The ☆ Ultraman

Originally reviewed August – September 2018

ep1Birth of a New Hero – The first series to firmly establish itself as a separate continuity from everything before it, and a pretty decent start. The Earth Defense Force is certainly the most concerned up to this point, forming the Scientific Defense Guard simply after strange lights and writing appear in the sky. Jonias’ merging with Hikari is among the more aggressive of any Ultramen, leaving Hikari with no choice by possessing his body after mankind ignored his warnings. The climax features not one, not two, not three but four monsters, an advantage animation has over live action. A good start to the series. 3.5/5

The Secret of the Shining Pendant – A pretty decent episode that sets up a love triangle of sorts between Hikari, Marume and Hoshikawa, with Murume going out into the field without permission to give her birthday present, though anything between her and Hikari doesn’t seem obvious. Of course, this love triangle is pretty much dropped after this episode. The tornado monster is both lazy and unique – lazy because it’s easy to animate but unique because no way would something like it have appeared in live action show. 3.5/5

ep3When the Weed Whistle Blows in the Evening – A “monster in my closet” story, but a pretty well-done one that is quite sad. In a series’ first, we actually see the corpse of a monster is being disposed of, something that wouldn’t be explored again until Ultraman Neos. Marume gets some nice moments, actually having to be serious in regards to the child’s hiding of the small monster, trying his best to help him but knowing things might get bad. The monster’s regenerative ability is another feature greatly benefited by animation, with Jonias fighting three of him during the climax. A good, if somewhat tragic, episode. 3.5/5

ep4Chase of the Mysterious Red Cloud – A somewhat generic-feeling episode, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. A cool monster in the form of living cloud (Again, a concept that would probably have been difficult to realize in live action) Red Smoggy (who’s basically a red repaint of Zazhan) and a bit of development for Tobe make it worthwhile. 3/5

The Passenger! Break through the Underground – Another somewhat substandard, but still decent episode. The scientist Dr. Nishiki brought on to help with the investigation of disappearing forests (an incident that also occurred in Africa) is loud and rude, rightfully irritating the whole crew (Not to mention hypocritical, being an environmentalist yet owning a private jet). The monster family angle is fun, though ends on a kind of a sad note. Jonias pulls out a somewhat contrived power during the climax, though it is explain that it can only work on harmless creatures (And I guess it prevents the ending from being a total downer). Nothing amazing, but enjoyable enough. 3/5

ep6Challenge to the Burning Sea – A strong episode with a pretty dire threat in form of a prehistoric Firebird that lives under water (Just roll with it). The SDG are not only unable to defeat it given how deep it hides underwater, but wind up being unable to save a good deal of people, thanks to the Maddock’s incapability of undersea travel beyond a certain point, something Marume really puts the blame on Tobe (the designer of the ship) for, somewhat unjustly. The solution to stopping the monster (Represented by popping grapes) is a bit confusing, but overall a solid episode. 4/5

ep7Order to Attack! The Objective is Pig! – Essentially a big Pig pity party with him constantly malfunctioning (It is here that he revealed to be the first sentiment robot ever built) and a new robot taking his place. Though Pig is obviously an homage to Pigmon, his spazzing robotic nature really harkens back to Garamon. The monster was said to have attacked an EDF satellite five years prior, absorbing much of the machinery, before being stopped, only for it to reawaken. A pretty fun episode. 3.5/5

ep8Officer Hikari’s Secret Has Been Stolen!? – The first appearance of a past monster/alien in the series (Ignoring Pig) in the form of Baltan. A somewhat convoluted plot involving a man filming Ultraman’s battle with a monster in the alps (Where Hikari claimed to see a UFO) and selling it to a TV station, claiming to have caught the secret of Ultraman, which naturally worries Hikari, causing him to chase after the man, and well, you get the picture. A pretty overwrought plot, but still a pretty fun episode, and just seeing Baltan is as fun as ever (Even if he doesn’t retain the exact laugh), considering how seldom the race has appeared since 2005, despite being among the show’s most popular characters. 3/5

