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" Admiral Admiral

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    ^I'm tempted to watch that, but I kind of want to see the movie as a whole.

    Episode #12 of "Ultraman Ace" sees a cactus monster disguise itself as a little boy's pet plant:
     
  2. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I'm mainly disappointed in myself that after watching so much subtitled tokusatsu the past few years, I still haven't picked up enough Japanese to follow the gist of a conversation without subtitles. I get some bits and pieces here and there, but not as much as I would've hoped.

    I mean, I actually took a year and a third of Japanese way back in college decades ago. It's depressing how little of it I've retained.
     
  3. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Well, Ultraman Taiga wasn't bad, but not as good as it could've been. It definitely went more for drama this time, often with the kind of tragic endings that were common in the Showa series, and it tried to be an allegory for racial prejudice and the like. It struck me as kind of a cross between Dekaranger, a crime drama in a city full of (secret) aliens, and Kamen Rider Den-O, with the protagonist having multiple suit characters with clashing personalities coexisting in his body.

    Having three Ultras in one host was a novel idea, and they added a new feature of the Ultras manifesting in the "real world" as ghostly images that only the host could see. And it was an interesting idea to have the "Tri-Squad" Ultras be from three different origins/universes: Taiga from the Land of Light (Taro's son), Titas from U-40 from the '79 anime (the first canonical reference to it, I think), and Fuma from O-50 from Orb and R/B. But they didn't do as much with it as they could have. Apparently most of the trio's backstories and character development were established in supplementary audio shorts released alongside the episodes, so they got hardly any exploration in the show. The three had distinct personalities and attitudes, but no story arcs or conflicts. Den-O was basically a harem anime with monsters, a story about a protagonist reluctantly accumulating a posse of eccentric, clashing characters who make his life crazy. Taiga did far less with its premise, using the three Ultras as little more than a set of Tiga-style alternate fight modes -- a default form, a red strength form, and a blue speed/skill form. The host, Hiroyuki, was kind of bland too, the least interesting of the New Generation leads so far.

    The main villain, Ultraman Tregear, was another promising element that didn't live up to its potential. Tregear was certainly a better evil Ultra than Belial, who was a boring, generic villain with nothing to his character except a cartoonishly demonic appearance and a smug evil chuckle. Tregear had a distinct point of view, more about chaos and a rejection of good and evil. I liked his casual fighting style, the way it conveyed that he was so powerful that his enemies posed no challenge and he just playfully brushed them off. But his portrayal was inconsistent. At first he seemed to have no motive beyond chaos, but then he was trying to corrupt Taiga as part of a master plan to invade the Land of Light, and then that was forgotten and he was just in it for the jollies again, or revenge against his ex-friend Taro, or whatever. I ended up finding him kind of tiresome.

    Plus, despite having a regular villain, there wasn't really a unifying story arc to the back half of the season, so it was kind of unfocused. And in the climax, they kind of cheated and glossed over some important story points, like how the team found out Hiroyuki was Ultraman, and how a certain character's fate was reset without explanation in the closing scene. There were some fairly good standalone episodes and some decent character development (for the non-Ultras, at least), but the whole was less than the sum of its parts.

    On the plus side, at least Taiga dialed back on the excesses of the last few shows' gimmicks. The transformation sequences are shorter and simpler, and though there's still a dynamic of using collectible items with the powers of past Ultras, it's secondary to the Ultras' intrinsic powers and just lets them use their predecessors' attacks as finishers, rather than being the direct basis of their powers and forms. Although I'm disappointed that the franchise stopped using the creative silhouette-based art that the past few series used under their episode title cards.

    So now I have only one last series to watch before I'm all caught up, and appropriately it's Ultraman Z.
     
  4. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Well, that's it -- I've now finished my last Ultraman series. Ultraman Z was one of the better New Generation series, pretty solid overall. It's our first defense force-driven series since the last letter-named series, Ultraman X, but it's got the novel twist of the defense force fighting monsters with giant robots instead of super-aircraft. (Well, novel for Ultraman; a number of Godzilla movies used the trope.) Although, typically, the "New Generation" era insists on reusing old characters, with the STORAGE robots coincidentally recreating Ultraseven's two robotic capsule kaiju, and the third one being a "custom" rebuild of the perennial evil robot King Joe.

