Ultraman Max

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 
Return of…(Jack) 1971-72 
Ultraman Ace 1972-73 
Ultraman Taro 1973-74 
Ultraman Leo 1974-75 
Ultraman 80 1980-81 
Ultraman USA (The Adventure Begins) 1987
Ultraman Great (Towards the Future) 1990-91 
Ultraman Powered (The Ultimate Hero) 1993 
Ultraman Hero 1995
Ultraman Zearth (parody) 1996-97 
Ultraman Tiga 1996-97 
Ultraman Dyna 1997-98 
Ultraman Gaia 1998-99 
Ultraman Nice 1999-00
Ultraman Neos 2000-2001
Ultraman Cosmos 2001-02 
Ultra Q: Dark Fantasy 2004 
Ultraman: Next 2004 - p.82
Ultraman Nexus 2004-05 - p.82
Ultraman Max 2005-06 - p.86
Ultraman Mebius 2006-07
Ultraman UltraSeven X 2007
Ultraman Retsuden 2011-13
Neo Ultra Q 2013
Ultraman Ginga 2013 
Ultraman Ginga S 2014 
Ultraman X 2015-16 
Ultraman Orb 2016 
Ultraman Geed 2017 
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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  • KING JOE IN LOVE: "Four mysterious UFOs descent to Earth. What is their connection to the robot King Jow and the Zetton aliens?"

    The episode begins with the DASH team watching live video of Kaito on his "day off." Apparently he is on a date, and Mizuki is visibly jealous. Professor Yoshinaga takes her aside and explains that Kaito is rerally undercover, keeping an eye on Natsumi. The Zettonian came to Earth 10,000 years ago and performed genetic experiments on humans, and Natsumi has some of that nano-DNA. she works in a day care center with Ken, who has invented a robot, King Joe, to entertain the kids. King Joe is made up of four component: two legs, a torso and head. (The previous night, four UFOs had been detected.) That night, the Zettonian contects Natsumi and tells her to kill Kaito.

    The next day, King Joe transforms into giant size, and the mind-controlled Natsumi pilots it. Ultraman Max defeats the robot and the Zettonian orders Natsumi to kill Kaito, but she breaks his control. It is unusual for Ultraman to fight a giant robot, but King Joe was originally seen in a 1967 episode of UltraSeven. I haven't mentioned it before, but these episodes have many ads for tie-ins in the end credits, but they're all in Japanese.

    • Ultraman Max uses the newly-acquired power of "Max Galaxy" to defeat King Joe.

  • This episode really is quite remarkable. I just wanted to say that up front.

    MIRACLE OF THE THIRD PLANET: "A mysteriouswhite object has appeared. When DASH tries to destroy it, the twisted monster If emerges."

    The episode begins with a little girl (like four or five years old) named Akko, an art prodigy, who is losing her sight. An operation doesn't help, but she can still hear so she decides to take up the piccolo instead. Then this giant white object, like a mushroom, lands from outer space. After investigating, DASH firebombs it, but the thing shoots fire at them. then they shoot missiles, but it changes into a turle-like thing and shoots "missiles" back. Whatever weapon they use against it, it can replicate. "If" keeps morphing into ever more dangerous forms. Meanwhile, it is the night of Akko's fist recital, but If destroys the music hall, then goes on to wreck the rest of the city. Barefoot and in tears (not to mention blind), Akko stumbles out into the devastation. (Think Miracleman #15.)

    She finds her way to the monster and tearfully demands, "What's the matter, Mr. Monster [Kaiju-san]... don't you like music? Because I love it!" Then, tearfully, she puts the piccolo to her lips and begins to play. Soon, If begins to extrude flutes from it's back and begins to play the simple melody, then adding counterpoint and harmony. Some of the weapons from earlier in the episode begin to transform into horns, and strings, and a harp, and organ pipes. Soon, If is playing an entire symphony based on Akko's piccolo solo. Ultraman Max carries the girl into space (protecting her somehow, while simultaneously allowing her music to be heard), and leads If away. The moral is if you meet something new with violence it will respond with violence, but if you meet it with beauty it will respond likewise. A really very well-done episode. Very impressive. 

    Sean's English: "Missile lock. Fire!" and "Say what?!"

     

  • WHO AM I?: "DASH's members begin to suffer from a mysterious form of amnesia. which means Kaito has forgotten how to become Ultraman Max!"

    But it's not just DASH... three meteors fall to Earth and, shortly thereafter, everybody starts forgetting everything: a mother forgets her daughter's name; newscasters forget how to read; even pets forget how to do tricks. Three aliens "cats" emerge from the meteors: Tama, Mike, and... something else. I don't know why they're called "cats" necessarily... they look like armored, spikey eggs with a giant eye in front and a mouth. One the opposite ends, they have, well... cats' butts. they also meow. DAH memebers forget how to operate their vehicles, and Kaito forgets how to activate his Max Spark (transformation device). He does manage to activate it (eventually), but only by accident. Then he can't remember how to fight. Elly is the only one not affected. She tries to step up and instruct everyone how to operate their devices but she is not very successful. This episode does have some laughs.

