In this episode, Rob and Don do an overview of the Japanese media titan Ultraman, delving into the concepts behind the series, doing an overview of Ultraman’s long history, and talking about their personal connections to the character. All this, and a trip into the world of 80’s independent television, are waiting for you in this episode of the Department of Nerdly Affairs
Note- I had a few Mic issues with this one, sorry about the quality of the recording on my side. Also, this is our largest episode to date, but we just couldn’t get Ultraman any smaller!
Closing Music: Ode to Joy performed by Oliver Eckelt
The Ultra Series
Johnny Sokko and his Flying Robot
Barnaby (Linn Sheldon)
Channel 20 Detroit
Channel 29 Buffalo
Channel 43 Cleveland
Ultraman Pepsi (Cosmos)
Thai Ultraman Licensing
Ultraman in Popular Culture
Ultraman Episode One(Original Series, English Dub)
Ultra 7 Episodes in English (YouTube playlist)
Ultraman Ace episode 1 (Malaysian English Dub)
Ultraman the Anime, Episode One (English dubbed)
Ultraman: The Adventure Begins (Full animated film by Hanna Barbera)
Ultraman: Towards the Future Episode 1 (Australian Ultraman)
Ultraman: The Ultimate Hero Ep 1. (American Ultraman)
Ultraman TIGA Episode 1 (English Subbed, if you’ve never seen Ultraman before, this is a good spot to start.)
Ultraman Dyna Episode 1 (English Subbed)
Ultraman Cosmos Episode 1 (English Subbed)
Ultraman Nexus (Series Playlist, English subbed.)
Ultraman Mebius (Series Playlist, English Subbed.)
Crunchyroll (which currently has 7 different Ultra series up for viewing with English subtitles, including Ultraman Gaia, Ultraman Leo, Ultraman 80, Ultraman Max, and the most recent shows, you need a premium account to see them, but can get a free two-week trial.)
>we just couldn’t get Ultraman any smaller
HAW! And we left a LOT out. Notably:
I wish Ultraman would stop staring at me with those dead, dead eyes.
The more I listen to these extremely well detailed shows on Japanese classics like Pokemon, and Ultraman, the more crazed I get about this.
The thing that drives me crazy is that all the multiple series seem to be about the same thing. “Let’s use the title and the basic idea and forget about any actual rational sense or continuity these shows make.”
I loved Voltron as a kid, but got frustrated and annoyed when they had three different ones that had really no connection. It was like “Look, we have this amazing robot idea and we can just come up with a bunch of monsters to fight. No need to make sense of any of it.”
How does this become a thing? I had to laugh though when Rob went on about the stilted acting of the American version. Really? Pot. Kettle?
Okay, my frustration is spent. Especially now that I know you got so much more television opportunities than I did too Don! No fair!
How about a show on the Krantz Films. I mean, if we’re going to talk about geeky things Canadians got, we have to go with Rocket Robin Hood and Spider-man!
(Also can you stop the comments from timing out so fast? I never get to post on the first go!)
>I wish Ultraman would stop staring at me with those dead, dead eyes.
HE CAN SEE YOUR SOUL!!!!
>all the multiple series seem to be about the same thing. “Let’s use the title and the basic idea and forget about any actual rational sense or continuity these shows make.”
Well…. you’re not wrong, but you’re not right, but you’re not wrong. The Ultra shows tend to use a technique a lot of action stuff does: you have a core premise, which you stick to…. and a basic formula, that you at least start with each time…. and then you rearrange the fiddly-bits. For the Ultra shows it’s the monsters. Kinda like how N. American superhero stories are almost always about the villains. The hero doesn’t really change, the circumstance either; but the bad guys are where the plot and drama come from.
What the Ultra shows do…. and a lot of Japanese and European stuff as well…. is to have an overall theme playing in the background. So, Ultraman was about the weird mysteries of the universe, Ultraman Gaia was about humanity’s relation with the Earth, Ultraseven was about how tasty humanity was for aliens…. Not that EVERY episode had the underlying theme at play, but enough did that it was discernible.
Again; not unlike how a N. American superhero’s bad guys tend to follow a loose theme or idea. Batman fights a lot of axe murderer psychos, Spiderman’s foes tend to be mobsters and mercs…. people who use THEIR abilities for personal gain. A lot of the Hulk’s foes are also victims of technology. It helps to differentiate the characters and express their theme.
…. which is another reason I think the Ultraman/Superman comparison is apt.
>“Look, we have this amazing robot idea and we can just come up with a bunch of monsters to fight. No need to make sense of any of it.”
Hmmmm. That’s kinda what I liked about it. Voltron is an odd case though, ‘cos it was chopped up pretty bad so’s to make it more palatable to a N. American audience. (In the original, Sven STAYS dead.) It’s also two different series smooshed together.
