With Mecha VS Kaiju (Giant Japanese Robots and Monsters) on everyone’s radar, I thought this would be a good time to talk about ULTRAMAN.
It was created as “A Special-Effects Fantasy Series” by Tsuburaya Productions, the same folks who brought GODZILLA to “Man-In-Suit” life back in the 1950s. In it’s original run in 1966-67 (on Tokyo Broadcasting System), ULTRAMAN was the story of the Science Special Search Party, or SSSP, a UN based “police force” intended to combat nefarious aliens and yes, Giant Monsters. One of their own, Shin Hayata (Susamu Kurobe)… well, who ever wrote the Wiki says it better than I. Take it away Wikipedia!
“The first series begins when Science Patrol (Kagaku Tokusou Tai) member Shin Hayata is flying his plane and a red sphere of light crashes into his Mini-VTOL. The sphere turns out to be the transport (Travel Sphere) for a red-and-silver giant being who calls himself Ultraman. Feeling remorse for having killed the human, he merges his essence with Hayata to revive him. In return, Hayata serves as the human form for this being, and whenever danger threatens, and the resources of the Science Patrol are not enough to counter it, he raises and activates a power-object and artifact called a “beta capsule” and transforms to Ultraman to save the day.” –from Wikipedia.
Anyway, ULTRAMAN (the show) was as big in Japan as the 1960’s BATMAN was over here, and soon became a world-wide phenomenon. spanning 22 television series and over 20 Movies between its inception and 2012.
It’s kind of a big deal. Several Stories of a big deal when the Beta Capsule is activated.
Well, this past spring MONSTERPALOOZA (a Classic Monster Horror Convention in Los Angeles) hosted three of the of the stars from that original Iconic TV show in not only their first American appearance, but their first appearance together anywhere: Bin Furuya (who played the Red and Silver giant himself), Susumu Kurobe (Shin Hayata, his human host), and the lovely Hiroko Sakurai (Akiko Fuji, the SSSP’s communications operator, and only female member).
I was honored to do a limited edition print to commemorate the occasion.