Tag Archives: Eiichi Kikuchi

A Tokusatsu Show Almost Forgot: Majin Bander #3

The other head of Bander

As far as the outline of the story I described in my previous post, I think it sounds quite interesting. And I dimly remember the scene where the armed police squad fired at Bander in the field although I remember nothing else of the series.

While I should have watched it in 1969 when I entered elementary school, the memory is quite ambiguous probably because there should not have been any occasions when the show was rerun.

The greatest feature of Majin Bander as a character was that it had two heads to be replaced by one another according to his emotion. The face usually looks mild (or plain) as the guardian for the Paron but, when he gets mad, the mild-looking head goes down into the body and the other head with the angry-looking expression on it comes up from within the body instead.

This concept of a guardian changing into a majin is just like, in the Daiei “Daimajin” movie series, the haniwa-clay-figure-like statue with its gentle-looking face turning into angry-looking Daimajin when getting rid of villains.

Reissued Bander figures I found online; Bander looks somewhat awkward with the unwantedly long arms out of proportion to the body

About the two heads, it was properly sung in the theme song like “His face changes scary when he gets angry.” The phrases “Tonde Koi Bandā/Tonde Koi Bandā/Heiwa No Tsukai/Uchu No Hate Kara Yattekoi (come flying, Bander/come flying, Bander/Emissary of Peace/come from the farthest reaches of space)…” sung in the song still stays with me in my head.

It is known that the character Bander was played by Eiichi Kikuchi who acted Returned Ultraman in the 1970 tokusatsu show “The Return of Ultraman.” Kikushi says in an interview covered in a book that it was a costume that left him almost unmovable with inflexibility except the movement with which he just moved forward and backward.

When I talked about Bander to one of my colleagues at work a long time ago, he was astounded saying, “How come you can remember such stuff?”

Oh, well, that is the way a tokusatsu fan goes…


ALIEN BORG

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Episode Episode 27: Operation: Cyborg
Alias Armor Alien
Height 2 – 40 meters
Weight 180 kilograms – 26,000 tons
Homeplace Planet Borg
Features See below
Designer Tohl Narita
Sculptor Ryosaku Takayama
Actor Unknown
Voice Soya Kondo
Human Form Soya Kondo

Alien Borg is the alien who attempted to blast the TDF Base with ‘plate bombs.’

They abducted Nogawa (played by Akira Hirose), a TDF telecommunications operator, on his way to the TDF Base to introduce his wife-to-be, Sanae Mizuki, to Soga.

And they made him into a ‘cyborg’ by implanting a ‘hypnosis plate’ into his brain to manipulate him and got him to place the plate bombs in the TDF Base.

But the Ultra Garrison got aware of the plot, and, while Nogawa’s hypnosis plate was removed by surgery, all the bombs he planted were retrieved but one.

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Nogawa and Alien Borg in human form

Alien Borg’s spacecraft hidden in a swamp was also destroyed along with two of the aliens (silhouetted in human forms).

The other individual sneaked into the TDF Base and tried to kill Nogawa as a traitor.

It’s interesting that Alien Borgs are set to be female aliens despite the appearance.

She was unexpectedly so strong in a combat fighting, even superior to Ultraseven in power.

Actually the plate bomb left undiscovered had been attached to Dan’s leg, and she proudly confessed it with a laugh. (Ultraseven easily found it on his leg and threw it at her.)

She also fires a destruction beam from the front side of the crest.

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But she was beaten by having her head chopped off with Eye Slugger from behind eventually while trying to escape into the sky. (As a child I was surprised to find foam came out of the opening instead of blood.)

This episode was happily concluded with a wedding scene of Nogawa and Sanae.

Alien Borg looks so good and is one of my favorites.

It’s noteworthy that the idea and term of ‘cyborg’ that were new at the time was used in this episode.

Who played Alien Borg remains unknown even though there are explanations referring to the actor as Eiichi Kikuchi (he himself stated he didn’t remember playing Alien Borg in a recent book interview) or Kunio Suzuki (according to Tetsuo Yamamura in the same interview though he added he wasn’t sure).


