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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Did they get into why Tsukaomoto was skipping school?  I gather it's a big issue in Japan.

Yes. In this case, it was because he and his two friends tested to get into a prestigious private school. His two friends made it but he did not. 

Ah, OK.

Jeff of Earth-J said:

Yes. In this case, it was because he and his two friends tested to get into a prestigious private school. His two friends made it but he did not. 

DON'T CRY, FIRST LOVE MONSTER: "Shinichi is heartbroken after losing his girlfriend to another boy. Will his resentment grow so great it becomes a monster?"

Kaiju: Hoe

UGM vehicles: Skyhigher, Silver Gull, Scouter S7

Shibata has stolen Shinichi's girlfriend, Midori, from him. His rejection manifests as a daikaiju. This is the kind of story we haven't seen since the first series. In parallel, Takeshi keeps asking Kyoko out on a date, but she always seems to be on her way to swim class (women only). When walking with her to school one morning, another male teacher drives by in his sports car, offers her a lift and she accepts. At the end of the episode, her meets her walking along the same spot on a Sunday. The same guy in a sports car drives up and offers to take her for a drive, but she refuses. When he drives away, Takeshi starts planning their day, but she's still on her way to swim class. Shiniki is sitting on a nearby hill and they commiserate over their failure with women. 

FROM THE SKY WITH LOVE: "Super is unhappy about his sister's impending marriage. a monster appears, behaving as immaturely as Super."

Kaiju: Zandrias, Mother Zandrias

"Super's" given name is Susumu. His sister is Hiroko, and they live with their father, a widower. Despite the capsule description above, I think Susumu is more upset that his father is talking about getting remarried than he is about Hiroko getting married. Their father refers to his daughter as his "undergrown pumpkin, finally sold." She does all the laundry and cleaning for her father and brother.  This situation causes Susumu to act out in class. The parallel situation is an adolescent kaiju from space acting out against its mother. 

As it turns out, Sususu's father was talking about marriage only because he didn't want Hiroko to feel guilty about leaving. He assures Sususu he would never remarry without seeking his son's approval. After the wedding, Hiroko promises to settle nearby and continue to do their laundry and cleaning, but Sususu says that won't be necessary because he has a girlfriend now. After the newlyweds depart, the "girlfriend" demands that Sususu pay her for pretending, so... everyone lives happily ever after?

THE PHANTOM TOWN: "The Bam Aliens scheme to defeat Ultraman 80 by spiriting him away into four dimensional space. can UGM help him return?"

Kaiju: Mechagiras

After working late one day grading papers at the school, Takeshi takes the train home. He is so exhausted that he doesn't even notice that the train flies into the night sky and disappears into the fourth dimension (which must be fourth in sequence, because it looks pretty much like our third dimension). He cannot transform to Ultraman 80 in this dimension, but his loyal students call to him through the dimensional barrier like the audience at a performance of Peter Pan clapping to save Tinkerbell.

THE BOY FROM THE STARS: "Akio believes that he is an alien from another planet, not a human boy. Can Takeshi help Akio understand the truth?"

Kaiju: Abdolaars

Akio has the "power" to make the wind blow when he whistles. Takeshi makes a lesson of this, that Akio is really sensing minute changes in the atmosphere and having a premonition. When a UFO arrives, Akio believes it is coming for him. Later, Takeshi "psychoanalyses" Akio in front of his mother and all his friends. 

OPERATION SILENT TOKYO: "A plane crashes after its engines go silent. UGM investigates, suspecting monster activity."

Kaiju: Noiseler

A teenage rock band is disturbing the neighborhood. This happens every time the parents are away. Instead of calling the police, the neighbors call the school because the band is being led by... Takeshi Yamoto. Actually, fronting the band is his ploy to get the students interested in schoolwork. the band is actually really good! there's no generic TV "rock music" here. 

