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Summer 2022 Special Issue

2022-09-24

News from Kochi-power Research Institute

At the Kochi-power Research Institute at the flying mobile base Jean-Paul Phoenix, the director, Professor Kochitarō, and Kochijirō, who has been promoted to associate professor, are conducting research every day for the purpose of peaceful use of Kochi-power. Even today, the two had a hot discussion while playing the game of Jenga.
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 This is our first post in a while. Let’s take a look back at the past year.
 Yes. Personally, I have had several hospitalizations and surgeries, but I am doing well. However, since I have returned to a work-oriented lifestyle, my collection of plastic models and soft vinyl figures remains untouched. I am worried that my collection in the hangar will melt in the heat.
 We have been experiencing extreme weather conditions around the world.
 You never know, Zazarn and Takkong might really show up in Tokyo Bay.
 Such an idiot.

ザザーンとタッコング

Shin Ultraman

 Speaking of special effects, one thing worth mentioning in the past year is…
 It’s time for “Ultraman Decker" to hit the airwaves!
 Selgend Beam!
 eeks!
 No need for such tomfoolery. It should be the release of the movie “Shin Ultraman" (5/13/2022).

「シン・ウルトラマン」パンフレット
Movie pamphlet

 So what are your impressions of the movie?
 Since this is an “Ultraman" movie planned and scripted by Hideaki Anno, I think there were high expectations from the general public who are not Ultraman fans. However, it was not clear to me until the very end what kind of audience the film was targeting, and I got only a half-baked impression.
 I thought it was an interesting film.
 From the standpoint of Ultraman fans, I think many people did not understand why they created a movie that was a rehash of the “original Ultraman." This was not surprising, since I knew that the director, Shinji Higuchi, had made the following statement.

-If you were to remake or direct an episode of the Ultraman series yourself, what episode would you like to work on? And why?
Higuchi: The original Ultraman. All of them. I failed with “Ultraman Powered," so this time. It’s a revenge. “Ultraman Walker" (Kadokawa Mook No.471)
From “Talking about Higuchi Shinji’s Special Effects

 Rather, I am somewhat uncomfortable with the episodes that I hear Anno chose. In particular, the story of Alien Zarab, while certainly an interesting one, is probably not as representative of the “original Ultraman." Even among monsters and aliens, there were no stars such as Alien Baltan, Red King, or Gomora… In other words, “Shin Ultraman" was simply an adaptation of what Anno and Higuchi wanted to create, and it was not intended for universal acceptance.
 But Alien Mefilas played by Kōshi Yamamoto was well received.
 His mysterious atmosphere certainly made him a good fit for the role of the genius alien. However, the decision to bring up the episode of Mefilas may simply be due to bad taste on the part of the filmmakers, who wanted to make Masami Nagasawa look huge. Unlike Akiko Fuji, she is made to grow huge and even kick buildings while wearing a skirt. I will say that “Ultraman" does not need any service to those who are obsessed with certain parts of the body, such as women’s breasts and legs.
 I was also surprised that Zoffy tried to destroy the earth.
 If Tetsuo Kinjō were alive, he would not have allowed it. The messenger from the “Land of Light" is an absolute hero who saves the earth, and his existence is divine. This stance has never wavered in the world of “Ultraman" created by Mr. Kinjō. I don’t like Ultraman and Zoffy who reason like humans and plan what to do with the earth. Other strange arrangements are also attempted, such as changing the word “Kaijū" (“怪獣" means monsters) to “Kaijū" (“禍威獣" means terrible creatures that bring calamity) and “Katokutai" (“科特隊" means Science Special Search Party) to “Katokutai" (“禍特対" means Monster Special Countermeasures Office), which I think is another act that lacks respect for the “original Ultraman."
 How were the all-important special effects?
 As I have said before, full computer graphics are not special effects. Also, if computer graphics are overdone, they end up looking like Gabora, with no sense of biology at all. It should be noted that the battle scenes between Mefilas and Ultraman were also much more tense in the ”original Ultraman."
 After all, a year later, Professor’s retro orientation has not changed.
 No, I appreciate only the song of Kenshi Yonezu played at the ending.

■Tsuburaya Productions related topics

 Back to the Ultraman series on TV…
 I see that “Ultraman Trigger" finished with a “low" quality that far surpassed my initial concerns. Some fans are calling it the birth of the “black history" in the Ultraman series and I agree. After all, this was the first series that gave me a headache after 30 minutes of watching.
 I have to admit, I think it was boring too …
 My impression is that no effort was made to impress the viewers with the characters. A member of the squadron who trains his muscles, or a female member of the squadron who changes into a different person when she pilots a fighter plane, would have originally required an episode each with them as the main character. The number of episodes was probably insufficient because of boring episodes such as the Giant of Darkness falling in love with a female member of the squadron, or stories that were also promotional material for the “ULTRA GALAXY FIGHT." I hope that these staff members will no longer be involved in the production of the series.
 As I thought, Daigo Madoka, played by Hiroshi Nagano, did not make an appearance.
 It was just dismissed as an “alternate universe story," which has been overused lately. I mean, why would Shizuma Mitsukuni, who is Chairman of the Shizuma Foundation and established the defense force GUTS-SELECT, suddenly transform into Ultraman Tiga! The opening of the last episode was the same as “Tiga," with children shouting “Ultraman Trigger!" but it is not enough to say that the world of “Tiga" has been succeeded by such a poor way of doing things and it only makes me feel bad.

バンダイ DXナースデッセイ号
DX Battleship Nursedessei (from “BANDAI TOYS" website)

 What about the follow-up show, “Ultraman Decker“?
 The characterization of the main character is still a bit flimsy, but so far, it’s better than “Trigger"…And just when I thought I’d finally stop watching that abominable Anti-Monster Battleship Nursedessei with the Nurse's head on it, it’s back on the scene! I think it’s time to get out of this tie-up with a toy manufacturer with no sense of style.


