Ultraman: The Ultimate Hero

Originally reviewed August 2018

39927001_10204991664627205_7444799343409758208_nOn a Mission from M-78 – Not a terrible start to the series, with everyone and thing being set up nicely enough, but definitely showcases the show’s major problems right off the bat. Most of the episode moves at a slow, but mildly suspenseful pace, but once the fight between Powered and Baltan begins, the restrictions become abundantly clear. The miniature city is also noticeably poor, though those will improve as the show progresses. Ultraman Powered tells Kai he is from an organization that maintains peace across the galaxy, though whether or not it is the Space Garrison or not is unclear. He also claims to have been following the Baltans for eons and that they are responsible for the destruction of many civilizations, though whether he means the entire race or simply the Powered incarnations is also not known. An alright opener, but far from the best around. 3/5

Catch a Kemura By It’s Tail – Essentially a remake of an already mediocre episode (Break Through the Smoke), definitely a bit of a slog, with lots of padding, that unlike the first episode which was at least atmospheric and established the characters, just drags. Not horrendous, but very dull. Nobody in WINR seems familiar with Ultraman, still referring to him as “the silver giant”. The fight between Powered and Baltan is said to be the 18th monster attack within the past two years. Kemura (Who’s redesign is quite nice and an improvement over the original in my opinion) is shown to have attacked China in 1976, though whether it is the very same one seen in the episode or another member of the species (as there are at least two judging by its original appearance) isn’t clear. 2.5/5

40017366_10204991664787209_662529873985667072_nA Quartet of Creatures – Though far from perfect, a major improvement over the previous two episodes, if only in terms of sheer pacing. Though not exactly The Lawless Monster Zone (in which the episode is based), there are enough twists to make it stand on its own (Such as the stranded scientists from the original now being a documentary film crew and there being two Red Kings) and enough action to keep one entertained. Chandorah, here pronounced “Chondra” is very far-removed from the original, to the point where it’s probably best to deem them different monsters. Pigmon (serving the same role he did originally)’s redesign, while serviceable on a technical level, is borderline terrifying, looking like Chucky from Rugrats crossed with a meatball. Magura was originally intended to return as apart of the lineup, but was scrapped for budgetary reasons. Not a masterpiece by any stretch, but a pretty fun romp with a surprisingly sad ending. Guest stars Jeffrey Combs. 3.5/5

39928680_10204991665027215_5196588786649137152_nThe Dark Past – Basically a lesser version of Destroy the Surface, but for what it is, an alright episode. Beck gets some development, feeling guilty for losing Kai during a tremor. The underground people, here referred to as “the Sun People” are shown to worship an ancient Ultra, who apparently resided them in the distant past from a meteor, telling them to return to the surface when the light returns (With them mistaking the light for him). Though they seem to think that Ultra was Powered, given how long ago that must have occurred, it most likely was a much older warrior, perhaps even Noa. Has a lot of the same problems as previous episodes, but not too shabby. 3.5/5

Monstrous Meltdown – An alright remake of an alright episode, but like the original (Lightning Operation), not much to really say other than its a decent enough episode. Kai sits out for most of the climax, a fairly tense one involving a power plant on the verge of meltdown. Gabora’s redesign is among the show’s cooler and might even be a slight improvement over the original. Guest stars Bill Mumy. According to an interview with King Wilder, George Lazenby read for a part, but didn’t get the role. 3/5

39878789_10204991664907212_3671418467883417600_nA Father’s Love – A pretty strong episode that really shouldn’t be deemed a remake of My Home is Earth but simply an homage, as the story is for the most part quite different. The astronaut-turned monster Jamra (And yes, Jamra, not Jamila – they are two separate people with similar but different names)’s wife (Who happens to be Young’s sister) and daughter both play roles, which is a way humanizes him more than Jamila, but still lacks the disturbing punch of the concept the original had. But here I am comparing it to the original right after insisting it shouldn’t be taken as a remake. Throughout the episode, the “deep state” is looking for Jamra, even going as far as to capture his daughter as bait, wanting him for a very unsettling purpose. A good, action-packed episode. 4/5