>I had to laugh though when Rob went on about the stilted acting of the American version. Really? Pot. Kettle?
You don’t like Rob’s acting?
>How about a show on the Krantz Films. I mean, if we’re going to talk about geeky things Canadians got, we have to go with Rocket Robin Hood and Spider-man!
That’d be a good one, and we DO have a foray into tv cartoons coming up very soon…. The Krantz stuff is important…. it’s where Bakshi got his start as I recall…. but it’s tricky to find info on. (Other than a few anecdotes I heard from a friend of a friend that amounted to “everyone hated working there ‘cos they were total taskmasters.”)
The sad thing about Canadian nerdly arts in general is that a lot of them get sucked into American companies. It’s a shame ‘cos we do things a bit differently from everyone else. My all time fave movie is a Canadian nerdly production:
One weird bit: I am SSSSOOOOO surprised nobody’s licensed “Rocket Robin Hood” for a remake.
Well, in fairness, some of these shows like Ultraman were done in an era of purely episodic TV, where once something was off the air nobody was going to see it again except in re-runs, so TV was more of an event. (So making more of the same wasn’t such a big deal.) However, the Japanese have gone a little nuts with the whole “stripmining a franchise to death” thing with their endless Gundam and Pokemon reboots.
You’re confusing Voltron with Robotech. Voltron was originally going to be 3 different series (Golion, Dairugger 15, and Albegas) jammed together, but they only ended up doing two of the planned three (Golion and Dairugger (Vehicle Voltron)). Robotech, on the other hand, was made up of three shows, but they had a lot better continuity and made a lot more sense.
Well, the Japanese shows are fairly well acted, in Japanese. (Although it varies a lot with each series.) Watch an episode of Ultraman: The Ultimate Hero from the show notes and then get back to me on the quality of the show. 🙂 It’s like they got a bunch of Daytime Soap Opera actors to do it.
You at least got 29 from Buffalo! (Didn’t you?)
We’ll be doing one on TV animation over the Summer, and this will be part of it.
What do you mean? When you’re trying to reply it times out on you?
>Japanese have gone a little nuts with the whole “stripmining a franchise to death” thing with their endless Gundam and Pokemon reboots.
We do the same. How many “Scooby Doo” variants have there been over the years?
>You’re confusing Voltron with Robotech.
THERE’S a phrase you don’t hear every day. Even though the third Voltron was never done, there WAS merch from it. U remember seeing the toys and wondering if we’d missed a season.
> Robotech, on the other hand, was made up of three shows, but they had a lot better continuity and made a lot more sense.
Mostly. Although everyone really only remembers Macross, and the Cyclones….
>the Japanese shows are fairly well acted, in Japanese. (Although it varies a lot with each series.)
That’s a big part of it. Japanese as a language works NOTHING like English, so there are a lot of ideas that don’t translate so good, and N. America has an obsession with eliminating flap…. making the mouth and dialogue synch. That’s a big part of why the acting is so bad; they stretch out ideas and lines to better match the mouth movements, and it doesn’t always work.
I actually didn’t get into Robotech. There was Voltron of the Far Universe and Near Universe I think. I just remember one had cars and one had lions putting together. I always thought there were supposed to be three, but maybe I was wrong that way.
And yes, every time I try to post, the comment tells me I have to go back and reload the page because it times out 🙁
Fair criticism about watching in the original Japanese as opposed to the dubbed.
I’ll have to think about Don’s comparison to Super heroes. The way you made it sound, is that even the people who make up Ultraman are different each series too.
I think if Batman started off in Gotham, had his parents murdered to become Batman, but then next series, he was from Japan and his parents were still alive, and he fought ghosts coming through a time portal, and then the third series Batman was never on Earth but born on a battle station and flew a space fighter to protect Earth from aliens, people would get a little upset.
We see all kinds of variations of Batman like the first digital comic Batman where he’s supposed to be literally a computer programme fighting viruses, and where he’s in the Old West, or 19th Century Gotham by Gaslight. But those aren’t meant to be anything other than special outside of the time line editions. Whenever superheroes have been rebooted there’s been an attempt to either entirely rewrite their history (like Earth 1’s Green Lantern for example) or purposefully change all heroes in the universe to make a purposeful change (like the Ultimate series)
And it just did it again: “Error: Time limit is exhausted. Please enter CAPTCHA value again. Click the BACK button on your browser, and try again.” If I didn’t copy my text, I’d lose it by refreshing.
Ahh! I see, you’re talking about Gladiator Voltron, the planned third series which they didn’t do because the Vehicle Voltron series flopped. There were ads for it on the other Voltron toys, which is probably where you know that there were supposed to be three series.
“Lion Force Voltron” was also known as “Voltron of the Far Universe,” and “Vehicle Voltron” was known as “Voltron of the Near Universe.” This left “Gladiator Voltron” to be known as, you guessed it, “Voltron of the Middle Universe.” So I guess if you count by universe distance instead of season number then sure, Voltron II makes sense.
