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-?
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 (Oct. 19)
Ultraman Dyna 1997-98 - p.26
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 TIME TUNNEL SHADOWS WARRIORS: "Takeshi and Emi accidentally travel to an alternate dimension. Who is the princess that, somehow, looks exactly like Emi?"

Kaiju: Gera

Relax; it's not that "Time Tunnel." Yamato and Jono fly through a hole in space that they at first think is the past. The first person they encounter is a samurai warrior named Genkuro Fujiwara. He is just about to kill Yamato when he mistakes Jono for his princess. They soon learn that they are in Yomi, the land of the dead. Yomi has been invaded by the Akuzone; their leader is Lord Nebeez. Their chief scientist has a kaiju  called Gera about a foot tall in a glass cage. Lord Nebeez orders the scientist to enlarge Gera to repell the forces Jono has rallied against them. As they attack, the Akuzone fire at them and, one by one, they disappear. Yamato and Jono are both hit but, for whatever reason (because they are from another dimension, I suppose), they do not disappear. Yamato turns to Ultraman 80, defeats Gera and restores the people of Yomi before he and Jono return to their own dimension.

TERROR OF THE WHITE DEVIL: "A deadly fluid kills at random, dissolving human bodies. What is this phenomenon's connection to the advanced Algo [sic] Aliens?"

(That's what I'd like to know.)

Kaiju: Argo (plural: Argos)

Sometimes, as above, there are spelling discrepancies between the subtitles and the little capsule reviews in the accompanying booklet. In such cases, I usually go with the subtitles.

Characters: The lookalike school secretary who appeared in five consecutive episodes without captions, wasn't in "The Time tunnel Shadow Warriors", but she is in this episode. As usual, she speaks with other UGM members in passing. In this case, though, it's not Takeshi, but rather two new members named Fujimori and Ikeda. She introduces herself as Yuriko (which I heard as "Yuri" in the un-subtitled episodes),  on UGM's meteorological team. 

I call this episode's threat "the shaving cream monster." The special effects are similar to those used in the "slime" episode, but more convincing. The "Argos" are described as a race with no definite shape, yet when the "shaving cream" transforms into a more traditional daikaiju, it is referred to as "Argo", so I don't know exactly what is going on. There's something hinky about Dr. Jono's (Emi's father) colleague Dr. Aoyama. He returned from space possessed by Argo/the Argos. Tracy thinks that Argo/the Argos must be distantly related to the Zygons because of their similar appearance. 

LULLABY OF THE MIGRATORY BIRD MONSTER: "A crooked village chief hopes to attract tourist to his village with a monster scam. But then the real monster Kiyathia [sic] appears."

Kaiju: Val/Zakira (I don't know about this "Kiyathi")

This is the second episode of this series which uses the migratory patterns of monsters through space to account for their appearances on Earth. In this case, the remains of a number of Vals (the species) fall, including one egg. the egg hatches and the baby Val (which looks an awful lot like Gappa) imprints on Takeshi as its mother. The Val are being hunted, attacked and killed in space by Zakira. When Zakira arrives to eat the baby Val, Takeshi transforms to Ultraman 80 to stop it. Unfortunately, 80 is knocked unconscious. Val still recognizes him as its "mother" though, and rushes to his defense. Val is no match for Zakira, though, as Zakira clamps its jaws onto the "baby bird's" neck. 80 revives and defeats Zakira, but it's too late; Val is dead.

Yuriko makes another appearance this episode as well. As usual, she passes the UGM team in the hallway and turns around to say something to them, but now I know what she's saying: she's giving them the weather report (wind speed, etc.). 

"Partly cloudy, with an 80% chance of kaiju attack in the late afternoon and nesrly evening."

WRATH OF THE MONSTER EMPEROR

Well, this is embarrassing. The capsule summary I posted for yesterday's episode is actually for today's... and I didn't even notice! (I still have no idea about Kiyathia, though.)

Kaiju: "Cathy" (Ghostron)

One particular area is subject to frequent earthquakes. The local mayor spreads the rumor that they are being caused by a kaiju (which he made up) in hope of attracting a tourist trade. He names the pretend monster "Cathy" because he doesn't want to make it sound so scary it will frighten tourists away. Little does he know but there is a real kaiju, Ghostron, hibernating in the area, and the earthquakes have woken it up. It usually breathes fire, but wakes up so hungry that it can only breathe smoke. After a beatdown, it begs mercy from Ultraman 80, who flies it to a secret, secluded spot where it can go back into hibernation. At least this episode had a happier ending than yesterday's. 

