Ultraman Ace

Originally reviewed September – October 2017
“I am Utwaman Ess, da big brudda of da Ultra Bruddas!”

Shine! The Five Ultra Brothers – While not quite as strong of introduction as All Monsters Attack!, a still excellent start to the series, setting everything up nicely and showcasing just how damn powerful Velokron and the Choju to come are, with him wiping out an entire fleet of Earth Defense Organization fighters (When TAC is introduced, it is stated that they are the EDO’s replacement, suggesting an outright merge rather than it being another subgroup). Hokuto comes across as a little over the top and buffoonish, still far from unlikable, while Minami doesn’t get a whole lot of development other than being kindhearted. As stated in the title, the episodes features the first time all of the Ultramen (barring Seven’s superior) are seen together as the “Ultra Brothers” (Presumably founded after the events of Return of Ultraman), with Ace claiming to be apart of the Galactic Federation, a concept that sadly goes unexplored in the show, but has made its way into other mediums throughout the years. A great start. 4/5

Beyond the Giant Choju – Another good episode further showcasing Hokuto’s mild buffoonery but well-intentions, though he does appear to be underestimated. Curiously, the episode’s monster Chameleking is not an original creation of Yapool’s, but rather a recreation of an ancient monster said to have sunken Atlantis. A somewhat clever idea given that the monster had a successful track record. Also featured are quite possibly the dumbest children seen so far, who decide to get a closer look at the attacking monster. While dumb, it could show how embedded in culture monsters are in the world of Ultraman. Hokuto and Minami’s transformation into Ace has them riding on motorbikes with Hokuto shouting “Rider punch!” while merging, a possible dig at Kamen Rider. Future Yellow Goranger Baku Hatakeyama has small role early in the episode. 4/5

vlcsnap-2018-01-27-16h58m01s797Burn! Choju Hell – A classic episode introducing one of the best-known Choju Vakishim that has both Hokuto and Minami play a large part in the story. Further exemplified is TAC’s distrust in Hokuto, immediately faulting him for anything wrong in his assigned case. Also present is a little kid tied with Lily and Alien Zelam for creepiest in the series at this point. The Mt. Fuji backdrop used during the final fight is the same used in Destroy All Monsters. 4.5/5

30,000 Year Old Choju Appears – A horror-oriented story about a famous manga artist madly in love with Mikawa. The character of Mushitaro conveys a level of creepiness in a way only the maddest of lovers could. The exact reason for Yapool’s possession of him (Apart from his connection to TAC member Mikawa) is somewhat sketchy (Pun not intended) and the scene in which Yamanaka and Yoshimura simply leave him at his home (Him claiming to be possessed is surely enough to have TAC take him under their custody, not to mention what he did to Mikawa) is rather dumb, but a very enjoyable romp. Features one of the more disturbing monster demises. 4/5

vlcsnap-2018-01-27-16h59m07s594Giant Ant Choju vs. The Ultra Brothers – An interesting and occasionally disturbing episode with a mystery that takes an unexpected turn, to say the least. Featured is the first of several aliens who are not Yapool but affiliated with him/them (At least, we can assume the Giron Man is an alien. He just sort of shows up underground). The Choju Aribunta is among the show’s more memorable, though it almost seems to be implied that Aribuntas are native to Earth given TAC has records of giant ant monsters and their need to feed (It is certainly possible though that Aribunta is a “natural” ant monster further mutated by Yapool). The main feature of the episode is of course Zoffy’s appearance, marking the first time we see him action. His scene is great, though he clearly causes some collateral damage to the Earth’s surface when arriving. Minami’s blood type is revealed, which would definitely seem to imply she’s human. Something to keep in mind. A little light on plot, but lots of fun. 4/5

vlcsnap-2018-01-27-16h59m30s977Pursue the Mystery of the Transforming Choju – An enjoyable episode with a great guest star, Akiji Kobayashi. Kobyashi’s role here seems to be portrayed as more lively and youthful (Though he was only in his early 40s when the episode was made) than his past few, being an astronaut father expecting another kid. The episode also showcases how Choju (Or at least this week’s) are created, mixing the DNA of various animals in a strange laboratory. The “my father’s an alien” plot isn’t super original, but a fun episode with a great guest star and neat monster. 3.5/5

