I hear a boy named Kaneo Kaneda is terribly greedy about money among them.”

Kanegon begged one of his friends to help him out just like the episode story of the show (top left)

Captain Alien: “OK, we will make that boy into Kanegon as a warning. That will make everyone a good person.”

In this story, Kaneo who had found the cocoon was dragged into it by one of the aliens.

Agent Alien: “hhh…I’m supposed to put the Kanegon costume on him and put him under hypnosis!” (what? Is it a costume???)

The rest of the story is almost the same as the real “Kanegon’s Cocoon” episode although Kanegon tried to feed himself at the mint bureau instead of the bank and he returned to Kaneo while sleeping after he had eaten enough money.

Caption: “Aliens happy with the outcome of the Project Kanegon.”

Although the ending of the story is the same as the show in which Kaneo found his parents had turned into Kanegons, Captain Alien who watched all this laughs in their spacecraft, “Hahaha, the Project Kanegon has turned out to be a great success. If we carry out this project one after another, that will make this planet a good place to live as people reflect on their own behaviors.”

It is hard to tell whether these aliens are good guys or bad guys…

What surprised me was that this magazine story was written by Aritsune Toyota/Toyoda who is known as a famous Japanese sci-fi writer who also got involved in such anime shows as “Tetsuwan (Astroboy) Atom” and the planning of “Space Battleship Yamato” in later years.

I think it is another fun thing to see a writer create his own story to expand or stretch an episode of the series. It makes me feel a sense of history that a 1000 yen coin released in commemoration of the 1964 Tokyo Olympics and a Kennedy coin are referred to in this read while they were also eaten by Kanegon.


Hero Cicada-Human & M1 vs. Gorgos #2

“Leave it to me.” M1 who speaks human words in this story took the initiative to rescue Cidada-Human out of his stranded spacecraft by lifting it with his strong power, and the alien thanked them saying (by telepathy), “I am Alien Jigri. I landed on Earth because my spacecraft had broken down while I had been on a space trip. You guys saved my life. Thank you.”

It is found that Cicada-Human is set to be Alien Jigri instead of Alien Tilsonia somehow while it gives me an impression that it was named as such haphazardly exclusively for this story as such things could often have happened back then. An idyllic time…

When M1 managed to rescue Cicada-Human, a giant rock popped out of the lake and it was revealed to be a rock monster (in this story, Gorgos is just described as Rock Monster as shown in the opening credits of the show).

Although the rock monster had been blown up with dynamite tossed under the body by M1, the shattered pieces got together and returned to its original shape. At last, Cicada-Human stood up to Rock Monster saying to people, “Just step aside. Let me deal with it!”

(M1 can be found on top of Gorgos)

Cicada-Human turned into his giant version as he is set to be able to extend and shrink his body (the description found in the story is likely to tell us the concept of “kyodaika” (turning into a giant version) was not so common yet.

When Cicada-Human and M1 were about to subdue Rock Monster, Mt. Fuji started erupting with a ground rumbling and lava pouring from the crater, but the two heroes wouldn’t let go of Rock Monster. Finally, the  lava flowing down swallowed up the three. Cicada-Human and M1 made Rock Monster enclosed in molten rock at the expense of their own lives…

This story has a note describing it as a story based on the Ultra Q episode “S.O.S. Mount Fuji” with new monsters added to it. As the story from “Garamon Strikes Back” is found to come next, this Rock Monster story should have been featured before Cicada-Human appeared in the show. That makes me imagine children who read this story could have been surprised at the alien who appeared as a villain, but I feel like such a confusion often took place in those days. An idyllic time…


Hero Cicada-Human & M1 vs. Gorgos #1

“Ultra Q Pictorial”

I recently purchased a book titled “Ultra Q Pictorial” (published this year in 2017) featuring magazine articles on Ultra Q of the time after the previously released “Ultraseven Pictorial” (2014) and “Ultraman Pictorial” (2015).

This pictorial of Ultra Q is not so picturesque as the others because it was not customarily practiced back then to deal with such a TV show in publication featuring a large number of photos even though Ultra Q was the unprecedented full-fledged tokusatsu TV show supervised by Eiji Tsuburaya famous for Toho Godzilla movies.

Therefore, in addition to illustrated black and white articles about Ultra Q kaijus, this pictorial predominantly features illustrated reads from Ultra Q episodes while the stories tend to be adjusted more or less even with different settings applied to them rather than faithful to the original stories of the show.

The back cover

Among them, I found a fun story featuring Cicada-Human, M1 and Gorgos. While it is a story in which a battle unfolds among them, of all things, Cicada-Human is found to be dealt with as a righteous hero (with a scarf wrapped around his neck) who fights with M1 against Gorgos while the alien was depicted as a formidable enemy plotting to invade Earth using Garamons in the real show!

In the story, Cicada-Human’s spacecraft crashed into the ground by accident. People including Jun Manjome and his fellows along with M1 rushed to the scene. M1 is described in this particular story as an artificial life form brought into being for observation of volcanic activities of Mt. Fuji to check places inaccessible to humans.

