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Ultraman Arc, huh? I wonder if it'll be serialized... :D

Whoa, that means we'll have an Ultraman Noa and an Ultraman Arc.

Noa. Arc. Noah's Ark.

Next year will be the 20th anniversary of Nexus so if it's real maybe this will relate to Noa somehow (also since most Ultra shows these days are typically a little under 30 episodes long this would be about the correct time for us to start getting the next trademark)
Next year will be the 20th anniversary of Nexus so if it's real maybe this will relate to Noa somehow

I doubt it; I was just making a pun on the names. They seem to be done with the "New Generation anniversary remake" thing, and anyway, the next one after Gaia (which they skipped) would be either Neos or Cosmos depending on how you count it.
Blazar #23, "Visitor 99":

Things are ramping up. Deltandals and Taganulars have been popping up all month, running SKaRD, Blazar, and Gento ragged, and Gento's health is in serious danger from exhaustion and worse. And Emi figures out that the Earth kaiju are actually a defense against the Third Wave space kaiju that's on its way to attack, so SKaRD has to defy orders and give them the chance to do it, which puts them in the doghouse even more than before.

I loved Emi getting on the PA to explain the situation to "Ultraman Blazar-san."

Bit of a cliffhanger ending with Blazar there. Where will Gento be when he reappears? If he's still in Nevada, he's gonna have some 'splainin to do.
No new episode this week, and next week is another of those cartoon-hosted recap specials. Gah -- that's a long wait for the last two episodes.
Here's the cartoon recap special, "Pag's Ultra Lecture":

I wasn't going to watch, but I decided I didn't feel like doing much else, and I wanted some kind of a Blazar fix after its absence last week, however silly. Anyway, it didn't hurt to get a reminder of the story arc and the events of the cliffhanger, which was all the way back last year, after all. ;)
And we're back! Blazar #24, "The Approaching Third Wave":

The first half of the penultimate episode is the calm before the storm as the SKaRD members have a last day off before flying to the Moon in Earth Garon to fight Varallon. It annoys me that Gento is still lying to his family about his role. Meanwhile, Emi tries to uncover the secrets of V99, and there's a nice scene where she turns to Earthy for help and he does what he can within his programming.

The second half is the big battle, in which Varallon takes down Earthy with ease. Blazar is weak from the start due to the cumulative strain of fighting, and he ends up severing his link with Gento and seemingly sacrificing himself, setting up our cliffhanger.

To my annoyance, Varallon is trying to knock the Moon out of orbit by setting off bombs on the far side and pushing it toward Earth, which is not how orbital mechanics work. The Moon is racing around the Earth sideways, so if you push it perpendicular to that direction of motion, you just make it wobble, i.e. make the orbit more eccentric. If you want to drop something out of orbit, you have to thrust opposite its orbital motion to slow it down so Earth's gravity pulls it in.

Only one episode to go! Plus the movie that comes out February 23, but I don't think that'll be on the free YouTube channel.
And we come to the end... Ultraman Blazar #25: "The Ones Who Embrace the Earth."

Holy cow, that was beautiful. Intense, moving, everything building to a heartfelt climax with a satisfying message.
Blazar speaks! What a powerful moment. We've had Ultras and hosts who communicated more openly and regularly, but I'm not sure the bond between the two has ever felt as poignant as it did here.

I love it that it turned out the whole conflict was a misunderstanding, the result of Dobashi's unwarranted aggression, and that the way out was to stand down and make peace. It was kind of undermined by V99 just leaving Varallon there so there was still a blow-up-the-monster climax, but I loved the payoff of the Earth kaiju coming to the rescue to protect their home from the invasive species.

And we get a very sentimental beat of Gento's son's devotion giving Gento and Blazar a climactic friendship-bracelet power-up -- and it's his first use of the classic crossed-wrists Ultraman finisher pose.

We end with the implication that the V99 refugees will find their new home in the galaxy Blazar comes from. I would love it if they continued this universe next season and explored Blazar's origins more. Maybe the movie will address that.

This is a rare case of an Ultra series ending with the rest of the cast never discovering the host's (or disguised Ultra's) secret. I think that happened in the original series, and maybe Taro, and Towards the Future (Ultraman Great), but it's pretty uncommon. I'm actually a little frustrated that they didn't do more with the secret identity. I mean, how come nobody in SKaRD ever noticed that their commanding officer disappeared during Blazar's appearances? That's harder to buy with a team leader than a junior member. I'm surprised they never even touched on the question.
Hmm, so Ultraman's on a different network than the Toei shows -- I guess that would account for a difference in their productions. But if labor shortages are a factor, why doesn't that affect the Toei shows too?

Anyway, while it would be nice to spend more time with the characters in these shows, the advantage of shorter seasons is more time to work on the writing and production and make it better. Maybe splitting the difference with something like 36-episode seasons would be good.
Incidentally, I'm mildly amused to discover that that the BBC series Blake's 7 did a 1980 episode called "Ultraworld" set on an alien planet inhabited by bald, silver-skinned humanoids called Ultras. Nothing more to say about it, it's just a vaguely interesting coincidence. At least, it's probably a coincidence. Does anyone know if any of the Ultra Series got a UK release prior to 1980? Still probably a coincidence even if they did.
Well, finally!

Wait, there's gonna be more?!
Started reading the Ultraman novelization, and it's quite enjoyable. It is comparable with James Blish's adaptations of the Star Trek TOS episodes into short stories, that's how this feels. There are six chapters, each basically adapting one episode, obviously this makes it more of a 'Best of' as opposed to the completist Blish-Trek, but considering the smaller market for Ultraman compared to Star Trek, and the smaller market for genre literature today as opposed to the late 1960s, doing adaptations for all 39 episodes would have been doomed from the start. Especially since the author, and Titan Books, apparently plan on adapting UltraSeven, and possibly the following Ultra Series as well.

