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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The Ultraman 80 series will go on sale September 14.

The Ultraman Tiga series will go on sale October 19.

After some deliberation, we decided to order a series from the 2K-teens rather than waiting. We already have Ultraman X, Ultraman Orb and Ultraman Geed, so we decided to go with the first series of the decade, Ultraman Ginga

ULTRAMAN COSMOS - "THE FIRST CONTACT"

Although we will be moving on to Ultraman Ginga as soon as it arrives, I do still have three discs of (dubbed) Ultraman Cosmos I have never seen which I have been saving for a time such as this. The first disc has an hour-and-a-half-long movie; I don't know what's on the other two discs.

The movie opens with a blue-clad Ultraman fighting an updated version of Baltan from the original series. Ultraman runs out of energy, is injured and crashes to Earth. He is found by a little boy named Mushashi Haruno who has an interest in astronomy. Mushashi reflects some light onto the receptor on Ultraman's forehead, reviving him. They communicate telepathically. Mushashi names him Ultraman Cosmos, and he gives the boy a crystal.

Mushashi asks to fly with Cosmos, and he obliges. Cosmos carries him in his hand, but no one below can see them. He sees his sister, his parents and his grandfather below. Later, no one believes him. His grandfather is secretly the head scientist of an organization known as SRC, the Science Research Center. Mushashi's school teacher is also an agent. His grandfather wears a pink lab coat, and all of the other operatives wear powder blue. Their "action suits" include multi-colored bicycle helmets.

The SRC learns that the Beltans communicate on a particular frequency. They follow the frequency to a park where a giant dragon bursts forth from the ground. The dragon doesn't seem particularly threatening, but it is the SRC's job to contain it. Their ships have giant mechanical boxing gloves (I'm not kidding) which they use to herd it where they want it to go, and they use a freeze ray to subdue it with the intention of re-burying it.

Then the militaristic group known as "Shark" arrives on the scene to kill it. They fire missiles which only serve to wake it up and make it mad. Mushashi tries to use his crystal to summon Ultraman, but it doesn't work (I think because Cosmos is still recuperating), and he loses face in front of his friends. SRC detects the Baltan frequency being beamed at the dragon. They block the frequency, which allows Shark to kill the dragon. Then Baltan emerges from the dragon, indicating that Baltan was controlling it all along. 

The Baltans have been receiving television signals from Earth for 50 years and have determined that Earth is on the same path to self-destruction they experienced on their planet, so they flew to Earth to take over and prevent that from happening. The next time Baltan appears, the SRC planes, instead of boxing gloves, extent loudspeakers. Mushashi teacher plays a keyboard from inside the plane, sending music everywhere. All the people on the ground begin to sing, lulling Baltan to sleep.

The Baltans are a peaceful people. They really want to take control for Earth's own good. The sleeping giant Baltan floats to Earth, then Shark arrives and begins pelting it with missiles. Mushashi summons Ultraman Cosmos with the crystal, and this time it works. Cosmos fights Beltan to a standstill, then Shark attacks again. Beltan sheds a few tears, then dies. After that, hundreds of human-size Beltans (children, we are told) fly down from orbit to carry the giant Beltan back into space. The movie ends with a message: preserve Earth.

This movie was dubbed into English, but with (what sounds like to me) fake Japanese accents. 

I've got that picture on disk.  I haven't watched it in ages, maybe I'll break it out tonight.

"I don't know what's on the other two discs."

The other two discs are...

Ultraman Cosmos 2: "The Blue Planet"

Ultraman Cosmos vs. Ultraman Justice: "The Final Battle"

Both are about an hour and 15 minutes long.

Watched this tonight.  My thoughts are interspersed below in bold

Jeff of Earth-J said:

ULTRAMAN COSMOS - "THE FIRST CONTACT"

Mushashi names him Ultraman Cosmos

I didn't get that impression at all. My impression is that Cosmos told  Musashi his name telepathically.

He sees his sister, his parents and his grandfather below.

I'm pretty sure he doesn't have a sister.  The girl he sees is Mari, one of his little pals. The policeman (whose name escapes me) is his stepfather. Musashi's biological father died several years before, and a running theme in the picture is the burgeoning relationship between the two.  Also, I'm reasonably certain that the old toyman who turns out to be the SRC scientist is not Musashi's grandfather.

They follow the frequency to a park where a giant dragon bursts forth from the ground.

The dragon's name is Don-Ron.

Their ships have giant mechanical boxing gloves (I'm not kidding)

This is goofy AF.

.

Then the militaristic group known as "Shark" arrives on the scene to kill it.

Shigemura, the leader of SHARK, is a one-dimensional character made of the purest cardboard with no redeeming characteristics whatsoever.   

Cosmos fights Beltan to a standstill

In their final battle both Baltan and Cosmos keep pulling powers out of their arses, to the point where I felt that the film needed a sideline character to say "You've gotta be f***ing s****ing me."

Beltan sheds a few tears, then dies. After that, hundreds of human-size Beltans (children, we are told) fly down from orbit to carry the giant Beltan back into space. 

It's kind of a bleak ending.  Earth is safe, but with their protector dead, the Baltan children leave Earth to go share the fate of their dead planet. 

