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Television Media Anime

40 Years of Ultraman 69

jonerik writes "The Japan Times has four articles covering the events surrounding this year's 40th anniversary celebration of the Japanese superhero Ultraman — along with Astro Boy probably the most iconic Japanese hero of the post-war era. The Ultraman...Forever article follows the history and development of the series over the last 40 years, and its appeal not only to the original generation of fans, but to the current generation, who are now the children or even grandchildren of the series' original audience. The Ultrabonding article explores this in further depth, crediting the series for strengthening the bonds between fathers and sons, both of whom grew up — or are growing up — watching the series. The Ultracollecting article looks at the toy collector side of things, and Ultrasuccess in Print interviews Tatsuya Miyanishi, the author of a series of Ultraman books — including 1996's 'Daddy is Ultraman' — which have proven popular with both young and old fans alike."
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40 Years of Ultraman

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  • I mean, in Japan it's *still* ridiculously huge. You see Ultraman everywhere, and Japanese geeks love collecting Ultraman crap. But I'm not even aware of an Ultraman fandom in the US, and I'm generally up on those sorts of things... Am I the only one who feels this way, or are there American Ultraman fans? I mean, I know we got Power Rangers, but by the time that came out I was too old and too jaded to care (rather, I was like 11 or 12).
    • As a representative of the entire US of A, the answer is "Nope"
    • by RuBLed ( 995686 ) on Sunday November 26, 2006 @03:33AM (#16990200)
      I agree, Ultraman is ridiculously huge and in Japan you would see Ultraman everywhere especially when he is fighting those radioactive plants/worms/politicians(oops).
      • well, that's still better than hugely ridiculous

      • by tyme ( 6621 )
        I rushed home from elementary school in the mid-seventies in the Maryland suburbs of Washington D.C. to watch Ultraman on TV. My older cousin, David, had turned me on to it and it seemed to be pretty well know by my classmates as well (we played Ultraman at recess). I also watched it on a B&W TV, so I thought Ultraman was silver as well (I never got to see the show in color, it went off the air before my family bought a color TV in 1979). In the late seventies most of the Japanime was gone from American
        • Yeah, I was really surprised to find out Ultraman was in color too. I watched the show in the early 70's - probably 72 or 73, certainly no later than 75. I also thought that the Captain's name was Hiawatha... go figure.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by 1310nm ( 687270 )
      When I lived on a military base as a kid, the one DoD channel that we got in English had Ultraman every Saturday morning, between Voltron and Captain Power [captainpower.com].

      I liked Voltron a lot better, because after putting up with the lame story line acted out by the annoying Voltron team, you would finally get to see Voltron FORM BLAZING SWORD and cut villianbots into a flash of white light. I'm guessing blinding flashes of light are cheaper than cutting objects in half, from a production standpoint.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      I used to get up early Saturday morning to watch it on TV when I was a kid. It was my favorite show and where I learned about lousy dubbing. We only had a black and white TV then so it wasn't until years later that I learned that Ultraman was greenish rather than the silver I had imagined.

      Mind you, this was on Canadian TV - but the question wasn't addressed at Americans per se...
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Jack Action ( 761544 )
      Growing up in the 70s, Ultraman was an icon on a par with Godzilla and the Planet of the Apes movies.

      I'm not one for nostalgia, so I can't vouch for current fandom -- but Ultraman was the real thing.

      (Though I'm a Canuck who watched the series on pre-cable American border stations: Channel 20 Detroit).
      • Yeah, between you and the previous reply it seems that Ultraman was on TV in Canada. Didn't know that, but I find it sort of amusing. Somehow I doubt that you still see Ultraman merchandise around every damn corner in Canada anymore though, like you still do in Japan.
        I can fully understand the nostalgia factor, and I have some of it for things that I now consider silly (ie Transformers), but the Ultraman obsession in Japan seems to have almost risen to a religion.
      • The Philadelphia UHF station WPHL [wikipedia.org] gave us a daily dose of Ultraman in the early 70's.... Do Wee Willie Webber fans remember the early 8th Man [wikipedia.org] episodes in which the detective hero would go into android "Tobor" mode by smoking a cigarette?
      • by sauge ( 930823 )

        I watched Ultra man on channel 20 also. Right next to Jonny Socco and his Giant Flying Robot!
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by jonerik ( 308303 )
          Apparently a lot of stations around that period would run Ultraman during most of the year, go to Johnny Sokko and His Flying Robot for the summer, then back to Ultraman for the rest of the year. That's how it was scheduled when I was living on Kansas City around that time. Other stations would air them back to back. Either way, I suspect that they were both marketed to stations as a single package since they both tended to be on the same stations.