They sort’ve are. There’s some carryover between production crews, but I think most of them are different people.
This is a valid point. Although I’d say it’s more about a style of production. American comics are meant to be perpetual, whereas Japanese shows are finite with clear beginnings, middles and ends. Even Ultraman series all have clear endings, so they need to reboot a bit every time they do it. It’s a bit like Dr. Who, where while there’s supposedly no change in continuity or setting, each Doctor’s run has a wildly different tone and style to it (or Tones and Styles, if they change showrunners partway through!) to keep it fresh.
This is because they’re afraid to make major changes that will alienate fans, so they do half-assed reboots of the main lines which change some details but not everything, or they do completely alternative timeline versions. (Which are essentially what the Japanese are doing, The Ultimate and 2099 lines were basically the same as doing alternate versions of Ultraman or Gundam, the originals were still there, but these were alternate takes on it.) Actually, Pokemon is following the American model! They re-arrange the deck chairs each season of the show as a soft reboot, but don’t actually take the plunge into restarting the show from scratch.
So, I tracked down what’s going on. This was a “quirk” of the CAPTCHA plugin, which was just giving people 15 minutes to comment unless they were logged in members. Why was it doing this? Because if site owners upgrade to the Platinum Paid Version, then they can make that “quirk” go away! The irony is, it’s a sales gimmick that they didn’t actually tell the people installing the software about, so people like me had no idea it was there until people complained and we went through the detailed documentation. Anyhow, I got rid of that Captcha software and replaced it with something free which shouldn’t interfere. Thanks for letting me know about the problem!
>There were ads for it on the other Voltron toys, which is probably where you know that there were supposed to be three series.
They DID release toys for it. I remember the three robots that you kinda stacked their torsos on top of each other to make the new Voltron. It was…. er….
>I think if Batman started off in Gotham, had his parents murdered to become Batman, but then next series, he was from Japan and his parents were still alive, and he fought ghosts coming through a time portal, and then the third series Batman was never on Earth but born on a battle station and flew a space fighter to protect Earth from aliens, people would get a little upset.
Mmmmmaaayyybbbeeee…. In Japan and Europe there’s more of a tendency to do stories with an end; or at least in complete chapter form. So you’ll have a story that’ll run for a while, then come to an end and maybe that’s it, or maybe they do another part that continues some time after the last. But they’re all self-contained. Even when they don’t do comics like this,. there’s more of a tendency to have actual consequence and progression than our stuff. So Judge Dredd has a big event every year, and in the story that event happens and the fallout continues for some time. Our stuff tends to have huge events that sort of go away until someone dusts off an element from them and brings it back.
>We see all kinds of variations of Batman like the first digital comic Batman where he’s supposed to be literally a computer programme fighting viruses, and where he’s in the Old West, or 19th Century Gotham by Gaslight. But those aren’t meant to be anything other than special outside of the time line editions.
That’s closer to how something like Ultraman works. Except there isn’t a “main” story that continues on, and occasionally they’ll have the old ones bump into the new.
>Whenever superheroes have been rebooted there’s been an attempt to either entirely rewrite their history (like Earth 1’s Green Lantern for example) or purposefully change all heroes in the universe to make a purposeful change (like the Ultimate series)
You have to remember that “continuity” wasn’t a big deal until MAYBE the 60’s; mid 80’s for sure, post Crisis. So characters would change all the time, but there wasn’t a big deal placed on it. Marvel started the idea of a single continuing storyline for each character, but even then they’d run into hiccups. Mostly due to time, and the idea of linking their stories into the real world.
The Silver Age happened ‘cos the folks at DC decided to revamp their entire line. Hence Green Lantern no longer having a magic ring, but instead becoming a Lensman rip. There was no fanfare involved, until “The Flash of Two Worlds” (which I believe was issue 123, or thereabouts) when they decided to explain the differences by bringing in the idea of alternate worlds.
>This is because they’re afraid to make major changes that will alienate fans, so they do half-assed reboots of the main lines which change some details but not everything, or they do completely alternative timeline versions.
Part of the problem is that the characters are tied up in a LOT of licensing, and you can’t change the comics too much for fear of conflicting with the toys. tv shows and movies…. which are where the REAL money is. Even back in the day when the characters were marketed out the wazoo, the comics were independent of the merch producers. The writers could still do what they thought was right by the character regardless of what products were coming out. (So you wouldn’t see a neon pink “Ninja Force Techno-armour Batman” in the comic.) The same still holds true (mostly) in Europe and Britain, and in Japan when the comics got farmed out for movies and tv it was usually the creator who owned the production company. At least for the biggies; and everyone else sort of followed suit. (Probably why a Japanese comic being made into a tv show is usually more true to the source than our stuff.)