Category Archives: Ultraseven

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.”


Ultraseven & Alien Shadow Mask In Kaiki Daisakusen (Operation Mystery)

Alien Shadow mask in Kaiki Daisakusen #11

In my yesterday’s post, I referred to the mask of Alien Shadow as used in the ending scene of “Kaiki Daisakusen (Operation Mystery)” Episode 11 “The Jaguar’s Eyes Are Red.”

When I checked, the mask fleetingly appeared at the very end of the ending credits with the director’s name Tsuneo Kobayashi (1911-1991) credited (I know little about him) rather than in the ending scene.

Ultraseven costume in Kaiki Daisakusen #11

Talking about the story of this episode briefly, it is about a science researcher with a crooked personality who kidnapped boys and demanded ransom under the pseudonym of “Red-eyed Jaguar” to get money for the development of a holographic image device he was working on without being rewarded with any social reputation.

I don’t think this is such an attractive story because it has some unnatural settings I don’t think make sense, but this episode is well known among tokusatsu fans since Ultraseven appeared in it as the “costume” worn by the evil man as a street advertising character handing out toy sunglasses to children at a toy store in preparation for kidnapping the targeted boys.

Alien Shadow mask in Kaiki Daisakusen #11

The body of the Ultraseven suit that appeared in this show seems to have been made from fabric while it is likely that such a suit of Ultraseven was used at stage shows or possibly at other local events as one of the photos covered in an issue of Tokusatsu Hiho magazine shows an Ultraseven costume of the same kind (they may be the same costume).

Although it has no choice but to look cheap, it is impressive to find the Ultraseven mask attached to the suit looks exactly like the real ones used in the series while I assume it must have been cast from the original mold.

A photo of Ultraseven covered in an issue of Tokusatsu Hiho allegedly shot at a stage show held in Fukushima Prefecture in 1968

The appearance of the Alien Shadow mask at the end of the ending credits was apparently unrelated to the episode story, which makes me guess it should have showed up simply because (the costume of) Ultraseven appeared in the episode (such irrelevances are conspicuous in this episode).

It was fun to find the kidnapped boys’ father was played by Asao Matsumoto (1928-present) known to have impressively acted Ishiguro in Ultraseven episode 2 (he also played Matsui, observatory employee, in Ultraman Episode 8 who was rescued by Pigmon).

Asao Matsumoto in Kaiki Daisakusen #11

“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.


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.


Amazing! “Ultra Fight” Ultraseven Costume Still In Existence!

It seems that an Ultraseven exhibition is now underway at Ehime Prefectural Museum of History and Culture in Ehime Prefecture on the island of Shikoku in Japan.

While I am not going to see the exhibition as it is too far from Tokyo, a variety of items including newly made costumes of Ultraseven characters and props actually used at that time are likely to be displayed as I find it will be a lot of fun although I should already have seen most of them at an exhibition held near Tokyo.

Meanwhile, what drew my attention about this exhibition is that, amazingly enough, the Ultraseven costume used in “Ultra Fight” for real is reported to be on display as well.

It comes as a total surprise that the costume still remains in existence as I have never heard of it, and it is a great thing to have it displayed at the exhibition.

As a man introduced as a toy collector described it as a “historical material” in a news show reporting on the exhibition, it is really a precious item that should also be displayed where it is more accessible from Tokyo.

While I think it is the same suit as the one I dealt with in my previous article with the eyes caved in, the condition of the costume is eloquent in making us feel it was actually used in the show “Ultra Fight” with deterioration in parts of it although it appears to have been well preserved (it should have been repaired to look nice enough).

The back of the head is still black as it was in the show, and, comparing it to the newly made costume, it makes me aware of the differences including the “presence” between the original Ultraseven mask and a newly sculpted mask.

While my understanding is one of the Ultraseven costumes used in “Ultraseven” was reused in “Ultra Fight,” they should have been cast from the same mold even if the “Ultra Fight” Ultraseven costume should have been the one made exclusively for stage shows or something.

I think it should deserve to be designated as a national treasure!

(The video of the news show covering the exhibition is available on YouTube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IgVZSfen9hE)

“Ultra Fight” Ultraseven
This should be a newly made costume of Ultraseven

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”

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.


Giant Alien Ghose

Design of Alien Ghose drawn by Ikeya

As it is widely known, Alien Ghose and the monster manipulated by them Pandon appeared in the final two parted episode of Ultraseven.

And it has been explained online that the giant form of Alien Ghose was also supposed to emerge in the episode along with the normally human-sized aliens and Pandon.

Meanwhile, the Tokusatsu Hiho magazine with tribute articles to the designer Noriyoshi Ikeya showed the design of Giant Alien Ghose drawn by Ikeya back then among the representative monsters he designed.

To me, this is definitely the first time I have seen it, but, according to the Hiho article, surprisingly enough,  Giant Alien Ghose was not included even in the script with no plan at all to make it appear in the episode.

Giant Alien Ghose drawn by Ikeya

It seems that Ikeya himself described it in his art book as the alien he designed with a western armor in mind having something in common with the aliens he also designed for “Silver Kamen” in later years without referring to any other details about the character.

Therefore this leaves it unknown why Ikeya designed this giant version of the alien regrettably.

The dark-colored alien design with no features on its face and nothing outstanding makes the character look very much creepy deserving the name of Ghose that came from ghost though it surely looks attractive in its own way.

I think it is an excellent job with much of an Ikeya feel to it, and it is also impressive to find he designed it as the giant version has nothing in common with the human-sized form.

Incidentally Pandon is the monster remodeled from his original design, and, if you are interested, see this post.