Besides his work in the early years of the Godzilla franchise, Eiji Tsuburaya’s most famous work is the Ultraman series, which is still produced by Tsuburaya Productions. My first exposure to the Ultraverse was a co-production with Hanna-Barbera called Ultraman: The Adventure Begins, an animated movie that sounds like it could be a series pilot, but the ending feels final. My next exposure is tonight’s SNT. Who says they all have to be fanfilms?
Ultraman: Towards the Future is another co-production, this time with an Australian company as obvious by the accents, and I do find Aussie accents dang sexy on a woman. 🙂 In this series we meet Jack Shindo, an agent of UMA (the Universal Multipurpose Agency, and I didn’t know that until the Wiki entry, so that could end up being wrong), who is merged with Ultraman, an alien from Nebula M78. Together with the rest of the UMA team, they first battled the Gudis lifeform that was the enemy of Ultraman. Later episodes turned into a Captain Planet series. Once all remnants of the Gudis was defeated, the monsters were now a result of man’s misuse of the enviroment. As it is, Ultraman can only retain his form for 3 minutes because of the polution in our atmosphere. Don’t hold it against the show, though, as it’s good for any Kaiju fan.
If you’re having trouble getting this fullscreen like I am (I’m not sure if Vodpod is at fault or Joost), try going to the Joost website (link here) and you can see the rest of the “Gudas” arc.
[Update: 8/21/2010> Joost no longer carries the video, as it has moved to Hulu.com. So see the series here.]
[Update: 11/22/2019: Hulu doesn’t do the posting thing anymore. I had to go elsewhere for this sample. I think it’s available on home video.]
This isn’t the only live-action Ultra Series to be made in English. The original Ultraman series, and the sequel Ultra 7, were both dubbed by different companies years before, and later series Ultraman Tiga was dubbed by 4Kids Entertainment. The original was recently released on DVD, and Tiga episodes are also available. Additionally, Harvey’s “Nemesis” imprint made a spin-off Towards the Future, featuring a replacement for Shindo in the form of a retired soldier. (Other Ultra comics were also produced or dubbed by Dark Horse and Viz Comics.) It’s all worth checking out.