vlcsnap-2018-01-27-17h04m07s955Monster vs. Choju vs. Alien/Life of the Sun, Life of Ace – The first two-parter of the show and an excellent one at that. Essentially, a terrible situation (Planet Goran is colliding with Earth in only six days) that keeps on getting worse (The missile to destroy it is sabotaged, Metron Jr. attacks, Choju Doragory appears, Muruchi returns, Ace is weakened, Minami is in critical condition). Lots and lots of action while still making room for some drama, mainly in Yamanaka’s fiance and Minami’s sacrifice. The Metron alien featured is stated to be the son of the original in promotional materials, but is never referred to as such in the episode and is implied to be working with Yapool. Muruchi’s sudden return (The original presumably survived his encounter with Jack) is out of the blue, but he is disposed in a quick and gratuitous manner, showcasing how much stronger Choju are. A great pair of episodes all around. Yamanaka’s ill-fated fiance Maya is portrayed by Kaori Seki, who was originally cast as Minami, but had to leave due to an on-set accident. 5/5

10,000 Choju! Surprise Attack Plan – An enjoyable, often times comedic episode with an offbeat, maybe even downright insane plan involving a Choju with the ability to slip into photographs and replicate itself through every reprinted copy, potentially resulting in an army of Choju. The spunky female photographer/reporter is a very common caricature in Tokusatsu (Possibly originating with Yuri in Ultra Q), but the character of Junko is well-developed and plays a vital role in the story. Also present is some development for Konno (After the fact he likes to eat), who develops a bit of a relationship with Junko that sadly (But unsurprisingly) is never again brought up in the show. Konno is shown to be far kinder to women than Hokuto, whom at one point slaps Junko in a moment of severe frustration, scolding him for his action. In addition, Minami also teaches him a bit of a lesson in the end. 4/5

vlcsnap-2018-01-27-17h04m35s463Decisive Battle! Ace vs. Hideki Goh – The first direct crossover in the series, firmly establishing continuity between shows. Not only is Goh back, but also Jiro and Rumiko. It’s certainly nice to see what the characters are up to, and Jiro’s reaction to Goh’s sudden return is certainly touching. Goh is offered a position in TAC, which certainly makes sense given his experience, but that does beg the question of what became of other MAT members (Were they promoted to top roles in TAC? Did some retire?). Never once brought up is Goh’s identity as Ultraman Jack (Apart from Jiro proclaiming Goh would have defeated the monster), which is a little surprising, though ultimately irrelevant to the plot. Present is another alien willingly working for Yapool. While not the strongest of crossovers, a good, smaller-scale one that focuses more on the supporting characters. 3.5/5

“I want to ride my bicycle, I want to ride my bike…”

The Choju is Ten Women? – A perfect example of Ace’s ability to be completely off the wall but be serious when it needs to. Featuring a downright bonkers Choju with a crazy ability and numerous comedic scenes (Hokuto biking with the girls sticks out in particular), while also retaining serious moments, namely in Minami’s trust in Hokuto, whom despite being absent-minded at times, is always devoted to his job. Also present is Konno’s upmost respect towards women and his scolding of Hokuto’s treatment. The only downside is the final fight between Ace and Unitang, which drags on a bit and ends on a contrived note. Otherwise, a near-perfect episode with all the right ingredients. 4.5/5

The Red Flower of Cactus Hell – A fairly standard “kid hiding monster” story that we’ve seen before, but is made up for by a cool monster that will make you afraid of cacti (And hedgehogs, apparently) and some funny scenes. The only real gripe is the kid hiding the monster and the lack of real sympathy for him. He knows the cactus (Which he calls “Saburoten”) is in fact a deadly Choju, yet keeps it as a pet, with Hokuto and Minami even happily visiting him in the end. While stupid, this could show the normalization of monsters towards children. An insignificant, but fun episode. 3.5/5

“Always look on the bright side of life!”