A FRIEND LOST IN THE DESERT: "A spy seems to be monitoring UGM's movements. Is the culprit one of the reporters who works with Sera?"

Short answer: yes.

Kaiju: Alien Zatan (race); Zatan Silver (daikaiju)

Tsuchiyama is Sera's childhood friend, an athlete who pushed him to better himself. Now he's a reporter, and he and another reporter arrive at UGM HQ for a story. The Silver Gull is sabotaged, and evidence found in the cockpit implicates Sera's senpai. The "evidence" was so obvious (a monogrammed handkerchief), that I thought it must have been a plant and suspected his partner. Actually, they both turn out to be alien Zatans. The "Tsuchiyama" we see in this episode was never Sera's friend; the Zatan killed him in the desert and took his place. 

Twice in this episode Takeshi attaches his transformation device (not referred to as a "beta capsule" or anything else that I recall) to the barrel of his energy pistol to give it extra power. He's never used it that way before. 

There was an interesting scene in this episode where Sera takes the reporters into a secure building. They enter a long hallway and pass by security guards with a floor to ceiling glass wall. Neither guard looks at the people entering. Not even when they realize strangers have arrived. Not even when Sera leads his visitors around the corner past an additional glass wall! The security guards look at each other. *face-palm*

Yes, when the aliens walked behind an x-ray machine, it clearly revealed that they had no skeletons, yet the guards had their backs turned! There needs to be an investigation into UGM's security procedures.

THE MONSTER SEEDS FLEW: "Mariko's sick mother loves flowers. When a strange seed lands in Mariko's garden, she tries to make it grow."

Kaiju: Zora

This episode begins with a unique pre-credit sequence which explains how Takeshi suddenly has a "sister" this episode. A week ago, he saved a little girl from a speeding car. Now she calls him "Brother." That's it. (Could have been told in the show proper AFAIAC.) Anyway, Mariko's father died about a year ago, and Mariko's mother has lost the will to live. This episode's theme is the power of belief, and Mariko believes that flowers will make her mother well. One day, she finds what looks like a fiber optic dandelion stuck on a tree limb. She plants it and nurtures it, and it grows into an obviously alien plant. Takeshi tries to kill it, but Mariko stops him. Later, another UGM agent tries but is stopped by Takeshi. Zora eventually pulls up its roots and grows to giant size, killing all of the other flowers in the garden. Ultraman 80 defeats it, then restores the flowers to live. Mariko and Takeshi later bring all of the flowers into the mother's room, and she gets well. It remains to be seen whether Mariko and her mother stick around, but it looks as if they're being set up as new regular characters. 

MONSTER SHIP FROM THE DARK SEA: "Strange accidents begin to occur in the Pacific Ocean. will Akira's father make it home?"

Kaiju: Barrack Ship

This is the second episode in a row that has had a pre-opening credits sequence. (Maybe that's the new thing going forward.) It is also the second episode in a row which has featured a juvenile protagonist. In this case, Takeshi fixed the toy boat of a boy, Akira, sailing it in the park (antecedent action). His father is the captain of a cargo ship on his last trip before he retires. Back at UGM HQ, the crew is briefed on a number of "Bermuda Triangle-like" disappearances of ships and planes in the Pacific Ocean... except in this case, the disappearances are moving ever closer to Japan. 

Akira's father's ship goes missing and Akira, quite unreasonably, blames Takeshi. Takeshi flies out to investigate but the Sky Higher is caught is caught in a powerful magnetic field and he is forced to bail out. He recognizes the "monster ship" Barrack Ship as the source of the magnetic attraction, and further identifies Akira's father's ship as one of the captured vessels attached to Barrack Ship's hull. Back at HQ after being rescued, the monster ship is identified as Queens, a fully automated cargo ship that vanished 15 years before. For some reason Akira is there and stows away aboard one of UGM's jets (illustrating once again UGM's lax security protocols). Akira's father is found alive, and Ultraman 80 deals with Barrack Ship. 

I certainly didn't miss the kid free episodes but I guess the original audience did. At least these kids are not part of an annoying group of ne'er-do-wells. 

"Ne'er-do-wells", Gracie?  Did you just step out of a Thomas Hardy novel?

Tracy of Moon-T said:

I certainly didn't miss the kid free episodes but I guess the original audience did. At least these kids are not part of an annoying group of ne'er-do-wells. 

Another kid and an interesting monster in this last episode. 

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