There are some minor updates in the adaptation, Ide doing a Vlog to explain him breaking the fourth wall in the Baltan episode, as well as the characters using laptops and tablets. I guess that's fine, the original series was supposed to be set in the then-future, and the changes are minor so far, not really changing the narrative that much.
Being prose, there is a bit more insight into the characters, especially Hayata, and how he deals with his new situation of having Ultraman's thoughts and knowledge in his head. There was also a point where it is noted how disorienting it is at first to suddenly become fourty meters tall. That's something that the Ultraman productions might actually want to try to adress, as it does add a bit of versimilitude to the concept.

So, yeah, if you like Ultraman, and you like James Blish's Star Trek adaptations, this might be up your alley.
Being prose, there is a bit more insight into the characters, especially Hayata, and how he deals with his new situation of having Ultraman's thoughts and knowledge in his head.

That's something I always felt was missing in the classic shows, and even most of the Heisei-era shows -- they never really explored what it was like for the host to be joined to Ultraman. We didn't get regular conversations between host and Ultra (outside of the initial joining and sometimes the final farewell) until the 1979 anime and the two 1980s English-language series, particularly the earlier Australian one. I don't think we saw significant host-Ultra dialogue in the live-action Heisei-era shows until Max, and then not again until Ultraman Saga and the New Generation.

However, the book's interpretation conflicts with my pet theory that Hayata actually spent the whole series in a healing coma while Ultraman impersonated him. After all, when Ultraman leaves, Hayata has no memory of the time he was joined, and the only other time we saw that was in the second Ultraman Zero movie where he joined with a dying, comatose humanoid as his temporary host while healing him. Also, Hayata was pretty much a blank slate, the one character in the original show who had the least personality and character development despite being the series lead, which would make sense if he was an alien trying not to call too much attention to himself.

There was also a point where it is noted how disorienting it is at first to suddenly become fourty meters tall. That's something that the Ultraman productions might actually want to try to adress, as it does add a bit of versimilitude to the concept.

I do remember that being done once or twice in New Generation shows when a host first transformed into an Ultra and we saw it from their point of view.
I've been watching the New Generation Stars clip-show series that they show in the Ultraman time slot between seasons. I haven't done it before, but I felt like doing it now because I wanted an Ultraman fix, and because this one centers on Yuka Ohta from Ultraman Z, who's rather cute and funny. Ignis from Trigger also shows up and brings a robot that contains data on Ultras from other realities, setting up the clips from various NG seasons. The frame sequences are really cheap, all taking place in a single windowless room with just 1-2 actors and a suit actor playing the robot.

This week's episode was rather surprising. The first three episodes were pretty much nonstop action clips from various episodes of various series, aside from the frame material setting them up, with a lot of voiceovers of Yuka and Ignis commenting on what they were watching. But today's episode consisted almost entirely of a slightly edited-down rerun of "A Warrior's Back," one of the more dramatic episodes of Ultraman X, with most of the trims being to the action rather than the drama, and with no voiceover kibitzing from Yuka, just a couple of minutes of frame material at the beginning and end. It's quite a change of pace. I guess they want to highlight some of the most memorable and popular episodes as well as the action and toyetic stuff.

This is the second season of New Generation Stars, and the first season ran for 22 episodes, ending just a couple of weeks before Blazar's premiere. So I expect this season will take up pretty much the whole gap between Blazar and the premiere of Ultraman Arc, if the new series is still called that.
I recently decided to get a trial subscription to the Crunchyroll anime site, and I just finished SSSS.GRIDMAN, having recently (well, within the past year) completed the original Gridman the Hyper Agent live-action series on Shout TV. The anime (written by longtime Ultraman franchise writer Keiichi Hasegawa, who's also the co-head writer of the current Kamen Rider Gotchard) started out underwhelming but ended up being pretty impressive and surreal, which is more than I can say for the live-action series it's a loose sequel to.

In fact, SSSS is unusual in that it's a sequel that undoubtedly works better if you haven't already seen the original, because its plot is driven by the gradual uncovering of reality-bending mysteries and secrets whose explanations are immediately obvious if you know the backstory. A strange choice, to make a series so driven by nostalgia for the original, yet choose a story that's undermined by knowledge of the original.

Plus the other reason not to watch the original series first is that it's really bad. Not as bad as its Superhuman Samurai Syber Squad adaptation, but not much better. The main reason I sat through the whole series was because I wanted to see it before checking out the anime shows I'd heard such praise for, and ironically it turns out that the only real value of doing that was that I caught many of the Easter eggs and homages.
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First trailer for Ultraman Arc



The next transformation device is a cube that's spun around like a Rubik's. Very Zyuohger.

We had “G-Day” in “Monarch: legacy of monsters”. Now we have K-Day

When a Kaiju horn falls to Earth, monsters begin appearing across the world. Following this K-DAYevent a group called the Scientific Kaiju Investigation & Prevention Center does their best to prevent more disasters. An imaginative man named Yuma (who survived a kaiju encounter at a young age) joins SKIP out of a desire to protect the people. Armed with the Arc Cube & Arc AriserYuma becomes the Giant of LightUltraman Arc!

Ultra veteran Takanori Tsujimoto will direct this series, with Jun Tsugita serving as head writer
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Interesting. Arc's design kind of reminds me of Ultraman Orb in a way. But there's a very Showa feel to the body coloring, and the "helmet" feature is a bit reminiscent of some of the Showa Ultras.

The writer and director worked together on multiple episodes of Blazar, including some pretty memorable ones, so that's a good sign.