Execution! The Five Ultra Brothers/The Five Stars Scattered Throughout the Galaxy – The second two-parter of the show and another very good one, though it does at times feel like an excuse to finally feature all of the Ultra Brothers together. Also present is some good, tense drama featuring TAC being forced to destroy the subspace carrying the Ultra Brothers, but showing heavy reluctance, knowing all of the good the Ultra Brothers have done for Earth. Captain Ryu shines in particular, even punching a superior officer. The only real downside is the character of Ace Killer who is constructed to be Ace’s ultimate enemy with all of the past Ultramen’s powers, only for their battle to be really brief and somewhat anticlimactic. The younger brother of the kid killed by Choju Barabas also adds little to the plot and seems to take his brother’s death really well (Perhaps another outcome of the normalization of monster attacks), but doesn’t bring the episode down. A good, action-packed two-parter despite some flaws. 4/5

Summer of Horror Series – Curse of the Black Crab – The first “Summer of Horror” episode which are all animal-based stories set during the summertime (Naturally). A pretty run-of-the-mill episode that’s made up for by a cool monster (As usual) and a laid-back beach setting. The idea of crustacean’s hatred of humans fueling the Choju is silly enough to work. 3/5

vlcsnap-2018-01-27-17h08m06s723Summer of Horror Series – Ghost Story! Cow God Man – The second “Summer of Horror” episode, and one of the strangest episodes of any Ultraman show (At least up until this point). TAC barely features at all during the first half, instead focusing on Yoshimura (Who finally gets some development) and a man who disrespects a local Cow God, therefore becoming a cow himself and eventually a Choju. It’s as insane as it sounds, but is weirdly played somewhat seriously, at least once TAC arrives. Taking the silly seriously is something Ace tends to do, though with a plot this farfetched, the episode probably would have benefited from more humor. Still a fairly amusing episode, but it could have been even funnier. 3/5

Summer of Horror Series – Ghost Story! The She-Devil of Firefly Field – The third and final “Summer of Horror” episode, and easily the best and most horror-oriented. A Minami-centered story is always nice, and the episode is very atmospheric at times. Minami’s relationship with the young girl is also rather sweet. The only gripe is the exact reasoning for the on-foot murders when Yapool had a Choju that could be summoned at any given time, but I suppose it made for several creepy scenes. 4/5

vlcsnap-2018-01-27-17h10m27s843Lend Me the Pigeon – Quite possibly the saddest episode (Along with My Home is Earth and Ultraman Dies at Sunset) of any Ultraman show up until this point. Yapool’s plot of stealing a pigeon being used by TAC and turning it into a monster is really small-scale, though it seems after so many plans thwarted by TAC, Yapool just wants to mess with them by ruining a plan of theirs (An extremely minor one to test pigeon’s frequencies I might add). But the main draw here is of course the emotional impact the ending has. It’s not super unpredictable, but still manages to bring out the tears. 3.5/5

Mystery of the Kappa’s Residence – Another downright bizarre episode featuring one of Yapool’s lesser plans, though it’s all presumably just a trap to lure Hokuto into his pool of despair. Zaniness aside, the only thing preventing this episode from being somewhat of a dud is the heroism displayed by the leads, with Hokuto’s commitment to saving the boy and Minami’s commitment to having Hokuto. 3/5

The Star of Youth, the Star of a Pair – A weak episode with almost no real plot to it. All that is known is the Choju of the week has the ability to levitate ships (Which brings back memories of The Forbidden Words, Respond, Max and The Duel: Dan vs. Seven), with Hokuto seeing it, and nobody else believing him. Exactly what Yapool has in mind and why he wants ships levitated is never explained (To slow down trade?). At one point, Hokuto claims to have been a member of TAC for nearly 3 years, something later episodes and other material will debunk. Maybe he was drunk. The only highlight of the episode is its guest star, Saburo Shinoda (Who is ironically playing a character named Shinoda), who aside from giving a lively performance, will go on to have a very big role next season. 2/5

