Tag Archives: Satoshi (Bin) Furuya

Enigmatic Ultraman Suit #1

Following the pictures that show the authentic costume of Woo used at an event back then in the ski field, there is another note-worthy picture in which Ultraman is contained in a publication.

It is described as a photo taken on the occasion that a TV show or segment having Ultraman appear was shot. As the show/segment was filmed in Kirigamine Plateau, Nagano Prefecture, this picture shows a building with the name “Kirigamine Hotel” inscribed on the wall in the back.

What is enigmatic about this picture is that it shows the Ultraman suit that did not have Bin Furuya in it apparently judging from the body shape and that, nevertheless, the costume mask is obviously the one of the Type C suit of Ultraman.

While it also draws attention that the Ultraman is found to have seemingly worn “sandals” instead of the boots with the feet of the person inside seen as they were maybe because they did not need to film the whole body of Ultraman for the segment just using the bust shots or something.

Enigmatically enough, the body part of the suit is the one that looks so similar to the Type A Ultraman suit even though the body shape of the actor may make it look different from how it looked when it was worn by Bin Furuya.

The back of the head with a silver part right behind the ear to the top fully indicates it is the same as the Type A suit while the Type C costume has no such part with the back of its head painted all red.

Regarding the coloring of the back of the Type C costume head part, there are some Japanese fans who complain about it as it makes the mask of the Type C costume look like a “mask” while the Type A and B costumes properly had the parts painted silver behind the ears showing the feel of integration between the mask and the costume while the presence of the narrow silver parts behind the ears more or less helped to avoid making the masks look like mere masks as they are supposed to be the “faces” of the alien from Nebula M78 instead of the masks.

The back of the Type C suit head painted all red without any silver portions behind the ears the Type A and B costumes had, which could have made the mask look more like a mask rather than the alien’s face

Ultraseven Featured In Sporting Newspaper #2

From left: Bin Furuya, Yuriko Hiishimi, Sandayu Dokumamushi and Koji Moritsugu featured in Sports Hochi

Dokumamushi (formerly Ishii) says in the talk he felt sorry for the other people who played the SSSP members as he was the only one who was decided on for the role of an Ultra Garrison member in subsequent “Ultraseven” after “Ultraman” while he was delighted as he could get a regular role in a show for another whole year.

When he asked the staff if he should change something including the appearance because he was to act a different person in “Ultraseven,” he was told it would be unnecessary to do so.

Therefore, he says kid viewers should have been confused as Furuhashi turned out to be something like a human clone from Arashi.

Brief episode reviews

Koji Moritsugu says, while the commute to the Bisen studio took him one hour and half for one way everyday by train, he had to get up at 5 in the morning to arrive at the studio in time and that children of the time didn’t make a noise letting out a cheer (even if they found Moritsugu on the train) as they didn’t think Dan would take a train. (In his memoir published in 1998, he writes he was in trouble when children found him on the train saying to each other, “Oh, That’s Dan! Dan is on the train! Ultraseven should be able to fly in the sky, though,” and they came over to ask him, “Why?”)

Yuriko HIshimi also referred to fun things she had experienced back then, but I like to introduce one in my post to come shortly afterwards as a new book authored by her has been released lately and the same story I want to tell you about is shared between this article and the newly published book.

The cross section image of the TDF Far Eastern Base newly drawn

Ultraseven Featured In Sporting Newspaper #1

The other day, I happened to drop by at a convenience store and found a sporting paper featuring Ultraseven. Although I don’t usually purchase such a paper, I bought one because it was about Ultraseven.

While it is apparently a special feature with the 50th anniversary of the show in mind, the content was a fun talk made among the actors and actress who played the Ultra Garrison members, brief reviews of each episode, and other articles including interviews given to Keiji Takamine (Seiji Hokuto for “Ultraman Ace”) and Takeshi Tsuruno (Shin Asuka in “Ultraman Dyna”).

