Tag Archives: Ex Production

WOO (making) #2

Woo costume sculpted by Ex Production that looks great!

Yuzo Higuchi, the director of this episode, agrees with the interviewer in a book article who asked him if this episode was meant to warn people about the excessive resort development which spread into every part of Japan back then.

“Woo” seems to be described as the name which came either from an Okinawan word (the script of this episode was written by Tetsuo Kinjo who was originally from Okinawa) denoting a kind of fabric pronounced in a similar way or from the title of the show “WoO” being planned along with “UNBALANCE” while “UNBALANCE”  finally turned into “Ultra Q.”

Woo with its eye lights off looks so horrifying like a spector

As it is likely they had a lot of snowfall on the location set they hadn’t had for the last 20 to 30 years, chances are it made the filming very hard. Higuchi recalls they had to walk very carefully not to leave any footprints on the snow and that none of the cast and staff were good at skiing so they had to hire ski instructors in the locality to have them perform for the long shot scenes showing the SSSP members skillfully skiing down the slope in a graceful manner instead of the cast members, Kurobe, Ishii (present Dokumamushi) and Nihei.

While having the instructors ski instead of them, it seems that the cast had to wait shivering in cold with their overcoats on as their SSSP uniforms were worn by the instructors while they didn’t bring the spare uniforms to the location.

Woo costume described in a book as the deteriorated one after the appearance in the show

Higuchi says they had a very hard time because, for the medium shot scenes showing the actual cast, the SSSP members were not able to stop on skis where they were supposed to play to be properly caught on film as they easily got out of the picture with the momentum out of skiing from a place a little way off with their skis on.

The ski field that appeared in this episode is likely to have had a resort facility affiliated with TBS, which should indicate how much popular going to resorts including ski fields was among people during Japan’s postwar high economic growth period.

Woo is also well known as a kaiju who appeared in “Ultra Fight” afterwards with its costume always having its long hair cover the face and with a completely different character as a violent fighter somewhat with an eccentricity who easily picks a fight with the other kaijus.


WOO (making) #1

A: primary design of Woo drawn by Tohl Narita

Tohl Narita: “In a word, it is a sen-nin. As there is nothing interesting if it’s all white (while the set would be white too*), I made its face dark. Even though I initially drew A, it looked too much like a sen-nin, and I drew B instead by flattening its head.”

*Narita’s own remark

Sen-nin means a wizard or hermit seen as immortal living in the mountains while it should have originated from Taoism and the word is often used in Japan to refer to someone living in the mountain, not necessarily in seclusion or for a religious purpose, saying something like “He’s a man just like a sen-nin living so deep in the mountain” apart from the Chinese religion (I believe most Japanese people are even unaware that the idea of sen-nin originally came from Taoism even though the word itself is so familiar to them).

Enlarged head part from the above image

It seems that Yuzo Higuchi who directed this episode featuring Woo had something more like an abominable snowman in mind and that he realized the actual costume had excessively long hair when he looked at it for the first time. But he says, as he didn’t know a kaiju like an abominable snowman (Guigass) had already appeared in the show then, the design of Woo is now fully acceptable to him.

As to its sculpture, the costume was made by Ex Production instead of Ryosaku Takayama following Goldon that appeared in the previous episode.

B: finalized design of Woo drawn by Tohl Narita

Keizo Murase who was with Ex Production back then says they used plant fabric of Manila hemp usually called “sutaffu (stuff?) among them. Even though the stuff is usually rather short in length, he says they obtained the long one from a bike store which used to be located right across Toho because the store owner had a lot of knowledge of the fabric material as they also dealt with ropes (I don’t exactly understand why ropes can be associated with a bike store).

Tetsuo Yamamura says the Woo costume was very light in weight with the long hair just covering the lower part of the body like a straw skirt with nothing to cover the actor’s body while the actor looked out through the bunch of hair so that his face could have been exposed if the covering hair should have been pushed aside.

Woo head design separately drawn by Tohl Narita apart from the above picture of the whole body; I find the preciseness of the drawing pretty impressive

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

PETER (making)

Peter design drawn by Tohl Narita: finalized design (above) and primary design (below)

Tohl Narita: “Chameleon – almost just as it is. I have had a principle not to merely make a real-life creature into its giant version, but on the other hand I was in the mood to go about it without feeling pressed. This should have been the first or second design I drew (for the Ultra Series).”

While the costume of Peter is alleged to have been sculpted by Ex Production that also made kaiju costumes for the Ultra Series including Hydra, I think it is a very well-made suit with a sense of being actually alive although the suit ended up inevitably exposing the shape of the actor (Haruyoshi Nakamura) who wore the suit with his knees bent.

Ryosaku Takayama about to remodel Bemlar into Gyango and Peter into Guesra

It is said that the costume was remodeled after the drama part was filmed and that the giant form of Peter had hair added around its mouth along with small mirrors embedded into the scales to make them reflect the light of flames in the scene of Peter being surrounded by fire.

The tongue that rolls out of its mouth also seems to have been added to the giant version of Peter.

It is said that such a remodeling could indicate what an unprecedented TV show Ultra Q was with an extraordinarily large budget spent on it as it started being aired after all the episodes had been filmed.

It is explained the Peter suit was put on display at the now-defunct amusement park Tama Tech for “Ultra Q Festival” held there in 1966, and it was remodeled into Guesra for Ultraman by Ryosaku Takayama.