Category Archives: Ultraman

Human-sized Woo Appeared!!!

With the name TBS in the back assuming it says “TBS Ishiuchi Maruyama Ski Field”; the Ishiuchi Ski Resort might have been originally developed by TBS although I am not sure

It is known among ardent fans of Ultraman that there are pictures taken at the ski field (Ishiuchi Maruyama Ski Resort in Niigata Prefecture) where the location shooting for the Woo episode was done back then showing the costume of Woo with an actor inside in the snow field. Not much is referred to and known about the details of these photos while there are no scenes in the show where Woo appeared in the human-size.

Moreover, It is likely that Dorako accompanied Woo on that occasion although the combination is really unexpected while we can see this Dorako was the costume before it was remodeled into Reborn Dorako with some horns added to the costume from Imora by Kunio Suzuki maybe just for pleasure. Suzuki also played Woo in the show although it is uncertain the human-sized Woo had him inside as well.

Even though the Dorako costume still looks neat, marks can be found where it was repaired in some parts of the costume especially in the ditch-like sections between the tile-like surfaces.

According to the caption for the top photo, it seems that an event was held in the ski field in February 1967 to celebrate the completion of Episode 30 (the Woo episode) with the costumes brought over there.

By the by, in the talk among the cast about this Woo episode included in one of the memoirs authored by Hiroko Sakurai (Fuji), it was also revealed that, on a location shooting trip apart from this Woo episode, Masanari Nihei (Ide) got so drunk that he got out of control rampaging at night to the degree that the other people had to tie him up with a rope and that Nihei smashed the door of his room in the lodge (after getting out of the rope) while Iyoshi Ishii (Arashi) ended up paying for the damage at the request of the lodge employee as Ishii added in the talk he still remembered the amount he had paid (2000 yen at the monetary value of the 1960s).

At any rate, it looks very odd somehow to find the human-sized Woo among people in the snow field because it makes it look as if an UMA or something actually showed up there  with the smiling people including kids!

The staff on the location for the Woo episode at Ishiuchi Maruyama Ski Resort

Thank You In Advance, Tokusatsu

“Ultraman Tanjō/The Birth of Ultraman” with the use of a Kaiyodo Ultraman figure for the cover wrongly described as Type B on the flap of the cover although it is Type C Ultraman

Regarding how Ultraseve fought with Star Bem Gyeron, while how Ultraseven dealt with the kaiju could make the fight look unfair in a way, what comes to my mind is the description made by Akio Jissoji in one of his books titled “Ultraman Tanjō/The Birth of Ultraman” published by Chikuma Shobō in 2006.

In that book, Jissoji says everything was left to the tokusatsu staff to make the tokusatsu part of the show filmed at their discretion for the series. And it was not a rarity that the details of fight scene between Ultra heroes and a kaiju character/characters were just left out in the script only with the description indicating it is the tokusatsu scene with an arrow like → and the word “tokusatsu yoroshiku.”

“Yoroshiku” should mean “thank you in advance” in this case while the expression is often found to be used in conversations among Japanese people in various meanings such as when greeting someone or asking others for something. So the description in the script represents “leaving it to the tokusatsu staff, thank you in advance.”

 

As the result, I assume there could have been cases where what happened in the tokusatsu part ended up slightly mismatching the theme of the episode.

As to the effort paid by the tokusatus staff for the tokusatus parts, in the book authored by Jissoji, he refers to the statement made by Koichi Takano, tokusatsu director, as Takano put it as below:

“Although we made efforts to work out something new each time, pressed by the deadline for broadcasting, it was only natural we couldn’t work on something that would require a lot of extra work afterwards (probably optical compositing, etc.). We had to give up on things that would require a lot of preparation and an elaborate set even though we wanted to do it.

“Fight scenes with kaijus were no exception. While there were many things we would rather do such as filming in different sets, devising the use of gunpowder or the expression of beams/rays, and increasing composited images, we couldn’t make it due to time and money. So, as the last-ditch effort or the most straightforward means, it unintentionally ended up having Ultraman and a kaiju perform professional wrestling pretend play frequently.”


A Behind-the-scenes Story About Shaboten (Cactus) Park

Spherical greenhouse from Ultraman Episode 5 in Cosmo Land (Granpal Park at present); this still photo is among the ones alleged to have been recently discovered with no such scene in the show

While I posted an article about Hydra and “Izu Shaboten (Cactus) Park” (currently “Izu Shaboten Zoo Park”) where the Hydra statue is located, a story often referred to in a talk by the cast members of the time and publicized in books is an accident that took place during the filming at the park.

