News Stay At Home With ULTRAMAN| Ultra Science Fiction Hour on YouTube

Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by Kai "the spy", May 1, 2020.

  1. Kai "the spy"

    Kai "the spy" Vice Admiral Admiral

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    SciFi Japan| Tsuburaya Productions Announces "Stay At Home With Ultraman"

    From Sunday, May 3rd, Tsuburaya will livestream a selected episode from their archives in the "Ultra Science Fiction Hour", every Sunday on their official YouTube channel, and keep it available for Ultra-Fans worldwide until the end of the next month.

    They'll start with Ultraman Ace, Episode #52, "You Are The Ace Of Tomorrow!"



    In the coming weeks, this series will feature episodes from Ultra shows from the 60s, 70s, 90s, and 00s, as well as one episode of Tsuburaya's Kaiju sitcom "Booska".
     
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  2. The Lensman

    The Lensman Commodore Commodore

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    Thanks for the posting this. Seems strange they'd start with Ace instead of Ultraman. I've picked up Ultraman, Ultra Seven and Return of Ultraman on Blu-Ray and will pick up Ultraman Ace as well. Looking forward to seeing the greater Ultraverse beyond my favorite, the original. Will be starting that once I finish my binge of Samurai Jack.
     
  3. Kai "the spy"

    Kai "the spy" Vice Admiral Admiral

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    It's specifically selected across the Ultra Series' history, and the episodes chosen have a positive message.
    The Ace episode is the finale of that show, btw, but was chosen for its message of compassion, it's about an alien child hunted by the show's villain, The Yapool, who needs protection by a group of human children.
     
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  4. JD

    JD Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    How hard would it be to watch random episodes of these shows? Do they have much of an arc to them?
     
  5. Kai "the spy"

    Kai "the spy" Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Not really. They mostly follow a formula of something happening, the super science squad having to investigate, monster appearing, squad fighting monster, monster besting squad, squad member who's secretly an Ultra transforming, fighting and ultimately beating the monster. There might be minor character arcs, especially in the more modern versions, but the episodes are still mostly self-contained.

    The only exception among the announced episodes is one from the show "Ultraman Nexus", a show from 2004 which skewered more mature plots and themes, and which had an overall plot throughout the whole show.
     
  6. JD

    JD Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    OK thanks, I'll have to check some of them out than.
     
  7. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Yeah, I started watching a bit of Ultraman (starting with Tiga, and I've just finished Dyna) after I'd mostly gotten through Kamen Rider and Super Sentai, and it was surprising to go from Toei's more serialized shows with a single season-long enemy to the more episodic approach of Ultraman. But it has its advantages, like a wider variety of different kinds of monster and different kinds of story. Sentai always has one obligatory episode where the monster is benevolent (but usually ends up getting destroyed anyway), but a fair number of UM monsters turn out to be innocent animals or misunderstood aliens or whatever.

    But it's weird that the resident Ultraman keeps his identity secret from the military team he works for. That seems like a very unwise thing to do, and probably insubordinate, concealing an asset that your team and commanding officer would benefit from knowing they had. Plus it requires having a ridiculous number of episodes where the hero's jet is knocked out of the sky so he's free to transform without anyone noticing.
     
  8. Kai "the spy"

    Kai "the spy" Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I guess the secret identity was just a genre conceit back when the show started in 1966, and since then it's become a tradition on the series. Realism doesn't play much into it.

    There are a few exceptions. The aforementioned Nexus had actually four different human hosts for the Ultraman throughout its series, and only the two latter ones were actually a part of the anti monster squad, one became the host near to the finale, and the last one didn't become the host until the final episode.
    And then there was Ultraman Mebius, were the commanding officer of the team knows about Mebius' secret identity from the start, and the rest of the team learn about it half-way through the show.
     
  9. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    The two I've seen, Tiga and Dyna (which share a continuity), are at once quite intelligently written and quite formulaic. Both casts have pretty much the same team compositions and you can match characters and roles one-to-one, even though their individual personalities differ -- the young pilot who's secretly Ultraman, the female pilot who's his vague love interest, the wise captain/mentor, the second-in-command, the third male pilot, the chubby comic-relief science guy, and the youthful tech/communications officer who usually stays behind at the base. And they both have the female lead discover Ultraman's identity shortly before the end of the season, and in the final episode everyone else finds out and it turns out the wise captain had secretly known for some time. Though I've only seen those two, I get the impression that they were following a set of already well-established tropes. After all, they were the first Heisei-era seasons, the revival after a 15-year hiatus, so they were probably modeled on the patterns established in the Showa era.

    I'm wondering how typical those seasons are in writing quality. I've found that Heisei-era Kamen Rider is a lot more sophisticated than what I've seen of Showa, and generally the same for Super Sentai, though it's a more gradual transition (it's the only one of the three that ran continuously). So I wouldn't be surprised if the same went for Ultraman.
     
  10. Kai "the spy"

    Kai "the spy" Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Kind of.

    The trope of the rest of the team discovering the secret identity of the Ultraman does go way back, though the original one kept the secret even so far that after Ultraman left his human host Hayata, that host didn't have any memory from the point when he and Ultraman joined.

    There are a bit more similarities between Tiga and Dyna, simply because not only did one directly follow the other, but Dyna was a direct sequel to Tiga. Though the characters of every show are usually very clearly defined archetypes, there's a bit more variation between all the shows than between those two.

    As for the quality of the writing, it is true that the Showa era was generally less sophisticated, but even there are exceptions. UltraSeven, for example, tried to appeal to a more mature audience, and thus there was an emphasis on story and more complex characters. But even there, the episodes were largely self-contained, as TV shows were in general back then.
     
