A New Take On A Classic
- Episodes : 13
- Genre : Action, Super Power
- Airing Date : April 1, 2019
- Producers : Production IG, Sola Digital Arts
Ultraman takes place in an alternate timeline where Shin Hayata, the original Ultraman, lost his memories upon the ending of the 1966 series, but continued to have an illustrious career as the Minister of Defense. Shortly after, Shinichiro, his infant son, survives a 3-story fall with no injuries, Ide, his best friend, reminds him that he was Ultraman. As it turns out, residue of Ultraman’s DNA has given him super powered abilities and Shinichiro has inherited them as well.
After Shinichiro starts high school, he uses his powers in isolation during the evenings to enjoy leaping tall buildings in a single bound. However, that makes him a target to new alien threats and after learning the truth that his father was the original Ultraman, the SSSP organization recruits Shinichiro to become the new Ultraman. Thankfully, they prepared a new suit just for him to further enhance his natural abilities. However, as time will tell, he’s not the only Ultraman in town and thankfully, Tokyo is big enough for all of them!
What We Liked About Ultraman
As some of you may know, Ultraman has been one of Japan’s biggest superhero franchises for the past 53 years! For some of you baby boomers, you probably saw the English dub to the original 1966 show during your youth. To some of our Gen-X readers, you probably saw Ultraman: Towards the Future, the Australian version, in 1992. And last for the millennials, you probably saw the English dub to Ultraman Tiga on Fox Kids back in 2002. While it has had animated adaptations in the past, this Netflix series which debuted on April 1, 2019 is based on the manga by Eichi Shimizu and Tomohiro Shimoguchi, which serves as an alternate universe sequel to the very first series and takes it to new extremes.
1. Kick Ass Action
The action is fast paced and gets violent. In some of its earlier fights, it does pay homage as to how the original series spoofs pro-wrestling. You get drop kicks, flying head scissors, and vertical suplexes. There aren’t any tables, ladders, and chairs, but the fights still get extreme. The fighting has a sense of danger to it that the tokusatsu series fails to capture, and many of the techniques such as Ultraman’s beam strikes are excellently put into play.
2. You See Ultraman Help Ordinary People
Very little in the original Ultraman franchise do you see Ultraman going out of his way to help ordinary people, but this anime does a great job of portraying it. It preaches and practices the My Hero Academia mantra that being a hero is helping ordinary people and not beating bad guys. In this series, there are instances where Shintaro as Ultraman helps people at the scene of an accident and helps window cleaners as they fall down 50 story buildings. Yes, these scenarios may be cliché, but it shows realistically what being a hero is all about.
3. The Cel-Shading Has Its High Points
Yes, this anime is cel-shaded, but it has its good points. For starters, the Ultraman armor is excellently rendered. You see how metallic and detailed it is. Beyond the rendering of the Ultraman armor, it has other impressive moments. Depending on how the scene is framed, panned, lighted, and the distance of where the characters are positioned, you do see how cel-shading can be an excellent form. Plus, we give the series credit for Hayata looking like Susumu Kurobe, the actor from the 1966 series, to what he looks like now.
1. The Cel-Shading Has Its Low Points
Everything negative in regards to cel-shading in anime has been done to death with reviews of Berserk and Souten no Ken. We’ll make this short and sweet. The hair is awfully detailed and rendered that they might as well be toupees. The hands just feel unnatural and at times, joints such as elbows, shoulders, and knees are way too point/edgy. Last, the faster frame rates may make you nauseous.
2. Some Plot Points are Vague
Though you don’t 100% need to watch the original Ultraman to enjoy this anime, there are some parts that feel vague regardless. For example, the novelty to the original Ultraman franchise is that he can become a 50 meter giant and fight monsters the same size. In this anime, there is NONE of that and there are no explanations as to why. While the series repeatedly mentions some Universal Alliance Council, we don’t see who they are. And why are there some alien agents that want to rebel against them? Who or what are they? And what is Jack’s ultimate role in this series? This series ends with too many unsolved mysteries that we need Robert Stack back from the dead to get to the bottom of them (or get season 2).
3. Susumu Kurobe Does Not Voice Hayata
This may not matter to viewers who have not seen the original 1966 series, but considering the series goes out of its way to make Hayata resemble how Susumu Kurobe presently looks in real-life, he doesn’t voice the character! Considering that he still comes back to the Ultraman franchise every now and then, it would have been nice to have him casted. Hideyuki Tanaka, Hayata’s seiyuu for this series, does a good job of playing the character but for hardcore fans, it just doesn’t feel the same.
All we can say is that this series needs a second season! The core cast as a group and Shinichiro as a main character do develop excellently, but the series ends with more questions than answers. Though you don’t need to be familiar with the original franchise, dedicated fans will enjoy how it still manages to pay homage to other installments.