SciFi Japan

    ULTRAMAN NEXUS Kaiju Designing with Yasushi Torisawa

    Yasushi Torisawa designed many of the monsters from the series ULTRAMAN NEXUS. © 2005 Tsuburaya Productions Co., Ltd. / CBC

    Author: Benjamin Chaffins

    Yasushi Torisawa was born October 14, 1962 in Aomori Prefecture. He worked at the Tohoku Institute of Technology (Department of Industrial Design: Major Visual Design) when he moved to Tokyo after graduation. After working for a printing company, he joined Japan Telenet, a game company, where he worked on character design for PC games and illustrations for packages.

    After that, he joined Daiei Studios where he made the artwork for the Super Famicom/Super Nintendo tie-in game for GAMERA THE GUARDIAN OF THE UNIVERSE.The movie production announcement venue held at Daiei Studio with the game production announcement immediately following at the same venue, and Torisawa made the onstage presentation for the game.

    After leaving Daiei in 1996, he became a freelancer and was active in various fields such as game planning, design and illustration, commercial direction and video production. His works with the Godzilla series include, GODZILLA 2000 (1999), GODZILLA VS. MEGAGUIRUS (2000), and GODZILLA AGAINST MECHAGODZILLA (2002). In the Ultraman series, his credits include ULTRAMAN: THE NEXT (2004), ULTRA Q: DARK FANTASY (2004), ULTRAMAN NEXUS (2004), ULTRAMAN MAX (2005) and many other series. He is currently designing the kaiju for the series SSSS.DYNAZENON. His artistry is something really beautiful to ponder at, and he was very generous enough to speak about his work.

    Benjamin Chaffins (ベンジャミン・チャフインズ): Let’s start with an obvious question. What made you join ULTRAMAN NEXUS at Tsuburaya Productions?

    (明白な質問から始めましょう。 円谷プロダクションでウルトラマンネクサスに参加したきっかけは?)

    Yasushi Torisawa (酉澤安施): As I wrote on Wikipedia, it was Tetsuzo Osawa (deceased) who was the art director of the Godzilla series and who was in charge of the art set of Ultraman’s figure, and who was directing TV commercials at that time. With that connection, I decided to design a monster in the movie REBIRTH OF MOTHRA 3 and participated in the Godzilla series, but when I was doing commercials, I met Mr. Osawa only once on another project. It was Tsuburaya Productions’ film producer and photographer (later appointed president).

    At that time, Tsuburaya Productions was in charge of employee designer Maruyama, so I thought I would never participate in Ultraman, but a few years later I suddenly got a call from the producer and participated in the movie UlLTRAMAN COSMOS 2. “I was talking about wanting you to do it”, I heard that Mr. Maruyama, who offered me because he was on a long vacation due to poor health. I participated in the subsequent Ultraman movie, and I also participated from the planning stage of the TV program, and the planning changed a lot, but finally the planning of ULTRAMAN NEXUS was decided and I will participate It was become a thing.


    Benjamin Chaffins (ベンジャミン・チャフインズ): What made you want to become a career designer and illustrator?


    Yasushi Torisawa (酉澤安施): By the time I got the hang of it, ULTRA Q and ULTRAMAN started on TV, and I started to draw pictures naturally. At that time, Japan was in the second monster boom, and movies and TV were all about special effects monster heroes, so it was quite natural to imitate it and draw pictures of it. I think I’ve come to like it.

    After that, I wanted to become a cartoonist when I was a boy, but I didn’t like the pen drawing work, and by the time I entered university, I moved from the airbrush, which was a popular thing at the time, to acrylic painting (also at university). After graduating from the design department), I moved to Tokyo and worked as a company employee for games, etc., designing package illustrations and game characters, and since I became free, I have been in charge of commercials and so on.


    Benjamin Chaffins (ベンジャミン・チャフインズ): When designing the kaiju in ULTRAMAN NEXUS, could you explain how many ideas were scrapped before settling on the main look for each kaiju?

    ULTRAMAN: THE NEXT. Photo courtesy of Tsuburaya Productions. ©2004 ULTRAMAN Movie Production Consortium


    Yasushi Torisawa (酉澤安施): The first monster, Pedoleon, was initially designed on all fours, drawing juveniles and suits. At first, Galberos was also drawn to crawl on all fours and an armless idea, and Lafleya was also drawn as a humanoid figure. After drawing about 3 plans for Bugbuzun, I was asked to modify the inventory suit, so I was redrawing it.

