Wednesday, August 15, 2018
Ultraman is the most famous of the Ultra series. I'm not student of these kaiju TV shows, so I cannot properly put this show in its proper context, but suffice it to say the addition of a colorful superhero to the classic kaiju formula was very successful and as far as I can tell this was the first show to do it. I've always been struck by how much the Ultraman origin is like Green Lantern's. An alien crashes on earth and bequeaths his powers to a human, who then goes on to use those powers to defend the Earth and his fellow citizens from all sorts of threats, but mostly those from the depths of space.
The show also has the charm of a family unit. The Science Patrol is a gang of adult kids in many ways. There's the smart brother who is a bit goofy, the strong brother who is always reliable, the lovely sister who is sensitive and true blue and the father figure, the authority figure who keeps the others in line. Add to this mix a doughty superhero and it's a pretty good brew for adventure.
Also a big advantage to these shows is the half-hour time frame which gives the yarns a delightful pacing. The stories unwind with alacrity but never feel rushed. We get the characterization, the sci-fi or quasi-mystical set-up and a little kaiju fisticuffs, all in a speedy frame which is reliable but also pliable. The fact that the story actually ends with the season is remarkable to me in an modern era when such story telling has been rediscovered with much fanfare.
Ultraman is a goofy television show, but it's a really well-done goofy television show and a pleasure watch.