I Saw the Phantom of a Heavenly Woman – A confusing episode with a few worthwhile moments. Most confusing is the character of Aprasar and her inconsistent views on TAC. The episode opens with her pleading to live with Captain Ryu as his housemaid, but later on once she’s taken residency with another person, she tries her best to hide from TAC. She clearly figures they know her identity, but wouldn’t it be logical to ask them for their protection? The ending is also incredibly lazy (spoilers) with Ace pulling another random, unseen power out of his arsenal that suddenly cures Aprasar of any Yapool within her. Why he didn’t use this on Black Pigeon a few episode ago is unknown, though I suppose you could make the argument that monsters like Pigeon were mutated beyond repair while Aprasar was simply possessed. Despite lots of frustrating aspects, the episode can be eerie and has some enjoyable scenes, such as one where the TAC members other than Hokuto, Minami and Ryu all go undercover. 3/5

blacksatanYapool, Demon of Revenge – Very light on plot, but thoroughly enjoyable. Present is yet another alien said to be on a mission from Yapool, though unlike last episode’s, this one seems very willing, and is certainly among the more clever, befriending several children and earning the close trust of Mikawa. A bit of development is provided for Mikawa and her duties as a TAC member and the Choju present, Black Satan, is among the show’s coolest, even if the working of his creation are confusing. Not much to say, other than its fun. 4/5

Yapool_giantReversal! Zoffy Arrives – The first true confrontation with Yapool, who reveal themselves to be a single entity, something that has long since become a staple of the character. A good episode with lots of tension and creepy moments, but one that really should have been two parts, as quite a lot happens in such little time, with children throughout the world being abducted by Yapool, Houkto being badly injured, and TAC attempting to access Yapool’s dimension, with no other way of rescuing the children. The episode is well-paced given how much occurs, but a lot of things (Such as TAC accessing Yapool’s dimension) are glossed over in order to make room for more. Zoffy’s appearance is very minor and not worthy of being in the title. The confrontation with Yapool is exciting, though rather brief, clearly indicating this isn’t the last we’ll see of him… 4/5

yojoLook! A Giant Transformation in the Middle of the Night – Though Yapool’s reveal was only one part (And felt somewhat rushed as a result), it did receive a direct sequel in the form of this episode. After Yapool’s defeat, it is said that his cells spread across the universe, mutating into Choju. A very horror-oriented episode with some truly disturbing scenes involving a pregnant woman suddenly becoming pregnant with a Choju as a result of acquiring a fragment of Yapool. Genuinely disturbing and well-shot, this episode is a keeper and an excellent follow-up to Yapool’s defeat. 4.5/5

The Pyramid is a Choju’s Nest! – An episode where for the first time, the alien has no affiliation with Yapool, instead wanting to reclaim the Earth for his own kind who once ruled over humans hundreds of thousands of years ago. The monster, however, is still referred to a Choju, possibly meaning it grew or was mutated from Yapool’s fragments somewhere in space. The character of Michiru takes up a bit too much time, and the minor subplot of her “falling” for Hokuto is pointless and silly (When they had two encounters, neither of which were especially pleasant), and it would have been cool to learn more of the Orion’s ruling of ancient peoples, but overall an alright episode. The V7 weapon from The She-Devil of Firefly Field is mentioned, in a nice bit of continuity. 3.5/5

vlcsnap-2018-01-28-21h12m09s017Total Annihilation! The Five Ultra Brothers/Miracle! The Father of Ultra – An extremely solid two-parter that once again brings all of the Ultra Brothers together (Though for a lot less time) and introduces one of the franchise’s most important characters, the Father of Ultra. Part two features very little Ace or Hokuto and Minami, leaving almost everything up to TAC, particularly Captain Ryu who shines a lot here. The conflict they are faced with (Surrender Ace or keep facing annihilation) certainly isn’t an easy one and makes for some strong debate scenes. The imagery of the Ultra Brother’s getting their life sucked out of them in Hipporito’s tube-like chamber is genuinely horrifying, and Hipporito is among the more cunning of alien foes in the show (Once again, he is not in any way affiliated with Yapool, though the ambiguously-canon Ultraman Story would reveal he was working with Juda). Mildly laughable is the proclamation that a kid’s Ultraman Ace figure is broken when it’s head was simply detached and could easily be applied back on by just pushing in the vinyl. 4.5/5