    Basically, I have about two plans drawn and selected, but there are many that have been slightly modified with just one plan. Because in the case of NEXUS, the design of the full CG creature drawn in the planning of the ULTRAMAN: THE NEXT movie that became a crap is changed for suits, so there are some concepts of the characters in the first half have been decided. Also, due to the budget and time, there was a design by remodeling the inventory suit, so I can not design it freely, so there are few proposals. In the first place, in the case of NEXUS, it was a space beast rather than a monster, and it was a creature-like request, so that’s why I’m proceeding according to this idea.


    Benjamin Chaffins (ベンジャミン・チャフインズ): When designing Ultraman, the design is heavily based on a samurai. Were there any other ideas about Ultraman’s design that were produced? (ウルトラマンをデザインするとき、デザインは武士に大きく基づいています。 ウルトラマンのデザインについて他に制作されたアイデアはありましたか?)

    Yasushi Torisawa (酉澤安施): Ultraman himself was not designed by me. Only Ultraseven X and Zamshire that appeared in MEBIUS were designed on the hero side. At that time, I was concerned about how to take a face that looks like a small face, how to utilize the edges, and expressions that make the style look good, such as adding muscles and making the shoulders look smart.


    An early stage of “The One”, the evolving villain of ULTRAMAN: THE NEXT. ©2004 ULTRAMAN Movie Production Consortium

    Benjamin Chaffins (ベンジャミン・チャフインズ): In the movie ULTRAMAN: THE NEXT, you were the designer of Space Beast The One. Please tell me about the design process.

    (映画「ウルトラマン:ザ・ネクスト」では、あなたはスペースビーストザワンのデザイナーでした。 設計プロセスについて教えてください.)

    Yasushi Torisawa (酉澤安施): The One is a setting that takes in the surrounding creatures and evolves. The One, who first came to Earth, fell into the sea, so it fuses with humans while taking in the creatures in the sea. After that, the appearance of taking in the gecko and escaping is the suit at the initial stage. This aims to be a rather realistic creature rather than a monster, and the modeling has become quite realistic, with the neck moving in conjunction with the movement of the neck of the government office.

    After that, as in the play, the two large forms that evolved by incorporating lizards are designed to remind you of Bemular in the first episode of the first ULTRAMAN. After that, the mouse and the crow are taken in respectively, and it becomes the final form of the three sides. This is also a design that I especially thought about in aerial warfare, and I thought that the huge wings were reminiscent of the devil.


    Benjamin Chaffins (ベンジャミン・チャフインズ): I know this is a rather broad question, but with ULTRAMAN NEXUS, which Space Beast would you say was the hardest to design? (これはかなり広い質問だと思いますが、ウルトラマンネクサスでは、どのスペースビーストを設計するのが最も難しいと思いますか?)

    Yasushi Torisawa (酉澤安施): Actually, ULTRAMAN NEXUS and the movie ULTRAMAN: THE NEXT had a history of being produced by dividing the Ultraman movie that was planned before that into two, and at that time a Space Beast, like The One, made the creatures of the earth. It is set to be taken in and turned into a monster, and some beasts are diverting what was already drawn in the previous stage project. Specifically, Galberos, Lafleya, and Nosferu had a history of arranging ideas for suits at that time.

    The One. ©2004 ULTRAMAN Movie Production Consortium

    It’s not difficult to design, but due to budget and time constraints, some of them have to be modified from ready-made monster suits to make them, so as not to leave the remnants of the previous monster, but new modeling. It was bothersome and fun to work on the space beast frame, which is not the frame of a monster. In fact, I go to the warehouse and look at ready-made suits to come up with ideas and combinations. I remember that the remodeling was made by Bugbuzun, Lafleya, Nosferu, Kutuura, Banpira, and Bug Bugbuzun Brood.

    (実は、「ウルトラマンメクサス」と映画「ウルトラマン ザ・ネクスト」はその前に企画されていたウルトラマン映画が2つに分かれて制作された経緯があり、その際にビーストはザワン同様、地球の生物を取り込み怪物化する設定ができており、幾つかのビーストはその前段階企画ですでに描かれたものを流用しております。具体的には、ガルベロス、ラフレイア、ノスフェルはその時にアイデアをスーツ用にアレンジしていった経緯があります。設計が難しいということはありませんが、予算と時間の都合により、何体かは既成の怪獣スーツを改造してつくならくてはならない状況となり、前の怪獣の面影を残さないよう、しかし新規造形を最小限にして怪獣という枠ではないスペースビーストの枠にはめる作業に悩ましくもあり楽しくもありました。実際、倉庫に行って、既成のスーツを見てアイデアを考えたり組み合わせを考えたりしてます。改造でつくったのは、バグバズン、ラフレイア、ノスフェル、クトゥーラ、バンピーラ、バグバズン・ブルード だったと記憶してます.)

