Part-Timers’ Great Contributions To Kokusatsu #2

The woman on the right hand side could be Kato-san with Imora somehow

Judging from the woman found to be drying Goldon’s back in my Goldon making entry, I guess the smiling woman in these photos as if showing her good nature wearing a white kappogi (coverall apron) could be Kato-san although it is left unspecified in the issue of the Tokusatsu Hiho magazine containing these photos.

In one of the pictures shown in the magazine along with the talk between Kaimai and Murase, while it should have been taken at Toho with Baragon and the sculpting staff shown, the woman on the left hand side with a big smile could also be Kato-san as she and the woman shown in the photos taken at Ex Production look alike.

The woman on the left hand side could be Kato-san with Baragon at Toho

While the photo posted in this entry shows the Imora costume that was remodeled from the Banila suit with its head replaced, the caption of the Tokusatsu Hiho says it is unknown why Imora is included in the photo as it was written in Ryosaku Takayama’s diary that the sculpting of Banila and remodeling into Imora were done by himself without referring to the involvement of Ex Production.

At any rate, I like these photos as if showing an idyllic atmosphere of Japan we definitely had in those days with the people smiling happily. As there was a lot of demand for kaiju costumes when the “Second Kaiju Boom” arose with such tokusatsu products as “The Return of Ultraman,” “Spectreman (P Production)” and “Mirrorman” in the 1970s, it seems that many part-timers including housewives helped to sculpt the costumes.

Eizo Kaimai (left) and Keiso Murase in their talk featured in an issue of the Tokusatsu Hiho magazine

Around the “First Kaiju Boom” including the original Ultra Series it is said that a lot of art university students took part in the production such as costume sculpting or miniature modeling as part-timers while many of them were from Musashino Art University from which Tohl Narita and Noriyoshi Ikeya had graduated. Young, quiet and stoic-looking Ikeya devotedly working on the set seems to have gained much popularity from female students from the art universities.

Anyway, I believe this should be the first blog where Kato-no-obachan was referred to for people outside of Japan (I made her name into one of the tags)! I would like to thank those part-timers including her for their great job they did in enabling us to enjoy the tokusatsu shows when we were kids!


Part-Timers’ Great Contributions To Kokusatsu #1

As a statement made by Keizo Murase I wrote about a housewife who worked part-time for Ex Production in my previous post, and there seem to have been some housewives who helped to sculpt kauju costumes back then while working part-time.

A talk featured in an issue of Tokusatsu Hiho (secret treasure) made between Eizo Kaimai and Keizo Murase, both of whom were involved in sculpting work at Toho for the movies including the Godzilla series, revealed Kato-san referred to in my previous post was one of them, and it is likely that she could do almost every piece of work related to sculpting as she had been working for Toho as a part-time assistant for sculpting.

While the moderator in the talk says he has often heard of Kato-san’s name as Kato-no-obachan (obachan, not obaachan as it denotes an older woman, represents “auntie” but it can also be used for a middle-aged woman who is close to you when you call her or refer to her in a friendly way; no is a Japanese modifying particle explaining the attribute of the obachan in this case), Murase says in the talk that Kato-san was so helpful because she was kind enough to bring would-be part-timers together who would rally around her whenever she called them.

Kaimai and Murase say pasting the scales onto the King Ghidora costume was the work done by those obachans including Kato-san as those including her and her kids spread latex onto the scale mold, cast it out, cut each scale out of the sheet cast out of the mold with scissors and pasted them from the lower part of the costume (to make the scales come over one another).

While the Ghidora heads and legs were sculpted separately from the body to be put together later, it seems that the scales were pasted temporarily leaving some marginal space scaleless about 10 centimeters in length from each end of the separate parts so that the people could put the scales onto the joined sections after the separate parts came together.


GOLDON (making)

Finalized design of Goldon drawn by Tohl Narita
Primary design of Goldon drawn by Tohl Narita

Tohl Narita: “This is the underground kaiju based on the caterpillar I got the idea from.”

Featuring Goldon, this was another impressive episode with two of the same kaiju appeared even using one single costume with the other one set to appear after the previous one died.

