Category Archives: Ultraseven

Ultraseven Is Possibly Samurai Warrior

As I wrote in my previous post, Koji Uenishi performed Ultraseven so that he made the hero look like a samurai warrior while he was from a group of sword action actors under Toshiro Mifune (Uenishi is alleged to have been with Mifune Production back then).

According to the autobiography “A Man Who Became Ultraman”authored by Satoshi (Bin) Furuya, Narita told him that the actor for Ultraseven was brought to Narita as Tsuburaya Productions decided to place more emphasis on action for the upcoming product and he redesigned Ultraseven he was working on assuming Furuya was supposed to play the new hero.

And, when he looked at Ultraseven in the studio for the first time, Furuya also says the appearances made him imagine a bushi (samurai warrior).

When looking at the prototype model (small statue to see what it would look like before making the costume for real) sculpted by Akira Sasaki, it makes us aware the shape of Eye Slugger looks slightly different from the costume actually worked out.

As to the crest-like part including that of Ultraman and Ultraseven’s Eye Slugger, I remember I read somewhere someone says Narita told him that those parts came from the chonmage (traditional topknot hairstyle) worn by samurai warriors when asked where they came from.

Although I am not sure if this is true (partly as Narita seems to have been a cheerful man who was very much fond of joking all the time), I think Ultraseven is certainly a hero who could be associated with the samurai warrior along with his powerful-looking, brisk movements performed by Uenishi.

At any rate Uenishi Seven is one of the unforgettable heroes alongside of Furuya Ultraman.


How Was The Ultraseven Design Worked Out? 4

Prototype model sculpted by Akira Sasaki

Tohl Narita himself described the Ultraseven design as he tried to make it look a bit intricate while he attempted to make the Ultraman design extremely simple while he thought cosmos representing justice must be simple (he made kaijus defined to symbolize chaos).

When looking at the Ultraseven design transition shown by Narita’s design drawings, we can see it developed from an astronaut-like armored character into the design known today.

It is also known that Narita was initially working on the Ultraseven design on the assumption that Satoshi (Bin) Furuya who played the original Ultraman would continue to act Ultraseven.

Ultraseven Type A costume with the mask and protector sculpted by Akira Sasaki

As I mentioned in my post before, Furuya told Narita that he was unwilling to take the role of the new hero as he had played Ultraman wearing the costume with his masked face while he found the face should be the essence of actors.

In the end, Furuya was appointed to the role of one of the Ultra Garrison members Amagi as he hoped to play without the hero costume.

Although this decision disappointed Narita very much, he allegedly finished designing Ultraseven while he made the intricate parts come together intensively on the upper part of the body to cover up the short limbs of Koji Uenishi who was decided to play Ultraseven.

The white (to be repainted silver afterwards) lines sharply extending to the boots were intended to make the legs look longer than in reality.

As Uenishi was an actor specializing in sword action under world-famous Toshiro Mifune, his performances got to make the new hero look as impressive as the samurai warrior in contrast with Furuya’s Ultraman that made us imagine the extraterrestrial life form.

At any rate, I can’t help but to admire Narita’s attitude as an artist as he tried to and managed to create a completely different hero from Ultraman whereas the latter was created as the hero nobody had ever seen before.


How Was The Ultraseven Design Worked Out? 3

Ultraseven design drawn by Tohl Narita

Although it is known among fans that Tohl Narita really loved the finished design of Ultraman created by him with assistance of Akira Sasaki in its sculpting stage, it seems Narita were very much unsatisfied with the Color Timer and the eye holes the costume finally had.

As I previously wrote, the Color Timer was added to the Ultraman costume in the judgement of people on the set without Narita’s permission so as to apply activity limitation to the hero as his weak point because they found a too perfect hero should be boring and also for the sake of minimizing scenes which would require costly special effects.

Final version of Ultraseven design drawn by Tohl Narita

Therefore Narita relocated the Timer to the hero’s forehead to avoid allowing someone else fiddle with his design assuming such a gadget he found ugly might be applied to the new hero again.

