“I was able to go to Monsterpalooza held in Burbank, CA during the weekend of April 12-14, 2013, and got to meet Susumu Kurobe, who was Shin Hayata, Hiroko Sakurai, who was Akiko Fuji, and Bin Furuya, who was Ultraman’s suit actor, as well as Amagi in Ultraseven. It was really fun, and they are very nice, allowing people to take pictures with them and showing people how to do the Beam-pose. Below is a transcription of the Ultraman Q&A which was held Saturday afternoon to a packed room.” -Touma K


April 13, 2013 – Ultraman Actors Q&A

Susumu Kurobe (Hayata), Hiroko Sakurai (Fuji), and Furuya Bin (Suit actor for Ultraman and Amagi, UltraSeven)

Q: From the Con organizer himself – Have you seen ‘Tiger Lily’ yet?

Kurobe: No (he had to have the movie concept explained)

Q: My question was, is it easy to go back to doing tokusatsu roles, like Ultraman?

Kurobe mentioned that it was easy and that they all liked doing their roles again. One anecdote he and Sakurai-san mentioned was when they were filming the Superior 8 Ultraman movie, Hayata and Fuji were married in the movie, but Kurobe mentioned that his wife was jealous. They also added that they thought it was a ‘bad idea’ for the two characters to be married. They were each like ‘He/she is not my type’. (When I mentioned some of the shows and movies I knew he’d been on, he said that I knew a lot)

Q: How did you get the role (to all three)?

Kurobe said that he was approached by Toho people and Tsuburaya people and told that he would be Hayata Shin. Sakurai auditioned for UltraQ twice, and got in on the second one. She had fun working in her roles, and she loved being in Ultraman Max with Kurobe since it was a while that they’d worked together. Furuya said that he’d been longest at Toho and Tsuburaya. (He also stated that everything Kurobe and Sakurai were saying were ‘lies, all lies’).

Q: What are your memories of Eiji Tsuburaya?

Furuya said that when he was wearing the suit, Tsuburaya told him that Furuya wearing the suit would create good memories for children. Kurobe interjected and said ‘It’s regrettable, but you’ll be going to heaven soon’, which after Sakurai pointed to Kurobe and said ‘yeah, he’s going first’.

Q: To Furuya, what training did you do for the suit acting?

Sakurai said ‘nothing’, Kurobe mentioned ‘sake, lots of sake’. But Furuya said that he had to do a lot of training, including ‘tap dancing and karate’. Sakurai said that tap dancing had nothing to do with it. He also said he’d go home and practice the moves for when he had to do the Beams and the Shuwatch pose (300 times).

Q: What was the favorite monster you liked to fight?

Furuya mentioned that he liked Red King the most.

Q: Where is the original Ultraman suit?

Furuya is sure that it was destroyed, not sure how ‘but probably melted’.

Q: When did the actors realize that Ultraman would be a big hit in Japan as well as around the world?
Kurobe mentioned that it was around ep 10 when they received the results, ‘about 43% audience around the time it aired in Japan, which was about 7pm’. Sakurai thought it was because of UltraQ.

Q: Which Ultraman is your favorite(not counting the 1966 Ultraman)?
Sakurai said none, and laughed. Kurobe likes Zero, and Furuya said his is only the 1966 Ultraman.

Q: What was your worst injury as Ultraman?
Furuya said that usually when they were filming, the actor wearing the monster suit had more padding and didn’t feel the hits most of the time, whereas he was wearing only a thin suit and would feel most of the hits. Another bad thing he said was when the set had stuff that he could get hurt on, like if a nail was sticking out of the set-floor. So everyday he was getting injured in some fashion. Sakurai put in that ‘he’s still getting injured, everyday’.

Q: In the beginning of the series, Ultraman was hunched over when he fought, and then towards the end it changed in that most of the fighting was done with him standing straight, was there a reason for the change?

Kurobe jokingly said that the pay got better, but Furuya said no, the pay stayed the same. But he said that there were three different masks/suits. The A-suit, as he called it, was for him only, but it fit poorly so he had to hunch over a bit. B-suit was better fitting, and had padding so it looked like Ultraman was more muscled. I don’t think he mentioned anything about the C-suit, but his favorite suit was the A-suit. Sakurai pointed to Kurobe and said he was D-type. But Kurobe said ‘my blood type is O’.

Q: What is your favorite episode?

