I was a big fan of Ultraman when I was a kid. In the early ‘90s I discovered there was a new “Ultraman” show, but unfortunately I was more interested in acquiring episodes of the old show on VHS than I was episodes of the new one. Somewhat later I discovered that there have been many, many “Ultraman” series over the years, rivaling Doctor Who in its longevity. A brief search of the internet yields the following results (but I’ve probably missed a few).

Ultra-Man 1966-67
Ultra-Seven 1967-68
Ultra Fight 1970-71
Return of… 1971-72
Ultraman Ace 1972-73
Ultraman Taro 1973-74
Ultraman Leo 1974-75
Ultraman 80 1980-81
Ultimate Hero 1995
Ultraman Tiga 1996-97
Ultraman Dyna 1997-98
Ultraman Gaia 1998-99
Ultraman Cosmos 2001-02
Ultraman Nexus 2004-05
Ultraman Max 2005-06
Ultraman Mebius 2006-07

Ultra Galaxy Mega Monster 2007-08
Ultraman Retsuden 2011+

We’ve been discussing other tokusatsu series in this forum lately, and because those series were produced later than Ultraman, I expected them to be technically better, but I ended up being somewhat disappointed in Super Robot Red Baron and Iron King. I enjoyed them, but I didn’t like them as much as I hoped to. Now I’ve started watching Ultraseven, and it’s everything I hoped it would be.

As the liner noteson the DVD set point out, “the difference in the overall quality in production between Ultraman and Ultraseven was marked, and made the show memorable 45 years later. According to Wikipedia, “Such is his popularity that Ultra Seven (or simply 'Seven') has appeared or at least made cameos in nearly every Ultra Series following his own and has had far more exposure than even the original Ultraman (though the original Ultraman is without a doubt the face of the Ultras).”

My wife and I disagree about the relative merits of Ultraseven in comparison to SRRB/IK. I would like to start the discussion with a look at the opening title sequence and music, then open the floor for rebutal.

The title sequence of Ultraman, as you will recall, looks as if it had been spelled out in a can of paint, slowly stirred, then run backwards. Ultraseven looks more like it had been spelled out in brightly colored confetti, placed atop one of those old electric football games, shaken apart, then run backwards. Whereas the soundtrack of Ultraman is jazzy, that of Ultraseven shows more of a classical influence.

Here is the English translation of the lyrics…

Seven… Seven… Seven… Seven…

Seven! Seven! Seven!
Seven! Seven! Seven!

A distant star was once his home
Ultra Seven! Fighter Seven!
Ultra Seven! Seven! Seven!

Onward to the edge of the galaxy
Use your Ultra-Eye and… STRIKE!
Seven! Seven! Seven!
Seven! Seven! Seven!

Dan Moroboshi is his borrowed name
Ultra Seven! Hero Seven!
Ultra Seven! Seven! Seven!

Defeat the great fire-breathing monster
Use yout Ultra-Beam and STRIKE!

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ULTRAMAN ACE:

Unlike Ultra-Seven, The Return of Ultraman featured combat over social commentary. Although many fans consider it to be the peak of the franchise’s success with regard to kaiju, The Return of Ultraman did not advance the premise as much as Ultra-Seven did in comparison to the original Ultraman. Now comes Ultraman Ace, which reboots the franchise yet again. Gone is MAT (Monster Attack Team), replaced by TAC (Terrible-monster Attacking Crew). Their primary adversary is the other-dimensional Yapool, rather than aliens or ancient monsters from Earth.

Verokron, the first “terrible-monster” sent by the Yapool, is a cyborg. It appears to be mostly organic (with large pieces of what looks like corral on its back), except for missile-firing metal hands. After using all its hand missiles to repel an attack by TAC, it reveals another missile launcher inside its mouth.

