I would like to give credit where credit is due. Videos are from YouTube and other sources such as NicoNico while Oricon rankings and other information are translated from the Japanese Wikipedia unless noted.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Taro Takemura & Shonen Shojo Gasshodan Mizuumi -- Ultraman Taro (ウルトラマンタロウ)

My interest in all things Ultraman(ウルトラマン)lasted up to and including "Ultraman Ace"(ウルトラマンエース)when it came to the TV franchise, basically when I was visiting Japan for the first time in 1972 as a kid. However back in Toronto, when my family visited the old Furuya food store in Old Chinatown downtown one day, I discovered an elementary school reader that had an Ultraman that I had never seen before.

It was pretty fascinating to me. Looking like a hybrid of Ultraman Father and Ultra Seven(ウルトラセブン), this was Ultraman Taro, and he made his debut on TV screens in Japan the year after my first visit. The story of his debut in the opening pages of the kids' book that I most likely pressured Mom to purchase was totally epic. In a span of 6 pages with color pictures, my eyes absorbed ad nauseum the spectacle of what seemed to be an invasion of Nebula M-78, the homeworld of the Ultramen, by a ton of kaiju during which all of the previous Ultramen seen including the Ultra Parents and first son Zoffy (ゾフィー) looked to be in over their shiny chrome heads. But then new son, Ultraman Taro, comes on the scene to miraculously turn the tide on the invaders with his big brothers getting that second wind to oust the beasts. I couldn't read Japanese at that point, but I was still mightily impressed.

Now where that reader has gone I've got no idea. It may still be lingering in one of the storerooms or my parents may have pitched it out long ago. In any case, I never really had that major urge to see the TV series although I finally got to see an episode many many years later as an adult. Still, I have some recollection of Taro's theme tune since it has gotten onto many a variety show for whatever reason.

Titled simply "Ultraman Taro", it was sung by Taro Takemura(武村太郎). At first, I had imagined that the powers-that-be must have worked really hard to find a singer with the same name as the character. But it turns out Takemura was merely a stage name for actor/singer/seiyuu Ryoichi Fukuzawa(福沢良一). He and the Shonen Shojo Gasshodan Mizuumi(少年少女合唱団みずうみ...Boys & Girls Chorus Group Mizuumi)got together to do their heroic rendition of the Taro theme written by no less than Yu Aku(阿久悠)and composed by Makoto Kawaguchi(川口真).

I have to say that although I never got into the original series I did find Ultraman Taro to be quite the imposing figure especially with the least until Ultraman Leo (ウルトラマンレオ) came along.

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