    The characters are reasonably effective, if a bit broad, and it's an interesting twist having the recurring villain-turned-antihero Juggler (from Orb) return under an assumed identity as the team captain, echoing how Ultraseven/Dan served as the team captain in Ultraman Leo. They kept up the mystery of just what his agenda was and whether it was good, evil, or neither, but it ended up in what I found a satisfying place.

    The relationship between Haruki and Z is kind of unusual; they're supposedly merged like a usual Ultraman and host, but they can't communicate or interact without the Z Riser device, which lets Haruki enter a pocket space where he and Z can physically coexist when Z isn't a giant in the outside world. (And I realized that, unlike the previous NG inner spaces, the effect was achieved by the actors standing in front of a projection screen showing the background animation live, rather than doing it as a greenscreen matte.) There was also an interesting dynamic where they could do a "reverse" transformation with Z taking over Haruki's body so that he could manifest at human size. It's odd, though, that the mechanics are so different from other Ultras, given that Z is from the Land of Light like most of his predecessors. It's also weird that Z is unable to speak comprehensible Japanese except to Haruki, with his speech just sounding like grunts to normal humans. Other Ultras, especially in the NG shows, have been able to communicate verbally with normal humans. Maybe it's because Z is so young and inexperienced compared to other Ultras?

    Annoyingly, the show brings back the formula that Taiga largely averted, having long transformation sequences using collectible devices combining past Ultras' powers -- three of them this time instead of one or two. And the Z Riser is the biggest, most cumbersome device yet.

    Oh, and the opening bars of the Ultraman Z theme song are really something.


    I should mention that I also watched the Ultra Galaxy Fight specials that served as prequels to Taiga and Z. New Generation Heroes was kind of forgettable, mostly just a bunch of fight scenes with a loose unifying narrative, and kind of contrived in keeping all the Ultras in their giant forms throughout and using only the main actors' voiceovers. It seemed to be mainly an introduction for the Indonesian character Ultraman Ribut into the main canon, as well as a setup for the opening of Taiga.

    The Absolute Conspiracy was more of the same to a large extent, another one focused purely on suit characters, but told a much bigger story, interestingly bringing in a ton of peripheral and long-overlooked characters, including Ultramans Great and Powered from the '90s English-language series, Neos and Ultraseven 21 from the direct-to-video series, Joneus from the '79 anime, and Ultraman 80 and Yullian, as well as giving Ribut an origin story that seemed to precede the previous UGF special. It was ambitious the way it tied so many different parts of the franchise together, even obscure ones. But it was also notable in delving further into the history of the Land of Light and the origins of the two evil Ultras Belial and Tregear, continuing the deepening of that backstory that started in the Ultra Galaxy movie more than a decade earlier (also from director Koichi Sakamoto). So that was pretty interesting. I hadn't expected it to end on a cliffhanger, though. And it seems that the sequel The Destined Crossroad is only available on pay services for now. Hopefully it'll show up on the official YouTube channel sometime.


    So now I've seen pretty much the whole franchise, except for a few peripheral things like Zero Fight, Sevenger Fight, and most of the two Ultra Q revivals (and the movie). Overall, I'd say the Heisei Era from Tiga through Mebius was my favorite period, with Gaia, Cosmos, Max, and Mebius being particular standouts. The Showa series were often quite interesting, sometimes thoughtful, sometimes very imaginative, sometimes dark and tragic, sometimes arty and bizarre, sometimes utterly silly. But sometimes they could be pretty dumb too, and far too cavalier about killing monsters and aliens without moral qualms. And like most Showa-era tokusatsu, they were relentlessly formulaic and weren't as strong at character development as the later shows.

    As for the Zero/New Generation era, it's generally fairly good in its stories and characterization, often taking a more compassionate approach to monsters and aliens and exploring the ethical problems of violence, and often engaging in allegory about prejudice or environmental issues, as the Heisei shows often did. It also has really imaginative, top-notch visual effects and miniature work, though the constant reuse of the same monster suits and cityscapes from series to series speaks of limited budget (as does the small cast sizes in a number of the shows). But it's way too dependent on collectible-toy gimmicks, and for something called the New Generation, it's far too attached to past Ultramen and kaiju. I like the sense of a deep shared history to an extent, but at the same time I'd like more innovation.