And I feel like the appearance of Senkichi Omura who eccentrically played the miner Yamamoto obsessed with gold made this episode even more unforgettable along with the Ultraman’s Type B costume badly showing the deterioration including Dada’s episode.

The Goldon costume was sculpted by Ex Production instead of Ryosaku Takayama while the production company had made the costumes of Peter for “Ultra Q,” Hydra and Guigass (remodeled from Hydra) for “Ultraman” and Woo was added to these three with the episode to come right after Goldon.

Tetsuo Yamamura says the Goldon costume had no opening with the zipper on its back through which the actor could get inside but that it was the costume that could be separated into the upper and lower parts while they met where one of the dents lied between the segments of the body with the ingenuity uniquely featured for this particular kaiju costume.

Keizo Murase who worked on the Goldon costume at Ex Production back then before he founded his own company “Twenty” later states that Goldon was painted with gold powder (I think he means gold-colored powder) mixed with lacquer paint.

According to him, they made its back rough by spreading latex mixed with sawdust over it while he adds, because it will become sticky unless the part coated with latex containing sawdust get immediately dried, they had a housewife, who worked part time for them, make it dry with the heat of reflector lamps.

Murase says they regularly had a housewife named Kato-san (Ms. Kato) come to help them as a skilled, seasoned part-time assistant for their job while she had also been involved in the sculpting work at Toho as a part-timer.

Goldon costume seemingly at the back of the Bisen studio

“Ike(Go)! Godman” #3

This is an image I found online although no detailed information is available about it; I think it is more likely that this is a mask of Godman recently reproduced while I am not sure.

The show “Godman” seems to have had some Toho kaijus appear such as Kamoebas, Gabara, Gorosaurus, Sanda and Gaira although it is left undescribed whether they were the real costumes used in the movies.

Godman’s mask was allegedly sculpted by Nobuyuki Yasumaru (1935-present), sculptor of Toho. It might have been new and unique to apply the part shaped like goggles to the mask design to cover the hero’s eyes that I believe managed to make Godman look distinctive enough from the Ultra Heroes of Tsuburaya Productions along with his hair.

And the newly produced kaijus were designed by Teizo Toshimitsu (1909-1982) while both of them are known to have been deeply involved in the Toho tokusatsu movies including the Godzilla series (Gorosaurus in the movies was the costume sculpted by Yasumaru while I think it was so excellently sculpted that it looked absolutely real).

Kaiju Ojisan of the time

It is likely that Kaiju Ojisan (Uncle Kaiju) played by Tetsuya Asado (1935-present) also appeared in the show “Godman” following the previous show “Redman” as the commentator who would make comments on the characters before and after the show, and there seem to have been episodes in which Kaiju Ojisan appeared in the episode as one of the spectators who watched Godman and a kaiju/kaijus fighting.

Even with some human characters who appeared in the episodes, it seems that there were no episodes with particular stories that were worth being called “stories” only featuring fights between Godman and the kaiju characters while the human characters always rushed away as they were threatened by the appearances of the kaijus on Mondays or Thursdays (the day when the new story began) and cheered for Godman without uttering no lines just watching him fight with the kaiju(s).

Kaiju Ojisan at present with Redman

It is explained that the episodes that had Kaiju Ojisan appear as one of them included something like a story properly with the lines spoken by them.

At any rate, I keep remembering the scene with the same miniature used every time where Godman and a kaiju showed their fight somewhat awkwardly (seemingly trying not to break the miniature) while I felt like the brave-sounding theme song (or its instrumental version) that played there without fail made the fighting scene look even odder.


“Ike(Go)! Godman” #2

I hope the name “Godman” will not be offensive to religious people as it is just the name of the show and the hero, and as long as the show actually existed in one way or another, I have got to refer to it when talking about the history of tokusatsu.

It is told online that the show was roughly produced for a tokusatsu show as a Godman’s weapon was found to get stuck on the costume of a kaiju, the toxic gas a kaiju sent out toward Godman permeated in a weird way according to the wind direction, an actor’s back got exposed through the opening of the costume, it was shown that a character hit the reflector board and the like.

And it is also pointed out that, although it was often found that the previous episode ended with the scene where Godman was driven to the wall, the following episode just began as if nothing had happened to him.

