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, 38-45
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!

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With MAC and the gym destroyed, Gen has no visible means of support. He just hangs out at his landlady's house. I don't know how he pays rent.

Perhaps he's "helping the landlady out", know what I mean, say no more, nudge, nudge.

Jeff of Earth-J said:

With MAC and the gym destroyed, Gen has no visible means of support. He just hangs out at his landlady's house. I don't know how he pays rent.

Could be. Her name is Obaa, and she must have had Izumi (her college age daughter) very young. I doubt if Obaa is yet 40

THE GHOST GIRL: This one is less "Sarah Collins" than "Talking Tina." A little girl named Mayuko is possessed by a Porcelain doll from outer space. The doll has :freeze breath." It's saucer alien counterpart is Blizzard. 

"Obaa" probably isn't her name.  "Obaa" can mean "grandmother" or more broadly, "older woman"..

A similar word,  "Oba", can mean "aunt", or again, "older woman".

In either case, it's not an offensive term, the way it might be for an American. It might be used for a landlady, or a female proprietor of a bar, for example.

Jeff of Earth-J said:

Could be. Her name is Obaa, and she must have had Izumi (her college age daughter) very young. I doubt if Obaa is yet 40

THE GHOST GIRL: This one is less "Sarah Collins" than "Talking Tina." A little girl named Mayuko is possessed by a Porcelain doll from outer space. The doll has :freeze breath." It's saucer alien counterpart is Blizzard. 

Ah. Thanks. I'm sure you're right. 

I've encountered a few honorifics I'm unfamiliar with, but I didn't jot them down, thinking to myself, "Oh, I'll remember that." 

Speaking of honorifics, Toru and Kayoru (and now Ayumi) have referred to Gen as Onii-san all along, but one of the new ones I encountered was nii-chan. "Onii" and "nii" are quite similar in meaning, "onii" meaning "older brother" and "nii" meaning "big brother." Apparently "nii-chan" is somewhat more affectionate. 

THE LEO BROTHERS FIGHT! THE END OF THE SAUCER CREATURE!: AARRGH! Judging from the title, I had assumed this was the last episode of the "flying saucer series," nit it's not! Junpei is a truck driver. His little brother is Junji. Junpei's truck is swallowed by the saucer creature Hungler. but the trucking company doesn;t believe him and he loses his job. Astra assists Leo in defeating Hungler, and a parallel is drawn between the two sets of brothers. (Junji refers to Junpei as nii-chan.) 

THE GIRLS WHO COLLECTS THE STARDUST OF DEMONS: These episode titles are great, aren't they? Saucer creature Black Terrina (looks like a giant tick with red appendages) scatters beaultiful shell-like objects across the ground. A little girl collects them and makes jewelry which she hands out to people she likes. Terrina mind-controls people via the shells, but the shells are also capable of attaching themselves to the faces, usually the eyes, of their victims, which cause them pain and draws copious amounts of blood. This is one of the bloodiest, most graphic episodes since early on in the series. Gen himself is eventually attacked. Although he manages to defeat Terrins, this is not the end of the saucer creatures. Next episode, Commander Black summons Satanmore. 

Was he summoning him less in the past?

Jeff of Earth-J said:

Next episode, Commander Black summons Satanmore. 

THE MONSTROUS BIRD-SAUCER ATTACKS THE JAPANESE ARCHIPELAGO: Gen is reunited with Hiroshi, who used to work at the athletic center. They had a falling out three years prior, which led to blows. Hiroshi is now a photographer, and an exhibition of his work is on dispaly on the 12th floor of a downtown building. Gen visits the exhibit and is reunited with Atsuko, who also used to work at the athletic center and who also, coincidentally, left about three years ago. she saw a brochure and came to the exhibit hoping to be reunited with Hiroshi. Atsuko has a baby who, in some scenes looks to be about six months old, in some a year, and in some is clearly a doll. 

The saucer creature Satanmore (which looks like a giant bird) attacks the building in which Hiroshi's exhibition is being held. Hiroshi rides a motorcycle, and nearly runs a kid over while attempting to flee the scene. Gen witnesses his cowardly act, then beats him up again before transforming to Ultraman Leo. Leo spends most of the episode trying to keep the building from collapsing which Satanmore pecks at his back. Somehow (don't Atsuko is separated from her baby and Hiroshi ends up with it. Leo eventually defeats Satanmore, but Hirosi is pecked to death by a smaller version of the saucer-bird. Atsuko is reunited with her baby. 


THE RED ASSASSIN THAT BRINGS DEATH!: Commander Black summons the tenth (!) saucer creature, Alien Nova which takes the form of a teru teru bozu doll. (We've seen these before in a previous "Ultraman" series; they are little dolls meant to bring good weather.

Toru is glum watching Ayumi prepare for "Bring Your Parent to School Day." He prays to a teru teru bozu doll (actually Alien Nova) to make it rain and ruin the event. Toru changes his mind when Gen agrees to accompany him, but when Nova attacks, Gen cancels on him. 

It's a pretty by-the-numbers episode, and there are only two left in the series. 

LEO'S LIFE! THE KING'S MIRACLE!: The saucer creature Alien Bunyo has three forms: it's giant form is like a floppy mushroom (think one of those nylon air-things used at carwashes and used car lots); it's small form looks like a melted Yoda; it's human form apparently has no bones, like the Scarecrow from The Wizard of Oz

At the Miyama household, Izumi suggests that Ultraman Leo's very presence is what puts earth in danger. The others disagree, but Gen is doubtful, leading to his defeat at the hands of Bunyo. He telepathically contacts Toru and asks that his remains be buried on Earth. Toru finds what's left of Leo, a human-size helmet, boots and gloves, and proceeds to bury him. Ultraman King arrives like a deus ex machina and brings Leo back to life. 

Leo defeats Bunyo.

One episode left.

FAREWELL LEO! SETTING OFF FOR THE SUN: Commander Black summons Black End (which looks like a bloated tick with horns and a segmented tail), the biggest and strongest saucer creature yet. When it appears, Toru is confident that Ultraman Leo will appear and defeat it. But Gen, still stinging from Izumi's rebuke in the previous episode, doesn't want to make Toru dependent on Leo so doesn't transform at first. (Toru refers to Izumi as 'Izumi-neesan" in this episode, "nee" meaning "older sister.") Eventually, Gen reveals his identity to Toru, but ultimately decides to leave Earth. Obaa (who mentions that she's often mistaken for being 30 years old) tells him, "Hypothetically, if you turned out to be an alien, we wouldn't mind" (which strikes me as an odd thing to say unless she suspected Gen was Leo all along). 

I really thought they'd find some way to resurrect Dan/UltraSeven in this episode. In the last one where all the brothers appeared, they took his damaged glasses back to the Land of Light for repair.

This series started out as one of my favorites, but became Tracy's least favorite about half way through, when the plots shifted from "graphic" violence and continued stories to kid-centric fare. Ultraman appeared in one form or another from 1966 through 1975. With the end of Ultraman Leo, the franchise went on hiatus for five years. Ultraman 80 is the next series slated for release, but not until next month. Now I have to decide whether to take a break from Ultraman and wait for it to be released, or order one of the more recent series already available.

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