    And hey, I see I got caught up just in time, since Ultraman Decker premieres in less than two weeks.
     
  5. Kai "the spy"

    Kai "the spy" Admiral Admiral

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    In episode #39 of "Ultraman Mebius", a mother of a large family - who also happens to work in the GUYS cantina - sacrifices herself to save a young boy and gets bonded to Alien Serpent in a similar fashion that Ultras bond with humans. But Alien Serpent, of course, does not have benevolent motives:
     
  6. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Yeah, I remember that one, and the way it homaged classic Ultraman bonding sequences as a misdirect.


    I wanted to mention... One thing that's strange to me in the New Generation era is that Ultraman Taro, of all people, has somehow ended up being the dominant representative of the Ultra Brothers. He's Ginga's mentor, Taiga's father, Tregear's old friend, the only speaking member of the Brothers in the first two Ultra Galaxy Fight miniseries, etc. Why is he the one who gets all the attention these days? His show was possibly the weakest in the classic era, other than Leo. Is it because Mebius established him as an instructor to the younger generation? Or is it because he's been played by a voice artist since the '80s, rather than by his original actor? The first four Ultra lead actors (Kurobe, Moritsugu, etc.) are all still around, but maybe their voices aren't as strong anymore at their age? I see they've all been recast in the third Ultra Galaxy Fight.

    Anyway, it's a weird contrast to the productions from the '00s where the original Ultra Brothers were heavily featured with the original lead actors returning to voice them. You saw Ultraman, Seven, Jack, and Ace a lot in that period, relatively speaking, but in the NG era they're mostly just represented by the collectible power items or occasionally standing around in the background in UGF.

    It's also kind of contradictory, in that the Ultras are supposed to be thousands of years old, yet in 21st-century productions they've progressed through the generations at a pace more like humans. Ultraseven and Taro now have grown sons (and apparently Taiga was born after Taro's time on Earth), and Seven's son Zero has been around so long that Ultraman Z sees him as an elder mentor, so that he's essentially the start of the third generation.
     
  7. Samurai8472

    Samurai8472 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I liked "Ultraman Z" It had really great humor in episode with Z trying to communicate and also when Z became human sized.





    Also this behind the scenes fight sequence was really cool




    To get the low profile shots all it is is a camera........on a stick


    and this was the final product

     
  8. Samurai8472

    Samurai8472 Vice Admiral Admiral

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  9. Samurai8472

    Samurai8472 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Ultraman Tiga, Ultraman Dyna, and Ultraman Gaia on TokuSHOUTsu!
     
  10. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Took them long enough. Three of the best, especially Gaia.


    Anyway, I just read the first two Marvel Ultraman comics miniseries, The Rise of Ultraman and The Trials of Ultraman. They're not bad, I guess, but I wish they'd picked a Japanese writer, since the characters, while supposedly Japanese, come off as more American in the way they talk and act (i.e. a lot less polite, a lot more frank).

    Their take on Ultraman himself is fairly interesting, though this version is a lot more talkative than the original, more like one of the modern Ultras. Also, given that it's a reboot of the original series with elements of Ultraseven, I was surprised that it borrowed an idea from Ultraman Nexus, that kaiju are drawn by fear and negative emotional energy, so they were kept secret to keep that fear from running out of control.

    There are two 5-issue miniseries so far, with a third on the way called The Mystery of Ultraseven, but comics these days are so decompressed that it feels like little more than two episodes. So there isn't really that much to react to yet.
     
  11. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Also debuting on TokuSHOUTsu today: Both seasons and the movie of Ultra Galaxy Mega Monster Battle, plus Ultraman Zero: The Chronicle (which appears to be a sort of compilation/recap series). So they now have the entire Zero film trilogy.

    EDIT: They also have Ultraseven X. Weird that they'd release that one before getting to Neos, Cosmos, Nexus, Max, and Mebius.
     