This movie was dubbed into English, but with (what sounds like to me) fake Japanese accents. 

Mine's in Japanese, with subtitles written by someone with a less than perfect grasp of English.

Overall, it was an OK lightweight kiddie super-hero film.  This is a prequel to the Ultraman Cosmos TV series, set eight years before the events of the show.

"My impression is that Cosmos told Musashi his name telepathically."

Your version is in Japanese with English subtitles; mine is dubbed. In my version, Mushashi definitely names him "Cosmos." It's like watching different versions of Godzilla movies back-to-back; sometimes the subtitles do not reflect at all what's dubbed into English. Regarding some of the other discrepancies you point out, chalk that up to me not paying close enough attention. 

"The dragon's name is Don-Ron."

Really? I didn't catch that. Maybe it should run for President (the Republican party's dream ticket).

Moving on, Amazon Prime's pretty frikkin' amazing. I used to order a lot of stuff by mail order when I was a kid, and "Please allow 4-6 weeks for delivery" is pretty much baked into my DNA. I continue to be surprised the speed of Amazon.com deliveries. What I'm trying to say is, we received Ultraman Ginga yesterday and have already watched the first episode. Consequently, I'm setting those other two Ultraman Cosmos discs aside for the next "emergency" and will be moving directly into Ultraman Ginga

Before I get started, I would just like to mention that I'm in the process of re-reading this entire thread and revising the initial post (as I have done from time-to-time all along), emboldening series covered in this discussion and listing which pages they can be found. I have jumped around quite a bit from "classic" to new, plus I've fallen into the habit of posting about every single episode of the old series, but providing only overviews of the newer series. I haven't yet decided how I'll approach Ultraman Ginga.

ULTRAMAN GINGA

"TOWN OF FALLING STARS": The main character is Hikaru Raido. After graduating high school, he traveled the world including the United States and Africa. As the story opens, he has just returned to his home town after visiting the Abbey Road studio in London. While walking through a park, he is startled by a young woman careering down a hill in a baby buggy. He saves her, only to discover she is his childhood friend, Misuzu Isurugi. 

(At the top of the hill, a woman lost control of the buggy and screamed that her baby was in danger. Misuzu rushed to the rescue, but was so shocked to discover that the "baby" was a French poodle, that she herself fell into the baby buggy.)

As they walk past their old school, Hikaru expresses his intention to visit Ginga Shrine atop Ginga Mountain, but Misuzu explains that a meteor destroyed it some time ago. The altar remained intact, however, and the school allowed the monk to set up the temple in an unused classroom within the school. Hikaru and Misuzu soon hook up with two other friends from school, a boy named Tomoya Ichijouji and a girl (with an amazingly annoying high-pitched voice) named Kenta Watari.

While by himself, Hikaru opens the shrine to find a hand-held device and a doll of Ultraman Taro. Taro communicates telepathically and tells him about the Dark Spark War. the practical upshot of this is that all of the Ultramen and all of the monsters were transformed into "Spark Dolls" and scattered on Ginga Mountain. Taro also tells Hikaru how to go about restoring him. The next day, Hikaru takes the doll and the device up the mountain, but is interrupted by Misuzu who has followed him. She knows all about the Spark Doll and the device. She herself tried to revive Taro, but failed. Hikaru tries, but also fails. 

Meanwhile, Dark Lugiel sends Alien Valky to Earth to use the dark Dummy sparks. Hikaru and Misuzu encounter two men illegally dumping garbage on the mountain. They fight, but the men run off when a cop on a bicycle arrives and gives chase. Hikaru finds a Spark Doll of the kaiju Black King, and touches it to the hand-held device in the same way Taro told him to do with his own Spark Doll, but this time, the process works, and Hikaru finds himself in control of the giant monster!

Suddenly, another monster called Thunder Darambia arrives on the scene and they begin to fight. Hikaru, from "inside" Black King, can "see inside" Darambia and knows that it is being controlled by the two petty criminals. Hikaru/Black King is losing, until Hikaru mentally calls on the power of Ultraman Taro and becomes Ultraman Ginga (a sort of merger of Taro and Black King). Ginga destroys Darambia with a Ginga Thunderbolt, and the criminals fall to the ground unconscious. 

When these series were released in the U.S., I don't know why they didn't start with this one. the whole concept of "Spark Dolls" and whatnot is explained much more clearly than in the later series. 

Today's Amalgam:  The Stretchable Spaceman, Ultraman Gingold!

A MIDSUMMER NIGHT'S DREAM: Taro has no idea who "Ultraman Ginga" is. Forget what I said about characters yesterday. Hikaru and Misuzu are the only ones I am certain of. Tomoya was introduced in the second episode. the boy I introduced as Tomoya yesterday is actually Kenta (I think), who I introduced as the girl. Until I get the characters straight, Hikaru is Ultraman Ginga, and Misuzu is his girlfriend (?). I know from X, Orb and Geed that these male/female relationships are pretty platonic, but Hikaru and Misuzu do hold hands and gaze lovingly into each other's eyes a lot. 