    Benjamin Chaffins (ベンジャミン・チャフインズ): What was the deadline like for designing the kaiju for ULTRAMAN NEXUS? (ウルトラマンネクサスの怪獣をデザインするときの締め切りはどうでしたか?)

    Yasushi Torisawa (酉澤安施): I don’t think I had time for the modeling department and decided to use a modified suit for a ready-made monster. However, there were designs that I drew in advance, and I had a lot of ideas that I wanted to do in this work, so I always draw some ideas. As is often said, the brush seems to be the earliest, so you won’t be impatient even if you don’t have time until the deadline. I’m currently designing an enemy for Kamen Rider Saber, but I still don’t have the time, and I still try to raise it before the deadline.


    Benjamin Chaffins (ベンジャミン・チャフインズ): How did the budget affect the designing process for ULTRAMAN NEXUS?


    Yasushi Torisawa (酉澤安施): As I mentioned earlier, there are some ready-made modified suits, due to time constraints. It was from the beginning that we tried to reduce the number of monsters that appeared instead of completing one more episode. Of course, there is a budget, but it was because I wanted to make it a serial drama that even adults can enjoy.


    Benjamin Chaffins (ベンジャミン・チャフインズ): What was it like working with veteran Ultraman designer Hiroshi Maruyama? (ベテランウルトラマンデザイナーの丸山博との仕事はどうでしたか?)

    Ultraseven X. ©2007 Tsuburaya Productions Co., Ltd./ Ultraseven X Project

    Yasushi Torisawa (酉澤安施): The first time I was involved in Ultraman’s work was the movie UlLTRAMAN COSMOS 2, which was in the form of a pinch hitter when Mr. Maruyama became ill. However, from the subsequent movie, Mr. Maruyama was able to design Ultraman as a monster, and it was made in that form up to ULTRAMAN MEBIUS and the movie SUPERIOR 8 ULTRAMAN BROTHERS, of course, Mr. Maruyama is also a monster in MAX and MEBIUS. I’m designing. Mr. Maruyama is a big senior, and Mr. Maruyama’s individuality appears in the design, so I design aiming for a different individuality as much as possible. And in ULTRASEVEN X, the opposite is true, Mr. Maruyama designs monsters, and I design Seven X.


    Benjamin Chaffins (ベンジャミン・チャフインズ): Please explain the DVD illustration design for ULTRAMAN NEXUS. What was that like?


    Yasushi Torisawa (酉澤安施): I think it was an image board-like drawing of the scene after receiving a commentary. I remember that it depicts the work taken in by the larva of The One, the space beast and Dark Zagi that are destroyed along with the planet, and the Lethe that erases people’s memories.

    (たしか、解説用の文章を頂いて、そのシーンをイメージボード的に描いたものだったと思います。ザワン幼体に取り込まれる有働と、惑星ごと滅ぼされるスペースビーストとダークザギ、人々の記憶を消すレーテ といった場面を描いたものと記憶してます.)

    Benjamin Chaffins (ベンジャミン・チャフインズ): How did you handle the image and storyboards for ULTRAMAN NEXUS?


    Yasushi Torisawa (酉澤安施): After listening to the project, there is an image board drawn in the form of a proposal from here, such as an initial image for studying Metafield, and there are several scenes that were specifically requested by the director. In the case of ULTRAMAN: THE NEXT, I remember drawing a considerable number of image boards before starting the storyboard work. At this time as well, there are many things that I drew voluntarily and those that I drew at the request of the director.

    The Japanese advance poster art for ULTRAMAN: THE NEXT. ©2004 ULTRAMAN Movie Production Consortium

    (企画を聞いて、こちらから提案の形で描いたイメージボード、例えばメタフールドの検討用初期イメージ、などもありますし、監督から具体的に要望されたシーンを描いたものとか複数あります。「ウルトラマン ザ・ネクスト」の場合にはかなりの数のイメージボードを描いてから画コンテの作業に入ったと記憶してます。この時も自主的に描いたもの、監督の依頼で描いたもの、それぞれ多数あります.)