vlcsnap-2018-01-28-21h15m46s298Farewell Yuko, Sister of the Moon – As suggested by the title, Minami’s departure from the show, though she will return several times throughout the franchise. Minami was dropped due to declining ratings and lack of popularity among boys (The target audience), who apparently complained about the difficulty of incorporating Minami when playing Ultraman Ace at the playground. The revelation made about her and her reason for leaving is so insane, it really needs to be seen to believed (Think Poochie’s “departure” from The Simpsons). The whole episode has a very dreamlike nature, with some strange music choices (Much of it being reused from Ultra Seven and most notably a heavy usage of Debussy’s “Clair de Lune”) and lunar cinematography. The Choju Lunatyx was said to have destroyed the moon’s civilization, indicating Yapool’s attacks on mankind (Or moonkind) have been occurring for a very long time. Ace displays the ability to enter Earth’s core, something he was said to be incapable of in Giant Ant Choju vs. The Ultra Brothers, though it could be said he learned the technique since then. Though the reason for her leaving is borderline absurd, Minami’s departure is somewhat of a tearjerker. Certainly an important episode with some good scenes, but arguably the beginning of the end for the show. 3.5/5

vlcsnap-2018-01-29-21h58m13s395The Sixth Ultra Brother – The first Minami-less episode (Despite this, her name is still mentioned in the opening theme) introducing a new character that will be a main stay – Dan Umezu, and his older sister Kayoko. The character takes up most of the episode’s run time given his father and sister’s involvement with the place under attack and proclaims to see a star seen only by him and Hokuto, therefore making him the sixth Ultra Brother (Hopefully he wasn’t too hurt when Taro arrived on Earth). Dan will become a pretty polarizing character, and here is no exception, as Hokuto’s brotherly relationship with him seems to be an attempt at mimicking Goh and Jiro’s. The being controlling the monster, the Undergroundmon, is said to be from Earth underground, but still has the ability to grow giant and fire all sorts of crazy beams. It is not clear if Undergroundmon is a leftover Yapool agent or not, or even if his pet monster is a Choju mutated from Yapool’s remains given the monster’s attacks are shown to date back to over a year (But then again, Hokuto did claim to have joined TAC three years ago). Not a bad episode, but the start of the show’s lower point. 3/5

The Ultra Star That You Can See – An episode with ups and downs. The downs include Dan and his constant referring of being the sixth Ultra Brother and seeing the Ultra Star (to the point where it feels like a rehash of the previous episode) and making an extremely dumb, life-threatening move towards the end. Dan and Kayoko are also revealed to have just moved into the same apartment complex as Hokuto, further showcasing the show’s attempt at aping Goh’s relationship with the Sakata siblings. Ups, however, include a cool Choju and Hokuto being involved in an incident leading to the deaths of a young girl’s mother and sister and taking all sorts of blame for it. The girl is surprisingly not too broken up by their deaths, another indication of the normalization of monster attacks. Despite being somewhat of a buffoon, Hokuto is shown to have a penchant for fancy dressing and keeping his apartment clean (Along with owning a lot of books and drinks), something Kayoko takes interest in. 3.5/5

From Seven to the Hand of Ace – A good episode is you like tapirs or are an animal lover. Otherwise, not a whole lot to it, though it’s far from dreadful. Ultra Seven does appear as stated in the title, but only very briefly towards the end (It may prove he is an animal lover, however). This episode marks the final appearance of Katsumi Nakayama as Kaji, which is a shame. While he wasn’t a super developed character or anything, it was cool having a scientific adviser as a full-fledged member of the team, and just feels like all the things that make the show stand out are being removed. The scenes at the zoo were filmed at the Izu Cactus Park, with the bird-like statue used as Hydra even appearing. 2.5/5

vlcsnap-2018-01-29-21h59m23s159With a Prayer Upon the Ultra Star – A pretty good episode overall, with Hokuto being framed for incompetence (With lots of scolding by Yamanaka) and another creepy kid. Sadly though, the creepy kid doesn’t get a whole lot of screen time being creepy, and Dan downright disobeys an instruction sent to him by Hokuto (Writing it as Ace) to beware of him. The final fight with the Choju is cool with some psychedelic sequences, though is resolved in a somewhat trite manner involving the Ultra Star. Some flaws, but not bad. 3.5/5

“The Magical Misery Tour is coming to take you away! (Coming to take you away!)”

