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).
UltraSeven 1967-68 - pp.1-5
Return of…(Jack) 1971-72 - pp.10-13
Ultraman Ace 1972-73 - pp.14-15
Ultraman Taro 1973-74 - pp.16-25
Ultraman Leo 1974-75 - pp.26-33
Ultraman 80 1980-81 - p.25, 38-46
Ultraman USA (The Adventure Begins) 1987
Ultraman Great (Towards the Future) 1990-91 - p.25
Ultraman Powered (The Ultimate Hero) 1993 - p.25
Ultraman Hero 1995
Ultraman Zearth (parody) 1996-97 - p.26
Ultraman Tiga 1996-97 - p.25, 46-50
Ultraman Dyna 1997-98 - p.26, 50
Ultraman Gaia 1998-99
Ultraman Nice 1999-00
Ultraman Neos 2000-2001
Ultraman Cosmos 2001-02 - p.34
Ultra Q: Dark Fantasy 2004
Ultraman Nexus 2004-05
Ultraman Max 2005-06
Ultraman Mebius 2006-07
Ultraman UltraSeven X 2007
Ultraman Retsuden 2011-13
Neo Ultra Q 2013
Ultraman Ginga 2013 - pp.34-36
Ultraman Ginga S 2014 - pp.36-38
Ultraman X 2015-16 - pp.15-16
Ultraman Orb 2016 - pp.6-8
Ultraman Geed 2017 - pp.8-9
Ultraman R/B 2018
Ultraman Taiga 2019
Ultraman Z 2020
Ultraman Trigger 2021
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!
ETERNAL LIFE: "The ancient plant Gijera begins to blossom again. Its pollen has the ability to produce illusions and cause people to destroy themselves."
Perhaps because we are approaching the end of this series we are revisiting its beginnings. This plant last appeared millions of years ago when the race of humans originally protected by the Giants of Light was destroyed by alien invaders. Things on Earth were so peaceful and the people were so happy that the GoL left. When the aliens attacked the GoL tried to save the humans but were defeated. At first the theory was that the plants were alien and served as a presage for invasion, lulling the populace into complacency. But cellular analysis of the plants reveals that the plants are generated by Earth itself as a sort of "pain killer" when destruction is imminent.
LET'S GO TO KAMAKURA: "Hoshino, a photographer who always takes pictures of the Enoden train line, witnesses a monster approaching from the ocean."
Taraban is a giant snail with a rainbow shell and has the ability to blend into its surroundings. Somehow its destruction is tied to the Endden train line. Eventually someone at GUTS figures out that Taraban is a baby, and that the trains horn reminds it of its mother. Meanwhile, Tiga is beating the $#!t out of it. GUTS calls off the attack and Tiga uses the train itself to lure Taraban into space when it is reunited with its mother.
GOODBYE TO DARKNESS: "A strange electrical accident happens while Horii is out on a date. the incident is caused by a monkey who experienced a sudden mutation."
Horii's date is pretty but has low self esteem... or maybe she just doesn't like being ditched whenever duty calls. The situation is complicated when a love interest from a previous episode reappears.
FUGATIVE FROM THE MOON: "TPC's Moon Base Garowa is destroyed. It's lone survivor, Kishinaga, testifies that Captain Hayate is the culprit."
Moon Base Garowa looks a bit like Space: 1999's Moon Base Alpha, except that it's above-ground structures are built inside a crater; most of it is below ground. the special effects are cheesy, but nonetheless enjoyable.
STAR OF ULTRA: "Daigo finds a strange man who wants to buy a monster. The man was told to see director Eiji Tsuburaya about anything concerning monsters."
It's easy to see this series is approaching the end because they're pulling out all the stops. the "strange man" referred to in the summary above is an alien who looks like a Japanses Charlie Chaplain. He goes to Tsuburaya studios to buy a monster and is told (jokingly) that he needs to talk to Eiji Tsuburaya himself (but is not told that Tsuburaya died in 1970). When asked where he could find him, he was told, "1965. He was in good health then." The alien thanks the man, goes outside and opens a timewarp. Daigo (who has been shadowing the man) follows him into the warp.
Daigo appears in 1965 on the set of Ultra Q. The episode goes to black & white. Daigo happens to be a dead ringer for one of the crew who works on the set, so he has free access. There are lots of callbacks this episode, to Godzilla and Rodan and Mothra, but especially the first Ultraman series, including the musical score. Ultimately, the original Ultraman appears and teams up with Tiga to defeat Yanakargie.
The tease for next episode indicate that Rena discovers Daigo's secret.
Oh! Also, the end credits sequence usually recap the episode in capsule form, start to finish. Twice recently, however, it has advanced the plot, adding a little epilogue. This episode showed highlights of the the original Ultraman series.
TAKE ME HIGHER!: "Daigo is plagued by nightmares of the world being swallowed up by darkness. Then monster Zoiger appears from ancient ruins."