The monster is sensitive to sound, and is particularly drawn to the sound of bullet trains and passenger jets. UGM urges city leaders to stop all sound... television and radio broadcasts, public transportation, newspaper presses... which work (Noiseler falls asleep in the middle of town), but the people rebel almost immediately. The boys sneak into a field to practice their music and discover that Noisler actually likes their music and begins dancing. Ultraman 80 convinces Noisler to leave Earth, and the boy suddenly become more interested in schoolwork than rock and roll. 

THE RESURRECTED LEGEND: "UGM is investigating a mountain where Takeshi's class is going for a filed trip. Legends say a monster is sealed in the mountain."

Kaiju: Tabra

Also at the mountain is Hibino, who is described as a "maverick archeologist." He has a small statue of Tabra as well as a rock shaped like the mountain itself. He tells the story of a "Giant of Light" who defeated Tabra 3000 years ago. 

AIRPORT EMERGENCY!: "The head teacher wants to arrange a marriage for Kyoko. Takeshi wants to put a stop to it, but a monster's appearances keep interfering with his plans."

Kaiju: Gabishale

The "head teacher" is the vice-principal, and Kyoko is not too happy about her interference, and neither is Takeshi. The principal urges Takeshi to speak up, and the students, too, want to get their two favorite teachers to hook up. They push Takeshi into asking for a date but, due to a UGM emergency, he has to break it. Jono arrives in civvies to pick him up and the children assume Takeshi is "cheating" on Kyoko. They keep the date and they all go out for ice cream as a group. 

Oil storage tanks has been found imploded. the kaiju Gabishale projects a tube from its mouth and sucks the oil out as if from a straw, collapsing the tanks. Takeshi apologizes to Kyoko for breaking their date, but she's not too upset about it; she had just as good a time with the kids. Speaking of the kids, I really do like this group of kids better than any of the juvenile sidekicks of previous series. Previous ones have gone through a cycle of bieng the prime sidekick, then are rplaced by a succession of "friends" who fulfill the role of "sidekick for a day." This main group of four or five kids each have their own personalities, and can be switched out as the plot dictates. 

After Takeshi ditches Kyoko to defeat defeat Gabishale, she has a new love: Ultraman 80.

NEXT: A new twist to the love triangle (i assume; I haven't watched the episode yet).

VISITOR FROM SPACE: "Takeshi's childhood friend Aruma visits Earth. She plays pranks on his students. who takes her tricks too seriously."

Kaiju: Unnamed alien seashell/elephant hybrid.

First, a disclaimer: this is not the episode I thought it was going to be (based on the preview and the DVD packaging). 

Takeshi's childhood friend, Aruma, drops in unannounced for a visit. (She's not from the same planet, but they played together as children.) Now she works as a planetary investigator from the Galactic Republic Alliance. this episode has a light tone, but her job is basically to decide which worlds live and which die based on how much "negative energy" she encounters. She chooses to examine only children, because their emotions are close to the surface. 

Aruma travels with a "pet" alien seashell named Jacky. (More about "Jacky" later.) Two of Takeshi's students see Aruma in his apartment and assume he's secretly married. The rumor, to which the vice principal takes particular offense, spreads quickly around school. This prompts Takeshi to literally drag Kyoko back to his apartment. They arrive to find a lavish dinner for two set before them on the table. Kyoko chooses to interpret this as an insult because she herself is not a good cook. she storm out before Arume even comes out of the kitchen.

Aruma has given one of Takeshi's students a "magic pencil," promising that if he copies his lesson with the pencil five times, the pencil will "remember" and he will do well on the test. This he does, and aces the test. In order to prove there's no magic, Takeshi himself copies the next lesson with the pencil five times himself, reasoning that it doesn't matter who copies the lesson, if the pencil is truly "magic" it will "remember." He then gives the pencil back to the student before the test and the student fails. 

Meanwhile, Jacky the seashell is flying around investigating. It comes to rest in the local zoo and is eaten by an elephant. the elephant is then transformed into a daikaiju elephant/seashell hybrid which Ultraman 80 has to subdue. The monster eats Ultraman, too, followed by an extended fight scene with the seashell in the monster's stomach. Takeshi's students exhibit enough positive energy that Aruma decides not to destry Earth, and she goes off merrily on her way. 

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