B-type mask of Ultraman

Ultraman (B-type)

Akira Sasaki, sculptor who modeled Ultraman’s mask with Toru Narita, says in a book interview that the gimmick to open and close Ultraman’s mouth did not work well.

It was supposed to move as the suit actor, Satoshi Furuya, moves his chin.

Also unnatural wrinkles lingered around the mouth.

As I said in the previous post, the A-type mask looks a bit scary.

Ultraman (A-type)

I hear there were children who thought a spaceman like this might be there for real.

Anyway, Ultraman got a new mask called “B-type.”

The B-type mask was made of FRP only omitting the gimmick to open and close the mouth completely.

It had been long said that the B-type mask was made from the same clay prototype as the A-type with only the difference in material.

But in a recent interview above, Sasaki says he modeled the new prototype for the B-type and, later, the C-type respectively.

He adds that he likes the B-type mask best among the 3 types of the Ultraman’s mask he modeled.

Because he finds the finishing work of the B-type mask to give him the impression of sharpness most among the three types.

Personally, I like the B-type mask best, too.


A-type mask of Ultraman

Ultraman (A-type)

Three masks different in modeling were used for Ultraman as the shooting went on.

Besides the things about modeling, “Ultraman” had to go through a variety of attempts.

It is only natural.
Because it is almost the first attempt to have a giant hero from the space fight with Kaijyu.

The modeling of the Ultraman mask is not an exception.

The first mask called “A-type”among the fans was made of latex covering the FRP-made core.

The most outstanding feature is its mouth which makes open and close possible.

It is likely Eiji Tsuburaya himiself instructed to have the mask made that way.

At first, Ultraman was supposed to speak like human beings and even spit fire or liquid named “Silver Yodo (iodine)” out of the mouth like Kaijyu.

I guess they wanted to give Ultraman a touch of life form.
Isn’t that why they made the mask coated with latex and tried to have the mouth open and close?

The other characteristic of the A-type mask is the eyes turning upward.

The A-type mask looks rather mysterious in general with a bit scary impression.
It may suit an enigmatic spaceman.

I hear there were chilkdren at that time who had trauma because of the A-type mask.
I sympathize with them.


Ultraman created from claywork

I like the design of both Ultraman and Ultra Seven.

As totally different in concept, each design has its own fascination.

Toru Narita, if my memory is correct, told that he was more fond of the design of Ultraman than Ultra Seven.

As Toru Narita thought the symbol of “cosmos” should be extremely simple, any decoration was removed in designing Ultraman.

When you see the silver body of Ultraman, you may not be sure whether it is the spaceman’s spacesuit or his skin.

You cannot know whether the face is the spaceman’s face or a steely mask he wears.

The uncertainty is what Toru Narita intended.

At that time there were artists and illustrators involved in art works for Ultraman publication.

Inoichiro Sekiguchi, one of the artists, told in a recent book he was in trouble about how he should interpret the above.

According to his writing,Toru Narita was at a standstill in designing Ultraman’s face during limited time.
He was in charge of designing Kaijyu,mechanics and so on for the entire work “Ultraman.”

Narita gave up drawing Ultraman on paper and switched to claywork.
Given he is a sculptor, it should be only natural.

Narita worked on the prototype with his fellow sculptor Akira Sasaki.

And the mask of Ultraman was finished at last.

In designing characters, the face should be most important.

I see it interesting that the face of Ultraman was originated as a solid body not on paper.

I remember Toru Narita wrote somewhere that the final version of the design of Ultraman’s face did not exist because he quit it and switch to the clay work.

It is a truly sculptor’s work.


Unique design of Ultraman

It is well known that Toru Narita decided to see Kaijyu represent “chaos” and Ultraman represent “cosmos.”

And he thought the representative of cosmos needs to be presented by “simple modeling” and “archaic smile.

Yes, Ultraman’s design is simple and looks to be smiling.

I assume his knowledge of ancient Greek statues as a sculptor should have given him such an idea.

