I’ve been doing Throwback Thursdays for over a year now, and I must confess I don’t know how I’ve managed to leave out one of my favorite science fiction shows of the 60s on ScienceFiction.com’s list of great science fiction of the past. That show, of course, is ‘Ultraman.’
Even if you don’t know ‘Ultraman,’ you know ‘Ultraman.’ It’s has one of the most classic images of Japanese science fiction ever created, and ushered in four decades of Super Sentai (something the rest of the world probably knows as the Power Rangers). If you see the classic image of a giant robot destroying Tokyo, you’re first thought is probably ‘Godzilla.’ But if you see a giant robot fighting that giant monster in Tokyo, that is all ‘Ultraman’ (though the special effects are done by the same person, Eiji Tsuburaya).
‘Ultraman’ is set in what people thought the 1990s would be like back in the 60s. Then, there is a team called the Special Science Search Party (SSSP) which defends the Earth from evil giant alien creatures. However, Earth’s technologies are not always enough, and it’s up to Hayata, one of the team’s most capable members, to use a special artifact he found called the Beta Capsule in order to transform into Ultraman, a giant robo human that can meet the giant alien monsters on equal ground.
Every episode is filled with the cheesy battles through fake cities, and it never, ever gets old. It is the definition of a monster-of-the-week plot, and there doesn’t seem to be a real over-reaching plot other than “defeat aliens!”.
There are two ways to see it these days. For those of you who want to hearken back to the old days of watching it on television, there is the dub (where everyone effects “Asian” accents for no particular reason), or the original Japanese version which is slightly less fun only because the dubbing of the 60s is that of your stereotypical kung fu movie, which is to say the words don’t always match the movements of the mouth or the emotions the actor is actually portraying.
It’s fairly reasonable, and a great way to spend a week or two, so be sure to go out and get ‘Ultraman’ on DVD, especially if you’re into cheesy science fiction.