Thursday, June 07, 2007

Pigmon or Garamon? ガラモンとピグモンは同じ着ぐるみですか?

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.


ultralex said...

Good work, George! Your info is essentially correct. But a meteor is a "nagareboshi," literally a "wandering star." The name Garadama was coined by the children who found it and would seem to suggest "gara" or "garagara" which means "rattle" and "tama," or ball--so it's a rattle-ball. Now can someone explain to me what Tilsonite is?

geozilla ジーヨジラ said...

Hey, Alex! Thanks for the clarification. I remember that the name of the monster also had something to do with the robotic sounds it made as it walked....

Here is some further information from "The Q-Files:
The Complete Ultra Q Episode Guide" by Jim Cirronella & Kevin Grays (

"When several boys discover a mysterious, lightweight meteorite, their teacher delivers the strange rock to Dr. Ichinotani in Tokyo. Under analysis, the meteorite which the children call garadama, is identified as being comprised of Tilsonite and is found to be emanating powerful radiowaves. As Ichinotani, Jun and the others investigate the area where the meteor was found, a huge garadama falls to Earth in the nearby river bed. The heat from the enormous fireball evaporates the waters surrounding a hydro-electric dam, leaving a small boat stranded upon a steep cliff. As Jun and Ippei attempt to rescue the two women trapped inside the boat, the meteorite hatches a huge monster. Becoming violent, the monster begins to destroy the dam and the surrounding area. Back in Tokyo, Yuriko and the institute's scientists determine that the Tilsonite rock is acting as the monster's electronic brain. In order to interrupt the flow of the transmitted waves, a special screen casing is placed around the meteorite. With it's control signal cut off, the giant Garamon falls over dead and the inavsion from space is averted."

"The monster Garamon (short for Garadama-monster) was played by Minonl Takahashi; the name may also be constroed as a play on the monster's robotic elements, as gara-gara in Japanese means a rattling noise, similar to the ticking sound emitted when as monster walks. Although the monster's costume was also used as the man-sized kaiju Pigmon in "Ultraman," Garamon has become the single most identifiable image of the entire Ultra Q series."

Still not sure what "tilsonite" is though....

Pigumon said...

I noticed a lot of Garamon models/figures have a strange "brand" on his chest, a little off center. Also, he is usually portrayed as fatter and shorter (in ratio). Pigumon seems to be much thinner and weaker looking.

I love Pigumon, so I generally buy garamon as pigumon no matter which he is.

I really love last year's true pigumon vinyl release (with pink balloon). It's really the definitive Pigumon! =)

Goodness gracious! well, look at what name you made me sign in with to post a comment!