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-?
Ultraman Great 1990 - p.25
Ultraman Powered 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 Neos 200-2002
Ultraman Cosmos 2001-02 - p.34
Ultraman Nexus 2004-05
Ultraman Max 2005-06
Ultraman Mebius 2006-07
Ultraman UltraSeven X 2007
Ultraman Retsuden 2011
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!
FAREWELL, TEARS: Ian addition to being a member of MAC, Gen Otori works as a kind of athletic instructor at a boys and girls club and also helps the children with their schoolwork. The father of two of his young students, Toru Umeda and his little sister Kaoru, was sliced in half before their eyes by the Alien Turuk. Turuk wears a leotard while human-sized, but is reptilian when giant-sized (if, in fact, it is the same being). In both forms, he has a set of indestructible pincers at the end of each arm which can cut or slice through anything (except Dan Moroboshi's cane, for whatever reason).
The children are given over the the care of another MAC agent because he and his wife have no children of their own. The children watch as this man, too, is sliced in half befor their eyes. Eventually they end up in the care of Gen Otori. Dan must again train Otori in a martial technique designed to counter the alien's attack, but Ultraman Leo is called to battle before the training is completed and is soundly defeated.
This series is much more lethal than the previous one. I'm enjoying it.
AN OATH BETWEEN MEN: Dan believes Gen to have been killed. When Gen turns up alive, Dan chastises him for going into battle before his training was complete. Taking him to a waterfall, Dan instructs Gen to "cut the flow of water." Gen tries and fails as Dan is notified that Turuk is attacking again. Dan leaves Gen behind to join MAC in their attack. Mac manages to drive Turuk off but not to defeat him. Dan returns to the waterfall but gen is still unable to cut the flow of water. Again, dan is called away leaving Gen behind. While MAC is being defeated by Turuk, Gen notices some flower petals falling down the waterfall and is somehow able to cut the flow of water by focusing on the falling petals. He transforms to Leo and defeats Turuk.
DON'T CRY! YOU'RE A MAN: Gen and the members of the Jonan Sports Center where he works and some parents go on an outing, like a field day or picnic. Toru is missing his father and is in a foul mood. He extracts a promise from Gen to be his father, which cheers him up until Gen is called away by MAC to deal with a kaiju. This sends him into an even fouler mood, but little Kaoru takes it all in stride. This episode's training session includes working out with one of the "War Machines" left over from Doctor Who. Eventually, Toru finds new purpose from protecting his little sister rather than being protected by an adult.
YOU'RE A MAN! GET FIRED UP!: (I sense a common theme running through these episode titles.) MAC member Shirato asks Gen to escort his girlfriend Yoko home. On the way, they are accosted by Alien Karly, who transforms into a kaiju and stomps Yoko to paste. Shirato blames Gen, and Gen throws himself into a training regimen which consists of two large logs swinging from ropes which he kicks and chops as they swing by. He changes to Ultraman Leo the next time Alien Karly appears, but loses because his training is not yet complete. Now Shirato blames Leo as well as Gen. Gen returns to the swinging logs, but this time has sharpened the ends into deadly points. He completes his training, defeats Karly and smnooths things over with Shirato.
Literally? Holy crap!
Jeff of Earth-J said:
Shirato asks Gen to escort his girlfriend Yoko home. On the way, they are accosted by Alien Karly, who transforms into a kaiju and stomps Yoko to paste. .
They didn't show the "paste" but its foot came down right on top of her.
The aliens on what I've seen of this show so far look like demented Bugaloos when human-size, but transform into reptilian kaiju when giant-size for some reason.
A BEAUTIFUL MAN'S WILL:
The Plant Monster Kendoros shoots its seed to Earth where it grows into a weapon, Swordwheel Grass. Kandoros looks like a giant upright kumquat. It's head is between its lags, and where its head should be is a propeller or fan blade powerful enough to knock Ultraman Leo off his feet.
for this episode's training montage, Dan takes Gen into a quarry and throws metal boomerangs at him until Gen's face is bruised and bleeding. (In an earlier episode, Dan beat Gen with his cane like Barnabas beating Willie Loomis.) These training sessions never take the first time, so later Gen has his friends throw boomerangs at him until he can fend them off.
Neither Tracy nor I have idea idea what the significance of the title is.
Dan Moroboshi is a favorite Ultraman alter-ego of mine. Therefore, watching him yell, insult, and beat Gen in this series is not enjoyable for me. Leo is not an Ultra brother, but he wants to be a hero like them. Dan is ruthless in his training. I imagine that this is the episode pattern for the series. I haven't been able to enjoy any of the crazy kaiju because Dan is so harsh.
Whether it's due to his leg being crippled or the loss of his ability to transform into UltraSeven, Dan Moroboshi has some anger issues and he appears to be taking out his anger on Gen. Perhaps he should seek counseling.
DEADLY! THE MONSTER MASTERMIND!: The episode begins with Gen disobeying orders to save a pedestrian who should have evacuated during a kaiju attack. Gen's actions inadvertently expose the kaiju's weakness, its back, but Gen doesn't get any credit for discovering it. Instead, MAC blames him because, now that the monster knows they know, it will never expose its back again.
Dan sends Gen to the mountains to seek out a particular monk for training. Gen fins the monk, but the monk denies his own identity and refuses to even speak to him. In a burst of intuition, Gen attacks the old man from behind, but this merely incapacitates him. Gen follows the monk and his grandson through the woods. The old man places the boy on his back as he hops back and forth across rocks dotting a stream. When he comes to a wide spot where there are no rocks, he springs against the side of a cliff and flips over the stream, all with his grandson on his back.
Gen now knows the technique he is to learn. He tries and fails repeatedly, but finally succeeds, just as the monster is attacking Tokyo. The monk sends him off with his blessing, and Ultraman Leo uses the new technigue to attack the monster's back. Dan even congratulates him and cracks a smile in the end.
THE BRIDGE OF FRIENDSHIP ACROSS SPACE: The story opens in a monster-themed amusement park. Hiding in plain sight among the humans in monster costumes is Guiro, a friendly alien who is befriended by Toru. Gen can tell he's a real alien, however, and attacks for no reason. Guiro becomes a giant and Toru is caught among his scales. Guiro has horns which shoot some sort of debilitating foam. Gen rescues Toru but Guiro gets away.
Dan puts Gen inside a glass cage which shoots foam (so he can get used to fighting in soap, I guess). They return to the amusement park after hours and see Guiro and Toru riding the merry-go-round through some kind of haze. Dan (or Gen) says that Guiro has taken Toru to "his world" (?). MAC attacks, Gen transforms to Ultraman Leo and fights Guiro. Leo knocks off Guiro's horns, which kills him. He dissolves into a pile of foam and shrinks to human dimensions. Toru cries over his corpse. Dan says the experience is a good thing, because now they know that there are good monsters as well as bad. Dan gives gen permission to change to Leo and resurrect Guiro with his eye beams, but Guiro must agree to leave Earth.