 

Godman has the ability to enlarge the size himself by shouting “Godman Kaku Dai! (Godman Enlarge!; maybe a brief pause between en and large if put into English)” after initially showing up in his human-sized form. As he shrinks back to the human size the moment his leg bands worn around the ankles were taken off by an opponent, the weak point seems to have often troubled him.

As to the way he fought with kaijus, chances are there were times when it didn’t make him look like a hero by hitting the opponent on the groin, going at the kaijus while they were fighting between them, begging the kaijus to spare his life and so on.

Incidentally, the weapon held in his hand in the above picture is likely to be called “God Circle” described as a weapon used like throwing the Frisbee as it was set to explode when hitting the opponent (probably with the use of gunpowder).


“Ike(Go)! Godman” #1

“Ike! Godman”

After writing about the Tsuburaya tokusatsu show “Redman” in my previous posts, I “have no choice but” to refer to another tokusatsu series titled “Ike! (Go!) Godman” aired in the same way as “Redman.”

The show “Godman” broadcast from 1972 to 1973 as a 5 minute segment for the show “Ohayō! Kodomo Show (Good Morning! Kids Show)” aired in the same time slot from Monday through Friday in the morning back then.

“Godman” was produced by the movie company Toho instead of Tsuburaya Productions with the 52 stories consisting of its 260 episodes as each complete story broadcast being divided into six or three episodes (so you could watch one story a week or two stories a week).

 

As they got a higher budget than the previous show “Redman,” it is likely that newly designed kaiju characters and tokusatsu scenes with miniatures were featured along with the appearances of some Toho kaijus that appeared in their movies although the used costumes of kaiju characters or the stage show costumes were exclusively used for “Redman” that included the fights that just unfolded in the plain field while the location set didn’t make them look like giants at all in spite of the settings with which they were set to be 40 meters tall or so.

That being said, I remember the same miniature building was used every time for “Godman” with Godman and a kaiju fighting around the prop as if they were carefully trying not to break it seemingly with the consecutive use of the miniature in mind and that their fights could have been fought on the same outdoor cliff (I feel like the cliff had the miniature building built in an unnatural position) all the time even though I don’t remember much about the show “Godman” because I didn’t find it much enjoyable when I watched it just a couple of times as a kid.


ALIEN PLATIC (making)

Alien Platic design drawn by Tohl Narita

Tohl Narita: “I designed this alien putting more energy into the skeleton version than the plastic-like alien that initially appeared. This turned out to be the last design I drew for the Ultra Series. Mr. Noriyoshi Ikeya took over the subsequent job of designing.”

As Tohl Narita describes, Alien Platic is the very last alien he designed for the Ultra Series, and he had never worked on any designs for the subsequent Ultra Series again since then.

As to the design of Alien Platic, it didn’t have any fluffy materials that were finally placed to cover its body. It is said that they were added by the art staff on the set while they are obviously found to have been added to the design drawing afterwards.

Along with the fluffy stuff assumed to have been added to it to make it look more like “plastic-related” alien, I have to admit the design made me feel somewhat odd when I was a kid as the alien seemed to be forcibly associated with the material in a sort of irrelevant manner while I think it was rare in the original Ultra Series and I feel like such a forcible association ended up making this alien look kind of superficial even though I am fully aware that the “plastic alien” was not the idea Narita came up with.

What I vividly remember was that I was so shocked and frightened at the skeleton version of the alien with the bone parts coming together to try to attack Dan and Aoki even after the alien’s body had burned down into ashes. As Narita says he put much energy into it, the skeleton version was so impressive to me back then while it was operated as a puppet also sculpted by Ryosaku Takayama.

As I said in my previous posts, Takayama seems to have been involved in sculpting puppets for doll plays before he started making kaiju costumes, so he should have known his stuff in making puppet aliens for the show “Ultraseven” in which many of them were featured although it was mainly for the purpose of reducing the cost.

Although it is Narita’s last Ultra Series alien, it is a bit shame that Alien Platic was not such an attractive alien in design apart from the depiction in the show that portrayed him as a strong alien who put Ultraseven into crisis.

The skeleton puppet with Takayama operating it on its side


DADA (making) #3

Dada A, B, and C illustrated by Tohl Narita at a later time

As to the body of Dada, a black wet suit was painted into a zebra pattern by spraying white paint on it while being masked with tapes so that the black parts could be left out.