          I liked Johnny Sokko better, but that might be because I'
      • by wrecked ( 681366 )
        Thanks for that hit of nostalgia... I grew up in Windsor too, watching Channels 20 and 50 after school. Ultraman, Lost in Space, Speed Racer, Get Smart...
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      When I was a red-blooded bicentennial kid in 1976 I used to love watching Ultraman, Godzilla, and the awesome Creature Feature with Dr. Paul Bearer on WTOG channel 44 [crazedfanboy.com].
      • In Baltimore during the seventies, our local low watt UHF station (WBFF with Captain Chesapeake!) carried Ultraman, as well as Marine Boy, Kimba The White Lion and Speed Racer. Every single weekday. I can assure you, us kids took these every bit as seriously as anything that came on the major networks.

        It's funny how, of this group, it was Speed Racer that got nationwide traction in the US. A precursor to anime helping to create a generation of Nascar fans.
    • by jonerik ( 308303 )
      Today it's almost certainly going to be a big "nope" among US kids unless they're particularly big on Japanese culture. Around '71, '72, '73, though, that first '66 Ultraman series was running in the US, and it was very definitely a big thing among a lot of kids at that time.
    • I used to watch it... hmm... between say 1975 and 1977... when I was a wee lad, 4-6 yrs... and I used to "play" Ultraman... my Dad's HiFi had a Sony R2R deck that came with this heavy Sony microphone... and it was the perfect beta capsule.... bebebebebebebebebebe! Its messed up... but, yeah, I really really cared about it, and for the life of me, I dunno why...
    • I loved watching it as a kid, ~ 1975, probably on a Pittsburgh broadcast station. I've thought of the Science Patrol ever since each time I saw a Corvair that was actually running. I just bought the originals on DVD after a long wait for them to come out. The later derivatives just aren't the same. A Seattle retro diner-restaurant has a flying Ultraman hanging from their ceiling and was impressed that I knew what it was. No idea where it came from.
  • The Ultraman...Forever article follows the history and development of the series over the last 40 years, and its appeal not only to the original generation of fans, but to the current generation, who are now the children or even grandchildren of the series' original audience.

    Yeah, the kids certainly do love it. Except they know it as "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers".
    • No, we know it as "Mighty Morphin Power Rangers." The kids know it as "Power Rangers: Super Time-Knight Rangers of Space Powers from Dimension Z!" [wikipedia.org]

      The new stuff... not as good as the original, eh?
      • Bah, the Power Rangers are an obvious Science Ninja Team Gatchaman [wikipedia.org] rip off.
        • by rworne ( 538610 )
          Power Rangers and it's ilk have been around for a very long time. Power Rangers is just the latest incarnation of the Sentai/Tokusatsu genre. Gatchaman just has the honor of being one of the first, if not the very first animated sentai series.
          • You're right about Gatchaman being the first anime sentai series. I'm having a hard time thinking of some of anime sentai series other than Shinesman, though. And that was only a short OAV series.
      • by Ucklak ( 755284 )
        I remember being a kid in Hawaii and loving those shows. I still have my original first season Go Ranger toys with removable helmets and learning how to count in japanese and not be bothered by subtitles because of the show - the subtitle thing came in handy when Star Wars came out.

        People don't really get that Power Rangers are really 31 years old and not 14.

        2 other shows I wish I could get for a personal collection are Kamen Rider and Roboccon, the home robot that was afraid of cockroaches.
  • Ah the Japanese version of a Mexican wrestling movie. Even as a kid I was stunned at how silly Ultraman was. If you have to be young at heart I guess I was never that young.
  • The *other* Ultraman (Score:3, Informative)

    by semifamous ( 231316 ) on Sunday November 26, 2006 @04:18AM (#16990352)
    I remember a show about another superhero named Ultraman [imdb.com] played by Quinn from Sliders (or "the fat kid" from Stand By Me.) I remember it being a fun show, but I think that was because I was so young and his powers were so silly.

    He floated.

    He couldn't actually propel himself forward. He had to used some sort of spray cans for propulsion. Spray cans.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by vain gloria ( 831093 )
      He couldn't actually propel himself forward. He had to used some sort of spray cans for propulsion. Spray cans.
      Good grief! Sounds almost as bad as some movie I saw a while back. The child hero was a luminous being in tune with a mystical force that flowed through all living things. He had to use midi-chlorians in his blood stream to do it though. Midi-chlorians.

