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, 38-46
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, 46-50
Ultraman Dyna 1997-98 - p.26, 50
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!
An adorable creature to make Asuka more palatable? Yes.
Jeff of Earth-J said:
"Which of those two looks goofier?"
Too close to call.
Tracy says "yes." (She found photos of the Hanejiro toys while searching for a picture to post.)
PHANTOM THIEF HIMALA: "The mysterious document that says 'Your city will be taken over' comes fluttering to the Super GUTS and three cities disappear!"
Another episode I forgot to post while fresh in my mind.
MONSTER FACTORY: "A boy named Takeshi witnesses an alien assembling a monster at a place where a fireball landed. Asuka and Kariya investigate."
Kaiju: Garaon, Alien Miji
The summary should have mentioned the boy is a pathological liar. This one was a little too slapstick for my tastes, but it had a funny ending.
THE LORD WHO SLEEPS ON THE MOON: "Kariya and the team investigate a relic discovered on the moon. However, Kariya, who is now home after the investigation, seems strange."
Kaiju: Huadha Isiris
As the episode would have it, in the '70s the ruins of an ancient city were discovered beneath the moon's surface (probably some distance away from the Moonmaid's valley, the "Blue Area" and Moonbase Alpha.
"...the ruins of an ancient city were discovered..."
Oh, and they called it "The Valley of the Kings."
GENTLE TARGET: "The alien Krea Shion is captured. the team has doubts, but Mai believes the alien. However, Shion eventually reveals his true nature."
Kaiju: Gyanzar, Kurea Nebula Alien
Krea Shion is basically a hoy guy, which explains why Mai is into him. I fell asleep during this episode and woke up just as Mai was waking up, disoriented, in a hospital bed with her teammates around her. It was an interesting phenomenon and probably just as well.
THE FIERCE BATTLE! MONSTER ISLAND: "Right after Asuka and Nakajima rejoice in seeing Hanejiro again at the biotechnology lab, Dr. Otomo from the lab and Hanejiro go missing."
Kaiju: Neosaurus, clone of Silvergon
I haven't forgotten to post; we took a few days off watching. Hanjiro, remember, is the cute little plush toy introduced in "Phantom Planet" i thought at the time was going to be GUTS' mascot. Instead it's been under study at the biotechnology lab. As the summary says, Dr. Otomo and Hanejiro go missing, but it neglects to point out that they disappeared into a Bermuda Triangle-like area called the Zariina Zone. Through the zone is an island where Dr. Otomo has been cloning kaiju. We have already learned that Hanejiro has the intelligence of a second grader; now Otomo is trying to siphon its intelligence into one of his clones. In the old days, Hanjiro would not have survived, but in this era he recovers. Whether he goes on to play a bigger role in the series remains to be seen.
GHOST SPACESHIP: "A spaceship passes by cities and turns them into ghost towns. The beam sucks the sould out of the people into the spacecraft."
Kaiju: Zombaiyu, Alien Shilback.
Another episode I neglected to post while it was still fresh in my mind. Space zombies, basically.
THE GIRLS WHO CALL ON DARKNESS: "Super GUTS investigates a missing persons incident and sees that students from the same girls' high school were among the missing people."
Teenage girls playing with occult forces they don't understand, an unusual premise for an "Ultraman" show.
THE PHANTOM BIRD: "Something attacks the power stations in China and heads for Japan. Mayumi, whose boyfriend is Takuma, sees the bird monster in her dreams."
Creepy-looking kaiju design: the body of a woman with the head of a bird; inside the bird's mouth is the head of a woman.
THE ALIEN BOY: "Radar has been detecting a faint foreign life form. Meanwhile, a boy learns that he is Alien Laseta and he must go on a mission."
Kaiju: Alien Lasesta
A faraway planet is consumed by its sun. Decades ago, when the planet was entering an ice age, the inhabitants migrated elsewhere, blending in with the populations of their destination planets, with the intention of returning to their home planet when conditions improved. Now that is no longer possible. But their contingency plan, should their planet ever be destroyed, was to meet in that general area of space and settle as a race on a new planet. The thing is, after living on another planet for the equivalent of ten Earth years, the aliens become members of that species. Therefore, although the boy's mother and grandfather are now fully human, he must leave the only home he's ever known, by himself. He didn't even know he was an alien until his mother told him after their planet was destroyed.
At first his two best friends reject him, but then come to empathize with him. They accompany him to the spot he is to transform. He becomes a daikaiju, but is unsuccessful in his attempts to fly, falling back to Earth causing tremors. Super GUTS begins to attack, but Asuka transforms to Ultraman Dyna and intercedes, helping the alien boy to leave Earth.
FEVER MONSTER - 3000 DEGREES: "Extreme heat suddenly hits TPC headquarters. The reason behind this is Monster Sodom, whose body temperature exceeds 2500 degrees."
I haven't forgotten to post; I just haven't been watching. Sodom is actually a friendly protector of the planet Earth... who just happens to have caught a cold and is running a fever. Once this fact is discovered, GUTS is able to approach from a different tack. Could be seen as a metaphor for global warming and climate change.
Watched two more...
THE SOLDIERS OF TSUKUYO: "A bronze mirror discovered at at construction site is that of the legendary Soldiers of Tsukuyo. Dr. Ayano, who is an archeologist and friend of Ryo, warns of danger!"
This one was pretty good. Legend has it that the legendary Soldiers of Tsukuyo would throw prayer stones into a lake prior to battle in order to secure victory from their god Mozui. It later turns out that they were actually embueing the stones with their fears in order to keep the monster sated so that it would not attack. (This is what made them so fearless in battle.) The lake is now long gone, a newly-built skyscraper now stands in its place. Then they discover that the lake, although real, was also metaphorical as far as the legend is concerned. The "lake" of legend is actually the mirror, and Mozui would arise whenever the Moon shone upon it. And the Moon is going to shine upon the mirrored windows of the skyscaper tonight!
FORTRESS OF DREAMS: "Underwater base Triton J II was attacked by a monster! Koda, who was just at Triton is in shock. He rushes to the scene, however, a black shadow emerges."
Deeplus is a giant serpent with a hood like a cobra. This episode takes place almost entirely underwater.
I really need to get into watching these on a regular basis again, especially now when all of the first run shows we watch are off the air, some of them for the holidays, some for good.
VAMPIRE OF THE LAKE: "Nakajima gets his first break in a while and visits a lake. He sees an object that looks like algae and fish dying."
The "vampires" look like little, electric blue tribbles. They open up like the petals of a flower to reveal rows of teeth. the giant form has lips like Mick Jagger's. Face it: Japanese vampires are the best.
KRAKOV, COME TO THE SURFACE (PART 1): "The temperature at the South Pole is rising unnaturally. Super GUTS go to the scene in the Mobile Fortress Clarkov."
KRAKOV, COME TO THE SURFACE (PART 2): "Ultraman Dyna is frozen by a monster. Artificial sun-testing equipment has lost control due to the lifeform Sufume and is falling to Earth!"
This two-parter is a tribute to a variety of other sources. An underseas race resembles the Silurians, and one vehicle's method of travel resembles the Vortex. One of the spaceships resembles the Satellite of Love (or, I suppose, the Discovery). The Clarkov is a portmanteau of Arthur C. Clarke and Isaac Asimov. Another vehicle is the Connery-07. Global warming is blamed for the warming of the South Pole (1997).