The content is filled with much more fun things than expected from a sporting paper also encompassing the latest show “Ultraman Jeed” with an interview with Tatsuomi Hamada who was picked as the youngest protagonist in history for the Ultra/Ultraman Series to transform into Ultraman Jeed.

The talk featured in the paper was made among Koji Moritsugu (Dan), Yuriko Hishimi (Anne), Sandayu Dokumamushi (formerly Iyoshi Ishii; Furuhashi) and Bin Furuya (Amagi) as Shoji Nakayama (Kiriyama) and Shinsuke Achiha (Soga) already passed away.

While the topics were the ones that sound familiar to fans about such things as memories of the time when the series were actually filmed, if I pick up amusing parts of them, Bin Furuya says Tohl Narita said to him, “The shape of the suit will change a bit this time, but you can act in the same way (as Ultraman).”

Furuya adds Tetsuo Kinjo, the main writer of the original Ultra Series who was deeply involved in the whole production of the series, had secretly told him beforehand that he would be picked for the role of an Ultra Garrison member (to be Amagi) for the series to come.

While I don’t think these things were referred to in Furuya’s memoir, both of them are intriguing stories.


JURAN (MAMMOTH FLOWER) (Making)

While it is uncertain who designed Juran, Akira Sasaki known for his involvement in the kaiju sculpting including the original Ultraman and Ultraseven masks says in a book interview it should be Yasuyuki Inoue, Toho Special Art Division, who designed the flower monster.

Sasaki says, when he joined the crew members for the first time at the Tokyo Bijutsu (art) Center (abbreviated as Bisen), Inoue brought the design to him and asked him to sculpt it.

After thinking about what it should be made of, Sasaki says he decided to sculpt it with styrofoam.

Sasaki recalls he made the male and female molds of the flower part of the monster and, by heating the molds, he cast the parts by pressing a sheet of styrofoam 5 mm thick between the molds to sculpt the monster flower in two different sizes.

He says a petal of the larger Juran measured about 1 meters, and it melted away excellently when thinner was sprayed over the flower.

While he says he worked on the sculpting at the Bisen as he was offered a room about 66 square meters for his own use there, he laughs he remembers the sloping floor with nostalgia as the studio was like a shanty without any air conditioning.

For the scenes in which Juran’s giant root was found in the castle ditch, a life-sized prop was used as it was shot in a giant pool of Toho,and optical compositing was applied to the scenes with the root floating in the ditch.

It is said that, in the scenes of Juran coming into bloom, the petals were initially manipulated by wire but they were eventually retaken in stop motion as the scenes with the wire manipulation did not satisfy Eiji Tsuburaya and he rejected them.

It is known that Satoshi Furuya, original Ultraman actor, is found among the onlookers watching the giant root with his line “Don’t shove!”


Ultraman & Karate

Interview covered in a fighting arts magazine published in 2012

As I wrote an article about how much a Japanese professional wrestler has been influenced by Ultraman in my post, another article included in a magazine I have at hand covers a talk among Bin Furuya, Minoru Kawasaki (film director) and a certain karate practitioner.

It is a talk in which how Ultraman’s movements performed by Furuya can be associated with real martial arts movements and such is talked about while Furuya actually trained karate when he was with Toho at the dojo (training hall) the film company used to have back then.

Furuya says he had practiced karate three to four times a week at the dojo before being assigned the role of Ultraman as those hired as bit part actors by Toho including Furuya were going to the company everyday even without any roles to play.

Spacium pose shown by Bin-san in the interview

Although he was introduced as a first degree black belt karate practitioner in a book back then, he says the dojo had no such promotion system and he just trained karate at the dojo for years without any belt promotion.

Furuya recalls he initially incorporated karate movements into the battle scenes with the kaijus he fought against rather than the ones commonly performed in professional wrestling matches which won great popularity in Japan at that time.

Whereas it might be undeniable that the show finally featured battle scenes more like professional wresting matches between Ultraman and kaijus, I think karate movements traditionally descended as a Japanese martial art should have successfully made us feel the beauty of movement in Ultraman’s action Furuya performed for us kids.

