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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Ultra Hawk: 3 ships
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Bala 7...
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Tracy of Moon-T said:

Bala 7...
 
Bala: "I said "NO PICTURES!"

"The IMDB lists over a dozen guys called "Tim Reid", so it's not necessarily the same one."

Yeah, it's hard to be sure.  I just figured, with his sense of humor, it might have been him.

Somewhere around here I have one videotape of ULTRA MAN-- store bought, where the tape casing was made of RED plastic. (Only one I've ever seen like that!)  I'm annoyed that the thing has gone missing... I can't imagine haviong loaned it to anyone, but sometimes around this house things disappear for years on end.  I remember when I got the tape (about 15 years ago) being overwhelmed at HOW DAMN GOOD the show was.

Bala sometimes gets so frightened she has to cover her eyes… then she falls asleep.

One episode we watched over the weekend, “Android Zero Directive,” bears distinct similarities to Doctor Who’s Autons. Another similarity: missing episodes. Well, not so much plural as singular, and not so much missing as withheld. There is a two-page essay in the DVD liner notes explaining why episode #12, “From Another Planet With Love,” was not made available from the licensor. Essentially, it was banned from broadcast in Japan due to concerns that the episode’s featured aliens, portrayed as disfigured creatures afflicted with radiation sickness and burns, would be offensive to survivors of the atomic bombs dropped in Japan during World War II.

Tonight's episode had a mini origin story of how Ultraseven got his human form, Dan. I do miss the more humorous plots but these stories are very good. The actor that plays Dan has talent. He has a very convincing range of non-verbal emotions since he has to hide his alien thoughts from the Ultra Guard.

When Ultraman came to Earth, he accidentally killed Hyata, then merged their lifeforces to save his life. Ultraseven appeared on the scene as Dan Moroboshi, an identity he apparently created. This episode reveals, in flashback, that when Ultraseven appeared on Earth, he rescued a mountain climber. Two men were climbing and one got in trouble. So as not to drag his partner down with him, the man sacrificed himself by cutting the rope. He lost consciousness before Ultraseven saved him, apparently uninjured after a 700 foot fall. After that, he was nicknamed “Miracle Man.”

So impressed by the man’s selflessness was Ultraseven that he copied the man’s form and personality for his human disguise. In this episode, the Miracle Man is trapped inside a collapsed mine. SPOILER He goes back into the mine to save his pet mouse, and at the end of the episode, when Ultraseven saves the man, he leaves the mouse behind. During the course of the episode, an race of robots is discovered living beneath the surface. (they’re cool-looking robots, but they cluck just like chickens.) At the end, the city is destroyed and the narrator poses the questions, “Was this an alien race, or a long lost species living beneath the surface? Now we will never know.” END SPOILER.

As Tracy commented, “The Third Doctor would not be happy!”

I will definitely watch this series someday.  I must see the chicken-robots.

I had just commented that I was missing the humor and out comes a robot clucking like a chicken! Yeah!

The first episode had a robot that looked like a chicken; this episode had robots that clucked like one. (I wouldn’t be too surprised if I were to discover that the concept of Seth Green’s “Robot Chicken” was based at least partially on Ultraseven.) The robots weren’t too formidable otherwise; they could be incapacitated by a single ray blast. I think their chief defense is to cluck like a chicken then take their opponents by surprise when they start laughing hysterically.

Prior to this there was a two-parter which followed essentially the same arc as the entire third season of Star Trek: Enterprise (an alien race launches a pre-emtive attack against Earth in the mistaken belief that Earth intends to invade).

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