Episode 1 (“Ultra Operation #1”) of Ultraman (Tsuburaya; 1966) premiered yesterday (July 17th) on Tokyo Broadcast System in 1966! However, the week before (July 10th), the series had already made its actual premiere with the B&W episode, “Ultraman is Born,” a live broadcast of the promotional stage show for the series, where parents, children, and TV viewers got to see Ultraman for the first time, and an appearance by the show’s creator, Japanese SPFX wizard Eiji Tsuburaya, for his 65th Birthday (on his actual birthday, July 10th, as opposed to his “official” July 7th Birthday to tie in with the “Tanabata” festival)!
A publicity shot for the infamous banned episode of Ultra Seven (Tsuburaya; 1967), Episode 12, “From Another Planet with Love” (called “Crystalized Corpuscles” in the Cinar dub). Here, Ultra Seven (left) fights the sinister Spell-Seijin, a race of disfigured aliens whose planet was destroyed by nuclear war, and to purify their radiated bodies, they need fresh blood from young people, so they sell watches that secretly drain the wearers of some of their blood, and teleports them back to the aliens’ secret base. In 1970, this episode came to the attention of some members of the Japan Confederation of A-Bomb & H-Bomb Sufferers Organization (Nihon Hidankyou), who were outraged upon seeing in an Ultra Seven children’s book pictures of the radiation-scarred Spell-Seijin, which reminded them of the hibakusha (literally “fire bomb people” - scarred survivors of the atomic bombings on Hiroshima and Nagasaki in WWII), and successfully launched a protest to get the episode banned. Any effort Tsuburaya made (they really tried!) to get these released onto home video was foiled by the group, much to the dismay of the completist fans of the series. While the episode is permanently banned in Japan, this did not affect the overseas airings in Hawaii (where Ultra Seven was the first English-dubbed program there) and the US (via TNT), American fans were lucky enough to record the latter. Fans can only see the whole original Japanese episode via a poor-quality bootleg recording. (The episode, of course, is beautifully restored, based on some screenshots I saw, but remains in the Tsuburaya archives.)
French singer Sylvie Vartan holds a Bandai figure of Baltan-Seijin from Ultraman (Tsuburaya; 1966), and the funny thing is, both their names are spelled the same in Japanese (“Barutan”)! :)
Original Japanese poster for Space Greyhound (New Toei; 1961), released in the US as Invasion of the Neptune-Men. This is one of the early big screen roles for then-22 year old Shin’ichi “Sonny” Chiba, who plays young scientist Shin’ichi Tachibana, the alter-ego for the Buck Rogers-style space ranger, Iron-Sharp (known in the US as “Space-Chief”), who carries a raygun, travels in a small car-like fighter ship, and has amazing athletic skill! Iron-Sharp defends the Earth from armored aliens from the planet Neptune, who travel in a huge mothership, which carries smaller ships, which it dispatches to conduct dispersed attacks around enemy territory. The impressive prop of the Neptune-Men’s mothership is 6 feet long, and designed by Tooru “Tohl” Narita, best known as the designer of Ultraman, Ultra Seven, and the Gargantuas, among others!
A Black Hole Planet 3 Seijin, one of the villains of Godzilla Vs. Mechagodzilla (Toho; 1974)!
Ultra Garrison member Anne Yuri (Yuriko Hoshi) panics at Pegassa-Seijin (the alien of the week), who then cheeses it! From Episode 6 (“Dark Zone”) of Ultra Seven (Tsuburaya; 1967).
BTW, my family and I have a cute Sambo bobblehead doll, just like the one behind Yuri (minus the hat)! :)