Written by: Michael Den Boer on October 28th, 2006
Theatrical Release Date: Japan, 1966-67
Directors: Akio Jissoji, Hajime Tsuburaya
Writers: Tetsuo Kinjô, Mamoru Sasaki, Shinichi Sekizawa
Cast: Susumu Kurobe, Sandayuu Dokumamushi, Masanari Nihei, Hiroko Sakurai, Akiji Kobayashi, Akihiko Hirata, Bin Furuya
DVD released: November 7th, 2006
Approximate running time: 430 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1 Full Frame
Sound: Dolby Digital mono
DVD Release: BCI Eclipse
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $39.98
Hayata an officer of the elite Science Patrol is investigating some unidentified objects when his jet collides with an alien from M78 Nebula who was chasing another alien Bemular who was threatening the Earth. The alien from M78 Nebula make amends by giving Hayata his life force and a Beta Capsule that when used will give his super human powers and make him fifty feet tall. Hayata returns to action after his accident with Science Patrol as they take on all monsters who threaten the Earth. Hayata keeps his new found powers a secret and only uses them when there is no other solution.
The following episodes are included with this set. “Break Through the Smoke!”,”The Underground Destruction Work”,”My Home Is Earth”,”The Undersea Science Base”,”Mystery Comet Tsuifon”,”Monster Majesty: Part 1″,”Monster Majesty: Part 2″,”Human Specimens 5 & 6″,”A Challenge to the Underground”,”The Snowy Mountain of Illusions”,”Who Has Come?”,”The Endless Counterattack”,”The Forbidden Words”,”Gift from the Sky”,”The Monster Graveyard”,”Don’t Shoot, Arashi!”,”The Little Hero”,”The Spaceship Rescue Command”,”Farewell, Ultraman!”.
Ultraman was created by legendary Japanese special effects artist Eiji Tsuburaya at the height of the Kajiu phenomena in Japan. The series also borrows from two other anthology series The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits. The stories follow a basic formula each week Science Patrol is faced with a new monster and when things get to hot and heavy in walks Ultraman in the films final minutes to save the day. The stories are all interesting and they all are packed with action filled adventure. There is wackiness and inventiveness in Ultraman that is serious lacking in all modern television series. Ultraman is clearly a product of its time. It epitomizes everything that is great about Sci-Fi television.
The miniature models while primitive by today’s CGI created special effects are pretty impressive and despite their short comings there are more pleasing to the eye then any crappy CGI. The monsters are well done when they are set against a set. They look like a man in a rubber suit when they fight Ultraman. Hayata is some ways is like two other superhero’s Spiderman and Superman. Like Spiderman he accidentally gains his powers and like Superman he has an altar ego as Ultraman. Also his co-workers just like Superman’s are oblivious to the fact that Hayata and Ultraman are the same person despite never being in the same place at the same time.
Overall Ultraman as the series progressed stayed tried and true to the formula that made it successful and these nineteen episodes that make up the later half of season are just as entertaining as the ones that preceded them earlier in season one.
BCI presents Ultraman series one in its original full frame aspect ratio. Colors look nicely saturated and Black levels remain strong as details look sharp through out. Outside of some minor edge enhancement and some very minor ghosting during action sequences these transfers are on par quality wise with BCI’s volume one release of Ultraman. BCI was unable to get access to the shows original masters and despite this I still say the transfer look really good considering that this show is nearly forty years old.
This release comes with two audio options Japanese and English. Both are presented in a Dolby Digital mono. The Japanese language is cleaner of the two mixes. The English audio mix has noticeable hiss throughout. Dialog is clear and easy enough two follow on both audio mixes. BCI was unable to get access to the original soundtrack so the quality while far from perfect it is more then adequate. The show when release din America was cut down for time reasons so not every scene has English. The soundtrack on the English audio mix during these un-dubbed moments’ switches too Japanese and English subtitles appear to help translate the dialog during these moments. This series is best appreciated if you listen to the Japanese language track. Removable English subtitles that are easy to read and follow have been included.
Extras for this release include two collectable cards featuring Ultraman’s foes, an extensive Kajiu (Monster) encyclopedia which details all the monsters that appear in the Ultraman series and a collectable booklet which includes a text piece on The cast and staff members of the Ultraman series and there is also an episode synopsis for all nineteen episodes included with this set.
Ultraman series one volume two makes a great companion piece to BCI’s Ultraman series one volume one and best of all it is available at amore then reasonable suggested retail price, recommended.