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!
THE MONSTER THAT WANDERS IN SORROW: A monster attacks Tokyo and, although gen has it in his sites, he cannot bring himself to fire. It turns out the the monster, Ron, is his pet from planet L77 and he had raised it from a puppy. None of the other MAC agents trust Gen now, and Dan calls him "naive" (although "sentimental" may be more appropriate). In a parallel development, Kaoru acts out against one of her little playmates who has a doting mother. Kaoru is aid to be naive as well.
When Ron next appears, Gen turns into Ultraman Leo. Leo thought Ron was killed when their home planet wat destroyed, and Ron's scars speak to the fact that he has had a hard life since. Ron seems complacent at first, but then turns on him. After a battle, Leo places his hand on Ron's head and releases a burst of energy. At first I thought he electrocuted him, but instead he reduced Ron to his original size. Then he takes his former pet into space to live a life of peace (a kind of crappy ending AFAIAC). Later, Gen gets a puppy for Kaoru.
A MAN COVERED IN MUD: This episode features another "Bugaloo" alien, Alien Kettle. A famous boxer, Mighty Matsumoto, tries to help three MAC agents apprehend Kettle, but is mortally wounded in the process. His nephew Ichiro (whose goal it is to do 30 chin-ups) is devastated by his uncle's loss and blames MAC. Gen throws himself into a new training routine which involves a sand-filled heavy bag... but not punching it, throwing it. By the end of the episode, Leo defeats Kettle and Ichiro does 30 chin-ups. (I'm not sure about the title.)
THE ADVENTURE BOY ARRIVES: While on an outing with his class, Gen and the children encounter a strangely-dressed man who wards off the monster Vango with a spear and a stuffed lion's tail. The eccentric man ends up being a MAC agent, Saburo Sato, recently returned from Africa. The plot turns decidedly silly and hinges upon Sato smoking a cigarette three times.
I have noticed two addition Japanese honorifics (I think; sometime they flash on the screen also too quickly to be read). One of them was from this episode: -ham; the other is from the episode with the hermit and his grandson: -bo.
EXPLOSION! TWO DESPERATE ALIENS: Alien Vibe has the ability to turn invisible. He is being pursued on foot by a pair of police officers. Gen tries to assist. Vibe turns invisible, grabs gen's MAC Knife and kills one of the officers. Gen tries to grab the knife, but it looks as if he threw it. He is placed on administrative leave and Dan assigns two MAC agents to help him train. When Vibe's next attack kills several MAC agents, the ones assigned to Gen rebel. Gen figures out a technique to combat Vibe, but I forgot what it is. Tracy, do you remember?
DEADLY FISTS! THE BOY WHO CALLS FORTH A STORM: A mysterious young man, actually the Scorpion Monster Antares in its human form, arrives at the Jonan Sports Center when Gen works in his spare time. The boy manifests an invisible energy tail that only Gen can see. In its monster form, Antares easily defeats Ultraman Leo. Leo trains until he develops an over-the-top kick-to-the-back intended to avoid Antares' tail. During their second match, Leo rips the pincer/stinger off Antares' tail and decapitates him with it. Antares head falls into its arms. Apparently in shock and moving by reflex only, Antares takes a few hesitating steps forward, drops the head (which explodes) and dies. A viscous, yellow mucus pours from the scorpion monster's neck.
In addition to manufacturing fully-authorized BluRay disks, Shout Factory has a TV channel called Shout Factory TV. It is accessible online and on any streaming device. It has rotating offerings of vintage TV shows.
They are announcing an Ultraman marathon on July 10: https://www.shoutfactorytv.com/
"TokuSHOUTsu and Shout! Factory TV proudly present the Ultraman Day Ultrathon, an all-day adventure on Saturday, July 10th, starting at 7 a.m. PT. Ultrathon will feature 19 episodes from 55 years of the Ultraman series, the U.S. streaming premiere of Ultraman Zero: The Revenge Of Belial, and a special adventure, In Search Of An Ultraman! The Invasion From Another Space! A journey across time and space, this newly produced feature includes top voices representing franchise fans around the world, including Kyle Anderson, Jason Narvy, Linda Le, Mike Toole, Lisa J, Daniel Van Thomas, Mach Dent, Alyssa Fay, and Monster Island Buddies!
Ultrathon will also feature one-of-a-kind fan engagement, including exclusive giveaways of top toys from Bluefin Brands and promotional support from Marvel Entertainment, Factory Entertainment, VIZ Media and Right Stuf Anime.
Ultraman Day Ultrathon can be viewed across TokuSHOUTsu and Shout! Factory TV platforms: on TokuSHOUTsu.com and ShoutFactoryTV.com; TokuSHOUTsu’s Pluto TV, Twitch and THETA.tv channels; Shout! Factory TV’s Amazon Fire TV, Android, Apple TV, and Roku apps; and the following digital streaming platforms: IMDb TV, Local Now, Pluto TV, Redbox, Samsung TV Plus, Sling TV, STIRR, Twitch, Vizio and XUMO."
Thanks, Richard. I've made a note of it.