When the night scenes were filmed along with Akiji Kobayashi (Cap. Muramatsu) and Sandayu Dokumamushi (Arashi; formerly credited as Iyoshi Ishii), it is said that Susumu Kurobe (Hayata) accidentally sat on a big spiny cactus.

 

Dokumamushi says in a book that he heard Kurobe say “ouch!” when they tried to get in position by lowering themselves, and Dokumamushi found Kurobe got stuck by the cactus with the needles all over his buttock like a toothbrush.

And they had to remove the needles one by one with the filming interrupted while Kurobe was bending forward with his uniform trousers lowered and his buttock exposed to the filming light lit up by a seasoned lighting technician from Toho who served for products including Kurosawa movies starred by Toshiro Mifune.

Although I feel sorry for Kurobe-san, such a story really makes me feel the presence of a homey relationship exhibited by the cast and staff members of the time.

Izu Shaboten Park was launched in 1959 and has been seen as a “well-established” theme park sine then along with “Izu Granpal Park” run by the same company while both of them are located at the foot of Mt. Ōmuro on the Izu Peninsula.

 

While the mountain where Kemlar showed up was also Mt. Ōmuro (Mt. Ōtake in the show), the (now-defunct) spherical greenhouse that appeared in Ultraman Episode 5 used to be located in Granpal Park that was called “Izu Cosmo Land” back then.

The scene of the spherical greenhouse viewed from above as the VTOL was landing was filmed by Koichi Takano, tokusatsu director, from a helicopter.

These theme parks could be the symbols related to domestic tourism that thrived in the 1960s while they evoke a feeling of nostalgia a lot although such long-standing theme parks are on the wane now due to the emergence of Tokyo Disneyland and the declining number of children in Japan.

Incidentally, the word shaboten sounds a bit outdated as the cactus is called saboten today on the regular basis.


Who Voiced Reborn Pigmon?

Reborn Pigmon speaking at the microphone in a kaiju language voiced by Nekohachi Edoya

While we are at the topic of “Kaiju Booska,” I would like to talk about another associated matter between “Ultraman” and “Booska,” both of which were produced and aired around the same time.

As I just talked about the making of Pigmon in my recent post,  Reborn Pigmon who returned to life as an unvaryingly friendly monster was set to speak words although it was a kaiju language.

In the episode, as you know, an expert of the dolphin language study tried to figure out what Pigmon was talking about, and he managed to interpret the monster’s words in the end.

Nekohachi Edoya as Daisaku’s father in “Kaiju Booska”

While Pigmon’s babbling, yelling, shouting and screaming was so impressive as the friendly kaiju was trying hard to convey his warning to people about upcoming attack by the kaijus (Telesdon and DorakoGeronimon had brought back to life.

In this episode, Pigmon was voiced by Nekohachi Edoya (the third: 1921-2001) who gained popularity as a performer known for his excellent vocal mimicry of animals’ voices.

And, moreover, Edoya regularly played Daidaku’s funny and humorous father in “Kaiju Booska.”

Jiro (left) voiced by Kiyoshi Komiyama in Ultra Q Episode 1

Kazuho Mitsuta, director, who was also involved in “Kaiju Booska” along with the original Ultra Series recalls Edoya was nice enough to happily accept their request to voice Pigmon as he was already acting Daisaku’s father even though he was a big name performer then while his name was not included in the opening credits of Reborn Pigmon’s episode.

The voice that can be heard through the kaiju language interpreting device was played by Kiyoshi Komiyama (1937-present), and you can also hear komiyama voice a boy in “Ultra Q” Episode 1 and Episode 15.

Akira (left) voiced by Komiyama in Ultra Q Episode 15

Daisaku & Strange Comet Cyphon

Daisaku in “Booska” acted by Miyamoto

As I wrote in my previous post Tomohiro Miyamoto who played Daisaku, Booska’s closest friend who brought the kaiju into being, appeared in an Ultraman episode, and I may have to explicitly explain a bit more about it.

Miyamoto acted a boy in a space suit in Episode 25 “Strange Comet Cyphon” of “Ultraman” while it is not that Daisaku of “Booska” was set to appear in “Ultraman” but as a boy named Tābou along with his father played by Haruo Nakajima, the original Godzilla actor.