  11. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    One thing that really impresses me about the Ultraman shows I've seen is how great the miniature work is in the giant battle scenes. The battles themselves aren't that interesting because the hero is mostly mute and the monsters usually are too, and I prefer the kind of action that advances the story and character arcs to the kind that just puts them on hold for several minutes for a ritualized fight scene. This is a problem Super Sentai tends to have too, but not to the same extent. But while SS tends to recycle the same stock cityscape and mountainscape and so on for its battle scenes, every Tiga and Dyna episode has its own unique, individualized landscape with a lot of detail and its own distinct character, and it's gorgeous. I'm often more entertained by the scenery than by the fights.
     
  12. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I just watched the Ace episode on YouTube. It was an oddly abrupt way to end the series, with the focus being more on the guest-star kids than on any of the hero's teammates. It was also such a cavalier way of defeating the season's big bad that I wasn't even sure that was what had happened.

    Also, Ace's head looks a bit like a metallic version of a Silurian from Doctor Who.
     
  13. Kai "the spy"

    Kai "the spy" Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Remember, the Ultra Series is produced by Tsuburaya Productions, the company founded by the biggest figure in Japanese special effects. It's a matter of legacy and pride to put so much emphasis on the miniatures, as well some fantastic Kaiju suits. But if you go through the shows, you'll notice a lot of episodes with the monster scenes set in nature, relatively easy sets to make. The same goes for the Kaiju suits, while a lot of them are quite impressive, others are very much less so. Dada is story-wise an interesting foe, but his suit was very easy to make. Other times, especially in the older shows, great monster suits were cannibalized to create similar, but new kaiju.
     
  14. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Yes, I'm aware, and of course that's the reason. But it's still impressive, and I wish more Super Sentai could work on the same level (although recent SS seasons have often done some pretty impressive things with the giant battles' composition and cinematography).


    It's not about the difficulty, it's about the attention to detail and customization. Even in the natural locations, they still individualize them, and shoot fights from ground level so you can see the neat little details they put in.
     
  15. Kai "the spy"

    Kai "the spy" Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Yes, the attention to detail is often quite impressive. As I said, it's a matter of pride and doing right by Eiji Tsuburaya. I still vividly remember a shot from a fight in an episode of Ultraman Max, where while Max and the kaiju were facing each other in the background, the foreground had a moving gondola on a cableway. It still kind of blows my mind how effective such little details are. I haven't seen that episode in more than five years, but I still remember that gondola.
     
  16. Samurai8472

    Samurai8472 Vice Admiral Admiral

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  17. Kai "the spy"

    Kai "the spy" Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Next Sunday's episode is now listed as an upcoming premiere on YouTube. It's the 6th episode of the 1980 Ultraman show cleverly titled "Ultraman 80":


    Edit: Sorry, my bad, this episode is actually not Sunday's episode, but just a random upload (still, full episode, y'all, though without English subs). Next Sunday's episode will in fact be the 37th episode of the original "Ultraman" series. Close to the finale, but not quite.
     
    Last edited: May 7, 2020
  18. Kai "the spy"

    Kai "the spy" Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Okay, this time for real, Sunday's episode, #37 of "Ultraman", is now listed on YouTube:

    Premiere is on Sunday, about 3am, here in mid-Europe, that's actually Saturday night for the Americans among us, 9pm on the East Coast. The episode features several monsters, most in their second appearance in the show. Among them is the small monster Pigmon, who is actually a friend of the humans. The other kaijus are Telesdon, Dorako, as well as the first-timer Geronimon (yeah, it pretty much looks as it sounds).
     
  19. JD

    JD Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I was looking around on the Ultraman Wiki, and it says a lot of the monsters and Ultramen appeared on multiple shows. Was there continuity much continuity between all of the different shows? I've skimmed through some Wikipedia and the Ultraman Wiki but most of it didn't seem real clear about this kind of stuff.
     
  20. Kai "the spy"

    Kai "the spy" Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Well, yes and no. If you just want to watch an episode, it all works pretty good without having to know anything beyond the basics beforehand. Also, casual fans might not notice any interconnective tissue beyond the Ultras crossing over, and some monsters being already known by name and "oh, Kaiju X has strength Y, but also weakness Z".

    There's also several different Ultra-Universes. The Showa shows from Ultra Q up to Ultraman 80 shared the same universe, even though every show was seemingly set in the present day, but with a different anti monster team every year. The first referrence to an earlier show was in an episode of Ultraman, when a monster from Ultra Q re-appeared, and the Science Patrol knew its weakness (which, of course, backfired, because drama). UltraSeven wasn't supposed to be in the same universe, but was retconned into it through the appearances in later shows. He even was a supporting member of the regular cast in Ultraman Leo.

    Then there were Ultraman Great and Ultraman Powered, which were self-contained. Tiga and Dyna were very much set in the same universe, but a distinct one to the Showa shows. An episode of Tiga features the original Ultraman, and it was here that the multiverse concept was inserted into the Ultra Series. The shows Gaia, Cosmos, Nexus and Max were then all set in distinct and pretty much self-contained universes. Cosmos and Max re-introduced monsters from the Showa shows, but there was no referrences to the earlier appearances.
    It changed when Ultraman Mebius, as the 30th anniversary show, returned to the Showa continuity, and the next couple of movies really pushed the multiverse concept and that everything (including the 70s anime series) was canon. Meanwhile, the new shows returned to exploring new universes, but because the multiverse was now well-established, they often brought in classic Ultras, as well as classic monsters.

    So, for self-contained episodes, it is better to watch the shows up to and including Ultraman Mebius. Most shows after that were more serialized (though still with the Kaiju of the week).