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 artsy camera work was distracting for me. However, I absolutely loved the kaiju! 

A couple more things about Shin Ultraman...

It does a better job than any previous version I have seen in explaining exactly why those from Nebula M-78 are particularly interested in Earth, as well as what the relationship is between Earthlings and the "Giants of Light."

Now back to Ultraman Dyna...

THE UNCANNY SMILE (Part 1): "Miss Smile is a glacier on Pluto. Images of this glacier are clear with TPC's new technology Cosmonet. A spacecraft is attacked."

Kaiju: Geomos

THE UNCANNY SMILE (Part 2): "It was sphere that sent the terrifying warning to mankind! Sphere turns into monster Geomos and invades Earth, causing Osaka to panic."

Kaiju: Neo Geomos

Again, these are not great summaries. If you can't figure it out via context, the glacier is in the shape of a woman's face, but that really doesn't have a lot to do with the plot. Basically, GUTS has to rescue a pilot, and he and Asuka become rivals. Geomos is formed by drawing rocks to itself. Basically, it's a rock creatrure which splits open and becomes another rock creature. The human interest angle is that one of the GUTS crew has to keep disappointing his kids by going on missions. This could have been a single-parter. 

I was so eager to get this two-parter out of the way in one night that I think I skipped an episode. 

Now, after a three-month hiatus, we have resumed watching Ultraman Dyna. for some reason I have come to associate watching Ultraman with Dark Shadows, and, with the Writers' guild on strike, we have resumed watching them both.

YUMENOKATAMARI: "Pieces of garbage that have been thrown away start piling up all over the city. These eventually come together to form one gigantic piece."

Kaiju: Yumenokatamari

This is a good one to ease back into the habit, one with a message (about pollution), but sans the preachy message at the end. Also, this episode provides and interesting insight into how kaiju are named.

MONSTER DRAMA: "Naumi writes a play titled Monster Drama. Monster Bunder is born through alchemy just like how it was written in the play."

Kaiju: Bunder

Naumi is is a playwright who dabbles in alchemy (or an alchemist who writes plays, I can't decide which). Through "alchemy," his kaiju somehow comes to life. Beyond that, the plot defies description. Only in Japan.

THE LIGHT AND SHADOWS OF YOUTH: "Yamazaki is an assistant to Dr. Otomo, who created the Neosaurus. However, he disappears after stealing Evolu's cells."

Kaiju: Clone Daigelun, Zomborg

This episode reveals a hitherto unknown "black ops" division of Super GUTS known as the "Black Buster Corps." Their hotshot pilot is the younger brother of the guy Asuka beat out for his place in GUTS. The older brother became a test pilot and later died when the jet he was testing malfunctioned. The younger brother blames GUTS in general and Asuke specifically for his brother's death. He also thinks that Super GUTS relies too much on Ultraman Dyna. This prompts Asuka to give him his transformation device (which he describes as a :good luck charm") when they are on a dangerous mission together. Then when Asuka needs it, he doesn't have it. 

Well, that was pretty dumb, wasn't it?

Jeff of Earth-J said:

This prompts Asuka to give him his transformation device (which he describes as a :good luck charm") when they are on a dangerous mission together. Then when Asuka needs it, he doesn't have it. 

What the HELL was he even trying to prove?

It's like Hal Jordan not wearing his power ring on a test flight.

TREE OF JAGILA: "Nakajima receives a notification of an alien meeting taking place. He learns the secret to creating God Jagila in the legendary Jagira Tree."

Kaiju: God Jagila

I wasn't paying close attention to this one (which makes it difficult to follow when subtitled). 

WE WANT TO SEE OUR EARTH: "First generation children born and raised at the space station* are on their way to Earth for the first time on the spaceship Gazelle."

*(Actually I think the kids were born at a colony on one of Jupiter's moons.)

Kaiju: Diolus

A group of children born in space are on their way to Earth for the first time. Unfortunately, a "space-moth" (more like Battra than Mothra) has laid its eggs on the ship transporting them there. Unless Dyna can find a solution, GUTS has been ordered to destroy the ship to safeguard the Earth.

This slate of episodes has a different end theme (a hard rock one), and Tracy has complained of it becoming stuck in her head. For me it's the opening theme. There are three words chanted in English in the main theme: "Flash!" "Miracle!" and "Strong!" but the latter two sound to me like "Vehicle!" and "Song!"

A VANISHING DREAM: "At the TCP Mars base, a new Specium gun is completed. However, Alien Regulan makes a pre-emptive strike to sabotage the weapon!"

Kaiju: Alien Regulan

That summary buries the lede: this episode features a giant robot, and Mai pilots it! Due to what is referred to as a "design flaw," a man cannot fit in the cockpit of the robot, Mountain Guliver 5 (or MG-5 for short), so Mai is "volunteered" to pilot it. Apparently, in Japan, separate driver's licenses are granted for standard or automatic transmissions, because she complains that she's only licensed to drive an automatic. Also featured in this episode is a squad of female pilots called the "Kitty Squadron." 

CAPTAIN LONG-LEGS: "Magma has collected sat the dormant Mt. Kirimon and volcabnic activity is increasing. Golza emerges from the groung."

Kaiju: Golza

This episode starts with a flashback from maybe ten years prior, when the captain, then just an agent, befriends a little girl orphaned by Golza. She has just lost her parents, but attempts to console him by giving him a flower when the kaiju gets away. This gesture touches the future captain, and he keeps watch on the little girl over the years, sending her cards and Christmas presents, but she knows him only as "Mr. Long-Legs."

A decade or so later, the girl is working or teaching at some sort of daycare center, caring for younger children, when Golza resurfaces. Three of her young charges sneak away, and she, Asuka and the captain put their own lives in danger looking for them. It is a nice little character-driven human interest story, and by the end, she realizes the captain is Mr. Long-Legs.

VENUS SNOW: "There is an incubator meant to improve the environment on Venus. However, regular contact with it has stopped. Super GUTS got to the scene."

Kaiju: Glaikis

GUTS is trying to terraform Venus (for some reason), even though the lead scientist admits Mars would be much easier. Somehow this incubator thing turns into a monster...?

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