Ultraman (ウルトラマン) | Japan Anime Guide
Ultraman is a live-action superhero in Japan like Superman or Spiderman in the US. It has been more than 50 years since the much-loved series’ start, and it is still continuing today. Ultraman is loved by many Japanese people, so let’s see what the series is about and where the real-life related spots are located!
Outline of Ultraman
The live-action series of Ultraman started broadcasting on TV in 1966. It was made by Tsuburaya Productions which was specialized in tokusatsu (special effects). They made Ultra Q just before Ultraman, which is regarded as the first Ultra series. It was filmed in black and white, and Ultraman was the first super effect TV show in color.
The first Ultraman had 39 episodes and the average audience rate was 36.8% which mearns that it was absolutely successful. It was exported to more than 100 countries. At the same time as it was broadcast, a manga (comic) of Ultraman was published.
The disasters happening in the series are created by space aliens or Kaiju (monsters). Science Patrol members try to solve the problems, but the disasters are always beyond their control. Then Ultraman appears, and saves the earth. Ultraman is a member of the Space Guard from galaxy M78, three million light-years away from the earth.
He accidentally kills Mr Hayato, one of the members of Science Patrol, when he chases a monster. To compensate, Ultraman decides to live as Hayato and fight with aliens and monsters to save the earth. So, he lives as a human being and when he needs to fight, he uses a beta capsule and transforms himself into Ultraman.
Ultraman is 40 meters tall and weighs 35,000 tons. He can run at a speed of 450 km/h and fly at Mach 5, and he is 20,000 years old. He has a strong physical ability and has a lot of special weapons. The most popular one is the Specium Ray. When he crosses his arms, the ray generates. All kids used to imitate this action. He can also do teleportation. His weak point is that he can be Ultraman only for three minutes. For this reason, the blue color timer on his chest shows when time is running out by turning red after 2.5 minutes.
Aliens and Monsters
The aliens and monsters in the story are very unique. While they are bad creatures, they are often still very lovable. Here are 3 popular monster characters;
Alien Baltan: has big scissors like crayfish on his hands with which can easily cut a 20-cm thick iron plate. He appears in several episodes as Ultraman’s strongest rival.
Jamila: this was originally a human astronaut. When he crash-landed on a planet without water, his body accustomed to the circumstances and his skin became like clay. He came back to earth to take revenge on the country that abandoned him.
Pigmon: He is a monster but friendly to humans. He appears in several episodes as a mascot character.
Because the first Ultraman was so successful, they continued making different Ultraman series. Ultra Seven, Return of Ultraman, Ultraman A, Ultraman Leo, and so on. Not only the TV series but also many Ultraman movies have been made and are still made. In 2021, Shin Ultraman will be released. Notably, it was made by combining Hideaki Anno and Shinji Higuchi, the same team that made 2021 smash hit Shin Evangelion.
In 2013, the Ultra Series (including Ultra Q and Captain Ultra) was recorded in the Guinness Book of World Record as the series with most TV spin-off. There were 27 titles at that time.
Ultraman Festival has been held every summer since 1989. They exhibit characters to take pictures with, sell souvenirs, and hold live attractions. Many families visit the festival and both parents and children enjoy it.
Ultraman Shopping Street
Soshigaya Shopping Street in western Tokyo is called Ultraman Shopping Street because there are a lot of Ultraman characters on the street. That is because the area is related to Ultraman. Tsuburaya Production was established near the street in 1963 as well as Toho Movie Studio.
You can see the statue of the Ultraman in front of the station, the Ultraman arches at the entrance of the shopping area, the city lights have Ultraman and monster design, and even the police box is decorated with the face of Ultraman. In some shops you can buy related products. Even if you are not an Ultraman fan, you will enjoy the atmosphere which resembles a theme park.
Ultraman World M78
You can also buy Ultraman goods at the shops Ultraman World M78 or SHOT M78. There are more than 20 shops all over Japan from Hokkaido to Okinawa. If you are in Tokyo, Ultraman World in the Tokyo Character Street at Tokyo Station is easy to access.
There are two Ultraman-themed restaurants, one is in Shinbashi, Tokyo and the other restaurant is in Kawasaki. Actually, they are supposed to be places where Kaiju (monsters) can enjoy eating and drinking without Ultraman.
I visited the shop in Kawasaki in 2016. At the entrance, there was a checkpoint. You first have to stand in front of a special mirror. If they judge that you are a superhero, you cannot enter. There are many characters all over the place. Foods are also Kaiju-themed. It was a lot of fun to spend time with the characters!
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