Miyamoto in “Ultraman” with Haruo Nakajima

Tābou says to his father he wears the space suit in preparation for being possibly hurled into space with the impact if, by chance, Comet Cyphon should crash into Earth, and it is fun to see him appear alongside of his father’s understandably antsy behavior funnily performed by Haruo Nakajima.

I have to admit I didn’t know his father was played by Nakajima for a long while until it started being talked about in publications in later years, and I am not sure if I knew it was Miyamoto who acted the space suit boy when I was a kid.

Miiko in “Booska” acted by Nakahara

While Daisaku of “Booska” has a cute-looking girlfriend named Miiko (Mīko) as she was acted by Junko Nakahara, she also appeared in Episode 7 of “Ultraseven” as a daughter of the Mizushimas assaulted by the space prisoner 303 Alien Quraso.

It is a great shame that we can’t hear from Miyamoto and Nakahara anymore as they seem to have already left show business long ago maybe as children with little information about them even online.

Nakahara among the Mizushimas’ family members in “Ultraseven”

Ultraman & Karate

Interview covered in a fighting arts magazine published in 2012

As I wrote an article about how much a Japanese professional wrestler has been influenced by Ultraman in my post, another article included in a magazine I have at hand covers a talk among Bin Furuya, Minoru Kawasaki (film director) and a certain karate practitioner.

It is a talk in which how Ultraman’s movements performed by Furuya can be associated with real martial arts movements and such is talked about while Furuya actually trained karate when he was with Toho at the dojo (training hall) the film company used to have back then.

Furuya says he had practiced karate three to four times a week at the dojo before being assigned the role of Ultraman as those hired as bit part actors by Toho including Furuya were going to the company everyday even without any roles to play.

Spacium pose shown by Bin-san in the interview

Although he was introduced as a first degree black belt karate practitioner in a book back then, he says the dojo had no such promotion system and he just trained karate at the dojo for years without any belt promotion.

Furuya recalls he initially incorporated karate movements into the battle scenes with the kaijus he fought against rather than the ones commonly performed in professional wrestling matches which won great popularity in Japan at that time.

Whereas it might be undeniable that the show finally featured battle scenes more like professional wresting matches between Ultraman and kaijus, I think karate movements traditionally descended as a Japanese martial art should have successfully made us feel the beauty of movement in Ultraman’s action Furuya performed for us kids.

The same issue of the magazine also has an interview between Hiroshi Fujioka (starring “Kamen Rider”) and a professional MMA (mixed martial arts) fighter. How he looks tells us how happy he feels with Fujioka.

People Inspired By Ultraman & Ultraseven

The Ultra Series have influenced a lot of people who have grown up with them, and that includes those who are playing active roles in a variety of fields encompassing the Japanese astronaut, Satoshi Furukawa, who flew to space in 2011 to work in the International Space Station as one of the crew members carried by the Soyuz spacecraft.

It is widely publicized in Japan that Furukawa aimed to become an astronaut inspired by Ultraseven he watched on TV as a kid.

And some of professional fighters are also known to have been influenced by the Ultra Series including a famous professional wrestler as they wished to make themselves as strong as the Ultra heroes when they were kids.

As the wrestler is from Osaka where the Osaka Castle is located that was ruined by Gomora in Episode 27 of Ultraman, he says he went to see what actually happened to the castle by bike skipping school with one of his friends after he watched the Gomora episode the night before.

He says, when they found the castle remained the same as it had been, they were just dumbfounded at the sight without being able to understand what took place.

And he says he started learning a martial art to avenge Ultraman when he watched the final episode of Ultraman in which the hero was beaten by Zetton.

Incidentally, I have heard the Osaka Castle story continues like he asked a cleaner at the castle what happened to the building which was supposed to have been destroyed by the monster.

True or not, the cleaner allegedly answered, “They fixed it working overnight.”

It was such an idyllic time when we grew up anyway.


Type B Ultraman & Baltan III Displayed At An Exhibition

I wrote about what happened to the Type C costume of Ultraman after the original TV series ended in my previous article, and I already talked about the transition from the type A Ultraman costume to Zoffy in this blog.

Then what happened to the Type B costume of him after the use?
It has been said that the Type B suit was stolen from the Tsuburaya storehouse while it had been stored there and displayed at exhibitions regrettably.