The same issue of the magazine also has an interview between Hiroshi Fujioka (starring “Kamen Rider”) and a professional MMA (mixed martial arts) fighter. How he looks tells us how happy he feels with Fujioka.

Ultraseven Is Possibly Samurai Warrior

As I wrote in my previous post, Koji Uenishi performed Ultraseven so that he made the hero look like a samurai warrior while he was from a group of sword action actors under Toshiro Mifune (Uenishi is alleged to have been with Mifune Production back then).

According to the autobiography “A Man Who Became Ultraman”authored by Satoshi (Bin) Furuya, Narita told him that the actor for Ultraseven was brought to Narita as Tsuburaya Productions decided to place more emphasis on action for the upcoming product and he redesigned Ultraseven he was working on assuming Furuya was supposed to play the new hero.

And, when he looked at Ultraseven in the studio for the first time, Furuya also says the appearances made him imagine a bushi (samurai warrior).

When looking at the prototype model (small statue to see what it would look like before making the costume for real) sculpted by Akira Sasaki, it makes us aware the shape of Eye Slugger looks slightly different from the costume actually worked out.

As to the crest-like part including that of Ultraman and Ultraseven’s Eye Slugger, I remember I read somewhere someone says Narita told him that those parts came from the chonmage (traditional topknot hairstyle) worn by samurai warriors when asked where they came from.

Although I am not sure if this is true (partly as Narita seems to have been a cheerful man who was very much fond of joking all the time), I think Ultraseven is certainly a hero who could be associated with the samurai warrior along with his powerful-looking, brisk movements performed by Uenishi.

At any rate Uenishi Seven is one of the unforgettable heroes alongside of Furuya Ultraman.


How Was The Ultraseven Design Worked Out? 4

Prototype model sculpted by Akira Sasaki

Tohl Narita himself described the Ultraseven design as he tried to make it look a bit intricate while he attempted to make the Ultraman design extremely simple while he thought cosmos representing justice must be simple (he made kaijus defined to symbolize chaos).

When looking at the Ultraseven design transition shown by Narita’s design drawings, we can see it developed from an astronaut-like armored character into the design known today.

It is also known that Narita was initially working on the Ultraseven design on the assumption that Satoshi (Bin) Furuya who played the original Ultraman would continue to act Ultraseven.

Ultraseven Type A costume with the mask and protector sculpted by Akira Sasaki

As I mentioned in my post before, Furuya told Narita that he was unwilling to take the role of the new hero as he had played Ultraman wearing the costume with his masked face while he found the face should be the essence of actors.

In the end, Furuya was appointed to the role of one of the Ultra Garrison members Amagi as he hoped to play without the hero costume.

Although this decision disappointed Narita very much, he allegedly finished designing Ultraseven while he made the intricate parts come together intensively on the upper part of the body to cover up the short limbs of Koji Uenishi who was decided to play Ultraseven.

The white (to be repainted silver afterwards) lines sharply extending to the boots were intended to make the legs look longer than in reality.

As Uenishi was an actor specializing in sword action under world-famous Toshiro Mifune, his performances got to make the new hero look as impressive as the samurai warrior in contrast with Furuya’s Ultraman that made us imagine the extraterrestrial life form.

At any rate, I can’t help but to admire Narita’s attitude as an artist as he tried to and managed to create a completely different hero from Ultraman whereas the latter was created as the hero nobody had ever seen before.


Ultraseven And Human 5

Human design drawn by Tohl Narita

Regarding the design of Human, it seems to have been one of Tohl Narira’s favorite characters he designed along with Ultraman.

It is said that Narita wished to make the masks of Ultraman and Ultraseven look more like metal applying glossy silver rather than matte silver as you can see now to the masks (and probably the whole body in the case of Ultraman ideally).