    Sean's English: "Help meee!"

  • ICE BEAUTY: "After an Antarctic earthquake, the UDF recovers a woman's frozen body. Then, the monster Eraga appears off the coast of Australia..."

    This is a very Kirby-esgue plot (the Kree, the Eternals) in which an alien race came to Earth 100,000 years ago and gave mankind the capacity to dream. The frozen woman, Nina, is, of course, one of those aliens. She is almost undescribably beautiful, and all of the DASH members (even Mizuki) are attracted to her to one degress or another, but no one more than Koba. when she eventually 'thaws out" (as we all knew she would), she touches Koba and absorbs all of his racial memories. She determines that mankind is a failure and summons Eraga to wipe them out so she can start again. Eventually, Koba kills Nina and Max kills Eraga.

    Sean's English: "Wow!" and "Sleeping Beauty" and "Gotcha!"

  • BRIGHT WORLD: "Earth suddenly has two suns, and it's never night. What is the Shaman alien's scheme?"

    Kaito and Mizuki are out on a "date" (actually, she is treating him to lunch for helping her with a report) when a second sun appears in the sky. People soon start to go nuts. A Businessman-type steps off a rooftop but disappears before he hits the ground. Next, he appears in SDF headquarters and introduces himself as a "Shaman." (He gives off a real "Mr. Mxyzptlk" vibe.) Eventually he calls on his giant counterpart, who is equally annoying. the giant has a fighting style roughly equivalent to a cross between Curly Howard and Harpo Marx. At one point, he squats over and lets rip with a huge green-cloud fart which knocks over abuilding (and, no doubt, delighting 13-year-olds everywhere). Eventually, the Shaman's secret is discovered: they lose all power in the dark. At that point, it's simply a matter of using photon blah-blah-blah to cut of the light from the twin suns. At the end of the episode, Kaito and Mizuki are again on a date, butt his time at night.

    Sean's English: "UFO" (which he pronounces "U-foe"), "alien," "wow!" and "oh, no!"

     

  • THE ONE FROM THE DOOR: "Archaeologists discover evidence that Ultraman Max visited Earth long ago. they also discover lost alien technology."

    An old colleague of the Captain is an archaeologist now. Professor Yoshinaga is sent to assist him. Extra geek points for Tracy who immediately recognised the archaeologist as the actor who played Dan Moroboshi (UltraSeven). We also get to see Elly in "attack mode" for the first time in this episode, which involves wearing a sports bra and a skirt. Also in this episode she prays (or pretends to). In a previous episode, she expressed jealousy toward Mizuki (or pretended to). The "door" of the title is a dimensional doorway which transports Max and DASH to an alien world with three suns. they almost have to leave Kaito behind, but Mizuki refuses to leave him there. Could we possibly at last see a romantic relationship between the male and female leads of an Ultraman show?

    Sean's English: "Hey, relax," "Unbelievable!" "Cool!" and "Don't worry... come on." He also breaks the fourth wall at one point when he picks up a weapon and says to the audience, "I made this" (but he says it in Japanese). 

  • DRIFTING MONSTER: "The cloud-like monster Cloudos appears. Can DASH defeat him without waking him up?"

    A .ight-hearted, tongue-in-cheek episode. A spacewarp opens and a kaiju emerges. It looks like a spikey turtle, but it is asleep and floats in the sky. Whenever it begins to wake up, however, it somehow gains mass and comes crashing towords the ground. DASH's job is to get rid of it without waking it up, but it's so light when sleeping that the breez blows it from place to place (usually noisy places). The Captain's superior officer is onhand when the monster arrives and takes great delight in naming it ("Cloudos"), but the individual memebers of DASH all seem to think that that's a silly name. At one point, DASH makes a set of giant earplugs for Cloudos, but mistake its nostrils for its ears and end up waking it up. Another joke is that the Captain's hair turns progressively grey throughout the episode. (If you're wondering whether or not this this development will have and continuity with episodes yet to come, it is already back to normal by the end.) Oddly, Ultraman Max has his own in-story TV show, complete with the real show's actual opening credit sequence. A nice change-of-pace episode.

    Sean's English: "What!?" and "Oh, no!"

  • CHALLENGE FROM UNDERGROUND: "The fearsome Gomora has appeared. What is the connection between GTSE and the monster?"

    A woman is tracking a gomorosuarus, which later grows into Gomora. She is actually looking for her father, an eco-terrorist from the country of Fridnya (which is where Barnabas Collins is from) who works for GSTE (God Save The Earth) whom she suspects of smuggling the gomorosaurus into Japan. She never does find him, but eventually comes to associate Gomora with her father. Gomora is one of those monsters I realy feel sorry for because he seems to be in genuine pain when fired upon by DASH and beaten up by Ultraman Max. Gomora has an active tail, which Max eventually cuts off (and if you don't feel sorry for it when that happens you have no heart). It's tail then becomes active and "double-teams" Max, until Max grabs the tail and beats Gomora to death with it. 

    Sean's English: "Don't worry" and "Where are you going?"

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