At the beginning of this episode, the monk from the Ginga Shrine is subjecting the two litterers from the previous episode to penance. Outside, a punk biker sees Hikaru and Misuzu together, declares that he "hates flirting," and chases her on his motorcycle. She freezes but before she's run over, Hikaru saves her. the experience reminds her of a time when she and Hikaru were playing hide-and-seek in the woods and she got the feeling she was being chased, a memory she had suppressed. 

Meanwhile, Alien Valky has transformed the biker into the kaiju Kemur. Hikaru changes into Darambia (the kaiju he defeated in the previous episode), but is defeated. Hikaru then calls on Ultraman Ginga (I think I see a formula developing here) and defeats Kemur. 

After the episode proper and the next episode preview, there is a little segment in which the Spark Dolls featured in a give episode get together for a parley. These short segments are not subtitled, so I have no idea what they're saying to each other! Now, keeping with tradition, here are the lyrics (also not subtitled) to the Ultraman Ginga theme.

Even if I stand alone, I’ll be there to protect you
I’ll always, always, always, always
Be there by your side
It may not be easy, and it may not be painless
But I know, I know, I know, I know
The end is in sight!

Through the darkest night, keep on shining, Ginga!
Let your light us guide us together once more!

Let the dreams in your heart take flight once more
And watch them soar, soar, soar, soar
Soar ever higher!
Give me your hand, and I'll hold it tight
And never, never, never, never
Never let it go!

From now till eternity, keep on shining, Ginga!
(We give the light within us)
May your light ever grace the skies!
(To you, Ultraman Ginga!)

One day, I know we may have to part
But never forget that smile, or the kindness it shows
And never forget that we are friends

(Let's go, Ginga!)

Through the darkest night, keep on shining, Ginga!
(Let’s walk together, towards the future)
Let your light us guide us together once more!
(With you at our sides, Ultraman Ginga)

Ultraman Ginga theme song: Ginga No Uta

The latest Spark Dolls conversion seemed to be the three kaiju making fun of Taro. I really need these to be subtitled. 

THE TWIN-HEADED FLAME BEAST: Here's a recap of the characters and who I think they are at this point.

Hikaru Raido - Ultraman Ginga

Misuzu Isurugi - Hikaru's "girlfriend" (?)

Tomoya Ichijoji (male) - Hikaru's friend, but also seems to have an evil secret identity, Jean-Killer

Chigusa Kuno (female) - This is the one with the annoying, high-pitched voice who Tracy refers to as "Bernadette" (as in "Rostenkowski")

Kenta Watarai (male) - An amateur photographer, friend of the group

Yuka Sugo (female) - Flirts with Kenta (this episode only)

The semi-regular adult character is a bicycle cop whose name is Kaki, I think.

The school that serves as their "headquarters" was their primary school, and it is closed. The Ginga Shrine has been moved there since the original mountain location was destroyed, and Hikaru lives in the school as well.

Alien Valky draws upon the dark side of humanity to create his kaiju, as the litterers in the first episode and the biker in the second. In this episode, he draws on Yuka' nature to create the double-headed, fire-breathing King Panden. 

Hikaru shouts "Ultilive!" to transform. This episode he transforms into Fire Kemar (the kaiju he defeated in the previous episode) first, before calling on Ultraman Ginga. Yuka/Panden has the ability to see into a person's true self. she determines that Kenta does not have what it takes to become a famous photographer, and sets out to destroy his dream. By the end of the episode, she comes to realize that she doesn't have the right to destroy his hopes and aspirations, no matter what she belies. [And that, children, is this episode's sledgehammer message.]

THE IDOL IS RAGON: There is a photoshoot scheduled at the closed elementary school (don't ask me why). The shoot is also apparently scheduled to take two days, and the photographer stays overnight, sleeping in a tent on the floor. Chigusa aspires to be an "idol" (which I gather is a model, but also a kind of pop icon). the photographer and his assistant arrive, but the model cancels. Chigusa is eager to take her place, but the photographer chooses Misuzu, who doesn't even want the job, instead. He dresses he in a sailor suit and the snapping begins.

NOTE: Apparently this closed school has a well-maintained swimming pool.

When they wake up the next morning, they discover that the photographer's assistant has left during the night, taking all of the equipment with him. Kenta is eager to volunteer his services. Tomoya stirs Chigusa's jealousy, giving Valky the opportunity to transform her into the sea creature Ragon (looks like the "Creature from the Black  Lagoon" and first appeared way back in Ultra Q). Chigusa/Ragon grows to giant size, and Hikaru at first transfers into the monster from the previous episode to fight her.

When that doesn't work, he calls on the power of Ultraman Ginga. Ginga (telepathically) and Misuzu (over the school's P.A. system), convince Chigusa/Ragon to end her attack. Ragon becomes a Spark Doll and Chigusa returns to human form. But then Tomoya appears as the giant transormer/robot Jean-Killer. [According to the internet, "Jean" is Japanese for "God's Grace."] Jean-Killer pushes UIltraman Ginga past his three-minute time limit (which Hikaru didn't even know about), then departs.

Later, Misuzu steps aside allowing Chigusa to become idol for Kenta's photoshoot. 

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