Kurobe didn’t really have one specific, but he did like all the Henshin parts. Sakurai said she was going to be serious and mentioned that her favorite was the Jammila episode, the astronaut-kaijuu who returned to earth. Furuya said that he was finally going to start telling the truth, ‘everything before was all lies’. But he said his was also the Astronaut episode. He also mentioned that while he was fighting Jammila as the suit actor, the episode was so moving that he was crying under the mask when Jammila was destroyed. Sakurai did say that she hated the ‘Pearls’ episode, basically because her nose was pressed against the case and it looked weird, as well as that there was a producer who was filming that and he was making weird expressions.

Q: Did Hayata and Kurobe (Hayata? That was the character name. Did he mean Furuya?) ever get to work together when they were filming Ultraman?

They mentioned that the studio where the special effects and monsters were filmed was different than the studio where the actors were in their sets. So they never really saw each other during filming. Sakurai said she was too busy to ever go to the SPX studio, but then she said she went one time only for the time when she was ‘Giant Fuji’.

Q: Kurobe was asked, is it more fun being a hero as Ultraman, or a villain in some of the other acting he’s done?

Kurobe said that he thought being a villain is more fun. Sakurai said that he is much better being a villain than a hero.

Q: Did any of the actors get to keep anything from the show, like props, suits or anything?

No, they didn’t. I think it was that mostly it was Tsuburaya property, and much was either reused or didn’t last long while or after they were filming. There was mention of some collectors who managed to get their hands on some original items, like one of the later Ultraman suits was auctioned for about a million yen. Sakurai said ‘yeah it is that much now, but when Hayata was Ultraman, it was only 5en.’

Q: Would they know what the monster would look like before the ep?

Not really, since much of the work was done elsewhere, they had to pretend there was something there to react to, as Kurobe did a scared-expression like if he’d seen a kaijuu. It was also mentioned that, as per Japanese TV at the time, all episodes were recorded silently (their voices weren’t captured), and they had to go back and redub the voices later. It would usually take a week to ten days for two episodes to be made, since they only had access to certain equipment like certain cameras at a time, and were trying to save money.

Q: What was with the orange suits? (This was asked by one of the couple who were wearing Space Patrol outfits)

Kurobe mentioned that it was embarrassing to wear the outfit on the street. But Sakurai mentioned that the cast would have to wear the outfits without getting to change, like if they went to lunch. It was also mentioned that Tsuburaya thought the color orange was a ‘helping color’, like that anyone wearing that color would be the ones to go to for help.

Q: Did you think the genre would get so popular and last so long?

Kurobe said it’s been 47 years since he started being in Ultraman, and there was a time when Ultraman seemed like it was fading, but then the popularity resurged. He hoped that it would keep being popular, and that the audience at the Q&A would help keep it popular.

Q: Who was Pigmon?

Sakurai said ‘it wasn’t me, definitely wasn’t me’, but was some small person they never were introduced to. Kurobe mentioned that they liked working with him, ‘he had a human heart and was helpful’. But Sakurai said that she didn’t like it so much when she had to touch him, they would usually have sprayed him not long before, so she would get red paint on her hands and clothes that would never come off.

Q: Which episode or instance didn’t you like?

It wasn’t made clear, but it seemed like they said there wasn’t one.

Q: Furuya was asked, was it hard to fight the Godzilla suit redone as Jirass?

He said that it was hard, since he liked Godzilla and Nakajima-san, who would wear the suit. He didn’t like the experience.

Q: Have any of you seen the English dubs of Ultraman?

Sakurai said that she liked the English voice more ‘since it made Fuji sound sexier’ than her, but she preferred Hayata’s original voice to his dub voice. It was also mentioned that she had gotten to meet Peter Fernandez, who worked on and was in charge of the dubs.

Q: Kurobe was asked, did he go back into the genre?

Kurobe mentioned that he couldn’t remember, but Sakurai jokingly reminded him that he was in Return of Ultraman and Ultraman Max. She again brought up that she enjoyed working with him in Ultraman Max.

Q: Who would win in a fight, Ultraman or Godzilla?

Godzilla, since it is Nakajima in the suit, but since he was getting on in years, they thought he could be beaten now. But they made the point that Ultraman is stronger.

Q: I asked this at the autograph session later to Furuya-san, which do you like more, being Ultraman or being Amagi in Ultraseven?

He said that it was fun as Ultraman, but with Amagi, his face was actually visible.



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