    Benjamin Chaffins (ベンジャミン・チャフインズ): In the movie ULTRAMAN: THE NEXT, you designed the poster illustrations, image boards and storyboard. What was the deadline like for this movie?


    Yasushi Torisawa (酉澤安施): As I said earlier, I didn’t care about the deadline, and I don’t remember having a hard time. Unlike Hollywood and works, it takes about 3 hours to design a monster, and if you don’t do it in that span, the TV won’t turn around, and even if it’s a movie, you won’t have time. However, when working on poster illustrations, the size of the picture is large, the CG data of the city in the background is heavy, and the Mac I was using at that time was also old, so I remember having trouble with Photoshop’s operation being slow.


    Benjamin Chaffins (ベンジャミン・チャフインズ): What was the most difficult challenge for you while working on the movie ULTRAMAN: THE NEXT and the TV series ULTRAMAN: THE NEXT?


    Yasushi Torisawa (酉澤安施): It’s the same for all works, but it’s a painful part in designing that the director and producer disagree with their favorite opinions. From the viewer’s point of view, I will put out a design that I find absolutely interesting, but since it is the director and producer who decide, I have to fix it according to what they want to do. Especially in the case of TV, the budget and time are limited, so there is a convenience for production, but the convenience of shooting also has a big influence on the design, so we have to change the design to suit that convenience.

    Of course, there are times when you think it’s interesting and ride on it, and the circumstances at that time greatly affect the design.

    Torisawa’s art has been collected in the book Artworks of Yasushi Torisawa ©Toho Co., Ltd.


    Benjamin Chaffins (ベンジャミン・チャフインズ): Finally, who was your biggest inspiration into pursing a designing career? (最後に、デザインのキャリアを追求するための最大のインスピレーションは誰だと思いますか?)

    Yasushi Torisawa (酉澤安施): When I was born and raised, I was in the midst of the second monster boom when ULTRA Q started. Therefore, Mr. Akira Watanabe who designed the early Toho monster, Mr. Toru Narita of Ultraman who was known, “Akira Inoue” who designed the Daiei monster such as Gamera, and then the extract that is involved in Kamen Rider. Professional “Masao Yagi”.

    First of all, I grew up with the monsters designed by these people when I was in school, so first of all, it wouldn’t start without this design, and I wouldn’t have had the current Japanese special effects. After that, Shotaro Ishinomori, who was most influenced by the manga and anime from the special effects hero, and Go Nagai’s manga and anime raised me from my childhood. At the same time, I also loved Hollywood monsters such as Frankenstein, and in my youth I was greatly influenced by overseas movies such as ALIEN and PREDATOR, and now I am working with Garo.

    Influenced by Keita Amemiya’s work at the time, I wanted to live in the world of special effects as a salary-man until then. There is no doubt that all the other works I encountered in my growth, such as illustrations and paintings, were chewed in my memory and reflected in my design, and I enjoyed them when I was a kid. We are designing to let children now experience the excitement, so I would like to pass on the memory genes to the next generation.

    (私が生まれ育った時期は、ウルトラQが始まった第2次怪獣ブーム真っ只中でした。ですので、初期の東宝怪獣をデザインした「渡辺 明」氏、 言わずと知れたウルトラマンの「成田 亨」氏、 ガメラなど大映怪獣をデザインした「井上 章」とその後仮面ライダーにまで関わっていくエキスプロの「八木正夫」氏。まずはこの方たちがデザインした怪獣達で未就学時期に育った私ですから、まず、このデザインがなかったら始まりませんし、今の日本特撮もなかったでしょう。その後、特撮ヒーローから漫画、アニメと一番影響を受けた石ノ森章太郎氏、そして永井豪氏の漫画、アニメが少年期からの私を育ててくれました。並行して、フランケンシュタインなどのハリウッドモンスターも大好きでしたし、青年期にはエイリアン、プレデターなどの海外映画にも大いに影響を受けましたし、今仕事でご一緒させて頂いてます牙狼の雨宮慶太氏の当時の作品に影響され、それまでサラリーマンだった私をやっぱり特撮の世界で生きていきたいと思わせて頂きました。他にもイラストや絵画など、私が育っていく上で出会った全ての作品が私の記憶の中で咀嚼され私のデザインに反映していることは間違いないですし、私が子供のころ味わった感動を今の子供達にも味わってもらいたいとデザインしてますので、記憶遺伝子を受け継いで次の世代に伝えている思っています.)

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