Therefore, while it was made of stainless steel beaten out by professional sheet metal craftsmen instead of modeling it with FRP out of mold, what the Human mask looked like seems to have truly satisfied Narita.

Human mask and buckle: the eyes’ radiating lines drawn in the design seem to be left unapplied to the real-life mask

According to Narita, although he couldn’t apply glossy silver to the Ultra heroes to avoid reflection of the intense lighting in the studio shooting, the show performed as a stage drama with the audience allowed him to make the Human mask as shiny as he wished.

Although the heavy mask made of steel seemingly gave a hard time to the actor, it has features of Narita’s design in every respect including the hollowed eyes with radiating lines as seen in Alien Zarab and Capsule Kaiju Windom.

The statues of Man, Seven and Human sculpted by Tohl Narita in later years

The hollowed eyes with the eye hole in the center were applied to Ultraseven as Narita found it really regrettable that he had to open eye holes in Ultraman’s eyes while they were supposed to have no eye holes initially (the eyes got the holes as Bin Furuya couldn’t look outside at all naturally).

Narita publicly stated he didn’t like the Ultraseven design (presumably because he preferred more simplified design like Ultraman), and, in that light, Human could have been his ideal Ultraseven design or it could be interpreted as it was the ideally developed form of his Ultraseven design even though “Totsugeki! Human!!” didn’t get to earn popularity and ended with 13 episodes.

Nevertheless, of course, I do love the Ulraseven design along with that of Ultraman.


Ultraseven And Human 2

As to Human, the character can be found to have been made into a statue I previously wrote about in my post along with Ultraman and Ultraseven.

While the above photo shows the name Mo Buru (bull?) credited in Japanese, it was a design company established by Tohl Narita in 1969 and the company undertook all the tokusatsu-related work for “Totsugeki! Human!!” including the design.

Although I’m sure the name should be from French, I couldn’t figure out how to spell it in it as I’m not familiar with the language (readers from France, do you have any idea?).

As for the story, the protagonist young man Junichiro Iwaki played by Yusuke Natsu (1950-2010) visits various cities of Japan as an elementary school gym teacher (I’m not joking) to fight against the Flasher Army led by King Flasher from space as Iwaki himself is an alien from Planet Human who transforms into the hero Human.

So a public hall in each city should have been used for the video-taped broadcast with live audiences every time.

Alongside of the Narita’s company, it is known (now) that Bin Promotion founded by Satoshi (Bin) Furuya, original Ultraman actor, after he quit his acting job was in full charge of tokusatsu action performed on the stage in this show.

Therefore it can be said Human was the monumental product which featured the resurrected collaboration between Tohl Narita who designed the original Ultraman and Bin Furuya who played the superhero since they worked together as the designer and as the actor for Amagi in Ultraseven.


The Man Who Became Ultraman Again

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It came as a great surprise when I learnt Satoshi Furuya acted the original Ultraman for the first time in 47 years at the age of 70 in 2013.

Along with Susumu Kurobe (Hayata) and Hiroko Sakurai (Akiko Fuji), Furuya appeared in a special event wearing the suit of Ultraman reproduce solely for him although it should have been a truly challenging task for him.

While he seems to have been worried if he would manage to endure the tough task to appear in front of the audience in the Ultraman suit at his age, looks like he successfully fulfilled the role.

Although it’s a bit shame to find the mask looks slightly different from the original, the appearance with long limbs unique to Furuya Ultraman remained unchanged enough to make us remember the original Ultraman he played 47 years ago.

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I have never heard of anyone who got into such a suit at that age, and it’s even more amazing to find his body shape maintained just like when he was in his 20s.

As he’s a diligent person, he seems to have trained himself to develop physical strength in preparation for the challenge although there was no problem about his body shape perfectly maintained.

It is extremely impressive to be able to see Furuya Ultraman’s shooting pose of Spacieum Beam again that Tohl Narita admired saying, “it makes me feel like looking at a beautiful sculpture. There was nothing wrong with my judgement in choosing Bin-san (for the role of Ultraman).”

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