The Ultraman (1979) Episode 1: The Hero is Born

The Ultraman (1979) Episode 1: The Hero is Born

In an attempt to write more, I decided I’m going to review each episode of THE ULTRAMAN as I watch it while exercising. Helps keep my chops up and lets me talk about the bullshit that I love so much. THE ULTRAMAN is the 8th installment in the Ultra series of shows, though only the 7th that features ultras as the first series ULTRA Q did not have a giant from the land of light in it.)

The setup is similar to the other series. A giant of light merges with a human (in this case Hikari Chouichirou) and proceeds to help him defend the Earth against monsters. Here his arrival is preceded by strange lights over the cities of Earth and letters in a strange language appearing as well. This prompts the people of Earth to form the Science Defense Squad to investigate why these things happened as they believe them to be a portent of bad things to come. Ultraman Joneus contacting Hikari in his dreams and asking permission is the third contact and also a nice change from the usual “man is injured and Ultraman hijacks his body” routine.

And of course, bad things do come.

An iceberg breaks off from the Antarctic and starts heading north. The strangest thing is that it doesn’t melt despite going through the warmer temperatures of the equator. When Hikari and his co-worker Marume are dispatched to it to get some samples, a giant monster that sort of looks like the Hanna Barbera Godzilla breaks free and starts dragging the iceberg to Tokyo Bay, which it promptly freezes with its frost breath. The team scrambles some jets to fight it but when more of the creatures appear from the iceberg, Hikari’s ship goes down and he turns into Ultraman Joneus to try and save the day.

I gotta say, I’m only one episode in and I like the show. It’s definitely got that Ultraman feel to it and the animation format means that they can do some things that might not work as well logistically on a sound stage, like the five monster fight in an iced-over Tokyo Bay. It also allows for some creature designs that don’t fit into the man-in-a-suit restriction you have in the live-action series, though to be fair I’ve only seen the one ep so far so they could prove me wrong. The monster in this one, Seagra, had more T-Rex like proportions so I have hope for it.

Separated at birth?

In terms of the Ultraman design, I’m digging it. As Ultraseven was my first Ultra-show, I always enjoy designs that stray from the normal Ultraman design. The red and silver (or white for the show) motif is there, but with a star badge in the center that makes him look like a sheriff and the helmet has an almost robotic look to it that I like a lot.

The team has a massive ship called the Super Mardock, which holds several other ships that the team use use to deploy, like a VTOL that Hikari uses to get to the iceberg or the fighters they try fighting off Seagra with. The colors might be somewhat familiar to viewers, as the white, red and blue motif looks exactly like those used in Gundam. And for good reason, as the studio who made this series also made Mobile Suit Gundam. I’m sure the animators just liked that scheme but it could also be a neat little nod to their other series.

All in all it is a fun show so far and I’m looking forward to more eps.