39899884_10204991666347248_2788601593891651584_nFires Below – Another remake of a pretty insignificant episode (The Endless Counterattack), and in some ways an improvement over it, though still nothing too special. Zambolar is portrayed more sympathetically here, theorized to be causing the fires as a form of punishment to mankind for the destruction they have done to the Earth, making it feel somewhat like an Ultraman: Towards the Future episode. Like Kemura, Powered Zambolar’s design is an improvement over the original. Perhaps relevant at the moment given all of the wildfires that have been occurring in California. 3/5

39934490_10204991666067241_8475687302285230080_nThe Dada Effect – An obligatory “Woah, computers” episode of 90s television, but a pretty fun one. The Dada appear in the form of a computer virus, theorized to hail from cyberspace, which would seem to contradict their origin in Human Specimens 5 & 6 (and subsequent appearances), but’s certainly within the realm of possibilities that the virus was created by the Dada race as a means of creating more specimens. Shortly before being sucked into the computer by Dada, the man in he beginning hums to the tune of the original Ultraman theme song. Guest stars Rose Marie. 3.5/5

40024157_10204991666707257_4628210089054961664_nTails from the Crypt – A solid updating of The Demons Rise Again utilizing pretty much the exact same concept of ancient capsules containing monsters being unleashed. Beck’s former professor is called upon to help with the case, and expresses his disappointment at her leaving his lectures to work for WINR, claiming her talents to be wasted…for some reason. In a nice change from the original, both Banilla and Aboras fight Powered, whereas the original had Banilla being killed by Aboras before Ultraman’s arrival. The redesigns of Banilla and especially Aboras are very nice. Not a whole lot different from the original, but a fine update. 4/5

Deadly Starfish – Yet another re-imagining of a pretty overlooked episode of the original show (Oil S.O.S), and like the original, kind of forgettable, but with some merit. Featured in the episode is Mendez, a former classmate of Kai’s who nearly became a WINR member but was withdrawn due to his colorblindness. He’s sympathetic, but isn’t really developed enough to really make an impact when he helps save the day. Though underwater sequences in Ultraman have never been too convincing, the ones here are among the worst, lacking even a slight ripple filter. Given the complex design of Pestar, the fight between him and Powered is possibly the show’s most lackluster (Indeed, he was an odd choice to bring back given how many other monsters were available). Very flawed, but far from awful. 3/5

39916207_10204991666547253_4823960396165545984_nDino-Might – Cringe-worthy title aside, and alright remake of The Monster Prince, albeit a condensed one. Like the original, Gomora is portrayed as a sympathetic beast rudely awakened in a world just not meant for him. Unlike the original however, the man responded for his discovery is a scientist with much more noble causes than making him a theme park attraction, and didn’t intend to awaken him from his hibernation. Despite being burrower, Gomora is claimed to have resided in the marshlands, and is severely dehydrated, putting up a much lesser fight with Powered than the original. Doesn’t come close to the original two-parter, but an alright retelling. 3.5/5

39920083_10204991667187269_523940307365003264_nFalling Stars Spell Trouble/The Final Showdown? – Though perhaps a bit on the generic side, a solid conclusion to the series with each character getting a chance to shine a little. Beck’s goal to discover just who Powered is and where he hides is interesting, though her credibility temporarily dwindles when she doesn’t immediately figure out the truth when noticing Kai and Powered having the exact same wound, not to mention Kai disappearing. The Powered Baltans are back in full-force bringing with them a cybernetically-altered Dorako (In what remains to this day the only proper “Ultraman vs. Dorako” story) and naturally, Zetton. It is also implied that many of the monster attacks seen prior were all orchestrated by the Baltans in order to test Powered’s abilities (Essentially the same plan utilized by the Guts and Nackle). Red King also re-appears to combat Powered Dorako early on, in what can be deemed a rematch between them. Powered partakes little in the final battle, leaving it up to WINR to drive off the Baltan invasion fleet. Two friends of Powered show up to help, engulfed in red orbs. To date, the identity of these Ultras have not been revealed, and probably never will. A pretty solid finale with a fine “teamwork” theme to it that proves there’s a little Ultraman in us all. 4/5