Terror of the Awakened Ancient Monster – A sadly mediocre episode, though mostly due to its wasted potential. An ancient tomb of a god-like monster is awakened, with the monster possessing several men. Its implied they’re out to destroy a power station installed on the island that’s disrupting the monster’s slumber, buts is barely explored. But what’s even worse is the men (under the monster’s possession) telling Hikari that they mean no harm and will be returned to normal once finished, only for SDG to blow up his tomb before Hikari has the chance to tell them. What could have made for a great, question-raising scene with Hikari scolding them for their reckless actions is instead just Jonias fighting the monster and killing it (Spoilers? Meh). Not godawful by any means, but could have been so much better. 2.5/5

ep10I Saw It! The Illusion of a Monster – A pretty fun episode with an interesting concept involving a monster appearing in a man’s place. The man, a magician’s psychic powers that give him the ability to teleport form from place to another go almost completely unexplored, but it can be assumed such powers aren’t unheard of in this world. The monster’s raid drags on for a while, but an enjoyable episode with a climax reminiscent of The Devil Who Dwells in a Flower, among other “Fantastic Voyage” episodes. 3.5/5

ep11The Science Garrison’s Challenge! – Another pretty good episode with a unique setting in the form of the Himalayas and a strange, yet oddly appealing foe in the form of a giant bulldozer. There’s some nice backstory with the bulldozer’s creator being a former EDF scientist who left ten years ago after his outlandish ideas were ridiculed. Marume installs a gas stove in Pig’s stomach to make noodles in. And if there’s one monster from this show that would be neat to see in live action for, Hector the bulldozer is among them. Just picture a bulldozer plowing through a model city. 3.5/5

ep12The Curious Conversation Between a Monster and Pig – A very strong, if heartbreaking episode. The concept of three monsters being combined into one and not getting along sounds like the premise of a sitcom, yet it works. Pig reveals the ability to translate monster-talk via wavelengths, developing a bond with the sole gentle head. The reason for their combined form is said to be the result of pollution, giving the episode a slight Spectreman vibe. A sad, but powerful episode. 4.5/5

The Sad Legend of the Revived Lake – Perfectly serviceable, though nothing too special. Feels like it will be a “vacation” episode at first with Marume and Hikari accompanying an EDF member to his home village to investigate strange phenomena, though quickly becomes a standard fare with the rest of the team joining in. The monster, who is awakened and angered by loud noises is believed to be a dragon worshiped by the villagers, who would hold fetes for it involving drums, which seems at odds with its hatred of noise, though it is stated they played softly (In addition, its left open as to whether or not the monster is even the mystical dragon worshiped). The monster’s ability of turning people and creatures to stone is reminiscent of Gargorgon from Ultraman X, though this of course predates her by a good 36 years. 3/5

ep14The Star’s Devil Has Come! – An action-packed episode with enough to fill two parts, though holds together well as one. Similar to Monster vs. Choju vs. Alien/Life of the Sun, Life of Acewith an approaching star, though this one won’t collide but rather irradiate Earth, with monsters (including a Dodongo homage) and natural disasters appearing all over the world. Jam-packed with action and monsters, a pretty simplistic, but very fun and occasionally tense episode.. 4/5

ep15You Are Ultraman – A very good episode with Hikari’s courage being questioned by Marume. Just where the Ultra host goes during Ultraman’s fight is occasionally brought up in shows, though usually it leads to comedic bits, whereas here it leads to some decent drama. Just why Hikari was chosen to be Ultraman and possibly an SDG member is revealed. The monster is obvious Mothra homage. A great, thought-provoking episode. 4.5/5

The Living Phantom Bird – A somewhat odd episode with SDG being tasked at observing a thought-extinct species of bird. Naturally though, the bird grows and wrecks some havoc. Mutusmi’s caring side is really shown here, with her nursing the sick bird and it in turn thinking her to be its mama. Jonias pulls out his monster-shrinking power once again. Nothing too great, but serviceable. 3/5

ep17Betamay Has Dissapeared! – Pretty fun episode seeing the return of Professor Nishiki, Who’s as loud and irritating as ever, and has developed a serious fixation with Jonias. Tobe (with who he has a rocky relation with last time) gets paired with him, leading to some funny bits. The monsters are locust swarm theorized to be mutated from pesticides, a concept that would be revisited in The Bitter Harvest. Nothing groundbreaking, but an enjoyable episode with a cool monster, some funny bits and a nice continuity nod at the end. 3.5/5

ep18The Mysterious Monster Island – A fun episode focusing on SDG cafe worker Yuri, who thanks to a little white lie she told her father, takes Mutsumi’s place when visiting her Homeland. After saying she won’t make coffee in episode 1, Mutsumi tries doing as such, failing. Monster is a very unique one that would have been hard to realize in live action. It is unfortunate Yuri never appears in the show again. There’s a bit of an anti-fracking message present throughout. Pictures of numerous monsters from past shows can be seen on Yuri’s wall. 4/5

