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 Q  
Ultraman 1966-67
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-?
Ultraman Dyna 1997-98 - p.26
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!

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AH! THE GIRAFFES AND ELEPHANTS ALL TURNED TO ICE!!: "Cap wants UGM to defeat the monster Margodon on its own. Can UGM succeed without Ultraman 80's help?"

Kaiju: Margodon

The usually temperate town of Minamihara is struck by an ice storm, caused by the monster Margodon,  which freezes everything, including the animals in the zoo. Throughout the briefing, Cap gives Takeshi the stink eye. When someone mentions that Ultraman 80 will bail them out even if UGM fails to stop the monster, cap explodes, saying that 80 will never appear again. Later, Cap reveals that he knows that Takeshi is 80, but that humanity must learn to fight its own battles, even though Margodon is staged as the greatest threat Earth has ever faced.

Takeshi agrees and does not transform; this episodes action sequence is all flashbacks. UGM does defeat Margodon, and Takeshi and Ryoko fly off to the Planet Ultra for reassignment. This is the only real  (i.e., non-flashback) transformation this episode, and Ryoko's second transformation ever. the real shock comes when they return to HQ and are greeted by none other than (wait for it)... Emi Jono! (an android of her, anyway). Sera and the weather girl had UGM's science division whip up an android Emi because everyone missed her so much. The android is dressed in a shiny silver suit and has a really creepy voice. 

I've been at this for a while now. I think I'm going to take a break from "Ultraman" for the rest of the year at least. 

This was a disappointing last episode. Their captain didn't want 80's help and wanted the two to leave Earth. It was more pride and ego than intelligence or leadership. 

After a month and a half break, I'm ready to delve back into the world of Ultraman with...

ULTRAMAN TIGA:

I posted some thoughts about Ultraman Tiga dubbed into English back on page 25, but now I've got the real thing! there are substantial differences between the English and the Japanese versions, so I'm just going to ignore the dubbed one and concentrate on the original.

Terrestrial Peaceable Consortium: The TCP is a global organization headquartered in Japan. 

Global Unlimited Task Squad: "GUTS" is a specialized which operates out of the Far East base.

Daigo is the GUTS member who becomes Ultraman Tiga. All of the team have their names on the backs of their uniform jackets; I'm sure I'll be identifying them by name and specialty as they become relevant.

Transformation Item: Sparklence

In the opening episode, a meteorite crashes to Earth heralding the arrival of two kaiju, Golza and Melba. But the "meteorite" cracks open to reveal that it is actually a super-sophisticated time capsule from an advanced race of humans from millions of years ago. The capsule projects a hologram of a woman who directs them to a place where statues of the giants of light can be found. The monsters destroy two of them, but Daigo merges with the third, Ultraman Tiga, Multi Type. He can switch his form between Sky Type (blue costume), Power Type (red costume) and Multi Type (blue and red costume), but can stay giant-sized for only three minutes or so regardless of how many forms he uses.

Last time I think I burned myself out trying to comment on every single episode, so we'll see how it goes this time. 

"Premiering in 1996, Ultraman Tiga was the first new Ultraman Japanese television series in fifteen years."

What about Ultraman Great and Ultraman Powered? Well, Ultraman Great (1990), anyway, was an Australian production. I was aware of it at the time and had the opportunity to buy it on VHS, but declined in order to obtain the original series (which I have long since replaced with DVDs). 

2nd Episode Kaiju: Gakuma

The special effects are finally starting to show some improvement. The SFX of the first seven series all look pretty much the same, but they're not yet at the "constant explosion of light and color" of the 2K-teen series. Tiga is like a reboot as no one has seen an Ultra before. The opening theme song of the first two episodes changed with episode three and I'm having a hard time finding the lyrics to the original online. I may have to transcribe them.

Episode 2 was interesting because they explained Tiga's color changes. He has multi, red, and purple. Each change means he has more power or speed. I don't remember the exact pairings. 

ORIGINAL OPENING SONG (first two episodes - bold text in English)

Wake up now from your faraway dream

Stand up now for love and justice

The town and the people are being targeted by darkness

Sinking deeper and deeper into an ocean of sadness

From the past to save our future - save our future

Return peace to Earth using your power

From the love of strength and peace - save us!

Shine light with your power Ultraman Tiga

CLOSING SONG

Tiga, now there is not enough courage

Tiga, please grant me courage

Even through strength is strong

One cannot fight all alone

Even if you strongly desire the future

You won't arrive there by yourself

Breaking down this sky veiled in sadness

Receiving an SOS to the tomorrow that you await

Tiga, it is love that is now necessary

Tiga, please gaze at the Earth

In the episode we watched last night, alien "Clitters" (which look like tadpoles) come to Earth. Exposure to radio waves causes them to transform into a combined form called Gazort, which looks like a combination bat and stingray. Horii (one of the GUTS guys) figures out a way to communicate with them using an electronic device of his own invention. Gazort speaks with a quite incongruous, high-pitched, child-like voice. Horii asks Gazort to stop its rampage and tells it that they are friends. When Gazort responds that "Friends are food," Horii realizes that the Clitters feed upon each other and he has just invited them to dinner, with humans as the main course. Looking ahead, the Clitters/Gazoort will return in episodes 15 and 28. I just like saying "Clitters" and "Gazort." 

Hideaki Anno, director of Shin Godzilla and creator of Neon Genesis Evangelion, is creating a Japanese "Marvel Cinematic Universe" combining Godzilla, Ultraman, Kamen Rider and Evangelion.  Story here.

I'm assuming you all know Godzilla and Ultraman.  I discuss NGE here, although I fear that I didn't do it justice.  Kamen Rider is about a masked motorcyclist hero, and has been the subject of over thirty TV series, 12 TV specials and over a hundred movies, including theatrical releases and direct-to-video and on-line stuff.

If this happens, with Anno at the helm, it has the potential to be the coolest tokusatsu ever or an epic trainwreck that will live in history, or both.

Very interesting.

Now that I've stopped posting about every episode, sometimes I forget to post about any episode, but the one we watched last night was quite different. An extra-dimensional being, disguised as a witch, sets a trap for unwary children "On the Night of Halloween" in order to steal their dreams. GUTS detects an energy field and, so as not to upset the local populace, sends a team dressed in costume to investigate. Lots of Kirby-esque "Sandman" imagery in this one. 

One of the last episodes I watched had the GUTS officers sitting around the command center table. They were all sitting there except for the young woman member. She is standing behind the male commander, using her elbow to massage his neck/shoulder area. In the next scene with all the crew, she is massaging his neck with her fingers. 

  1. Words failed me. I just looked at Jeff, stunned. 

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