Shoot That Hot Air Balloon – An episode with an incredibly silly concept involving a hot air balloon (actually Choju) sucking out the fun in children that’s treated fairly seriously. A mostly enjoyable romp that almost feels like an episode of an 80s Toei Tokusatsu show , with Dan actually doing something useful in the end, though one must question TAC thinking a kid his age is capable of steering a hot air balloon. The two monotone hippies operating the balloon are hilarious. A lot of scientific babble that likely belonged to Kaji is given to Yoshimura. 3.5/5

A Choju Dances on an Open Rainbow – Another pretty enjoyable episode overall with a decent moral regarding the truth and its need to be told, no matter how much it may hurt. An amusing scene occurs early on when Hokuto brings up the episode’s child character to TAC, only for Yamanaka to express his annoyance with Hokuto’s constant involvement with children. Nothing super noteworthy, but decent. 3.5/5

vlcsnap-2018-01-29-22h12m43s682A Gift from Zoffy – An episode featuring quite possibly the craziest Choju of them all – one mutated from stains left by a bed-wetting kid. As usual with Ace, despite the premise being downright absurd, the episode is taken somewhat seriously, with Hokuto’s relationship with said kid being surprisingly touching. The episode also reveals something about a human host not previously known in any other show – that Hokuto was still wetting the bed himself at the age of 9. Zoffy appears a few times throughout, though somewhat arbitrarily, with him just advising Hokuto to listen to the kid and giving Ace something to help him in the final fight. 3.5/5

The Choju is 10,000 Phones? – A weirdly titled, but charming episode. Hokuto’s brashness is displayed here involving a scuffle with bikers, with whom despite annoying him and his friends, he has sympathy for, claiming to have almost gotten into a crowd like theirs as a teenager. Much of the episode involved him trying to reform the gang (Much to TAC’s annoyance), while also getting them to participate in defeating the Choju. The only real downside is the Choju itself, who has an interesting gimmick but weak design, looking like a giant toe with a satellite dish on its head. An unusual rendition of the show’s theme song is played during Ace’s fight with the Choju. 4/5

The Star of Friendship Forever – A mostly mundane affair, though not godawful. The subplot involving the girlfriend of Hokuto’s old friend, a race car designer, trying express her true love could have worked if explored a little more, but feels mostly trite. The monster of this episode has a hatred of loud noises, a complete contrast to the last episode’s which fed off of them. Strangely, Captain Ryu seems very distraught by the civilians killed in the monster’s rampage, a trait he’s never really displayed before. 2.5/5

vlcsnap-2018-01-29-22h17m16s064Resurrection! The Father of Ultra – A heck of a lot lighter than the last show’s Christmas special and a lot crazier, with Santa Claus himself (Or is it?) appearing and an angry Namahage (Or some lunatic dressed as one) unleashing a Choju upon Japan for not understanding the true meaning of Christmas, in his eyes. The episode definitely seems to favor the commercialized, gift giving Christmas as being the “true” one, though its hardly surprising given Japan doesn’t have the same history with the holiday as the US does. An old character makes a return appearance, but it is all too brief, with her not even getting a line of dialogue. During a scene at the orphanage, children all sing the Ultraman Ace theme song, with the “Hokuto and Minami” line being intact, exposing Ace’s true identity. Why that line was sung rather than one from the second verse is unknown. Guest stars Isao Tamagawa. 3/5

Hey, I’m Firemons from ULTRAMAN ACE! And you’re watching Disney Channel!