 On a different note, I recently watched “Futari no Ultraman," which means Ultraman of the two, broadcast on NHK (General 4/28/2022, BS Premium 5/2/2022) and couldn’t help but cry.
 The film depicted the youth of the Ultraman creators, Tetsuo Kinjō played by Shinnosuke Mitsushima, Hajime Tsuburaya played by Munetaka Aoki, and Shōzō Uehara played by Takara Sakumoto and Mitsuru Hirata, and I think it successfully conveyed the enthusiasm of Tsuburaya Productions at the time. None of the actors resembles the person who played them, but as time goes by, one begins to think they are just the same person. In particular, Shinnosuke Mitsushima (younger brother of Hikari Mitsushima, who played Elly in “Ultraman Max“) gave a particularly passionate performance. While “Chimudondon," a TV series produced to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Okinawa’s reversion to mainland Japan (currently airing), was poorly made, “Futari no Ultraman" did a good job of depicting the suffering of “Uchinanchu" meaning Okinawans. I would like the current Tsuburaya Productions staff to watch this and reflect on themselves to see if they are truly doing a job that puts their predecessors to shame.

NHKドラマ「ふたりのウルトラマン」
“Futari no Ultraman" (from the official NHK website)

DVD「ダイゴロウ対ゴリアス」
DVD (Released by Toho Co., Ltd.)

 What is this weird monster movie?
 Don’t you know “Daigoro vs. Goliath“? It was screened at the Toho Champion Festival in 12/1972 along with “Godzilla Dengeki Daisakusen" (a revival of “Destroy All Monsters“) and “Panda! Go Panda!" (a legendary animation by Hayao Miyazaki and Isao Takahata). It’s the 10th anniversary work of Tsuburaya Productions. At the time, “Daigoro the Monster" was a heartwarming nonsense manga serialized in Shogakukan's study magazine, but with the release of the movie, Goliath suddenly appeared in the manga as well, which was a surprise. In addition, I remember that there was an assembled rubber-powered “Walking Monster Daigoro" ,which walks on two legs with a crank, in the appendix of “Shōgakusan’nensei."
 I see that Shinsuke Minami of the “Tenpuku Trio," who used to host “Shōten," is on the show. I miss him.
 Unlike ordinary monster movies, this film is a new attempt to synthesize only the monster with real scenery, and the special effects are carefully done. I think this is a work that shows Tsuburaya Productions’ underlying strength.
 Why did you take up such an old movie?
 In fact, I have wanted to see it ever since I was in the third grade, and finally bought the DVD to watch it during this summer vacation. The story itself is a simple one, but the director Toshihiro Ījima has created an enjoyable work, and Daigoro, played by Tetsuo Yamamura, is cute, and its sculpting is also good.

■Professor Talks about God

 A shocking incident occurred when former Prime Minister Shinzō Abe was shot and killed (7/8/2022).
 I see this incident has led to a lot of talk about “inappropriate" involvement between certain religious groups and politicians.
 Isn’t God telling us to give all our money away a so-called “mugging" against believers?
 I guess that devotion to religion is a personal choice, but the fact is as the esteemed Dr. Carl Sagan states in his book.

The fact that a religion can be so shamelessly dishonest and underestimate the level of intelligence of its adherents, and still attract adherents, tells us that its adherents are not very intelligent."
From “Science Adventure" by Carl Sagan (translated by Yasuo Nakamura, Shincho-Sensho), “23 Sunday Worship Sermons"


 Professor is an atheist, right?
 I just have no interest in things that science can’t prove, such as the existence of God. In the book mentioned earlier, Dr. Sagan states that “God may exist in another distant time and space, or He may be the ultimate cause of the universe," but he also mentions the possibility that the sense of a God-like presence in the near-death experience may be based on a common original human experience, which is the encounter with a birth mother, birth doctor, father, or other being at birth. I think this is a very interesting point.
 Robots do not need God and I have never thought about it.
 A low-level control system like yours, but an AI that has been developed to the ultimate level, might develop faith. Because advanced intelligence is more than a little insecure about its own existence.
 What is God, after all?
 In “Star Trek" episode 31, “Who Mourns For Adonais?“, the Greek gods were superliving beings that visited Earth in ancient times. This kind of story is not so unusual. However, I was surprised at the scene in where Captain Kirk says to the God, Apollo, “We no longer need God!" Gene Roddenberry, the creator of “Star Trek," must have thought half a century ago that scientific progress would eventually allow mankind to escape the spell of religion. However, considering that even with all these advances in science, there is no end to the unfortunate events caused by religion, I guess mankind is not as advanced as Gene imagined.

 Now, finally, Dr. Sagan talks about the proper way to deal with religion, which I would like to introduce as a conclusion to this section.

Religion can be a consolation, an emotional support, and a source of comfort when emotions are in desperate need of something. There is no question, therefore, that it can play an extremely useful role in society. But that does not mean that there is no law that prohibits religion from being subjected to validation, critical scrutiny, and skepticism."
From “Science Adventure" by Carl Sagan (translated by Yasuo Nakamura, Shincho-Sensho), “23 Sunday Worship Sermons"

Notice

How was your first “Kochi-ism" in a year? Well, “Kochi-ism," which was published 30 times from February to September 2021, has now become a book. It is A5 size, full color, and available in two versions: Japanese (430 pages, 5,500 yen) and English (481 pages, 6,500 yen). A DVD containing videos and other materials is included as a bonus, and the DVD also contains never-before-seen footage. We have a few copies in stock, so please contact us through “Contact Us" if you would like to order one.