And the eye holes were positioned in the center of each eye so that they wouldn’t look unnatural while the costume would inevitably get such eye holes to enable the actor inside to look out.

It is fun to find these design drawings done as Redman as shown in them posted here.

While it is uncertain exactly when the title was decided to be “Ultraseven” in the end, the title actually came from another tokusatsu TV comedy show to be produced by Tsuburaya featuring an ancient apeman family titled “Ultra· Seven” although the comedy show was left unproduced.

Head design of Ultraseven drawn by Narita with the scribbled letters as Redman

As the Fixed Star Observer #340 borrowed his name as Dan Moroboshi, he also borrowed his name from this comedy show, and the hero was named Ultraseven meaning the seventh member of the Ultra Garrison along with the program title as such.

And, moreover, the product ended up being produced with no relationship, as far as the story is concerned, with the preceding two series Ultra Q and Ultraman while these two shared the same universe except Ultraseven was also from the same Nebula M78 Land of Light as Ultraman.

That makes it possible to be interpreted as a parallel world story to Ultraman from today’s perspective.


How Was The Ultraseven Design Worked Out? 2

Design for Ultraseven drawn by Tohl Narita

While I admired the enterprise the Tsuburaya people had on the occasion of working out “Ultra Garrison” with no Ultra hero to appear in it, they applied another Ultra hero to the new series in the end.

The title provisionally changed into “Ultra Eye” that was supposed to feature a new Ultra hero Redman (it is also said he was set to be Ultraman Jr. although it is uncertain if it means he was seen as a/the son of Ultraman) from Nebula M78, and the name of Ultraseven’s super weapon Eye Slugger came from this provisional title (named by Keisuke Fujikawa, one of the Ultra Series screenwriters).

Design for Ultraseven drawn by Tohl Narita

The human protagonist who transforms into the hero was decided to be Dan Moroboshi set to be an apprentice member of the Ultra Garrison as the Pointer driver.

And looks like it was decided to make the hero’s eyes distinctive and impressive in association with the title, and the goggle-like feature seems to have been applied to the hero’s design by Tohl Narita.

Design for Ultraseven drawn by Tohl Narita (written as Redman along with Narita’s signature)

I think that it is exactly Narita’s excellent job as he finally designed it so that it had a hollowed goggle shape around the eyes instead of making it look like the hero actually wears goggles with an embossed goggle shape applied to that part.

It is also said it was decided Koji Moritsugu was going to play Dan Moroboshi as they found the look of his eyes pretty impressive in connection with the title.

Although the program title was changed into “Redman” afterwards, it is explained this is another provisional tile applied until the trademark registration of the title was finished so that it wouldn’t be ripped off (They did the same on the occasion of producing Ultraman).

Design for Ultraseven drawn by Tohl Narita (written as Redman along with Narita’s signature)

How Was The Ultraseven Design Worked Out? 1

Proposal paper of the new series provisionally titled “Ultra Q  Kūsō Tokusatsu Series Ultra Garrison” with the circled letter “secret” scribbled on top right

While I have talked about Human designed by Tohl Narita, I already wrote about how the Ultraseven design was worked out by him in my previous article posted long ago.

Nevertheless I have an urge to put the subject in review as the year 2017 marks the 50th anniversary of the TV show Ultraseven and I actually find there are quire a few people out there who wonder why Ultraseven looks so much different from the rest of the Ultra heroes.

In the planning stage which started when the shooting of Ultraman was still under way, the series to come next was provisionally titled “Ultra Garrison.”

The script of Ultraseven Episode 1 “The Invisible Challenger” with the words “Kūsō Tokusatsu Series” on top

It was supposed to be about, literally, the Ultra Garrison featuring no Ultra hero like Ultraman while it tells us that the series starting with Ultra Q stayed within the boundaries of “Ultra” Series (officially subtitled “Ultra Q Kūsō (fantasy/imaginary) Tokusatsu Series”) back then with no concept of “Ultraman” Series yet.

