Thursday, June 07, 2007
Why is the "same" figure sometimes called Pigmon and sometimes called Garamon?
I have seen this question come up quite a number of times. It was posed again over at the Rotofugi board in response to some of my pics of the Marmit Garamon I posted there.
Here's my explanation anyway...
Garamon was a giant, partly robotic, building-smashing monster that first appeared in the Ultra Q television show in Japan. Garamon tears up the Tokyo Tower, for example. Garamon weighed 60,000 tons and was 131 feet tall.
I believe the name “Garamon” is short for “Garadama Monster.” The monster arrives on Earth on a Garadama (i.e., a meteor).
The costume used for the giant Garamon in Ultra Q was later "recycled" and used for the human-sized “Pigmon” (Pygmon) (Pigumon) (from “pygmy”) in a few Ultraman related episodes. The Pigmon character was friendly to humans and a somewhat comical figure, as compared with the giant building-smasher menace Garamon.
As a practical matter, it is really pretty hard to tell whether a particular vinyl figure is supposed to be of Garamon or Pigmon - Usually the toy maker specifies which one they are intending to portray, but sometimes it is hard or impossible to tell just by looking at the figure.
In any case, if the figure has a balloon attached, it is almost assuredly intended to be Pigmon (although not all Pigmons have balloons). The balloon first showed up in the Ultraman “Monster Lawless Zone” episode. The balloon served both as a tracking balloon (so that the Science Patrol could see it bobbing along through the underbrush) and a “bomb” (to be exploded by shooting at it from afar).
The Science Patrol attached the balloon to Pigmon by shooting it into Pigmon’s back as he was running away: Pigmon was actually trying to help the science patrol by leading them to an injured scientist that they were looking for on the island. Later in that same episode, the balloon plays a role in helping Ultraman defeat Red King, who also was on the island wreaking havoc. (Pics of Red King coming here soon.)
The Ultra Q show predated Ultraman. Unlike Ultraman, it was in black and white and did not feature a giant superhero (such as Ultraman). Instead, Ultra Q was more of a Twilight Zone/Outer Limits like show that involved the human characters dealing with supernatural “unbalance.” There was a different monster in each Ultra Q episode. Most shows started off with the statement (again, sort of like Outer Limits), that “for the next 30 minutes, your eyes will leave your body and enter inside this fantasy time" (where “time” was probably intended to mean more like “dimension”).
The picture above is a still from the Ultra Q show picturing the giant Garamon on the rampage near the Tokyo Tower:
And here is a still from the Ultraman DVD "Monster Lawless Zone" episode showing the diminutive Pigmon, just before the balloon is released in front of Red King, and shortly before Red King kills Pigmon by tossing huge rocks onto him from above(don't worry, Pigmon is "resurrected" without explanation in later shows).
All of the information above is based on what I have been able to glean from various sources, including the Ultraman DVD and various sites online. If anybody has any corrections or additions, please feel free to chime in.
Photos © 2007 Tsuburaya Production Co. Ltd. All rights reserved.