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, 38-45
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 (Oct. 19)
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!
Kurohiko's nickname was "Little Monster."
FLY! THE LEO BROTHERS SAVE THE SPACE BASE!: MAC astronaut Uchida returns from a mission to the Planet Atlanta but, as soon as he and Gen meet, "Uchida" telepathically reveals that he is actually Alien Atlanta in disguise. Atlanta infiltrates an important MAC mission to sabotage it, and Astra shows up at the last minute to help Ultraman Leo. (Astra is like "Racer X" to Leo's "Speed Racer," except Astra is the younger brother of the two.) They still haven't spoken all that much, not even, "So... how did you survive the destruction of our planet and where have you been since?"
HAUNTED DEVIL IN THE MIRROR: An alien woman thinks Kaoru looks like her dead daughter; Kaoru thinks the woman looks like her dead mother. The woman lures Kaoru to her in a park, and Kaoru is reluctant to come back when called. Gen gives chase but the woman disappears into a mirror. Later, while brushing her hair and thinking of her mother, the woman's image appears. Kaoru steps inside the mirror. Gen follows, but the woman summons a mirror-covered kaiju to fight Ultraman Leo.
SHOWDOWN! THE LEO BROTHERS VS. THE ULTRA BROTHERS: Ultraman Leo's brother, Astra, steals the Ultra Key from the Star of Ultra and sends their planet hurtling toward Earth. Ultraman, Ultraman Zoffy, Ultraman Ace and Ultraman Jack pursue. (I'm blanking on how this was resolved...?)
Oh, wait... I remember!
It wasn't resolved. This is a two-parter.
I have gotten so sick of the kids and the stories that revolve around them that I didn't watch this episode at all. Too bad. I would have liked it with all the Ultraman brothers. The show has been almost impossible for me to watch for a dozen or more episodes. I don't know how it ended either.
THE LEO BROTHERS, THE ULTRA BROTHERS, THE MOMENT OF VICTORY: Ultraman King arrives just in time to reveal Ultraman Astra as the evil Alien Barbarue in disguise. They run him off, but Planet Ultra is still on a collision course with Earth. Most of the rest of the episode is deals with the ramifications of that, as gravitational forces cause tidal waves and earthquakes. Barbarue has imprisoned the real Astra inside a block of frozen ice. As the ice melts, Astra is able to send a signal, which Dan receives. Leo and Astra defeat Barbarue, and Father of Ultra and Mother of Ultra show up at the end an make Leo and Astra official Ultra Brothers.
MAC ANNIHILATED! THE FLYING SAUCER IS ALIVE!: We are now entering a "flying saucer series." This episode's flying saucer looks like a giant cyborg jellyfish. But the most surprising thing is that several cast members were actually killed! First, the saucer attacked MAC HQ where Dan (sporting a brand new moustache) and several other MAC members were killed, then it attacked a shopping mall where Momoko and Kaoru were both killed. Also, several people from the gym where Gen works were killed. Gen and Toru go to live with a nurse who cared for them when they were injured. She has two daughters, one Toru's age and one in college.
THE SAUCER CREATURE FROM THE DEMON PLANET HAS COME!: A cloaked figure, Commander Black, is the one summoning the flying saucers from outer space in this episode, the previous and the next. the "saucers" are techno-organic in that they at first appear to be mechanical, but then transform into kaiju. Last episode's looked like a jellyfish, but this episode's in more crab-like. the college-age daughter of Gen and Toru's landlady works as a scientist and greatly admires her boss, another woman. They find a small specimen after this episode's saucer-creature, Black Doom, attacks and take it back to the lab. It comes to life when Gen's friend is alone with it in the lab, and the woman she admires totally turns on her, accusing her of stealing it in an attempt to hog the glory of discovery. Beyond the interpersonal dynamics, this was a standard episode, and Commander Black is still at large.
LEO'S IN DANGER! THE ASSASSIN IS A SAUCER CREATURE: Commander black summons another saucer creature, Avsorva, from the planet Black Star. A kindhearted boy named Hideyuki runs a "hospital" for injured animals in an old shed. A shrunken Avorsora takes refuge there. Avorsora sucks energy from the boy's body to regain its gigantic stature.
Gen and Toru's landlady's daughter's names are Izumi (college) and Ayumi (younger).
The "flying saucer series" is more than a trilogy.
The alien attacks the kid and Gen, tormenting the animals with chaos and fire, ultimately killing the sparrow rescued in the first scene.
This show is unwatchable to me now.
The abuse of animals for filming, for any reason, is too much.
CHALLENGE! TERROR OF THE BLOOD-SUCKING SAUCER: In this episode, Commander Black takes telepathic control of an innocent bystander to tell Gen that he must disappear or Toru will be in danger. Not wanting harm to befall Toru, Gen complies. Bad move. Toru lost his parents early in the season, and his sister and pseudo mother just a few episodes back. Now his pseudo father has abandoned him, leaving only a note that he is going away.
The monster this episode is a kind of vampire-spider, large enough to attach itself to its victims' torsos and suck blood directly from their chests.
THE SHOOTING STAR FROM HELL: Toru is still upset from the loss of his parents, sister and Momoko. When a little boy shows him an expensive watch his father brought back from Europe as a birthday present, then points out that Toru will never have such a present because he has no father, it sends toru over the edge and he beats the boy and breaks his watch, the boy's father, a scientist, doesn't want Gen to pay for the watch, just raise Toru better. The other boy finds what he thinks is a meteor but Toru recognizes as a saucer alien. When Gen confronts the boy's father, things do not go well.
This monster may be billed as a "shooting star" but make no mistake: it's a Gamera rip-off. In its small form, it looks like Spragg the Living Hill, but in its giant form its a turtle. It even shoots sparks out of the holes for its front appendages when it flies.
Believe it or not, there are still two more episodes left to go in the "Flying Saucer" series.