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2022
  12. Kai "the spy"

    Kai "the spy" Admiral Admiral

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    While Ace joins his Ultra Brothers on a mission in space, Yapool sends another Super Beast to Earth, in episode #13 of "Ultraman Ace":
     
    Last edited: Jul 1, 2022
  13. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    I just realized that what TokuSHOUTsu is doing is filling in the Heisei-era gap from both ends -- forward from where they left off with Ultraman 80 and backward from the Zero movies and Gaidens they already had up. (While omitting the three overseas English-language productions between 80 and Tiga, and Heisei Ultraseven.) If that's intentional, it's a weird way to do it.
     
  14. kirk55555

    kirk55555 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    I'm pretty sure that TokuSHOUTsu only gets the Ultra shows that Millcreek Entertainment has already released on DVD/BluRay, and generally seem to be putting them up in a similar order to and a certain amount of time after the physical release (Millcreek used to have its own streaming thing, but made a deal with TokuSHOUTsu to put the Ultraman shows they've licensed on the channel). Neos, Cosmos, Nexus, and Max haven't had their physical releases yet, and Mebius was just released, so I wouldn't expect them for awhile.

    The next Millcreek Releases are Ultraman Zearth (a double feature with both movies) and the little kid anime Ultraman Kids 3000 this month, then Cosmos and Neos in September and Max and Nexus (along with Ultraman: The Next) somewhere after that (and maybe one or two more shows, I can't quite remember all the stuff they licensed, although I know they don't have the rights to Taiga onwards yet, or Heisei Ultraseven or the English language co-productions). I can't imagine that TokuSHOUTsu will get any of those shows before the physical release, since that would have been a bad deal for Millcreek to make with them.
     
  15. Samurai8472

    Samurai8472 Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Ultraman Decker press conference today showing off the new Ultraman activation henshin poses. I don't think it will be that drawn out lol.





    I'm seeing a bit of "Gridman's" helmet design in the primary form.
     
  16. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    The half-hour special didn't reveal too much, since a ton of it was recap and just showing off forms, but at least we got a glimpse of the characters and the premise. I just hope the characters are more than one-joke caricatures this time around.

    Since this is based on Dyna to such a great degree, I expected Decker's host to be a cocky hothead like Asuka was, but he seems more like the usual generic good-natured-but-enthusiastic toku hero type.

    The scene of the Spheres first attack was filmed at the Saitama Super Arena, which shows up all the time in Kamen Rider/Super Sentai, but I don't think they've used it much in Ultraman before.
     
  17. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    The fourth miniseries of Marvel's Ultraman comic will feature Ultraman Taro and cross over with Spider-Man, Iron Man, and Captain Marvel:

    https://tokusatsunetwork.com/2022/07/ultraman-marvel-crossover-comic-book-miniseries-announced/

    So is this like the old days, where licensed Marvel characters were actually integrated into the Marvel Universe (until the licenses expired)? I didn't see any sign in the first two miniseries that they were in the Marvel world, so maybe it's a cross-universe thing, which is common enough in the Ultra franchise.

    And again we get that weird thing where Taro is apparently one of the most popular classic Ultras these days, even though his series wasn't very good. They jump right over Jack and Ace to include him.

    Funny -- until I saw the image at the link of Seven and Taro flanking Ultraman, I never realized just how much Taro looks like Seven. I knew they both had the same eye design, but now I see that Taro's design is basically the same as Seven's, just with slightly different proportions and with three horns replacing the Eye Slugger and ears. It's weird that, officially, Seven and Taro are defined as cousins by marriage, since they look like they should be brothers. But then, Taro doesn't look much like his biological parents, Father and Mother of Ultra. I guess Ultra genetics don't work like ours.
     
  18. Kai "the spy"

    Kai "the spy" Admiral Admiral

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    My guess would be that it's a multiverse thing. The first two mini-series read like this is not a universe populated by superheroes and -villains, and Marvel's Earth-616 has their own couple of kaiju like Fin Fang Foom and the monster formerly known as Godzilla. Also, crossing over into different universes is part of many comic crossovers between different IP, like the current Godzilla vs. Power Rangers over at IDW. It's really become the rule rather than the exception.
     
  19. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Ultraman meeting Iron Man could be interesting.

    "How long does your Color Timer last, anyway?"
    "Hey, why is your Arc Reactor blinking red?"
     
  20. Kai "the spy"

    Kai "the spy" Admiral Admiral

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    First art from the upcoming animated movie coming to Netflix:
    [​IMG]