The Life of Seven! The Life of Ace! – A pretty fun episode with lots of action, though pretty light on plot. The Choju Firemons is really bizarre in appearance but seems to be a Yapool -mutated Choju with its teleportation and organic missiles. However, it is under control by the Fire alien, which would seem to indicate that either he found the Choju and took it for himself, or Yapool is still out there…the Fire alien disguises himself as Dan’s thought-dead uncle, and we are supposed to be surprised at the revelation. Sadly, we barely see him spend any time with his niece and nephew, giving the whole thing zero emotional impact. Ultra Seven shows up to give Ace some prep talk, but that’s it. 3.5/5

vlcsnap-2018-08-24-13h51m13s490Give Back the Panda! – Quite possibly the weirdest episode of the entire show, involving an alien stealing all sorts of panda-themed merchandise in order to start a craze on his homeworld. That’s about all you need to know, but worth noting is the presence of what is meant to be an actual panda, portrayed by the worst panda costume of all time. It needs to be seen to be believed. It’s difficult to tell if the episode was intentionally crazy or just very dumbed-down for children to enjoy, but it’s a pretty entertaining watch. The panda-snagging alien Steal is long overdue for a return appearance. 3/5

Winter of Horror Series – Ghost Story! Lion Drum – The first installment of the “Winter of Horror Series”, and a pretty fun episode overall, though light on plot and takes a little while to get going. The episode is similar to the Christmas special in that the one controlling the Choju (The possessed father of a boy trapped inside one of the Choju) is having them attack mankind for not respecting the gods. The Choju which are mutated from a ceremonial Shishi mask and a bizarre statute of a god are among the more interesting ones from the latter half. 3/5

Guest starring Ann Coulter.

Winter of Horror Series – Mystery! The Resurrection of the Monster Woo – A mostly mundane story that almost feels like an excuse to give the cast a winter vacation, though with a few small highlights. The grandfather having not ever met his granddaughter or recognizing her at the beginning is bizarre and completely pointless. Woo’s return is a mixed bag, though keeps in tone with its original appearance (Presumably though, this Woo is a different one than the original). While not nearly as depressing as Woo’s original episode, the ending is a bit of a downer as well. The Choju Iceron is very goofy looking, yet oddly appealing. 2.5/5

Winter of Horror Series – Ghost Story! The Cry of the Abominable Snowman – Another forgettable snow-based episode that might possibly pick up where the last one left off, with Hokuto and the Umezus on a winter vacation. Starts out as a pretty substandard abominable snowman story similar to Varduck’s episode, though perhaps a little better. The episode marks the last appearance Akinori Umezu and Rie Miyako as Dan and Kayoko Umezu. While neither were the greatest of characters, it is always disappointing to see someone simply written out of the show without any sort of explanation given. The scene in which TAC is scolded by the residents for retreating is sort of interesting, as is the bit where they abandon their ships due to not being able to see in the blizzard, but a pretty dull episode overall. 2.5/5

vlcsnap-2018-01-29-22h24m10s445Setsubun Ghost Story! The Shining Bean – A bit mixed, but overall enjoyable. The unlucky red beans eaten by Hokuto, Konno and the kickboxer affecting the durability of their arms aren’t revealed to be connected to the Choju or any sort of extraterrestrial force, making them, as far as the audience knows, a supernatural oddity. The episode is notable though for possibly featuring the first glimpse at the Ultra’s home planet at M-78 (Production wise) during Seven’s restoration of Ace’s powers. What’s seen is just a barren wasteland, and whether or not it’s their home or just another planet or moon in the nebula (Other planets will be revealed to exist there in future materials) isn’t revealed, but it’s still notable, in such an overlooked episode. 3/5

Big Pinch! Save Ace! – A weird episode in how slow-moving and straight-faced it is, with it almost feeling like it was made way earlier to in the show’s run. We for once see a Choju in the process of mutating when it arrives on Earth from a crashed satellite, with TAC prematurely awakening it. TAC is once again scolded by the locals, this time for their awakening of the Choju. It’s tone is unusually serious and humorless and moves at a pretty slow pace, but not too bad. 3/5

Always look on the- oh wait, I already made that joke.