And the incident has made it impossible to see what the mask was actually like and to duplicate it from the original form although some people have attempted to reproduce the mask on their own so far.

The Type B mask shown at exhibitions held today is one of these masks sculpted by enthusiastic modelers professionally involved in tokusatsu products while the Type C mask displayed at such exhibitions is a replica duplicated from its original mold (so not exactly the same thing as the one used in the shooting).

Meanwhile, precious and rare photos of the Type B Ultraman costume displayed at an exhibition are found to be shown in the Ultraman Treasures I bought the other day.

Furthermore, amazingly enough, the costume is seen displayed along with the suit of Alien Baltan III that was apparently repainted after the shooting of Ultraman Episode 33.

The Ultraman Treasures book says the exhibition was held in 1967 at a now-defunct facility in Hyogo Prefecture under the direction of, surprisingly, Eiji Tsuburaya, and the costumes equipped with a machine inside to move them were exhibited along with Mothra and King Ghidorah that were also on display.

As these real costumes used in the shooting can never be seen anymore today, the people who saw the exhibition back then should not have been aware of what it would mean in the future in spite of the excitement they are assumed to have experienced!


The Model Of SSSP Japan Headquarters

From Episode 47 (final episode) of Kaiju Booska

As shown in the series, the SSSP Japan Headquarters that appeared in Ultraman looks so quirky that it remains unforgettable while it is shaped like an inverted pyramid.

Given possible attacks from outside, the underground base of the TDF of Ultraseven looks much more realistic, but the modern-looking SSSP building seemingly equipped with cutting-edge technologies was also attractive enough to amaze us kids back then. (And I do love the sort of idyllic depiction of the SSSP and their behaviors.)

Ultraman Episode 11; although the walls look to be slanted inward instead of outward, this room is described as the one of the seminar house

As a matter of fact, it is known that this building was designed by Tohl Narita allegedly on the model of (or inspired by) a real-life seminar house building associated with a university in a suburban area of Tokyo.

While it is also known you can see the inside of the seminar house building in Ultraman Episode 11 where a press conference over the strange meteorite which fell down from space was held as the stone was capable to substantialize someone’s thought (the exterior is a different building).

The set of the SSSP control room used as a satellite observatory in Booska Episode 8

The exterior of the seminar house briefly showed up in Episode 47 of Kaiju Booska as an institute of a scientist funnily named Dr. Kaminari (thunder), and this inverted pyramid shaped building still seems to exist even now.

As you know, the stage set was regularly applied to the interior of the SSSP Headquarters, it is said that the set walls were sloped just like the exterior set of the building although it is unclear through the screen, and they say the slanted walls often made the cast and crew members feel odd.

The SSSP interior set also shortly appeared in Kaiju Booska Episode 8 as a satellite observatory.

SSSP Headquarters design by Tohl Narita

Boy Heroes 2

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From the ending scenes of Episode 17

Incidentally, while Hoshino-kun played by Akihide Tsuzawa was portrayed to become an official member of the SSSP in Episode 17 gifted with his own uniform for his credit he got in that episode, he already appeared wearing the uniform in Episode 16.

This is because, as these two episodes were directed by Toshihiro Iijima and Episode 17 was produced ahead of Episode 16, the latter ended up coming before the former in the broadcast order.

Tsuzawa says he was extremely happy about the long-awaited opportunity to wear the uniform as his happiness can be conveyed for real even through the screen.

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A talk among the SSSP members covered in the book “The Genesis of Ultraman” (published in 2004; authored by Hiroko Sakurai) with Iijima (center) and Tsuzawa (leftmost)

Mitsunobu Kaneko (1957-1997) who played Akumakun and Daisaku Kusama (in Giant Robo) is reported to have died in an accident at the age of 39 unfortunately after he resigned his acting job as a kid.

Yoshinobu Kaneko (1955-present) who played Aokage (in Masked NInja Akakage) and Sanpei (in Kappa No Sanpei) also left show business in his 20s, but it seems that he still publicly appears mainly in tokusatsu-related events.

Although their names look similar and Yoshinobu says they were often mistaken for brothers by viewers because of their names, they are no kin and, according to Yoshinobu, they have met only once.

Actually Yoshinobu Kaneko can be found to have appeared in Episode 15 of Ultraman as one of Mushiba’s friends (mushiba means cavity) while Mushiba’s scribble turned into Gavadon in the first place.

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Yoshinoby Kaneko in Ultraman Episode 15