It can be said that it was tokusatsu with imaginary, futuristic objects featured as a science fiction story that they wanted viewers to enjoy and featuring a superhero and monsters was not everything about it.

In this light, I can’t resist being drawn to and admiring their enterprise to create a completely new series without incorporating into it any features such as a superhero and monsters which proved they got to earn unprecedented popularity among viewers.

It is also pointed out that they planned the series “Ultra Garrison” while they were inspired by the UK SFX TV series “Thunderbirds” that won great popularity as it aired from 1966 to 1967 in Japan.

The script of the final two-part Ultraseven episodes “The Greatest Invasion in History”

 


Silhouettes Of Ultraseven Opening Credits

In contrast with the Ultraman opening credits image that makes the show look just like the kaiju series which it’s supposed to be, the Ultraseven opening shows the Terrestrial Defense Force equipment, which could tell us it’s no more mere kaiju series but a sici-fi series.

This feature might have been in the same line with the sci-fi series provisionally titled Ultra Garrison that was being planned before Ultraseven featuring Ultra Garrison working to defend Earth from aliens’ invasions with no Ultra hero to appear in it.

It’s said that Dan, protagonist, was initially set to be one of the UG team members under training who works as the Pointer driver.

And the settings as the alien from Nebula M78 were applied later while it seems that the hero Dan (Pointer driver) was to transform into was set to be Ultraman Junior in the planning stage.

In the end, the series was produced with no relation to Ultra Q and Ultraman as a story, and the opening is likely to have played a role to make us feel that’s totally a new series that had not been before.

I find the image featuring solarized ripples is excellent even from today’s standpoint and the silhouetted sci-fi gadgets designed by Tohl Narita look so stylish with a feeling of speed nicely expressed.

While no names of aliens or monsters are shown in the opening unlike Ultraman, that might also have helped us understand it’s more like a sci-fi series.

It’s also fun to see the Alpha depicted to connect with the Beta and Gamma into Ultra Hawk 1.

I especially loved seeing silhouetted Dan’s profile change into Ultraseven at the right moment of the climax of the theme song and seeing him leap away in a nifty manner as a kid while I also love the slightly exaggerated shape of his Eye Slugger as shown right below.


Uncompromising Attitude To Dreams For Children

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Hajime Tsuburaya (center) presumably at the Tokyo Art Center (Bisen)

To give children dreams was Eiji Tsuburaya’s concept in creating the Ultra Series.

It is noteworthy that his first son, Hajime Tsuburaya, requested Toru Fuyuki to compose the theme song for Ultraseven that would let children to learn the attraction of harmony.

This story impressed me so much when I heard about it as an adult as I found how much they had thought of us kids back then.

I think their attitudes to try to give children the best of everything deserve admiration, and I feel extremely happy that I grew up in the days people involved in producing the Ultra Series tried to deal with us kids seriously apart from mere merchandising.

 

That makes me remember the moment I heard Tohl Narita said to his wife when the Tsuburaya Productions asked him to join the crew members that designing kaijus for children was going to be the toughest job because it’s for children.

These things tell us they never did their job halfheartedly even if the series were mainly for children.

My perception was that it was not until the emergence of the anime ‘Space Battleship Yamato’ in 1974 that elaborate music had been applied to tokusatsu (SFX) or anime TV shows.

When I watch Ultraseven again, however, it makes me aware that the show has already featured a great amount of music I find extremely attractive even now.

The Ultraseven music makes us realize what an important role music could play in affecting the impression of the show in itself.


Impressive Music Played In The Final Episode Of Ultraseven

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It’s also unforgettable for me that the Ultraseven music composed by Toru Fuyuki greatly helped to make the final episode of the show extremely dramatic.

I especially love the music played for the scenes in which Anne came to look for Dan who hid himself and asked him nicely why he ran away as if tying to share his suffering.

And the music which can be heard in the scenes of Dan changing into Ultraseven to save Amagi captured by Alien Ghose  after revealing himself to be Ultraseven to Anne shaking her hands off while she tried to stop him was another great piece.