      I forget the name of the film...
    • by Sigma 7 ( 266129 )
      I remember it being a fun show, but I think that was because I was so young and his powers were so silly.

      He floated.

      It's not that silly... more like a weakened version of a flight power which he obtained later in the series (alongside super-strength, although that was also faked out in an early episode). Even though the powers may seem silly, the limitations on power were part of the plot.

      The weakness on the other hand, is silly.
  • Ultraman . . . forever

    Zap! Pow! Suwatch! After 40 years and 16 series, the Ultra Warriors are still saving the Earth and entertaining kids of all ages everywhere

    Special to The Japan Times

    The "Ultraman" live-action science-fiction series has been a rite of passage for Japanese boys (and a few girls) and their families for four decades now, since the first show was aired in 1966.

    News photo
    Ultraman gets set to fire his "specium beam" in 1966's "Ultraman" series. (c) TSUBURAYA PRODUCTIONS CO.,
  • So... 40 years later "Ultraman...Forever" arrives. Let's see if DN...Forever can break their record.
  • I grew up in the 70's in Mexico. Ultraman and Goldart (Monstruos del Espacio) were my super heroes.
    Ultraman was solar powered (but like todays batteries kept getting discharged in the middle of a presentation, i mean a battle).
    Goldart was a transformer (turned into a single engine jet and lived in a volcano).

    Of course, ultraman was full of drama. People actually died, got sick, and sometimes, Ultrman lose!

    I would then get up, turn OFF the black and white tv in the dinning room. Walk out into the yard all bu
    • by mcamou ( 30102 )
      Gracias gracias gracias!!!!

      I've been looking for YEARS for someone who remembered Monstruos del Espacio. I didn't remember the name of the series but every time I told someone about it (the family of aliens who turned into rockets and the guy with the whistle), they looked at me as if I were crazy. Thank you for giving me a pointer to prove my sanity!
    • by Gocho ( 16619 )
      I remember watching Monstruos del Espacio in Venezuela in the early 1980s. Nobody from my generation remembers the rockets, the whistle... but here it is, for your viewing pleasure.... http://zonaretro.com/tienda/product_info.php?cPath =47&products_id=489 [zonaretro.com] There is a YouTube video at the bottom of that page
      • by LocoMan ( 744414 )
        Another venezuelan here... I remember all the fun times with the friends playing ultraman and doing the cross palms thing. Also I remember Goldar (and how I wanted them to show full shots of how that girl and kid transformed into rockets!!!), also Robot Gigante (a quick googling shows it was called Johnny Sokko and his Flying Robot in the US) and on the animated front, Capitán Centella (Gekko Kamen), Capitán Futuro, Galáctico (Starzingers) and of course the whole collection of giant robots, M
  • And no mention of Gojira?
  • Wow, this is bringing back a flood of memories. I used to watch Ultraman with my grandad on Sat. mornings, and during the week after school there were three shows I had to see: Space Giants, Speed Racer, and this show called the Pow Hour. The Pow Hour showed Looney Tunes, and in between cartoons they had a guy in the studio with an Atari 2600. Kids could call up and play the games by saying 'Pow' when they wanted to fire. Some guy behind the scenes would push the button everytime he heard 'pow', heh heh. S
    • by mannd ( 841376 )
      Used to watch Ultraman on the "Wee Willie Weber" show in the Philadelphia suburbs in my early teen years. The show also featured Astro Boy and Eighth Man. All Japanese stuff. Two sets of Ultraman DVDs are now available from the first Ultraman, and watching them does bring back memories of a more innocent time. Also had a kind of crush on Fuji.....
  • I remember being an avid Ultraman fan when I was 5 or 6, back in the early '70s. Just recently I got the DVDs of the first season, and oh-my-god was it cheesy. Bad plot, bad effects, bad acting, etc. Essentially the science patrol would spin its wheels for 20 minutes, then Ultraman would come to the rescue for the last 10 minutes and fight the monster. I really wanted to like it, but I just couldn't.
  • Ultraman is lame, gigantor could kick his butt any day of the week
  • What I remember from the English theme song was that he came from "a million miles away."
    I used to think,"well, that's just somewhere roughly four times as far away as the moon! What's there?"
  • I remember Ultraman and my mother still buys the stuff for my kids. We were in Walmart yestday and they had season 1 volume 2 there. If they'd had volume 1 to go with it, I'da bought it.
  • Johnny Sokko was the shiznit, just admit it. Did Ultraman have a guy who looked like the bastard child of Cthulhu as the head of the bad guys? Noooooo.

"If it's not loud, it doesn't work!" -- Blank Reg, from "Max Headroom"