Noriyoshi Ikeya, art director of Japanese cinema, who also took part in Ultra Series, depicts as the design of Ultraman is so unique that he   feels admiration for having it widespread successfully.

I remember that Toshihiro Iijima, Japanese director, television producer, playwright, who participated in Ultra Series, also says in an interview that he was so embarrassed to see the suite of Ultraman for the first time, as the mask of Ultraman looked like a wrinkled old man, that he felt really uncertain about the success of the TV series.

It is said that the design of Ultraman without emotional expression was unpopular even among the cast members of Ultraman.

Akiji Kobayashi, who acted Kagaku-Tokuso-Tai (Defense Team against Kaijyu in the world setting of Ultraman) captain Muramatsu, is said to have become silent when seeing the suite of Ultraman.

Hiroko Sakurai, actress who acted as Yuriko Edogawa in Ultra Q and Akiko Fuji, one of Kagaku-Tokuso-Tai , in Ultraman, also confesses she did not like the design of Ultraman.

Alas!

But, given the design is so unique, they are not to blame.

The magazines of that time featuring Ultraman are said to have dealt with the hero as “righteous mysterious man.”

You can imagine how unique and unusual Ultraman’s design was.


Hero never seen before

Before featuring Kaijyu on a full scale, Ultra Q Kaijyu were modest such as Giant Spider “Tarantula.”

Or remodeling Godzilla, “Gomess” was created.

Most of them had Toho (The film company of Godozilla) taste in a way.

After the participation of Toru Narita in Ultra Q, attractive Kaijyu were created one after another.

They were not “Toho-like-Kaijyu” anymore.

They were genuinely worth bearing the name of original “Ultra Kaijyu.”

“Garamon,””Kanegon,””Kemur-jin” and son on should be representative of Narita’s design work in Ultra Q.

Ahead of designing for Ultraman after Ultra Q, Narita had to create a hero which no one had ever seen before.

The hero is a spaceman.

Now as you are too familiar with the hero’s design which became the standard, you may not be aware.

But who else can come up with a design like that?

Heroes we had around that time were life-sized and wore a costume with gloves, boots, a belt and a mask like “Gekko-kamen.”

Gekko-kamen, which literally means “Moon Light Mask”, was Tokusatsu (SFX) TV series broadcast 1958-1959.

Even “Superman” is unexceptional in style.

A HERO NEVER SEEN BEFORE.

That is the design required for Ultraman.

Narita’s agony is very much imaginable.


Toru Narita, excellent designer for Ultra

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Mr. Narita from his art book

There are lots of attractions in the Early Ultra Series.

For example, the characters such as Ultraman, Ultra Seven and Ultra Kaijyu are excellent.

Lots of fans are charmed with the splendid design and modeling.

In the Early Ultra, the character design was done primarily by Toru Narita.

Both Ultraman and Ultra Seven were designed by Narita.

Toru Narita (September 3, 1929 February 26, 2002) is a designer and sculptor born in Aomori Prefecture.

In spring 1965, he became a contract employee of Tsuburaya Production. And he served as the art director for “Ultra Q”.

For “Ultraman”,” Ultra Seven” and Mighty Jack(1968, Fuji TVhe worked on the design of the monsters, regular mechanism and Ultra heroes.

I think the success of Ultra Series owes a great deal to Narita’s work.

Narita participated from the middle of the ultra Q.

When Narita participated, there was a design drawing of “Peguila” by Yasuyuki Inoue.

Narita cleaned it up and it is said to be the first design work by Narita in Ultra.
Peguila was modeled by Ryosaku Takayama, whose modelling is highly estimated along with Narita in the Early Ultra.
Peguila is said to be the first kaijyu by the combination of Narita and Takayama, which attracts many people even now.

Ultraman and Ultra Seven

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Ultraman (1966)

My heroes in my childhood are, of course, Ultraman and Ultra Seven.

I was a 4-5 years old, at that time, “Monster Boom” (Kaijyu Boom) has occurred between the children.
Ultra Q, Ultraman and Ultra Seven were much more popular than you could imagine now.