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It is well known that Robert Schumann Piano Concerto in A minor, Opus 54 was impressively used in the final episode of Ultraseven (I bought the record as one of the Ultraseven music when I was a high school student).

If my memory serves me right, Kazuho Mitsuta who directed the two-parted ending episode said somewhere that he was initially going to use Rakhmaninov Piano Concerto.

As he found the music was totally different from the one he anticipated and that he remembered the music wrongly when he listened to the record Fuyuki brought to him, Mitsuta picked the Schumann Piano Concerto among the records brought by Fuyuki.

The Schumann Piano Concerto was used for the scenes in which Dan revealed himself as Ultraseven to Anne and the final battle scenes between Ultraseven and Pandon including the scenes of the Magmarizer set to be fully loaded with explosives storming into Alien Ghose’s underground base.

It truly matched the fight scenes and the ones of Ultraseven flying up to the sky in the end to leave Earth after fighting through his final battle.

While I think Fuyuki’s music was not to be outdone by the Schumann Piano Concerto in the episode, at any rate, these pieces of music made the final episode of Ultraseven absolutely dramatic and impressive to the extent that it goes down in history.

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Unforgettable Theme Song Of Ultraseven

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It is said that the beginning chorus of the Ultraseven theme song was applied by Toru Fuyuki at Hajime Tsuburaya’s request to create a song to let children learn the attractiveness of harmony.

While the lyrics were written by Hajime Tsuburaya under the pseudonym of Kyoichi Azuma, he did the same for Ultraman as well, Fuyuki says he had a hard time to compose the theme song as the lyrics were rather short and applied the chorus repeating the phrases ‘Seven, Seven, Seven…’ to prolong the song.

The adopted theme song also has two versions distinctively, the one with the introduction featuring the timpani at the very beginning and the one without it while the former can be heard at the beginning of each episode; the latter on the records.

 

Fuyuki says he managed to apply to Ultraseven the background music featuring the same theme as the theme song since he got to compose all the music of the show.

It is certain that none of the background music composed by Fuyuki and used in The Return of Ultraman had the same theme as its theme song composed by Koichi Sugiyama.

At any rate, while I absolutely love these pieces of music created by Toru Fuyuki and featured in Ultraseven, I vividly remember we rushed to the TV sets when we started hearing the theme song of Ultraman and Ultraseven played on TV almost reflexively.

Especially, I can’t forget the excitement I felt while watching the opening credits of Ultraseven even now, and I still get excited with it!

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Two Versions Of The Ultraseven Theme Song

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Episode 4

It is well known that Ultraseven has two versions of its theme song composed by Toru Fuyuki.

He says he was asked by Hajime Tsuburaya, director, Eiji Tsuburaya’s first son, to compose three different songs for the theme song so that they could finally choose one out of them  through discussion with the TBS people.

Fuyuki says the English song ‘ULTRASEVEN’ (in which the phrases ‘one, two, three, four…’ were sung) was one of the songs he submitted while it was not supposed to be picked as the theme song.

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Episode 7

And he composed the other two as well: (Part 1) the theme song that can be heard at the beginning of each episode; (Part 2) the uptempo song with the same lyrics.

I’ve heard that they chose the version Part 1 by letting children listen to the two ahead of the broadcast to see which one would be liked among them.

The version Part 2 can be heard in the show as a piece of background music as Kazuho Mitsuta, director, liked it and used the instrumental version of the rejected theme song.

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Episode 36

That is the music with the horn featured which is played in the scenes of Ultraseven fighting with the giant form of Alien Goddra in Episode 4 after he chased the alien disguised as Dan and changed into his giant version.

While the instrumental version of the theme song Part 2 was also used in Episode 7 featuring Alien Quraso, the midair docking scenes of Ultra Hawk 1, and Episode 36, battle scenes with Alien Pega, I find the music with a buoyant rhythm extremely great.

As I do love it, it’s truly a shame that it was not used so much in the show.