ep19This is the Ultra Star! – The first multi-parter of the show, and what a three-parter it is, with more than enough action, drama and reveals to fill a series finale. Jonias’ homeworld of U40 is revealed, showing an Ultra society very different from the one of the M-78 universe (or others that would follow), with them preferring to stay in their human forms, living in an ancient Greek-like world filled with lush greenery. Introduced are Jonias’ sister Amia (The second female Ultra introduced in the franchise up to this point) and his two friends Elek and Loto. Tons of mythos is revealed, including their early days arriving on the planet, contact with other life (Including the Neanderthals), their source for their powers (Being quite different from the M-78 Ultras’) and their rivalry with the reptilian Badel aliens, whom launch a full-scale invasion of both the Earth and U-40, utilizing the power of the mysterious Ultra Mind. The monster Bedoran, one of the several Badel monsters to appear in the story, is the only Jonias-original monster to make a live-action appearance, appearing alongside Jonias in the 1979 compilation film Ultraman: Great Monster Decisive Battle. Even if it may go a bit overboard with the mythos and the ending is perhaps a bit rushed, a rip-roaring trio of episodes that easily on-par with some of the live action series’ best multi-parters. 4.5/5

ep22The South Seas’ Suspicious Space – A Marume-centered episode with most of the crew on vacation in Kyushu (Marume’s home) where there just happens to be a series of ship disappearances. The twist surrounding the disappearance is pretty unique, and Marume’s determination to get it home is heroic. The outcome is a little predictable, but is changed at the very last minute, in what was a good move, though maybe a little questionable given the creature’s innocence was really only theorized on Marume’s behalf. Regardless, a pretty fun episode. 3.5/5

The Supersonic Confrontation – Interesting episode featuring Hikari’s former rival Aoki (possibly named father Aoki from For Whom Takes the Glory?) temporarily joining the team to help stop a monster. Aoki holds a grudge against Hikari due to him being chosen to serve at EGG3 over him, for reasons not explained. Their rivalry doesn’t really go beyond saltiness, with Hikari not even holding negative feelings towards him, and it probably could have been explored more, but still adds a nice twist to the episode. The monster is among the show’s more unique ones. Nothing stellar, but decent. 3.5/5

ep24Two Officer Mutsumis – A pretty sweet, lighthearted episode with a pretty standard “impostor” premise, though done a lot more innocently than usual. The fake Mutsumi spending the real one’s day off with Hikari and bonding with him is quite nice and leads to a few heartwarming scenes. The monster from the aliens after faux Mutsumi is yet another really unique one that is owed to animation. 4/5

The Devil’s Garden – Light on plot, but a cool episode with Hikari really being left on his own. Some very unique visuals are present during his entrapment and a few disturbing ones involving the infected people. The monster is a very memorable one, being an Astromons homage. 3.5/5

ep26Earth’s Greatest Crisis! – An episode warning about the dangers of pollution in vain to Spectreman or Ultraman: Towards the Future, with the Earth itself allegedly declaring its revenge upon mankind (a concept that would be reused, albeit to a greater extent in Towards the Future). Whether or not it is indeed the Earth is debated throughout. A good episode, though nobody really “learns” anything by the end with the final revelation. Akiyama is transferred to the newly formed US branch at the end in a very good farewell scene, even if it feels a bit tacked on with no build up. In a rather unfortunate destruction montage, the twin towers are shown being destroyed. 4/5

ep27The Flying Monster Island! – A super fun episode that sees the return of the Ultras of U40 and lots of classic monsters including Earthtron, Ghostron, Gokinezula, Banila, Aboras and Red King. Without a captain, the team is left on their own to deal with the plethora of monsters, with everyone getting a chance to shine. Feels somewhat reminiscent of an Ultraman Mebius episode, with other Ultras making appearances, lots of classic monsters and the team all working together despite setbacks. The aliens (who are among the show’s more enjoyable) claim to have summoned the monsters from the Monster Graveyard, which could suggest they are all the originals (though Red King has since gained fire breath). Just a whole lot of fun. 4.5/5

ep28The New Captain Has Arrived! – The debut of the new captain, Captain Gondo, who leaves quite the impression on the team with his rude, boastful behavior and unorthodox methods, not to mention overtly cruel training, causing the team to question if they even need a captain (having been successful without one last episode). The foe featured might very well be the strangest in the entire show, being a mammoth-like monster and a pterodactyl-like monster that have the ability to combine into one…somehow. Another solid episode. 4/5

