As you may know, Noriyoshi Ikeya designed the hero Silver Kamen and the aliens that appeared in the Silver Kamen episodes while I am not sure if he designed all of the aliens featured in the show (I think all the “Silver Kamen” and “Silver Kamen Giant” aliens were sculpted by Ryosaku Takayama).
At least the aliens I saw in the episodes screened at the event were surely designed by him, and they were: Alien Tigris (Episode 1); Alien Khimaira (7); Alien Solomon (8); Alien Domino (9); Alien Titan (10)
It is said he dared design Silver Kamen and the aliens not to make them look extremely strong, and, as the result, all these characters have their own unique forms and atmosphere distinctive from the equivalents of the Ultra Series.
It should be only natural as the show itself is said to have been plotted and produced with a strong sense of rivalry against the big-name hero show Ultraman.
It should be partly because the Nihon Gendai Kikaku (Japan Modern Planning) and Jissoji-led Kodai Group that were involved in the Silver Kamen production had many people who had to leave Tsuburaya Productions for the company’s financial reasons.
As to the Silver Kamen aliens, they were not unilaterally evil but were set to try to rob Kasuga brothers of the hidden photon rocket engine blueprint because they thought earthlings would invade their planets if the rocket should be completed.
Against their expectations, children watched “Mirrorman” aired in the competing timeslot a lot more as an orthodox tokusatsu hero show while the human-sized Silver Kamen didn’t play an active part at all in the show centering on the stories about the agony of Kasuga brothers.
I remember, however, I watched “Silver Kamen” and “Silver Kamen Giant” more than “Mirrorman” in my childhood somehow, and I have found the Silver Kamen aliens attractive enough again this time.
Although I described the “Silver Kamen” (1971-1972) episodes screened at the event as they were directed by Akio Jissoji in my yesterday’s post, I was wrong and I have just found only Episode 1 among them was directed by him.
I guess all these episodes were shown at the event as the show “Silver Kamen” was produced while “Kodai Group” led by Jissoji played a leading role in the production.
Although “Silver Kamen” initially started as a show featuring the human-sized hero through Episode 10, it was converted into “Silver Kamen Giant” after that in which the giant version of Siver Kamen appeared instead (he was set to have become a giant accidentally exposing himself to a large amount of photon energy).
The human-sized hero did not manage to gain enough popularity as the show aired along with the Tsuburaya-produced “MIrrorman” (1971-1972) broadcast in the competing timeslot.
And Jissoji and Kodai Group withdrew from the Senkosha-produced show at that time showing disagreement toward easily making a giant hero appear so as to attract viewers’ attention as Jissoji believed featuring the human-sized “non-superhero” with no particular weapons or abilities except bare hand fight should be the integral part of the show.
So the show gives us an utterly different impression between the episodes featuring the human-sized version and the giant version although the conversion got to make the show win popularity.
In this light, I think we were fully able to enjoy the unique features of the Silver Kamen episodes typical of the human-sized version in which the protagonists Kasuga brothers (one of them changes into Silver Kamen) continued to be chased by aliens over the hidden blueprint of the photon rocket engines invented by their father who was killed by an alien.
Kosoku (Light Speed) Esper was sponsored by Toshiba Corporation, and the show mirrored the sponsorship rather intensively.
First of all, Esper was initially worked out as the mascot character of Toshiba Corporation while it was designed by Riji Asano, Japanese manga artist, illustrator and designer (I don’t think he’s a well-known figure though) in 1964 and then it was made into a serialized manga product and the TV tokusatsu series.
As the protagonist boy’s name is set to be Hikaru Azuma, the name came from the catchphrase Toshiba used back then “Hikaru Toshiba (shining/glowing Toshiba)” to impress people with their image of the electric appliance manufacturer while “Azuma” is the alternative reading of the same Chinese character as “To” in Toshiba.
There seem to be two of the manga version which is the one (serialized 1966-1968) drawn by Riji Asano and the other one (1968-1969 likewise) drawn by Leiji Matsumoto as the latter was to be known for his design of the characters and mechas for Space Battleship Yamato after a while.
Matsumoto is said to have accepted the offer from the publisher on condition that he would be allowed to draw the manga freely even using the Toshiba character.
And he named the protagonist boy Susumu Kodai as the same name was used for the protagonist young guy of Space Battleship Yamato later.