Seiji Hokuto is a young man (20 years old) who works as a driver delivering food to an orphanage. Yuko Minami is a young woman (18 years old) who works as a nurse. (Coincidentally, they have the same birthday: July 7.) Both are brought together by the attack of Verokron, and both are killed. Ultraman Ace uses his power to resurrect them, and give them each an Ultra Ring, which glows in times of danger, and allows then to combine their lifeforces to become Ultraman Ace. Although Ultraman Ace is male, this is the first Ultraman whose Earthling identity is (at least partially) female.

After the defeat of Verokron, they both join TAC.

I already like Ultraman Ace more than The Return of Ultraman. It picks up the baton from Ultra-Seven and runs with it.

Here are the lyrics to the theme song translated into English.

To A Distant Shinning Star In The Night Sky
When Our Wishes Reach
Passing Far Beyond The Galactic Federation
He Arrives Here With Light
Now, Transform, Hokuto and Minami

Fight Fight, Ultraman Ace
Ace From Space

Kicking The Ground With A Quick Jump
Hokuto's Courage Splits The Enemy
The Hand Of Yapool's Evil Extends
The Big Super Beasts Closes In From The Sea
Now, Transform, Calling Upon The Tempest

Fight Fight, Ultraman Ace
Ace From Space

Calling The Light With A Quick Touch
The Two Rings Shoot Fire
The Hand Of Evil Extends To Our Town
The Big Super Beasts Closes In From The Sky
Now, Transform, Hero Of Justice

Fight Fight, Ultraman Ace
Ace From Space

We’re about 10 episodes into Ultraman Ace at this point. In the episode we watched last night, fleeing the terrible-monster attack were Jiro and Rumiko from the “Ultraman Jack” series (The Return of Ultraman. They see Hideki Go from a distance and try to catch up to him. MAT has apparently disbanded or something, and TAC tries to recruit Go to their organization. He ends up being an imposter sent by the Yapool, but Go does smile down from space at the end while Jiro enthusiastically shouts the Five Ultra Oaths.

Sources tell me that "Ace is a bumbling idiot."   ;)

Hokuto and Minami are bumbling team members. In one episode alone, they blew up four planes.

They do go through a lot of planes.

JIRO’S ICE CREAM CONE: I forgot to tell you about the ice cream Jiro was eating in that episode: imagine a large, soft serve cone, with another cone on top, held like a cob of corn and eaten from the middle. It sounds like something you could buy in America (except in America it would probably be deep fried as well)!

Ultraman Ace utilizes the "Five Ultra Brothers" far more than any previous series.

Just as the previous series had a "winter horror series" of interconnected episodes, so too does Ace have a "summer horror series." 

MIRACLE! FATHER OF ULTRA: The father of the five brothers is introduced (but don't grow too attached to him).

GOODBYE YUKO, SISTER OF THE MOON: In a very surprising move, Yuko Minami Or "Minami Yuko" if you prefer) is revealed to have been a "Moonian" all along. When the Moon originally broke off from the Earth, it was to have been a smaller sister planet, with an Earth-like atmosphere. That outcome was ruined by the Terrible-Monster race of Lunatiks, however, and the Moonians relocated to Pluto. Minami was sent to Earth to defeat the Lunatiks, and now that they have been defeated, she has been recalled to join her fellow Moonians on Pluto, leaving Seiji Hokuto as the sole host of Ultraman Ace.

THE 6TH ULTRA BROTHER: Another member of the "family" is introduced...?

