Works of JOY: ULTRAMAN (Update, Vol. II Release)

Ted Keer's picture
Submitted by Ted Keer on Wed, 2006-10-04 01:41

ULTRAMAN Region 1 DVD Release Ultraman: Series One, Vol. 1 (2004)
Available at Amazon Under $30.00

This is the official DVD release of the first 20 of 39 episodes. Color, 450 Minutes, English dubbed and Japanese language originals, English Subtitles, Special Features. Tsurubaya Productions (c) 1966

This live action Sci-Fi series was a staple of my childhood, surpassed in esteem only by Star Trek and Doctor Who. The U.S. English Language release stopped airing around 1980. I was overjoyed to find that it was finally available in a non-bootleg release. Although some of the original footage has been replaced with black and white (very minimal) and the English language version occasionally drops into Japanese due to the loss of portions of the dubbed release, the quality of this production is quite excellent.

The story involves Hayata, the hero, and the other members of the "Science Patrol" the damsel Fuji, the clownish Ito (Ide), Captain Mura (Muramatsu), dependable Ayashi, and boy sidekick Hoshino. The Science Patrol is called in to investigate strange phenomena, natural and scientific disasters, and, of course, monster sightings. In the first episode, Hayata is accidentally killed by a benevolent alien who merges with Hayata in order to restore him to life. Hayata is normally human, but when danger calls (almost always in the form of a 200ft Godzilla analog, but with ingenious variations, including lobster-clawed bug men, carnivorous space algae, and abominable snow men) Hayata transforms into a giant bug-eyed red and silver bio-mechanoid who can shoot death rays, fly, "Shuwach!" and do amazing Sumo moves. On watching this show again as an adult after 30 years, I am struck by the show's refreshing lack of political correctness. The contrasts between the English dialog (often cynical) and the Japanese (overblown and exaggeratedly technical) are striking, and show the difference between the post-60's anti-intellectual attitude of the U.S. compared to the earnest sincerity of the Japanese.

This show is certainly intended for children or those nostalgic for their childhood. But as such, it is a wonderful addition to my library. I have not yet watched all the episodes, but recall the joy which they brought me as a child, and can't stop singing the theme song. I hope this would translate to present day children. The special effects are done with blue-screen imaging and men in plastic monster suits, but, as with Doctor Who, the plot (however minimal) and the monster concepts drive the show. Many scenes have an spookiness or poignancy which one wouldn't expect from whatever today's version of Pokemon or the Power Rangers might be. Above right, Ultraman fights a Monster. Below Left, Moshi moshi, Hayata speaking. Below Right, Ultraman shoots a death ray. Haya!

Ted Keer, 03 Oct, 2006, NYC

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Vol. II, Even Better!

Ted Keer's picture

The second and final set of 39 episodes are available now as volume two. I have been very happy watching and reminiscing. The series is very poignant and mature for a child's show. I strongly recommend watching with the English sound as well as the Enlish subtitles, since the latter match the Japanese dialog. One can here both what the Japanese and the American audiences heard and compare. Politics, science, romance and plain drama are dressed up in rubber "godzilla" costumes but are not dumbed down and do not preach the mush sentimentalism of today.

In the third episode, the last words are "Politicians! Only their words are Beautiful!"


Johnny Sokko

Ted Keer's picture

The Space Giants were only run briefly in the area where I grew up, and I didn't watch them much, probably due to the time the show aired. But I did watch Johnny Sokko, which was similar to Ultraman, but much darker in its sense of life, with gangsters, witches, snakes eating people and children being killed. I would watch that show again, but am not eager to buy it on VHS.

I am glad to have brought back the memories, hence the reason for this blog.



Luke Setzer's picture

Wow, Ted, this post just brought a flood of memories from my childhood.  I used to watch this every day after school as a boy.  I remember taking Social Studies in seventh grade when they only gave us pass or fail grades rather than numerical or letter grades.  So I only did the bare minimum work required to pass the class.  Why should I care one jot about some boring, primitive African tribes when I can spend my precious time watching Ultraman smash the monsters?

Nevertheless, Ultraman still does not hold a torch to The Space Giants.  I always got a kick watching Goldar, Silvar and Gam join forces with Mikko to whack Rodak and his Lugo Men every episode.

Of course, as you rightly assessed, none of these Japanese heroes can outshine Doctor Who!

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