Ultraman (or the Ultra Series) is the name of a tokusatsu franchise created by Tsuburaya Productions. Created in 1966 by Eiji Tsuburaya, Ultraman has become one of the most prominent franchises in Japan today. Each series in the franchise is dedicated to a specific Ultraman and their adventures on Earth fighting kaiju (monsters).
I won’t bore you with too many details of what Ultramen actually are, because the lore goes far too deep. But Ultramen are basically aliens from an entirely different galaxy who pride themselves on being the torch-bearers of good in the universe. When they come to Earth, they are unable to stay active for long due to pollution, and so they either assume a human form, or merge with a human host body.
Basically, if I had to sum it up to someone who had never heard of Ultraman before, I would say this:
“Have you heard of Power Rangers? Yeah, it’s kinda like that.”
My experience with Ultraman
I was first introduced to Ultraman by my ex-girlfriend in 2020, during the start of the pandemic. I don’t exactly remember how it happened. During my Tumblr roleplaying days (cringe), she roleplayed an OC situated within the Ultraman universe. She started talking to me about it, and she showed me this clip (15 mins):
At some point she showed me a movie - I believe it was Mega Monster Battle: Ultra Galaxy Legends. I found it super cool. Eventually I delved into the deep lore of Ultraman, and I became hooked.
I am not really that into Ultraman anymore. After the conclusion of Ultraman Z in 2021, I stopped watching any of the shows. Nonetheless, this shrine is a testament to how much I loved this series. If I ever went to Japan, I would probably still buy an action figure.
I also used to write fanfic about Ultraman (CRINGE!) but I never really wrote any ship-related stuff, apart from Ultraman Tregear x Ultraman Taro. You can find my AO3 account here. I don’t use it anymore.
My favourite Ultramen
Ultraman Titas (appears in Ultraman Taiga)
When my ex showed me this swole chad, it was love at first sight. Literally the figure I aspire to be. Tbh he was the only reason I watched Ultraman Taiga at all because he is just the finest Ultra there is. Look at those muscles. Lawd.
Ultraman Tregear (appears in multiple movies + Ultraman Taiga)
An Ultraman that fell to the darkness. I like him because he seems quite morally grey, inserting more mature themes in a franchise that’s primarily meant for kids. Although to be honest, the things that TsuPro makes him do in all the shows and movies just makes him evil. I really like his backstory too. He used to be the best friend of Ultraman Taro, the most popular Ultraman in Japan. His design is also amazing.
Ultraman Zero (appears in like everything post-2009)
Even though I said Taro was the most popular Ultraman in Japan, that’s among the multiple generations that grew up with Ultraman. Zero is the most popular Ultraman among the kids today. Seriously, you cannot escape him. Literally every series nowadays involves him in some way, and tbh it’s getting annoying. I still love Zero though, because he’s a chad.
Ultraman Zero is the son of Ultraseven, the second Ultraman in the series (despite the “seven”). Most of his appearances in Ultraman media involve him battling Ultraman Belial, another Ultraman that fell to the darkness. He is part of the Ultimate Force Zero team, which is probably something for me to gush about another time.
I watched his series as each episode premiered in Japan. I loved it. Ultraman Z is the student of Ultraman Zero, and came to Earth to defeat Cerebro. He is able to fuse the powers of multiple Ultramen together to take on different forms. My favourite forms of his are the Beta Smash form (literally Titas part 2) and Gamma Future.
He appeared in the newest series (as of early 2022) called Ultraman Trigger. By this time, my interest in Ultraman was waning, but it was nice to see him again.
My favourite Kaiju from Ultraman
A little monster whose food is Japanese yen. If he doesn't eat enough yen, he will die. I think he's pretty adorable.
Funky little eel thing
One of the cutest kaiju alongside Kanegon. I would love a pigmon plushie.
Funky little humanoid alien thing
My favourite Ultraman theme songs
Take Me Higher - V6
Uta no Ginga - Voyager
Chant my name! Ultraman Z - Koji Tamaki
Susume! Ultraman Zero - Voyager
Wise Man's Punch - Satoshi Hino
Hands - Oishi Masayoshi
Weird Ultraman Trivia
- Ultraman Great is an Ultraman series produced in Australia featuring English speaking actors. Oddly enough, it was never released in Australia, and instead was released directly to laserdisc in Japan in 1990. It was also aired in America in 1992, but Ultraman has just never seemed to break into the English-speaking market.
- Speaking of which, you know 4Kids Entertainment? That company that ruins every anime it touches? Yeah, it produced an English dub for Ultraman Tiga that aired in the US in 2002. Due to abysmally low ratings, only 25 English dub episodes out of the 52 original episodes were aired.
- Adding on to the above, something that really boggles my mind - Dave Rodgers recorded the opening theme song for Tiga, “Take Me Higher”, before V6 did. Wild.
- In 2021, TsuPro partnered with Marvel Comics to release Ultraman comics. I’ve only read like two issues of it so I can’t really give an opinion as to how good or bad it is. But despite previous failings, Ultraman is gaining popularity in the west!
- All tokusatsu fans know this, but Eiji Tsuburaya was also the creator of Godzilla. Not sure if an Ultraman vs Godzilla crossover exists, but we can only hope.
- An anime of Ultraman exists, featuring Ultraman Joneus. Haven’t seen it, but I’m sure it’s good.
Do you want to get into Ultraman?
It's pretty hard to pinpoint a starting place, seeing as there are 50+ separate Ultraman series. I would first recommend the first movie I watched, Mega Monster Battle: Ultra Galaxy Legends (available on YouTube), as this explains a lot of the lore of Ultraman. From there, you can watch its sequels, you can watch the latest series Ultraman Trigger, or you can go your own way.
Most episodes of all the shows (and some movies) are actually available on YouTube, and some are provided by the official Ultraman channel itself (especially newer shows). Otherwise, use torrenting sites like nyaa.si and illegal streaming sites like KissAsian (if that still exists, rip).