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Category:    Home > Reviews > Action > Adventure > Science Fiction > Horror > Camp > Giant Monsters > Superhero > Japan > TV > Ultraman – Series One, Volume Two

Ultraman – Series One, Volume Two


Picture: C+     Sound: C+     Extras: B-     Episodes: B



The last 19 episodes of the original (and only) Ultraman has arrived and they are as strong as the first half of the series and as remembered.  To recap, the story follows The Science Patrol, an important Japanese institution on the frontline of discovering the latest breakthroughs and threats to the country.  One day, when a mysterious space ship is traveling the land.  The particularly alert and ambitious Hayata tails the ship, which leads to an accident that kills him.  However, the ship from Nebula M-78 contains a superior alien force who accepts full responsibility for the accident to the extent that he sacrifices his life to Hayata so he can live.  Furthermore, when the threat becomes too deadly and dangerous he will be able to turn himself into this noble alien and become known as the powerful, skillful, kinetic fighter Ultraman.


He does this by pressing a giant space capsule (looking like a large fountain pen, sort of) to transform and his ability to use or not use it adds to some scenes of suspense.  When full size, the only catch is that Ultraman gets his power from the sun (like Superman) but runs out of strength quickly in earth’s atmosphere, so an alarm goes off in his chest (like Iron Man) and he needs to break free and reenergize to defeat any alien or prehistoric threat he takes on.  The show has one of Godzilla’s producers to the point the original Godzilla costume (not so cleverly disguised with a gill of some sort) even takes on the hero in an episode.  The result was the first Japanese export to be a big international hit and a series that became the foundation for Japanese action TV and Animé as we know it.  Often imitated and even revived, it has never been topped, though the remarkable Shaw Brothers Super Inframan (reviewed elsewhere on this site) was the ultimate response to the show and giant monster mania a few years after the wild Destroy All Monsters.


BCI Eclipse has issued these remaining shows on three more DVDs in convenient slender cases and like Kolchak: The Night Stalker, this is a series that was far from out of steam when it ended its classic run and it was a bigger hit in its time. 


The 1.33 X 1 image is once again a mixed bag of good color, classic giant rubber suits, interesting color and prints that lack some detail variously throughout.  I had still hoped for a bit more detail than we got here, but these are still very watchable and these should do fine until HD versions arrive.  The Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono comes for the first time here with the original Japanese audio and the classic, beloved original English dub with the same voice cast that dubbed the original (and only) animated Speed Racer.  The combination is fine for its age, but BCI Eclipse is doing HD-DVD and this series should be one of its top candidates.  Also be sure to catch the optional English subtitles, since they are different from the English dub and very, very interesting alternatives to the dialogue and note that there is no defect in your discs when Japanese is suddenly subtitled as you watch.


That is extra footage never dubbed by the original English voice actors, but shows you the efforts BCI put into making this a nice set.  Extras include a nice full color, eight page illustrated booklet with excellent essay and episode guide for this set, stills section explaining all the monsters dubbed Kajiu (monster) Encyclopedia and two collectible cards featuring Ultraman's foes.  That repeats extras from the last set, but is less than that set.  You can read more about the first set and Super Inframan at the following links:









-   Nicholas Sheffo


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