BLIND ATTACK! THE BLOW WITH FIGHTING SPIRIT: Alien Flip has the ability to create duplicates of itself. While human-sized, Flip defeats Gen, but a man named Tsuyama is able to determine which is the real alien and drives it away. Dan observes this and orders Gen to go to Tsuyama's dojo to learn the technique. Later, Gen sees Tsuyama apparently making time with Momoko and, jealous, decides to train himself. Later, Tsuyama apparently stares at Gen in a restaurant. Gen's self-training does not go well, and the next time he confronts Flip he is again defeated. Dan knows Gen did not train with Tsuyama and forces him to do so.
When asks Tsuyama how he knew the real flips from the duplicates, Tsuyama doesn't know what he's talking about and insists there was only one. Gen's training consists of trying to hit Tsuyama with baseballs. He tries, but Tsuyama continually dodges them. It soon becomes clear that Tsuyama is blind. then they switch sides and Tsuyama throws balls at Gen, who is unable to dodge, partially because Tsuyama forces him to keep his eyes closed.
Tsuyama is no fan of MAC and would have refused Dan's request. It was only when Momoko asked him that he agreed. When Flip next appears (as a giant this time), Ultraman Leo is losing until Dan flies onto the scene in a MAC jet and blinds him with foam. When Leo can no longer see, he is able to utilize his training and defeat Flip.
Flip wears an elaborate headdress that looks like a bat with an aardvark's nose.
I keep forgetting to mention this, but every episode has a preview for the next, and each time the announcer says, "Be sure to watch it together." I'm not sure what that means.
Also, a few episodes back, the show got a new opening theme song. Neither Tracy nor I like it as well as the first.
THE WOMAN WHO FADED INTO THE NIGHT: The beginning of this episode is promising, with a group of boys investigating a haunted house, seeing a ghostly apparition and making a tape recording of its unearthly cries. There is one scene in which the ghost terrorizes Momoko that would have scarred the crap out of me when I was six years old. but the story doesn't really go anywhere from from there, not even the conflict between Dan and Gen that I have come to expect, nor some unusual training method. The "ghost" is actually Alien Atler who comes from the Star of Death.
Here is a link to the second Ultraman Leo theme song I mentioned yesterday.
"Be sure to watch it together!"
THE WEREWOLF'S BRIDE: This episode begins a mini "horror series" within-a-series (or maybe it started with "The Woman Who Faded Into the Night" and I didn't notice), and it's just as delightful as the title suggests. (Speaking of the previous episode, I should have mentioned that Dan, although he can no longer transform into UltraSeven, for the second time used his power to boost Ultraman Leo, a process which shortens his own lifespan.)
Saeko (pronounced "psycho"), is a young gymnast who is perfecting her own "windmill" technique. Her boyfriend is MAC agent Takashi. Girls in her neighborhood are being attacked at night and drained of blood. Alien Wolf is an outer space vampire werewolf. Right away I love it! Alien wolf attacks only young girls. There is a lot of visible blood in this episode. Eventually, Saeko is attacked. Alien Wolf lies atop her, drinking blood from her neck. Then he stands and physically merges with her. She is found by her mother.
The next day, Saeko displays an aversion to sunlight. That night, Saeko transforms into her wolf form. When encountered by MAC agents, the wolf uses Saeko's windmill technique to escape and Takashi is unable to take the shot. Her mother knows what's up and, the next night, holds her arm to her daughter's mouth saying, "Drink mommy's blood." Her mother is safe, though, either because of her familial relationship or because Alien wolf drinks only young women's blood. Takashi is similarly safe, and when he comes for a visit, Alien wolf/Saeko runs.
Eventually she/it is forced to assume giant-size and is killed by Ultraman Leo. Resuming human size, Alien Wolf's body is cradled by Takashi. Leo uses his power to restore not only Saeko's humanity, but her life as well.
VAMPIRE! BAT GIRL: A MAC patrol wipes out a cloud of space bats. Walking across a field, Momoko, Toru and Kaoru hear a strange and potentially threatening sound. Toru suggests that his little sister check it out, but Kaoru says that he should. Momoko, the adult in the situation, gives Toru the nod. He finds a woman with injuries consistent with, say, with having been shot from the sky by a MAC patrol. Of course, she is a vampire. (Her fangs look like matchsticks.) By the time Gen stops by for a visit, Momoku, Toru and Kaoru have all been turned into vampires.
In her/its giant form, the vampire monster has large fangs that descend halfway down its chest. It gets Ultraman Leo on the ground and tries to "stab" him with them. The roll around on the ground until Leo gets a grip on the fangs and rips them out of the monster's head. But he doesn't want to kill it, because its blood can be used to return its victims to normal. A syringe appears, and Leo stabs it into the vampire's back and fills it with blood.
The serum cures Momoko, Toru and Kaoru as well as many other victims. In the end, all three (plus Gen) again find themselves walking through the same field they were in the beginning. Another mysterious sound is heard and, again, Momoko tries to get the boy to investigate, but he insists that she go herself this time. She emerges from the tall weeds with a cute little puppy.