Illustration featuring Cicada-Human fighting against Gorgos in cooperation with M1 found tearing Gorgos’s leg apart


Ultra Q Kaijus Appearing On Manga Magazine Covers

“Bokura”

As I wrote in my yesterday’s post, Peguila and the other “Ultra Q” Kaijus such as Garamon, Pagos, Gorgos, Peter and M1 appeared on the covers of the magazine issues for boys in color back then.

While I don’t remember I actually saw them as a kid because I was too young, “Ultra Q” should have got a lot of coverage in the magazine “Bokura” and “Bokura Magazine” that used to be published from Kodansha as the publisher still releases the famous manga magazine “Weekly Shonen Magazine.”

“Bokura”

The word bokura is used by a male speaker to refer to himself and the rest of people (male or female), and, given the magazine was intended for boys, it might be translated as “We Boys” or something.  In addition, the word shonen signifies a boy/boys.

“Bokura” was a monthly magazine that started being published in 1954 and “Weekly Bokura Magazine” took over in 1969 as the “younger brother magazine” of the “Weekly Shonen Magazine” launched in 1959 even though the Bokura Magazine ceased publication allegedly in the form of being absorbed or combined into the “Weekly Shonen Magazine” in 1971.

“Weekly Shonen Magazine”

Although it is said a larger portion of such a manga magazine was taken up by reading materials instead of manga than today, it is true that these manga magazines turned out many famous manga artists and products as they laid down the basis for the current rise of world-wide manga popularity.

“Kamen Rider” authored by Shotaro Ishinomori (Ishimori back then) was originally one of the manga products that appeared in the “Bokura Magazine” serialized in parallel with the TV tokusatsu show aired around the same time.

“Weekly Shonen Magazine”

Ultra Q And Oba Q

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Oba Q

At any rate, anime and tokusatsu gained much popularity and won every child’s attention back then naturally.

As a matter of fact, Ultra Q was aired at 7 p.m. on Sundays back to back with an anime show broadcast at 7:30 p.m., and the anime also had ‘Q’ in its title.

That was ‘Obake No Q Taro,’ often abbreviated as Oba Q, about a friendly obake named Q Taro who lives with humans while obake is the Japanese word for ghost although it may sound a bit childish.

 

Oba Q was originally created as a manga drawn by Fujio Fujiko, who were (they were two of manga artists) to be known as the authors of Doraemon in later years, with the settings and plot development quite similar to Doraemon.

It’s known that the title Ultra Q came from Ultra C, the term which became popular after being used by an NHK announcer to informally describe the fascinating feats performed by the Japanese gymnastic team in the 1964 Tokyo Olympic Games while their techniques were ranked by the degree of difficulty with the ‘C’ designated to be most difficult.

 

Therefore, Ultra C means the technique beyond the supposedly most difficult C ranked technique while the term itself should sound frumpy now, and Q in Ultra Q was from Q in ‘question.’

It was a measure the people on the TBS production side came up with to bring out the combination of two Qs with even more impact so that they could draw more attention from viewers.

They guessed right and the slot from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Sundays is said to have been feared as ‘terrifying QQ hour’ by people of the other broadcasting stations with an enormous viewership around 30%.


Who Played Garamon?

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Eiji Tsuburaya speaking to Minoru Takahashi

Thinking of the abundant and subtle (probably I should add this word) expressiveness of the Ultra kaijus, the suit actors’ fervent performance should be another important factor to remember.

Garamon is also an unforgettable monster whose unique behavioral gestures as a robot monster were found absolutely impressive while these were performed by the actor Minoru Takahashi.

When you look at the body proportion of Garamon, you will be aware that the monster measures just about 3-heads tall.

 

And the photo shot on the set for ‘Garamon Strikes Back’ with the main cast members in it shows he is a very tiny monster in reality even compared with Hiroko Sakurai, allegedly 155 centimeters tall.

It’s said that applying the small size to the monster was a means to make him look relatively large in comparison with the Yumigatani Dam miniature that was to be destroyed by the meteorite monster.

Takahashi is said to have been 115 centimeters tall according to the  measurements figured out by Ryosaku Takayama before sculpting the costume.

It is said to have been Toru Matoba, SFX director, who came up with the idea of assigning Takahashi to the role of Garamon.

 

While Takahashi was a diligent actor who followed the director’s instructions without complaint and tried to elaborate his own performance to make it look better, the shooting with the costume on seems to have been so tough to the seemingly relatively old age actor who was short on physical strength.

That may be why he didn’t play Pigmon in Episode 8 and Episode 37 of Ultraman and Pigmon turned out to be acted by a child actor (the height of the costume was extended).

Nevertheless, Takahashi’s charming performance should have greatly helped Garamon remain to be a representative monster of Ultra Q.

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Tohl Narita And Ryosaku Takayama 2

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Ryosaku Takayama modeling Garamon

As previously described on this blog, it’s quite interesting to find the sculptor Tohl Narita drew kaiju designs and the painter Ryosaku Takayama modeld kaijus according to Narita’s designs.

I find it a great team work between the sculptor who could imagine the finished form of his design as a costume and the painter who could ‘read’ the design drawing and enrich the image to model an actual costume besides faithfully reproducing the appearance.