The face of Dada specified as “Dada A” damaged by the shot of Ultraman’s Spacium Beam was apparently portrayed using an additional face with scars and burns whose eye parts left open attached onto Dada A’s face that remained intact.

As Dada appears to have been one of Narita’s favorite characters, chances are the alien had been newly illustrated by Narita as his art works (without the okappa hairdo) in later years.

Another illustration of Dada drawn by Tohl Narita

While Dada is one of my favorites as well and I like this episode with a mysterious touch also featuring Ultraman who was shrunk to the human size, it was a bit shame that the mysterious alien made himself look so weak as to be defeated even by Captain Muramatsu!

Come to think of it, the scene where Ultaman turned human-sized was somewhat misleading to us when we were children, and there were kids including me who wrongly took it as Dada’s attack by his Micronizer took no effect on Ultraman and as Ultaman reduced his size of his own accord to try to catch or fight with human-sized Dada.

It caused us to mistakenly think of both Ultraman and Ultraseven as aliens who could adjust their sizes freely. I assume there should still be people who are mistaken about it even now except ardent fans of Ultraman as they would say, “I dimly remember I have seen Ultraman also shrink to the human size in an episode.”


DADA (making) #2

Clay mold of the Dada head at Ryosaku Takayama’s Atelier May; it tells us that the one single head was planned to have the three faces placed at different angles; the female molds of the faces perhaps cast out of the clay mold are found at the bottom of the platform

Takayama is likely to have written in his diary that Narita spent two or three hours in Takayama’s Atelier May while correcting the design of Dada looking at books of ancient art and African art borrowed from Takayama although Narita had come to the atelier with the Dada design three days before to stand by for having the Gomora costume tried on by someone.

Narita and Takayama seem to have initially tried to design the head to rotate so that the three different faces show up sequentially with the other two covered with lids in the double-door style while one of the three would face forward, whereas it didn’t do the trick. So it was redesigned to enable the head to show the different faces in another way.

Tetsuo Yamamura says in a book that it was decided they would simply replace the faces by attaching one of them onto the core part that looked like a head with black hair (such a hairstyle is called okappa in Japan, probably from the imaginary creature kappa. So Dada is often associated with the hairdo jokingly like “Dada with an okappa hairdo.” The Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama characteristically has that hairstyle).

Yamamura also says that is why a slight gap can be found between the face and black core head and that, if closely watched, you can find wires between them to tie them together.

As you know, the idea of showing three different faces based on the same head was inherited to “Another Dimensional Man Gigi” in the show “Ultraman Cosmos” that had the varying faces depicted with the use of computer-generated images.

You can see the process of trial and error through these photos including the above ones. It seems that Dada B in the center was not planned to have any nose although his piggy nose is the outstanding feature of that version along with the pattern on his face that looks like a mustache

DADA (making) #1

Dada design drawn by Tohl Narita

Tohl Narita: “It has three faces on a single face (head). I aimed at making the face vary properly according to the camerawork rather than showing the faces like a multi-headed statue of Buddha. I think of the depiction as what we need to work on better in the future.  It can be called an op art human overall. The illustrations of A, B, and C are the works I recently drew .” (*the illustrations drawn by Narita will be shown in the last of my serial posts to come.)

In my personal view, Dada was one of the most impressive alien characters featured in the original Ultra Series while he is just called “Dada” without any title as it is the name that sounds pretty unusual consisting of the simple repetition of the same syllable so that it makes the name sound more unique along with his zebra-patterned body design that makes him look like an abstract art work.

Enlarged head part of the above image

It is not surprising that his name sounds somewhat mysterious in itself as Masahiro Yamada, who wrote this episode, named him as such from “Dadaism” with a space creature to be thought outside of the box in mind.

The sounds like the pumping heart he constantly makes (it sounds like saying “dada” as well) and his creepy roars and groans also make him outstandingly mysterious in a different way from any other aliens who appeared in the series.

As Narita described in his art book, there seems to have been a lot of trial and error in designing the character and having Ryosaku Takayama sculpt the head.


Fan Site of Ultraman & Japanese TV tokusatsu (SFX) in 1960s &1970s