The Ultraman

TV (50 eps)
1979 - 1980
3.267 out of 5 from 44 votes
Rank #11,000
The Ultraman

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— INTRODUCTION —Ultraman, the beloved Japanese sci-fi superhero, has been a cultural icon since its inception in the 60s. The franchise has produced numerous TV shows, movies, manga, and anime adaptations over the years, captivating audiences around the world with its thrilling action and captivating characters. One of the earliest anime adaptations, released in 1979, follows the classic 'monster of the week' format, featuring Ultraman fighting mysterious monsters that threaten Earth.Ultraman was first introduced in 1966, as a live-action TV series in Japan. It followed the story of Shin Hayata, a member of the Science Special Search Party (SSSP), who merged with an alien being called Ultraman to fight giant monsters that threatened Earth.— PREMISE — The anime followed a similar premise to the original series; it revolves around mysterious monsters that appear out of nowhere, and Ultraman, a superhero from space who warns humans of these monsters. Ultraman merge himself with the protagonist, but refuses to reveal anything, stating that 'he will know the truth later'. The story does not progress beyond this, and it feels like the entire plot is an excuse to fight more and more battles. — MONSTER OF THE WEEK —The Ultraman anime is a classic 'monster of the week' show, which means a lot of repetition is to expected as it was a common weakness of the subgenre. The series primarily focuses on the battles between Ultraman and the monsters, with little time dedicated to exploring the characters' backstories or motivations. However, fans of the series appreciate its thrilling action and the nostalgic appeal of its classic sci-fi storytelling.— IRRELEVANT CHARACTERISATION —All the characters in the anime are adults, but they also act maturely, which is uncommon in anime nowadays. The problem with this anime is how it handles its characters; the writer knows how to create appealing characters in terms of personality, but fails at character development within the story. For example, in episode 2, the captain appears cold and stern, but he genuinely cares about his crew. However, this has little to no bearing on the story and its themes. Similarly, Marume in episode 3 was originally portrayed as a stupid, repulsive comic relief fool, but it turns out he has a soft side and is brave and witty. Again, this has little to no connection to the plot or the themes of the story.One passable exception to the bad characterisation is Pig, a robotic character who is aware of his existence and questions his current worth in the modern era. While other characters appear to be in the wrong show, Pig's characterisation merges well with the sci-fi setting, making him a interesting character.— LACK OF PLOT PROGRESSION —The story is not about the fighter jet or the social relationships between military squads; it's about Ultraman and the mysterious creatures that appear out of nowhere. Ultraman remains silent with no explanation other than 'you will know the truth later' and reveals nothing about his origins or the monsters for no apparent reason. They could have at least developed the characters by telling us why they joined this special squad or giving us some insight into their motivations. Additionally, there is a lack of international voice, intervention, and politics, which could have been used for character development.— THE 'SAVING GRACE': EPISODE 8 —The only episode that was slightly better than the rest was episode 8, which picked up the story progression slightly. We learn more about how much the enemy knows about Hikari and Ultraman, and concerns about Ultraman's origins are being expressed in the media. The introduction of intelligent, talking, scheming monsters was more interesting than the generic ones we see in other episodes. Unfortunately, the show then reverts to its original form.— BETTER ALTERNATIVES —One example of anime that executed the 'monster of the week' formula much better than Ultraman is Neon Genesis Evangelion. The show uses the same basic premise of mysterious monsters appearing every episode, but the way the monsters are handled is far more interesting and relevant to the overall story.In Evangelion, the monsters are not just random creatures to be fought and defeated; they are the physical manifestations of psychological issues and emotional trauma experienced by the show's characters. The monsters force the characters to confront their personal demons and issues in order to defeat them, creating a far more compelling narrative than Ultraman's repetitive battles.Additionally, Evangelion's characters are far more well-developed and complex than Ultraman's. Each character has their own unique backstory and motivations, which are explored throughout the series. This makes their struggles against the monsters much more emotionally resonant and engaging than the simplistic battles in Ultraman.— FINAL THOUGHTS —The Ultraman anime from 1979 is a classic 'monster of the week' show that fails to impress with its repetitive plot and lack of character development. While the characterisation is well done, it falls short in providing context to the story or its themes. Episode 8, which slightly picks up the story progression and provides some interesting elements. However, it doesn't redeem the rest of the anime's shortcomings.Overall, the Ultraman anime is an example of a classic anime that was popular in its time and may have popularised the 'monster of the week' formula in anime. However, it is clear that other shows, such as Evangelion, have executed it much better by incorporating deeper themes and character development. The Ultraman anime does not hold up well to modern scrutiny. While it may still hold nostalgia value for some viewers, it fails to stand out as a compelling or innovative anime.

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