Ride Beyond the Time Machine – A very fun, action-a-minute episode, the first in a while. The concept of time travel is featured, something not really touched upon much before this episode (The Kemur Man was hypothesized to come from the year 2020, but that’s about it), though not a whole lot of time is devoted to its workings, instead focusing on the action. It isn’t revealed if the Choju (Who is really freaky looking and has a creepy, laugh-like roar) has the ability to hop through time or simply stumbled on a portal, nor is it revealed if it is from the past (Being a very early creation of Yapool’s) or the present, having simply made itself known in the past. The episode also reveals that scientists are working on time travel, though are only able to go back five years or so. Lots of fun. 4/5

Hanzagiran_ScreenshotCurse of the Salamander – An overall decent episode with another Choju fueled by one’s vengeance. It is explored much more here than it is in The Cry of the Abominable Snowman, though we’re still left somewhat confused over the old man’s hatred of the villagers. He isn’t portrayed as sympathetically as the episode leads to believe, and he certainly learns his lesson in the end. The prop used for the salamander that turns into the Choju is pretty laughable. Why they didn’t just use a real lizard is anyone’s guess. There’s also a questionable scene possibly featuring a pedophilia joke, in which TAC members tease Hokuto over his thinking of the old man’s granddaughter, with them bringing up how pretty she is. The last few seconds are hilariously tacked on as well. Despite some shortcomings or downright weird things, not a bad episode. 3/5

vlcsnap-2018-01-30-18h43m33s785The Revenge of Velokron – A fantastic episode with some eerie scenes, interesting cinematography (Including a bizarre “Brady Bunch” sequence during Ace’s fight) and Hokuto undergoing hallucinations that put people’s lives at risk, to the point where a SWAT team is called in. Also hinted at is Yapool not being as dead as everyone had hoped. Certainly not an episode recommended to those who hate going to the Dentist’s. As stated in the title, Velokron returns, with a slightly different, and inferior design, appearing more frog-like. However, when taken into account its a different one from the original, it’s acceptable. 4.5/5

The Flying Jellyfish – Dry, humorless and very tedious. Featured is an alien servant doing the bidding of an alien that isn’t Yapool. The concept of playing with human’s superstition over gods is used once again, but is pretty generic. Several minutes are devoted to just the villagers chanting. Perhaps if the episode were a little more atmospheric (Given the sun is blocked out and TAC are staked to crosses ready to be burned alive) it would be more memorable, but as it stands, a dull experience you’ll forget about almost immediately after watching. 2/5

signalsMass Chaos in Tokyo! Traffic Signals Gone Haywire – An enjoyable fare with a somewhat silly concept (And certainly silly monster) involving messing with traffic signals that has some pretty fatal results. Hokuto and Yamanaka are the only TAC members present for most of the episode, and partake in some pretty nifty action sequences, most notably them infiltrating the aliens’ hideout. Not very significant, but entertaining. 3.5/5

Life-Sucking Sound – Another episode with a pretty goofy premise that works well enough. There is somewhat of a nice moral to not force you children into doing something they don’t like, though the idea of a boy wanting to play baseball instead of the violin feels kind of stereotypical. Perhaps reversing the situation, with the mother wanting the son to play baseball like his late father, but him wanting to play the violin would make it stand out more. But as it stands, not a bad time. 3.5/5

vlcsnap-2018-01-30-18h47m43s779Tomorrow’s Ace to You! – The series finale, and while an improvement over Return of Ultraman‘s, still flawed. Its large focus on a group of kids never seen before is somewhat jarring (A reason Dan should have stuck around), though they were likely included to represent the future. The monster sent out by what is assumed to be the spirit of Yapool, Jumbo King, is goofy looking, but the idea of a monster being made up of parts of past ones will be used several times throughout the series. (A kid seems to recognize Mazarius being apart of Jumbo King despite Mazarius never truly being born.) Minami returns for a quick scene to simply warn Hokuto about revealing his identity as Ace, but their reunion isn’t treated with any sort of fanfare (It appears to be more of a telepathic message than anything else). Ace’s reasoning for having to leave Earth (Spoilers? Probably not.) is also pretty weak, even when compared to Goh/Jack’s. Despite some glaring problems, its pessimistic look towards the future is nice, and Hokuto’s decision made is rather powerful. It seems that TAC is a lot softer on aliens that don’t appear to be an immediate threat when compared to MAT with them tending to the injured alien boy Simon, who’s homeworld was destroyed by Yapool. Not the best finale, but an alright end. 3/5