The Devil’s UFO Large Invasion – Another “invasion” plot with a fairly resourceful (and ugly) alien race, complete with their own two-headed King Ghidorah knock-off that really take advantage of Jonias’ limited energy on Earth. We return to U40 once again, with the president crowning Elek and Loto as guardians of the universe. A solid episode, as per usual. 4/5

ep30The Enormous Fossil Has Come to Life – A pretty enjoyable episode with a unique “unkillable” foe that’s similar in appearance and very basic origin as Stegon. We never do get to learn of just how the skeletal beast came to be, with the whole team admitting to it simply being one of those mysteries we may never know, which may come across as a lazy way of writing, but does show that even they are at times unable to explain the unexplainable. 3.5/5

ep31The Female Ultra Warrior – As suggested by the title, the return of Amia, who desperately wants to visit the Earth, having fallen for Hikari, which given he houses her brother, does sit rather ill. Despite having a humanoid form, she still needs to find a human host to posses (which would suggest the human-like forms on U40 aren’t compatible with Earth, something that will later be debunked), and said possession is a lot more aggressive than how Jonias bonded with Hikari, taking over a girl’s body completely. Mutsumi is clearly upset at the blossoming romance between Hikari and Amia’s human host Kyoko. The Badel aliens, while defeated in large numbers, are revealed to still be lurking throughout the universe, out for revenge against the Ultras. Kind of on the mushy-gushy side, but a good episode. 3.5/5

Object X from Space – Professor Nishiki returns yet again, this time brigning with him a strange metal object that some aliens seem to want. Tobe is mostly spared Nishiki’s arrogance this time around, with Gondo (whom he never reveals as the new captain to Nishiki) and Pig (whom Nishiki appears obsessed with getting to see his inner-workings) getting the load. Said aliens are among the show’s cooler, essentially being the flying monkeys from The Wizard of Oz. Nishiki’s assumption that since Pig’s weak spot is in his navel, the robotic monster attacking’s weak point must also be there is rather questionable, but a pretty fun episode. 3.5/5

Go!! Magma’s Desperate Journey – An “Underground” episode (in vein to stories like Challenge to the Underground, Underground! Go! Go! Go!, Giant Ant Choju vs. The Ultra Brothers, etc.) thats off to a promising start (with disasters occuring all over Japan), only to sort of drag in the middle, but pick up again towards the end. Monsters are slug-like things that eat rock and metal like termites eat wood (therefore causing tremors) that all merge into a reptilian looking beast. Roll with it. A very average episode, but that’s not always a bad thing. 3/5

ep35The Monster Accommodation Star Has Been Stolen – A big-scale two-parter with a whole prison planet filled with monsters being unleashed and the planet (set to self-destruct) itself on a collision course with Earth (along with Marume, Tobe and a few surviving EGG3 crew members being stranded on it). The residents of U40 are back and are revealed to have been the ones behind said planet, showing some clear regret. Elek and Loto play a large part in assisting during the climax. Gondo shows some clear resentment at Jonias always saving the day, though by the end realizes he and the other Ultras may be their only hope. Action galore and a lot of tense scenes, even if all feels a bit…generic? The ending is slightly rushed feeling as well, with them again pulling the same shtick as This is the Ultra Star!. Regardless, a very fun two parter. 4/5

The Snow Woman Has Come from Space – Another take on the snow woman and much better than Winter of Horror Series – Phantom Snow Woman, though like that one, it doesn’t depict the actual legendary woman, but rather an alien posing as her. The monster of the episode is a giant spider that freezes things which seems like bizarre contrast, but is actually given an explanation for its powers (right out of a B-movie) in what’s almost a reversal of the M-78 Ultras ordeal that would lead to their artificial sun. Not exactly a highlight, but a good episode. 3.5/5

ep38Ultra Star U40’s Crisis! Ultria’s Mystery/Giant Ultra War! Huge Warship Ultria’s Sortie – A two-parter that marks the begging of the show’s endgame, with both U40 and Earth under attack from the rogue U40 resident Heller and his fleet, with U40 being almost decimated. It is revealed that U40 considers Earth and the human race its sister, with them not only sending their campion to protect it, but also installing a battleship deep within it for mankind’s use: the Ultria. Amia retains her U40 form despite her needing to possess Kyoko last time. Has a big space opera vibe which may feel off to some, but a solid start. 4/5

Aim at Huge Warship UltriaPicking up shortly after where the last episode left off, with Hellar’s righthand man Raygar setting up base on Saturn’s moon Titan. Features quite possibly the show’s most ludicrous monster – a killer kitten (or cat-like creature anyways) found on an exploratory ship back from Saturn (I’m sure you can already guess who is behind its presence). Pig shows his love for animals (Monkey is mysteriously absent throughout the entire episode) by caring for it, while also trying to compete with Ultria’s robot Ulook. In a bizarre and unexplained scene, the EGG3 Commander is really against the idea of SDG staying aboard to search for the loose killer kitten, insisting to Gondo they have work to do on Earth. Mutsumi is shown in the nude while showering aboard Ultria…if you’re into that (I guess being animated, they could get away with it). Not terrible, but pretty absurd and just kind of uninteresting. 2.5/5

