Here's a long overdue commission done for
(Earth-Baragon), featuring the Kaiju (giant monster) Black End
, who was the final opponent of "Ultraman Leo"
from episode 51, "Goodbye, Leo! Take Off Towards the Sun"
(original air date: March 28th, 1975).
However, like a lot of the 'Saucer Monsters'
in the last third of this Japanese television series (called such, because most possessed a secondary saucer-shaped form for flight), Black End had a significant cameo in the previous episode 50, "The Life of Leo! The Miracle of King!"
(March 21st, 1975)
And it is because of these minor character teases, is why it's such a pain in the proverbial backside to write any accurate information on the "Ultraman Leo"
Seriously, even Tsuburaya Productions' own official write-ups on these guys is chuck full of equally mind numbing inaccuracies - so please forgive me if I fall into the same trap here as well.
From episode 40 and onwards, "Ultraman Leo"
was dominated by the alien villain named Commander Black
, who despite his human appearance, was a ruthless and murderous fiend, responsible for killing almost all of the supporting cast of characters, with his monstrous agent Silver Bloom
, in their first episode appearance alone. And pretty much leaving only the title hero Gen Otori
(Leo's human disguise), and his Earthling friend and surrogate kid brother Tohru
alive, whose parents and younger sister were also victims of Silver Bloom's attacks.
And more-or-less the two were left to fend for themselves against Commander Black and his various Flying-Saucer Life Forms
(Enban Seibutsu, or 'Saucer Monsters' for short). And after many more tragedies, and equally demoralizing hardships, Gen Otori / Ultraman Leo is able to hold off Commander Black's plans for conquest, by defeating and destroying his Saucer Monsters one-by-one.
Of course, this is another case of a Tokusatsu (Japanese special effects) program's ambitions being way bigger than its actual budget, as all the Saucer Monsters were shown to be present in episode 40, hovering in orbit of the Black Star Planet
. But obviously, the production crew couldn't get away with a scenario where all of them attacked at once, and logically win against Leo - even if the majority of Saucer Monsters were brought to life via puppet props.
And thus, no need to hire more monster suit actors, as Japan and the rest of the world was in the midst of an very real oil-related economic crisis at the time. Which was also same circumstances that originally halted the Godzilla film series with "Terror of Mechagodzilla"
(1975), and inspiring the bleak backdrop for the influential horror flick "The Texas Chainsaw Massacre"
a year prior.
After the death of the slimy alien assassin Bunyo
(AKA Bunyo Seijin) in episode 50, Commander Black became desperate in his mission. Only one of his Saucer Monsters remained on the Black Star Planet - the horrible beast dubbed Black End
. Calling forth the monster with his small palm-size crystal sphere, Commander Black sought to end Ultraman Leo once and for all.
Arriving at night, Black End was buried beneath Tokyo, and afterwards for days, the beast created horrible earthquakes that shook the city to its core. Eventually the alien demon rose from ground, and began a more direct path of destruction. Gen could not battle the monster though, for Tohru was at his side, and refused to run away during the rampage. Gen could not allow his secret to be revealed, and greatly angered by his cowardice, Commander Black called back his monster into the Earth.
Days passed before Commander Black once again summoned Black End.
With thousands of lives in peril because of the monster, Gen was forced to transform into Ultraman Leo in front of his friend Tohru, as well as several other children of whom the two had befriended in the final quarter of the series. With unrelenting power, Ultraman Leo battled Black End, and was nearly on the verge of victory, before Commander Black revealed his final ace in the hole.
Capturing Tohru, Commander Black ordered the alien superhero to stand down. If Ultraman Leo would not die at Black End’s proverbial hands, then his friend Tohru would die at the end of Commander Black’s sword.
Now many of you might play the 'Callous Geek Card' and demand Tohru to become another Jason Todd-style casualty, all for the sake of a quick win.
himself pointed out, you have to consider that Gen’s entire support team of MAC (Monster Attacking Crew)
, along with Tohru's family and millions of other people, have all had their lives taken away by Commander Black's evil actions. And as such, Gen was not about to let his only surviving friend in the world also get killed because of his failures.
Standing down, Ultraman Leo allowed himself to be beaten down by Black End. His color timer (a sort of Ultraman emergency life gage) began to blink; his time running out. Tohru had other plans however, and with the help of all of his school pals, they overtook the vile Commander Black, and literally beat the alien villain into mobbing submission.
A sequence that is both admittedly weak...AND freaking awesome...all at the same time!
Thoroughly beaten by the heroically violent children, the alien dictator dropped his black crystal ball, which he used to control Black End and most of the other Saucer Monsters. Ultraman Leo then snatches it up, and hurls it at Black End, making sure to charge it with his own positive energy of light. The result was an explosion that destroyed the monster forever, along with Commander Black, who quickly melts into a puddle of dead green muck.
Outside some Internet videos, I've never seen the entire final episode of "Ultraman Leo"
, though from what little I have seen, it is a rather classy way to end a otherwise troubled series. Complete with a pretty nifty 'final boss kaiju' to boot.Black End
is one of those Japanese rubber suit monsters that's portrayed with the face protruding from the actor's chest, waist, or even lower regions. Often done in an attempt to make the creature's design less human like. And in all honesty, this method largely never works for me personally, as either the monster's execution is too off-putting and silly to take seriously, like the oil-drinking Takkong from "The Return of Ultraman"
. Or it becomes a costume trick so overused untill a point of apathy, such as the majority of monsters from "Ultraman Tiga"
(one of my least favorite entries into the whole Ultra Series, by-the-way).
It also doesn't help that many times, camera men film such 'faced-waist' characters in a very poor manner. Like literally filming where the suit actor's actual head is located, as opposed to focusing on the creature designs' own fake head.
However, when the 'faced-waist' method does work, it REALLY works. And although Black End isn't as well executed as say Anoshiras, from "Gridman"
(AKA Manfu from "Superhuman Samurai Syber-Squad"
), it is still an accomplished creature suit for the time. Especially since the three negatives mentioned above are all craftily dealt with, which includes proper camera work that properly focuses on Black End's prop face.
All these combined makes the aesthetics of Black End's design all the more pleasing. And as such, I am very happy that Earth-Baragon gave me the opportunity to render this guy as a full-fledged illustration.Related Links and Illustrations
Fan Wiki Page On Black End: [link]
Black End In Condensed Action: [link]
One of Black End's fellow Saucer Monsters (and arguably the most popular of which), Nova
Big thanks to
for the LiveTrace assistance.
And an even bigger thanks to
for being so patient with me here.NEXT WEEK'S UPLOAD:
Let the Brandon Tenold bumper art begin!