This episode is highly symbolic, and Japanese symbolism is difficult to follow (for me, anyway). Significantly, in one scene, Rena and Daigo are engaging a monster. The jet they are in is in trouble and is going to crash. Short of Daigo revealing his identity, nothing can save them. Rena, who is sitting in the from seat, pointedly says to him, "I cannot see what is happening behind me," letting Daigo know she is aware that he is Tiga. He transforms and saves them both. Later, they stand in a field and look at each other significantly. Tiga drove off Zoiger, but now an even greater threat emerges. "To be continued." For this episode, the scenes running behind the end credits recap Daigo and Rena's relationship from the beginning of the series.
RULER OF DARKNESS: "The world is thrown into chaos when Zoiger appears on Earth. The powerful demon Gatanothor emerges to shroud the planet in darkness."
The main development this episode is when the captain reveals that she has known for some time that she knows Daigo is Tiga. (You know you're getting close to the end of the series when other characters find out the hero's secret.)
TO THE SHINING ONES: "Tiga is defeated! As people mourn, GUTS executes a plan to save TIga who has been turned back into a stone statue by Gatanothor.
Boy, I really messed up yesterday! I didn't even mention that Tiga was turned back into a stone statue by Gatanothor! (Gatanothor looks like a hybrid snail/crab/turtle thing, BTW.) Tiga is revived by all the children of the world banding together and infusing him with their energy, which appears as a cloud of golden glitter. (Tracy has advised me against using the term "golden shower.") After he is revived, he fights and defeats Gatanothor, then changes back to Daigo. Unfortunately, his "spark lance" (transformation device) remains stone. He hands it to Rena and it crumbles to dust.
They live happily ever after.
ULTRAMAN TIGA SIDE STORY: REVIVAL OF THE ANCIENT GIANT: I really had no idea what this was. It was on the disc but not mentioned at all in the booklet or box. It was about 45 minutes long (in comparison to an episode, which is 24). At first it seemed to be a reboot, but it turned out to be a sequel. As it begins, a Super GUTS agent named Madoka is flying his jet through a storm. He encounters a kaiju, a timewarp opens, and he is thrown 5000 into the past.
There is a village. The village has three giant statues. The leader of the village is an old man. The high priestess is played by the same woman who played the captain in the regular series. There is a wandering warrior, a woman named Mahoroba. And there is the ever-present little kid named Amui.
Mahoroba shows Madoka her talisman. Madoka recognizes it as the "spark lance" his mother told him about. Madoka becomes involved in the village's interests and uses the spark lance to become Ultraman Tiga... just as his father once did, he later confides. He is defeated at one point, and Amui uses the spark lance to become another one of the stone giants. This leaves Madoka free to return to his own time without feeling guilty about leaving the village unprotected. But first he must say goddbye to Mahoroba. they have grown close over the time they have spent together. He tells her that she seems very familiar to him, as if he had always known her. She tells him that she has felt the same way.
The he says, "Yes, you remind me of my sister." She shoots him a look and he opens a locket he's been wearing around his neck and shows her a picture of himself and a young woman who could be Mahoroba's double. They conclude that Madoka must be her distant descendant. Whew! Close one. Madoka returns to the future and history forgets the village named "Tiga."
Time to start a new series! Last time I kinda skimped out by not posting music and lyrics and characters in the initial post, but I'm not going to make that mistake this time. Severla series between 1987 and 1996 are still missing, but Ultraman Dyna (1997-1998) immediately follows Ultraman Tiga. It is set in the same continuity, but takes place in 2017. The TPC (Terrestrial Peaceable Consortium) is still the organization, but the task force is now Super GUTS (Global Unlimited Task Squad). A lot of the action takes place in outer space. Super GUTS comprises seven members.
Officer Ryo Tumimura
I realize that's more than seven, but I'm not sure which of these will become regulars. Besides, the first story's a two-parter and they might not all survive. All of the characters are male except Officer Ryo Yumimura and Mai Midorikawa (who introduces herself as "Super GUTS' super lady). She, Captain Hibiki, Kariya and Nakajima are already part of the squad when rookies Shin Asuka and Takeru Fudo arrive. Asuka and Fudo are rivals. Additionally, Shin Asuka is the son of Kazuma Asuka, a former pilot. He is also the agent who becomes Ultraman Dyna.
A NEW LIGHT (Part 1): "The mysterious 'Sphere' attacks a base on Mars. Super GUTS immediately springs into action, and a new giant of light appears!"
Kaiju: Darambia / Neo Darambia
"A new giant of light appears" pretty much sums it up. Asuka is enveloped by a dazzling light and is transformed into Ultraman Dyna with no explanation. The story is left unresolved and continues into part two. Like Ultraman Tiga, Ultraman Dyna has three aspects: "Flash" type, "Miracle" type (blue) and "Strong" type (red). Each of these aspects emphasize different skills. His transformation item is called a "Lieflasher" (sic), and among his signature moves are solgent beam, beam slicer, flash cycler, dyna slash, ultra fork and ultra barrier.
I already posted lyrics back on page 26 when I looked at a bootleg version, but here are the opening and ending theme songs.
When he's in pain, is he Dyna Sore? HAW! HAW! HAW!
No, but when he flies he's Dyna Soar.