The Boy Who Took a Monster – An episode that starts out pretty poorly with a bratty kid (who has very annoying shrill voice to boot) from space coming to Earth with his monster to just cause destruction, only for Mutsumi to insist he isn’t all bad and all that junk. But things pick up once the cause of his arrival is revealed (which gives the Hellar empire some cred and really showcases Royagar’s cruelty) and something truly shocking occurs during the climax Similar to Spectreman’s Alien Genos: The Messenger from Hell/Deadly Dance of the Monster Dokuron (and not just for the ending) in that if you can put up with the mediocre first half or so, a shocking episode. 3/5

ep41Clash! Ultraman vs. Ultraman – A “Fake Ultraman” story and an enjoyable one at that, even if the exact reason for there being one isn’t really elaborated upon, though the implication seems to be for it to earn SDG’s trust (something not to hard to do given their utmost respect for Jonias) and destroy them when they least expect it. The monster fought by the Fake Jonias a few times to keep its cover is among the show’s zaniest, being a purple bear-like thing that propels itself using blades on its stomach, flying in a tornado-form ala the Tasmanian Devil. A race in cahoots with Hellar’s empire are called Giro, just like the alien in Ultraman Leo. They probably aren’t the same race, though a member does have similar antennas to the one from Leo. 3.5/5

ep42Ultraman’s Strategy to Living – A pretty fun episode involving an intergalactic monster hunter hired by Raygar to catch Jonias. Said monster hunter is pretty funny and might have made for a fun recurring character similar to Nishiki had he been introduced earlier. The “monster” is a giant battleship similar to ones seen in Pursue the Undersea Base and Ship on the Sea of Darkness. There’s more Mutsumi fanservice present, with her spending a lot of the episode in a bikini. 3.5/5

ep43Monkey Became a Monster?! – Another pretty silly but enjoyable episode. After a few episodes of outsourcing, Raygar finally sends monsters of his own by installing a transporting device on both the base and Earth, which Monkey gets trapped in, and in a series of The Fly-style shenanigans, gets fused with a monster. His monstrous form is perhaps one of the closest things we have to a return appearance from Hanuman (though he more resembles Curious George in armor). Pig’s concern for Monkey and his sadness at what happened are genuinely heartwarming. 3.5/5

Ultria Was Broken in Two?! – The final appearance of Nishiki, who’s pretty much just around for a ride on the Ultira, discovering some of its unseen capabilities. The Hellar empire (or rather, a race of Vulcan-looking aliens in funny costumes in allegiance with Hellar) unleash what is probably their deadliest attack yet – rocket after rocket containing monsters. Nishiki refers to warping being invented in the 20th century, which could hint at the show being set in the 21st. Not a whole lot to say, but an enjoyable episode. 3.5/5

ep45Pig is Holding a Bomb – A pretty standard “infiltration” story, but a very solid one, with everyone getting a chance to shine and nonstop action. After the several defeats had by the Hellar empire from SDG and the Ultria, it makes sense for them to want to get rid of them in as straightforward a fashion possible. A surprisingly violent episode with lots of shooting and a bit of disturbing imagery in the form of the androids. A lot of fun. 4/5

ep46Revive Mutsumi – Another real solid episode with Hikari once again being asked just where he is whenever Jonias appears, with his courage being questioned. Tobe, Marume and Mutsumi create a high-frequency device in an attempt to contact Jonias. Gondo states his intention to fire Hikari from the team after his failure to look after Mutsumi, unless he can prove himself worthy, indicating he might suspect something. The Hellar Empire’s plan (if you could even call it that) pretty much ends at sending a monster to destroy cities, with said monster being controlled and constantly revived from a saucer just above Earth’s atmosphere (whereas previous monsters were controlled all the way at Titan). 4/5

ep50To the Ultra Star – An excellent cap to the series, and easily the best finale to any of the 70s Ultraman shows. At a whopping four-parts, the story is the epitome of an epic, something most of the other finales from the 70s (and Ultraman 80) kind of steered away from, instead opting for smaller-scale, character-driven finales (which certainly aren’t bad things). Though with four parts, there is still plenty of time for lots of great character moments, especially in regards to Hikari and Jonias, with it being revelaed the team has been on to him for a good while. Amia is revealed to have been undercover in Hellar’s army, certainly giving her a boost in badassery. Hellar is finally met face-to-face, and leaves a real nasty impression. I can’t say much without giving things away, but pretty much the epitome of a perfect finale. 5/5