Kikuchi Seven

Now it’s well known that Eiichi Kikuchi performed Ultraseven in Episode 14 & 15 featuring King Joe instead of Koji Uenishi who regularly played Ultraseven through the original series.

Kikuchi is known as the original actor for Returned Ultraman in The Return of Ultraman (1971-1972).

Episode 14 & 15 of Ultraseven were two-part episodes including a distant shooting location to Kobe which, aired on Jan. 7 and 14, 1968, were also meant to be the New Year’s special shows.

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Kikuchi Seven

It’s likely Kikuchi was called due to Uenishi’s schedule circumstances regarding this.

Although I was not careful enough to notice it as a child, Kikuchi Seven looks very much different from Uenishi Seven though I like both of them.

As Kikuchi was taller (180 centimeters) and thinner than well-built Uenishi (seemingly around 170 centimeters), a new costume was made for Kikuchi.

With no instructions about Seven’s fighting stance on the set, Kikuchi had to take a stance of his own with no choice.

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Kikuchi Seven

Uenishi Seven basically took his stance with closed hands.

But Kikuchi Seven assumed his stance with open hands or with one hand closed and the other opened following the karate style he practiced in those days.

In a recent book interview, Kikuchi admits it was surprising to hear a fan say he noticed the difference when he watched it as an elementary-school-age boy at the time.

Kikuchi also says the shooting was tough because the water came in through the eye holes and that the gloves colored his hands red and it was hard to wash it off.

The gloves certainly look old not matching the new suit.

It’s interesting to find how different a character looks according to an actor inside.

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Recent photo of Eiichi Kikuchi  (far right) ; Kikuchi in trampoline action for shooting ‘The Return of Ultraman’

Welcoming kiddy fans

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Kiddy fans in Atelier May (Peguila and Ragon of “Ultra Q” seen behind to be remolded into Chandlar and Ragon of “Ultraman” respectively)

Satoshi (Bin) Furuya who played the original Ultraman also says that he received an avalanche of fan letters addressed to his private home because it was openly shown in publication at the time.

As posted before, I can see each of the actors’ address shown in such publication for kids.

As I remember that Eiichi Kikuchi who played another Ultraman (“The Retun of Ultraman”) in later years says the same thing if I’m correct.

 

And I visited cartoonists whose addresses were shown in comic magazines around the same time as “The Return of Ultraman.”

So private addresses of famous people might have been easily and commonly shown until the 1970s.

I hear that Ryosaku Takayama who sculpted Ultra monsters also got a lot of kiddy fans in his atelier “Atelier May” which was named because the Takayamas moved in there in May.

It’s likely that Mr. Takayama also welcomed such kiddy visitors and showed them his atelier willingly.

 

It’s imaginable how much that made the kids’ eyes grow wide and shine.

Rather than mere customer service, the producers should have loved kids and been very much proud of their professional jobs.

It might also be because an idea of raising kids together still remained in society at the time.

Also, as Mr. Furuya says, it might show the single-mindedness between the producers and kiddy fans.


Two actors who became Ultraman

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Mr. Furuya (left) and Mr. Kikuchi

The actor for the original Ultraman is Satoshi Furuya.

Mr. Furuya was an actor of Toho (movie company) when he acted Ultraman.

He acted “Amagi” of Ultra Keibitai (Ultra Garrison, defense team) in “Ultra Seven” after “Ultraman” without a mask.

After years of no publication, he came back in front of us in 2007.

It was a great pleasure for Utra fans to see him fine.

On March 11 in 2012, a talk event was held in a small theater in Tokyo.

Satoshi Furuya and Eiichi Kikuchi who acted “Kaette-kita Ultraman” joined to appear in front of the audience.

They held the talk show on March 11, one year after the 3.11 earthquake.

I felt their intention to cheer up Ultra fans by the appearance of the two heroes in front of us.

I also went to see them although I rarely go to see such events.

Mr. Kikuchi is a very funny person making us laugh with his jokes.

Mr. Furuya was gently smiling beside him.

They sincerely answered each question gathered Ultra fans asked them.

It was really a heart-warming event.

I cordially thank the two of Ultraman for the wonderful opportunity.

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