This past Monday, it was reported that Toshihiro Iijima passed away at age 89. The cause of death was aspiration pneumonia, a form of pneumonia caused by breathing in substances such as saliva, food particles, or vomit which leads to infection in the lungs. Iijima passed on October 17th at 8:59 pm JST in a Yokohama hospital.
Born on September 3rd, 1932 in Tokyo, Iijima leaves behind his wife, Hiroko, along with a legacy in film and tokusatsu that includes introducing the world to some of its most famous heroes and kaiju. Among those characters, Iijima helped bring the legendary giant of light, Ultraman, into the world as a producer, director, and screenwriter on numerous shows from the original Ultra Q and Ultraman in 1966 to 2001’s Ultraman Cosmos: The First Contact.
Prior to his career in film and TV, Iijima graduated from Keio University’s Faculty of Letters and worked at Radio Tokyo in 1957. Radio Tokyo would go on to become TBS in more recent years. While Iijima’s work on the Ultra Series spans from Ultraseven and Return of Ultraman to Ultraman Max, he also produced and directed 1983’s Kinyobi no Tsumatachi e drama series. IMDb also credits Iijima with directing 1972’s Daigoro vs. Goliath.
Iijima worked on the Ultra Series well past TBS’s age of retirement which he reached in 1992. It’s thanks to Toshihiro Iijima’s contributions that Ultraman and many kaiju, as we know them, exist today.