Comparing your list of Ultra series to what I found on-line, I was wondering if you knew anything of the following:

The Ultraman (1979-1980)
Ultraman: Towards the Future (January 1992–March 1992)
Ultraman Neos (2000–2001)
Ultra Q: Dark Fantasy (April 2004–September 2004)
Ultraseven X (October 2007–December 2007)
Ultra Galaxy Mega Monster Battle: Never Ending Odyssey (2008-2009)
Neo Ultra Q (January 2013–March 2013)
Ultraman Ginga (July 2013–December 2013)
Ultraman Ginga S (July 2014–December 2014)
Ultraman X (July 2015–January 2016)
Ultraman Orb (July 2016–December 2016)
Ultraman Zero: The Chronicle (January 2017–June 2017)
Ultraman Geed (July 2017–December 2017)
Ultraman Orb: The Chronicle (January 2018–June 2018)
Ultraman R/B (July 2018–December 2018)
Ultraman New Generation Chronicle (January 2019–June 2019)
ULTRAMAN (2019)
Ultraman Taiga (July 2019-December 2019)
Ultraman Chronicle Zero & Geed (2020)
Ultraman Z (2020)

"THE 6TH ULTRA BROTHER: Another member of the "family" is introduced...?"

Well, no... not really. With Minami out of the picture, the franchise has reverted to "Ultraman with juvenile sidekick" for the second season, with a new "Jiro" for Hokuto's "little brother." Not did they change the lyrics of the theme song (which mention "Hokuto and Minami").


"I was wondering if you knew anything of the following..."

Here's what I 'know": I have complete collections of the first four "Ultraman" series (not including Ultra-Q, but I have that, too): 

Ultraman (1966-67)

Ultra-Seven (1967-68)  

Ultraman Jack (1971-72)

Ultraman Ace (1972-73)

NOTE: The "Five Ultra-Brothers" include Zoffy, who came to the original Ultraman's rescue at the end of his series.

In addition, I have a dubbed set of "Ultraman Origins" which includes the first episodes of Ultraman Taro (1974-75), Ultraman 80 (1980-81), Ultraman Great ((1990), Ultraman Powered (1993) and Ultraman Tiga (1996-1997). after that, I have the complete (?) series of Ultraman Tiga, Ultraman Dyna (1997-1998), Ultraman Cosmos (2001-2) and Ultraman Zearth (?). [Most of these I have never watched.]

In the modern era, I have Ultraman X, Ultraman Orb and Ultraman Geed. I plan to move on to Ultraman X after Ultraman Ace. When I finished Orb and Geed, I was happy to move on to an "old school" series in which the SFX were more models and pyrotechnics than CGI. Now, after having watched Jack & Ace back-to-back, I'm looking forward to more modern storytelling techniques (in Ultraman X), although the merchandising as as tedious as it is obvious.

RESURRECTION! FATHER OF ULTRA: Here's something I didn't expect (in more ways than one): a Christmas episode... the most oddly disturbing Christmas episode of any TV show I have ever seen. I love it! It begins with Hokuto, his new "little brother" and the boy's sister doing some Christmas shopping. the soundtrack is peppered with such Western Christmas classics as "When the Saints Go Marching In." They take some gifts to the local orphanage, where the children are out front playing around a styrofoam snowman. (The weather is quite warm.) They are still there in the evening, but the Sun hasn't set. Suddenly, this week's "Terrible-Monster" breaks out from inside the snowman and grows to giant size.

From somewhere a man-sized alien in a demon mask appears and stands atop a nearby building egging the monster on. Hokuto transforms to Ultraman Ace but is soundly defeated. Oh, I forgot to mention! Also at the orphanage was a "Santa Claus" with white hair and a droopy mustache by no beard, also at the orphanage. He is dressed in sort of a red clown suit and wearing a riding hood. After Ultraman Ace is defeated, "Santa" becomes a giant and is revealed to be (wait for it)... Father of Ultra (which is surprising because he supposedly "died" a couple of episodes back resurrecting his five sons. 

After he has defeated the monster, a reindeer-pulled sleigh flies out of the sky being driven by (wait for it)... Yuko Minani in a white fur costume! They distribute toys to the orphans, then fly off (in their sleigh) into space. This episode has instantly become my new favorite Christmas story... ever. Children everywhere should be shown this episode as an example of the true meaning of Christmas!

"When the Saints Go Marching In" is on the Sailor Moon Christmas CD. So, maybe it's considered a Christmas song over there.

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