At any rate, Takayama definitely breathed life into the kaijus designed by Narita.

 

I think the greatest feature of costumes made by Takayama was that they had living, not lifeless, eyes which make us feel they are actually alive alongside the living feel of the entire surface.

It should be nothing less than Takayama’s skillful craftsmanship.

I think that a great feature about costume monsters lies in the feeling of being alive they make us feel.

As I wrote before somewhere on this blog, it’s known that Takayama often told the art university students working part time as his assistants to be aware that they were making and dealing with living creatures.

 

I think this is a story which makes us imagine how much Takayama loved the monsters he was modeling.

Alongside the outstandingly excellent designs drawn by Narita, a sense of life force/energy was applied to costumes by Takayama with his careful and elaborate work.

In the same line with the charm of Narita’s kaiju designs, I believe that Takayama’s modelling abilities should be an integral part of the attraction of the Ultra Kaijus adored by people even today.


Tohl Narita And Ryosaku Takayama 1

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The final version (left) and the primary version of Peguila drawn by Tohl Narita

When looking at the design of Garamon drawn by Tohl Narita, it makes us aware the drawing looks a bit different from the costume with a lovable feel added to his design.

Such an aspect should be ingenuity performed by Ryosaku Takayama who modeled the costume.

Narita also says in his art book that, when he joined the production members of Ultra Q, he found they had no one in particular to place a costume order with.

Enlarged image of the heads in the final (left) and primary version

So Narita writes he had Takayama make Peguila first as he had known Takayama since they once met.

While Peguila was initially designed by Yasuyuki Inoue, Toho Special Art Division, and redrawn by Narita, it looked more ferocious in the stage of the design drawing.

But the costume of Peguila finished by Takayama also looks somewhat lovable.

The horn that can’t be found in the drawing seems to have been attached to the monster when being modeled by Takayama.

naritapeguila3
Peguila illustrated by Narita

Incidentally, whereas the primary design of Peguila allegedly based on the draft drawn by Inoue has flippers, Narita wanted it to have feather-covered wings like birds as shown in the final version of the design.

Narita and Takayama, however, had to settle for making wings of strips of latex after all probably to save time.

As Narita seems to have liked the feather-covered version of Peguila, the kaiju illustrated by Narita in later years has bird-like wings.


Stories About Garamon

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While Tohl Narita got involved in the production of Ultra Q as the kaiju designer, it’s not that he got to design any monsters he liked all the time.

I assume that the hectic shooting schedules in the later stages of each series might have, conversely, enabled him to design monsters of his own accord to some extent.

Because, presumably, they couldn’t afford to spend a great deal of time discussing the issues on kaijus carefully though it’s just my guess.

Garamon drawn by Tohl Narita (from his art book)

In the early stages, however, directors’ intentions appear to have been reflected rather strongly in producing kaijus.

As to Garamon and the SFX director Toru Matoba for the episode, for example, some of Matoba’s ideas are likely to have been incorporated into the meteorite monster.

While it’s known that Narita designed Garamon’s face after a fish such as a species called kochi shown from the front in a photo by attaching a dog-like nose to it, it’s also explained that a photo of kasago was shown by Matoba to Narita.

Kochi

Matoba seemingly states that he applied unique movements to Garamon after behavioral gestures performed by a popular baseball player, Shoichi Kaneda, back then.

According to Tetsuo Kinjo, the main screenwriter of the series, in his writing, he initially came up with an idea featuring a skeleton-like kaiju for the episode.

The skeleton-like features found in the shape of Garamon’s hands, legs and tail should be the traces of the idea.

It’s now well known among fans that Alien Baltan was designed by Narita in accordance with the requests made by Toshihiro Iijima (director) to apply nippers to Cecadahuman as I posted before.

Kasago
Kasago,  the same species as scorpion fish (How lovely!)

Peter and Sudar

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The monstrous fish drawn by Tohl Narita for ‘Fury of the South Sea’ (from his art book)

Tohl Narita writes in his art book that he designed Bostang almost just like a stingray shown in the photos he liked.

He also explains that the episode to feature Clapton (not the guitarist) was cancelled for reasons related to the shooting and that the kaiju ended up being switched to a stingray monster along with the episode replaced by ‘Space Directive M774.’

That makes me imagine the episode featuring Clapton could require miniatures of oil plants and it might have been the reason why it was left unproduced (or I also feel like I may have read so somewhere before).

As to Peter, he states he drew it just like Chameleon as it was adding that, whereas he made it a rule not to design mere giant versions of real-life creatures, he also felt he should be in no rush recollecting Peter should have been the first or second monster he designed.

kaigyo02
Variations of the monstrous fish

Regarding Sudar, a monstrous fish-like creature was properly designed by Narita for the episode ‘Fury of the South Sea,’ but he says in the art book that the design was not used as the episode was plotted to feature a giant octopus from the very beginning.

The design Narita describes as an experimental design of a monstrous fish seems to have been the piece he liked, and he writes it would have become a representative monster if it should have been realized.

As described above, it should be good to remember it’s not that he always got to create a monster as he liked according to the intentions of the production members.