When I entered a kindergarten, my mother bought me a magazine for children.
In the magazine I remember there was a notice saying that “Ultra Seven” is coming soon on TV.

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Ultra Seven (1967)

Just the broadcasting of Ultraman ended in spite of the popularity.
It was time to have Ultra Seven start to be broadcast.

Looking at the photos of Ultra Seven, completely different appearance from familiar Ultraman, I was a bit embarrassed.

The protector around the shoulder which Ultraman didn’t have gave the impression such as a robot to me.

I was worried whether Ultra Seven could fight as smart as Ultraman.
After Ultra Seven started, I found it was just a needless worry.
Seven was a hero that had a different charm from Ultraman.

Ultraman and Seven became the immortal hero for me.

I looked forward to watching Seven every Sunday.
But now I know the viewing rate was going down.

After Seven, “Kaiki Daisakusen” of the same Tsuburaya production was broadcast.
No Ultra Kaijyu and no Ultra heroes were there any more.

In TV broadcasting industry, they had a recognition that Kaijyu was already old-fashioned.

Kaiki Daisakusen is re-evaluated today among ardent fans.
But, in my impression, after Ultra Series, I found it lack in impact.

The end of Ultra Seven was also the end of the “Kaijyu Boom” until the boom came back after years.


The world setting of ULTRA Q

The world setting of ULTRA Q, ULTRAMAN and ULTRA SEVEN is not all the same.

ULTRA Q and ULTRAMAN can be interpreted to be stories in the same world although the settings such as characters are different.

In fact,the same KAIJYU such as RAGON and ALIEN KEMUR-JIN apear in the both series.

But ULTRA SEVEN is about a world totally different from the others.

The world of ULTRA Q itself was not the same at first.
I mean it did not feature KAIJYU at the beginning.

Originally, the shooting of ULTRA Q started as KAIKI series, not KAIJYU series.

KAIKI means chiller.

In the early stage, the series title was UNBALANCE, not ULTRA Q.
The concept was “If the balance of nature collapse”.

The change of the title and series concept is due to intention of TBS,the broadcast station for ULTRA Q.

TBS thought, as EIJI TSUBURAYA famous for GODJILLA SERIES supervises ULTRA Q,why not KAIJYU?

The judgement resulted in success and ULTRA Q marked 30% and over audience rating.


Idyllic times of Japan

Watching ULTRA Q now, the SFX filmed in monochrome is the more impressive and looks real.

I also find idyllic times of Japan in it.

Enjoying the years of high economic growth, simple and homely culture still existed in Japan at that time.

The storyline may be slow-paced.

The way to defeat KAIJYU may be too easy.

But I still find warmth of times, for example, in the conversation the characters have there or good old landscape of Japan.

It seems to have been a good time for making things.

I see lots of passion or soul in each work of the early ULTRA SERIES.

That is why I still love ULTRA Q, ULTRAMAN and ULTRA SEVEN.

They makes me feel really nostalgic, NATSUKASHI in Japanese.


The world of ULTRA Q

The name of ULTRA Q came from the term ULTRA C, which was used in the Tokyo Olympics held in 1964referring to the level of difficulty skills performed by Japan men’s gymnastics team.

Q in ULTRA Q refers to QUESTION.

It is interesting to know the name of ULTRA, which is used for the works lasting till now, originally came from gymnastics.

Although I am not sure whether I was watching ULTRA Q on time because I was 2 years old then,I am sure I enjoyed it after it rerun over and over.

The world of ULTRA Q was so scary to me at that time.

In ULTRA Q, a hero like ULTRAMAN does not appear.
Such concept to have a hero like ULTRAMAN appear did not exist yet.

ULTRA Q depicts human beings VS enigmatic phenomena and VS KAIJYU,both of which appear as a result of UNBALANCED NATURE.

Although it may be lacking in showiness and briskness like ULTRAMAN and ULTRA SEVEN as it is also monochrome, it is full of flavor and I like it.


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