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!
We just finished re-watching "SWORD OF VICTORY" and "THE SHINING SKY AND THE LAND BENEATH IT" (episodes 14 & 15 of Ultraman X). Although I didn't realize it the first time we watched it, this two-parter is a direct sequel to Ultraman Ginga S! I thought all that backstory was developed just for this one story. If there had been a series with "Ultraman Victory" in the title, I would have figured it out, but Victory was just a character on Ultraman Ginga S.
Several years ago, Tracy surprised me with the Ultraman Theme Music Collection on CD. As the years passed, I became familiar with an increasing number of them, but eventually I realized these weren't necessarily the opening theme songs of the show with lyrics. I mentioned this to tracy a couple of weeks ago, and last week she presented me with the Ultraman Theme Song Anthology - 1966-2016 50th anniversary five-disc slip-cased box set with booklet (which i can't read because it's in Japanese). We've been listening to it together for the past week or so. It's a little unusual in that the shows are presented in reverse chronological order. the themes I am most familiar with (from the original Ultraman through Ultraman 80) are on disc three. I'm not certain what's on discs four and five, but it sounds like pop music inspired by Ultraman. I'm hoping our friends' foreign exchange student can shed some light.
I have a collection of variations on the Japanese Astro Boy/Tetuswan Atomu theme like that, although I suspect that it's not nearly as comprehnsive.
THE DEMON DOCTOR'S LABORATORY: "Sera, UGM's head of PR, wants to save a baby monster. But the scientist Nackagawa wants to use the monster in his experiments."
The Space Mammy has returned from a six month mission in pace. Aboard is UGM's PR man, Sera, who has rescued a baby kaiju he wants UGM to save. The creature bonds with Jono. Jono and Yamata take it to Jono's father, Professor Jono, for his help and advice. The professor's partner, Nackagawa, identifies the monster as a "Mue" and wants to perform experiments on it. Professor Jono refuses, but Nackagawa sneaks into the lab late at night and subjects the baby Mue to cruel procedures which cause it to grow to human size and break out through the widow.
The next day, Jono, Yamata and Professor Jono search for the missing baby. (They know nothing of Nackagawa's "experiments," which are little more than torture.) Jono sings the lullaby she sang the day before, which draws Mue out of hiding. She is surprised to see how much it has grown. they embrace. That night, Nackagawa again subjects Mue to torture, increaing it to daikaiju size. Wild with pain, Mue smashes out of the building and Nackagawa is killed in the process. Frightened and angry, Mue runs amok and Ultraman 80 must stop it.
If this were the original Ultraman, I think the story would have had a much different ending. But Ultraman 80 is a kinder, gentler Being of Light, and when Jono pleads that he show mercy, 80 uses his powers to restore Mue to its original size, then flies it to its home in outer space.
I'm still bemused by the anme "Space Mammy". I'm assuming it means simething different in Japan.
I'm thinking something along the lines of "mamma jamma."
THE MYSTERIOUS SNOW ART FROM SPACE: "UGM investigate the beautiful space artifact, Snow Art. They decipher a warning left by the Ruliya aliens, but too late."
Kaiju: Space Devil Deviron
The UGM agents are discussing the "Snow Art" exhibit retrieved from outer space. (It looks like a giant crystal snowflake.) Cap believes that everything beautiful is dangerous (Everything? Really?) but Emi Jono disagrees. Cap goes to see it for himself and partially falls under its spell. He assigns Takeshi and Emi to investigate. While they are at the exhibit, UGM traces some vibrations emanating from the crystal, a warning from the alien Ruliva that Space Devil Deviron is imprisoned inside. Deviron is a powerful telepath/telekinetic who can possess and control anyone in its vicinity. At the exhibit, Emi accidentally cracks the crystal with an infrared probe. Deviron possesses her and she transforms into him, first human size then a giant. The only way to defeat it is with a "temporary air pocket phenomenon." Luckily, Ultraman 80 knows how to create one.
FLY TO THE SINISTER MONSTER ISLAND! (Part 1): "A group of UGM officers goes to investigate Shiokaze Island. Although the island is a vacation spot, the officers find it deserted."
