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, 46-50
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!

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The episode we watched a couple of days ago was pretty interesting. The Ultra Guard was out on maneuvers practicing their parachuting skills. Furuhashi and Amagi were the last to jump, and when they did they fell through an ordinary-looking cloud. On the ground, they were nowhere to be found, but from their perspective they did land, in an area covered by mist. They were attacked by half dollar-sized insects controlled by a giant humanoid insect. There were other dangers and strange creatures as well. It was very much as if they had parachuted into the Land of the Lost, except when they looked up into the sky, they saw the Earth as if they were in orbit about it. Turns out they were in “virtual space” but luckily they were able to maintain radio contact with the outside world.

Good episode.

This is the "Magmalizer" featured in two episodes so far. It seems to create more danger for the squad than they are trying to fix.
This is the best screenshot of the "Chicken Robot" I could find. Enjoy!

I sometimes question the translations presented in the English subtitles, especially as far as episode titles are concerned. For example, “Forsaken Earthmen” is translated as “Hijacked Satellite.” (I joke with Tracy that I’m learning Japanese when background song lyrics “Attack Hawk missile! Fighter Sever!” are translated as “Attack Hawk Fighter! Seven…”) Another example is “Pursue the Undersea Base” being translated as “Somewhere Under the Water.” Speaking of which, underwater scenes are not particularly convincing. In JohnnySokko, for example, the camera lens was smeared with petroleum jelly to give such scenes the feel of being under water. In UltraSeven, a Lawrence Welk bubble machine is used.

The titles on the menu more closely match the actual Japanese titles as far as I am able to determine. This is especially noticeable when numeric are used. For example, when I see “140” as part of the title in Japanese, I figure “Showdown at 140 Degrees Below Zero” is a more accurate translation than “The Frozen Station” as the subtitles would have it. Another example is “700K Run” translated as “Dinosaur Tank.”

700K RUN: Speaking of “700K Run”, it’s one of my favorite episodes so far. Spoilers follow (I’ll let you know when), so proceed at your own risk! This story could almost be a Speed Racer episode directed by Alfred Hitchcock (well, it has a McGuffin). The Ultra Force has been tasked with moving something valuable across country, and for some reason (writer’s fiat) it has been deemed unsafe to do so in their Hawks or sundry other specialized vehicles. The commander decides that the best way to transport the cargo is to enter the squad in a cross country road rally and smuggle it in their car.

SPOILER: They win the race only to discover that they have been driving a decoy vehicle all along. Now, you’d think that would be the end of the plot, wouldn’t you? But it’s not!

MCGUFFIN: All of a sudden, for no apparent reason whatsoever, the titular “dinosaur tank” breaks out of a nearby hill! I’ve seen dino/mechanical hybrids before, but I think this one came first. In fact, I wasn’t even sure it was a hybrid. At first, I thought it looked like a dinosaur pushing a wheeled platform. Then, when I realized the monster didn’t have any hind legs, it struck me as one of those carts they supply for dogs who have lost limbs.

Tracy, can you find a picture? Also, post pictures of those “chicken robots,” too, please (the one that looks like one and the one that sounds like one. Thank you, dear.

Here is the Dinosaur Tank.
This is the underground robot that clucked like a chicken.
This is Ultraseven's chicken robot. This one is not really effective.
Tonight's episode featured a Pega creature that stuck a "deal with the devil" with Soga's rival.

Pega's blue covering was a mix of fur and feathers. I have to find a coat like this. I will be the belle of the ball!

We drifted away from UltraSeven for a bit while we watched True Blood season five on DVD, but we’re back. Tracy wants a coat that looks like like the Pega creature, yet she won’t let me have a coat like the Second Doctor’s. Not that I can find one. I think it’s the rope belt she objects to. Other than that, I think we’d make quite the chic couple.

One think I haven’t mentioned yet regarding UltraSeven (and have meant to) is the animation of the various rays and blast, from UltraSeven himself, aliens, sundry guns and weapons, etc. Every one is unique, and they are all quite inventive.

I'm sure you're quite the chic couple as it is.

Tonight's episode had a alien robot monster that ate cars. It was a great design and very funny to watch.
Ultraseven fought the monster and got hurt as Dan trying to join up with the team. Falling debris and concrete hits him in the head and knocks him to the ground. Once Dan makes it to the hospital, Anne does a great job of holding him up by pushing on his ribs. Then the big battle at the end has Ultraseven slamming into a building with his ribs and gut. Then "Crazygon" steps on his spine but is defeated in the end. Of course, Dan is wheel-chaired off into the sunset by his squad members.

I want one of those.

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