Tag Archives: Keizo Murase

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

GUIGASS (making)

Guigass design drawn by Tohl Narita

Tohl Narita: “I designed it with the image of strength above all.”

As it is well known among fans, the costume of Guigass was remodeled from that of Hydra. Hydra was sculpted by Ex Production and the remodeling into Guigass was also done by the same company. So Narita’s design should have been naturally drawn on the assumption that the costume was to be based on Hydra.

Tetsuo Yamamura says in the Ultraman Research Book that the costume was very heavy with the feeling of weight felt around the shoulders leaving the arms only movable with the parts below the elbows when worn.

Enlarged head part of the design

Keizo Murase says in the same section of the book it actually had a pile of lead weights in the shoulders while the purpose is left unexplained in the passage.

Partly because Guigass was a kaiju less impressive along with its appearance that makes it look just like an abominable snowman, I didn’t notice it was remodeled from Hydra for a long time before I was told so. Nevertheless, the sculpture of the costume is so excellent along with Hydra.

Photo allegedly taken at Ex Production

In my personal impression, Ex Production did a very good job in sculpting Ultra kaijus alongside of those sculpted by Ryosaku Takayama as I believe the production company was also involved in sculpting “kaijin (mysterious human)” characters for the series “Kamen Rider” in later years.

Putting it the other way around, the fact that Takayama sculpted his kaijus as much excellently makes his ability as a sculptor look even more outstanding while he was actually a “painter,” not a sculptor, although Ex Production consisted of staff who had been deeply involved in Kaiju sculpting for Toho movies as skilled sculptors.


TODOLA (making)

This snapshot is explained to have been taken in the Toho storage where the costumes of King Kong used as Goro in Ultra Q and Todola returned from Tsuburaya Productions can be found (with junior high student visitors?)

While Todola was a kaiju featured in “Ultra Q” before Tohl Narita got involved in designing kaijus for the series, there is almost nothing to say about the kaiju that was a mere giant form of a sea lion as his name was just based on the combination between todo (sea lion) and la, sort of a suffix that often follows a kaiju’s name.

As I described in my Kaiju Pictorial article on the character (linked as above), Todola was based on Magma, the kaiju that appeared in the 1962 Toho movie “Gorath” by having whiskers added to the costume.

It is said that the script of this episode had been written by Hiroyasu Yamaura when the show was being planned as “UNBALANCE,” the planned predecessor of “Ultra Q,” and it was rewritten by Tetsuo Kinjo into the final script on the occasion that Takashi Kakoi decided the series to be produced as a kaiju series instead of dealing with only mysterious phenomena as previously planned for “UNBALANCE.”

 

Therefore, chances are that this episode was not planned to feature any kaiju in it initially and that Todola was a character added to it when the script was rewritten by Kinjo. So this episode is described in a book on Ultra Q as the one that ended up being left at the mercy of the transition from “UNBALANCE” to “Ultra Q.”

Actually, Magma also seems to have been the kaiju abruptly added to “Gorath” as Toho requested Eiji Tsuburaya to make a kaiju appear in the movie since it features tokusatsu by Tsuburaya.

It is explained that Magma was the first kaiju FRP was used for as a material (for his tusks) while Keizo Murase came up with the idea of using the material and that Eiji Tsuburaya admired the tusks saying, “Where did you find out such ivory?” And it seems that Tsuburaya looked so happy when he was told it was the new material.