Well, this is odd. The subtitles don't work at all on disc three! I mean, it's not too difficult to get the gist of the episode, but it's still nice to know exactly what's going on. Here is a link to the wiki for those interested.
FLY TO THE SINISTER MONSTER ISLAND! (Part 2): "Takeshi and the UGM officers try to track down a mysterious woman who seems to be able to control monsters. Is she friend or foe?"
Watched this one without subtitles last night. (Summary in link I posted yesterday.) I contacted the manufacturer yesterday and have taken steps to get a replacement disc. In the meantime, I have a decision to make. Do I continue watching episodes without subtitles, or do I wait? Do I skip ahead? Decisions, decisions...
ORDER TO DESTROY THE ROGUE STAR: "The red star Red Rose is on a collision course with Earth. UGM plans to save Earth by using nuclear weapons to destroy Red Rose in space."
Kaiju: Gauss (?)
When I reported the defective disc to the manufacturer, I received a response almost immediately. they suggested that I try accessing the subtitles using the "CC" button on the remote rather than via the disc menu, but that didn't work, either. They seemed reluctant to admit that anything could possibly be wrong with the disc, but asked that I provide them with my home address, copy of the receipt and picture of the product, all of which I did. It has now been 32 hours since I sent what they requested but I have yet to hear back from them.
I decided to move forward and watch the episodes in order, without subtitles. To be perfectly honest, I had already decided that the next time I watch Ultraman through start to finish (at some undetermined point in the future) I would watch it without subtitles. (That would have been after seeing them all subtitled once, of course.) I'm going to write up what I think happened, without benefit of subtitles or internet summaries.
Something that looks like a red, spherical asteroid is careering toward Earth. (Yes, "careering" is the proper word.) (I see from the DVD episode summary that it is referred to as a "red star," but I'm going to go with "asteroid.") A flat, round, red stone is placed on a tabletop map of the solar system to indicate its position relative to Earth. Four other black stones are placed alongside it, two on either side, which I took tob be other asteroids not on a collision course with Earth. UGM plans to use one of these asteroids, designated "Gauss", as a staging area to deflect the red asteroid.
There is a kaiju living on the asteroid Gauss, however, one perhaps also named Gauss. The red asteroid is deflected, but somehow the kaiju Gauss ends up on Earth and Ultraman 80 has to intervene. When it gets to the point in the battle when one would expect Ultraman to blow Gauss to bits, Gauss cringes and trembles in fear. The original Ultraman (as well as several of his successors) wouldn't have hesitated to blow it to monster bits, but this kinder, gentler Ultraman transports it back to its asteroid.
INVASION! THE BLOODSUCKING BALL ARMY: "After a spaceship crash, UGM finds the bodies of those aboard drained of blood. And now, the blood-sucking balls are attacking Earth!"
The "blood-sucking balls" are about the size of tennis balls, but they fly and have tails. The victims not only have their blood drained, but are sucked dry. the skin becomes grey, dry and cracked. At one point, a bigger ball, about the size of a large beachball with multiple tentacles appeared. The smaller balls flew about it, suggesting sperm trying to fertilize an egg. (Tracy's observation.) Eventually, all the balls enlarge to giant size, the "beachball becoming the "head" of a daikaiju. The smaller balls became its body, a body covered in tumors. Actually, there was no "body" per se, it was all "tumor."
Oh, I forgot to mention... the chubby PR guy from the Space Mammy is now regular comedy relief. Another of the UGM guys was bitten on the neck by one of the space balls, but he wasn't turned into a mummy for whatever reason. At the end of the episode, the rest of UGM is visiting when a ball comes crashing through the window. But it's just PR guy, wearing a baseball glove, apparently playing catch with himself in the hallway, ha ha, LOL.
SHINE INTO ETERNITY!! SPACE G-MEN 85: "UGM investigates reports of monster sightings. Takeshi meets an alien who appears monstrous, but is actually on a mission."
I don't know if "monstrous" is the right word. He looks like a poodle wearing tattered clothes. (Actually, he looks quite a but like G'Nort but with longer hair and grey.) He is actually on Earth trailing the monster that destroyed his planet and killed his family. He turns into a giant, purple hairy monster, but the other kaiju mortally wounds him. Ultraman 80 kills it, then flies Jo-Jo the dog-faced monster's body out into space.