The Tokusatsu Network attended Super Festival 67, a yearly event for vintage toy merchants around Japan to sell and display their merchandise. It includes appearances by Tokusatsu-related personalities, and this year, Ryu Manatsu (Gen Ootori/Ultraman Leo) stood on stage and shared his experiences and impressions from playing the role.
Manatsu mentioned that he was selected after being recommended by director Mafune Tadashi due to his looks and experience with Shaolin Fist. He also sang not only the opening theme for Ultraman Leo, but the insert songs as well.
In general, he says his experience was very intense and painful. Part of the highlights of Ultraman Leo is the grueling training Gen is subjected to as a rookie Ultraman by his mentor, Dan Moroboshi (Ultraseven). Among the experiences he shared was a time in which a scene that was shot at a waterfall mid-winter ended with him being paralyzed from the waist down due to the cold. There was also the numerous times a jeep hit him in the calves during a chase scene due to loose brakes. Manatsu revealed that all the scenes in which Gen would reproach Dan for his grueling treatment were his own complaints to the director for the dangerous situations he was put in.
It came as a surprise to everyone, Manatsu included, when the presenter revealed that there was a surprise guest who turned out to be Tatsumi Nikamoto, Leo’s suit actor.
Tatsumi, who had played monsters in the previous installment, had a similar experience to Manatsu. During an aquatic scene, he had to repeat the same take over and over because of his bad timing when jumping out of the water: “I couldn’t see a thing in the helmet and it filled with water every time I went back into the lake,” he said, laughing.
When asked about Leo’s characteristic acrobatic fighting style as well as Gen/Leo as a character, both Manatsu and Nikamoto said they stuck to the script. Nikamoto is an experienced Goju-ryu practitioner and he remembers the scenes with somersaults and backflips being the biggest challenge due to the tightness and stiffness of the Utraman suit.
Both actors were asked to stand for photographs and Nikamoto decided to wear the replica helmet displayed as decoration and stand alongside Manatsu taking their respective poses, to the delight of the crowd who sent them off with a roaring applause.