In his manga, it seems that Kodai was set to be an alien boy from Planet Shibauto that was apparently named after Toshiba.
I found and borrowed photos online of Esper painted on electric appliance store shutters that were often seen in my childhood on the streets as the sights make me feel truly nostalgic along with the display doll while those dolls were also often found standing in front of electric appliance stores back then.
The settings of the boy hero featured in Kosoku (Light Speed) Esper should have been attractive and inspiring enough for children viewers who would find a hero around the same age as them to play the active and leading role in a tokusatsu TV show along with the other tokusatsu heroes played by child actors.
It should have spearheaded current special effects products in the idea of the powered suit, and the concept of the versatile suit which could make anyone strong once he/she puts it on should have spurred the imagination of the kids watching it back then.
Although the suit looks quite cheap by today’s standards, I think I was one of the kids who were excited about it.
While checking up the information on this show online I found the powered suit had two types: the normal version and micro version as the latter seems to have been used in an episode in which Esper shrank himself when necessary.
Although his suit has a part which looks like Ultraman’s Color Timer on his chest and I found it fun as a kid, I don’t think it had any particular function such as letting him know the approach of his energy limits.
Furthermore I found he had Esper 2 as his fellow who seems to have appeared in the midst of the series while I don’t remember him at all.
As I have talked about in my previous posts, I spent my happy childhood with a variety of tokusatsu TV shows, and it makes me feel proud of it to find the exactly pioneering products which have formed the basis for today’s tokusatsu even with a great popularity abroad started in my childhood making us the forerunner who have enjoyed them.
Among those TV tokusatsu series Kosoku (Light Speed) Esper (1967-1968: 26 episodes; produced by Senkosha Company) is one of the unforgettable products while I completely forget the details of each episode and what kind of characters appeared in the series except the hero Esper.
Esper, in this series, is not meant to be someone with psychic abilities in himself, but a boy hero who puts on a sort of almost versatile powered suit and fights against the villains.
While I didn’t remember at all, Esper fought against aliens named Alien Giron regularly while it’s not likely strikingly characteristic monsters showed up in the series.
I remember well he has a fellow robot bird named Chika who always appears suddenly on his shoulder and gives him advice.
Esper is a boy named Hikaru Higashi (acted by Kiyotaka Mitsugi: 1953-present) and transforms into Light Speed Esper (puts on the powered suit instantaneously) yelling after jumping in the air, “E S Per! (ee, es, per)”
Gekko Kamen is said to have been Japan’s first television series and the origin of products featuring a modern superhero.
The hero’s motto was “Never hate, never kill and forgive a sin.” and he never killed bad guys.
It seems to have been so popular among kids at the time though it’s before I was born.
It’s impressive to learn that Ultraman was exactly the successor to Gekko Kamen as a superhero in a way given it was broadcast in the same Takeda Hour.
As to Takeda Hour, the product I remember is Ultra Series including Captain Ultra, Kaiki Daisakusen (Tsuburaya product with no superhero), Judo Icchokusen (judo drama), Silver Kamen and Iron King.
After Tsuburaya Productions got out of the hour leaving its immortal masterpieces behind (seemingly because of cost issues), Senkosha company which brought out Gekko Kamen produced two other SFX superheroes which are Silver Kamen (Silver Mask) and Iron King.
The people who left Tsuburaya Productions also took part in these two.
The design work was done by Noriyoshi Ikeya who was the successor to Tohl Narita in designing Ultra monsters (aliens) for the latter half of “Ultra Seven.”
Silver Kamen and Iron King, both of which were designed by Mr. Ikeya based on western armors look similar.
They are attractive in a different way from Ultra heroes.
Kuuso Tokusatsu Series (Fantasy SFX Series or Early Ultra Series, which stand for “Ultra Q,” “Ultraman” and “Ultra Seven”) were broadcast as one of the programs of “Takeda Hour.”
Takeda Hour was a prime-time TV program slot from 7 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. every Sunday from 1958 through 1974 broadcast by TBS (Tokyo Broadcasting System) and sponsored by Takeda Pharmaceutical Company Limited..
The hour started with a characteristic chorus featuring the company name and the bird-eye views of the company building.
At any rate, it was a long-awaited hour for us kids at the time.
With the beginning of the Takeda song, we rushed to a television set and breathlessly waited for what’s coming next.