Typically the Ultraman franchise comes from Japan, as it was created by Tsuburaya Productions. However, there are three shows created for a foreign audience. Australia’s Ultraman: Towards The Future may be the more well known, and was a previous Saturday Night Showcase entry. My introduction to the franchise was an animated co-production with Hanna-Barbera called Ultraman: The Adventure Begins, a failed pilot for a full series put in movie form. Then you have tonight’s entry that you many not have heard of, Ultraman: The Ultimate Hero.
Known in Japan as Ultraman Powered, and still considered canon like the other two I mentioned, the show follows the American based group WINR (the name makes as much sense as the 25 other giant monster fighting groups in Japan in the Ultraman universe) as Kenchi Kai, as the only Japanese descendant in the group, is forced to merge with a new Ultraman to battle an alien invasion. To me the show is most notable for the team captain, Russel Edlund, as he’s played by Harrison Page, who also played the put-upon police captain on Sledge Hammer, one of my favorite shows.
The show was co-produced with Steppin Stone Entertainment, formerly Major Havoc Entertainment. As to why this never got a US release, they couldn’t find a distributor. The show’s fight scenes aren’t bad but slow thanks to the way the costumes were designed, with different materials being used that were a bit more fragile than the ones Tsuburaya uses but do admittedly look pretty good. Ultraman Powered had it’s first home video release in 1993 and aired on TV in 1995, and is the 11th entry in the Ultra Series. Ultraman Powered (just going by Ultraman in the US version, like his Australian counterpart, Ultraman Great.) Powered would go on to appear in one of the team-up movies along with the Hanna-Barbera version (in live-action suits of course) and in other media.)
In the first episode Earth is under attack and for once Japan isn’t the target. Apparently this has been going on for a while but the planet is about to get help from Nebula M78, because what would we do without those guys?
A better intro did come along later. Both have a logo reveal inspired by the logo reveal from the first Ultraman TV series, which also appeared on Saturday Night Showcase but all related videos are down now and I don’t remember what was there. I’ll have to look into it.
It’s too bad this show didn’t air on US TV. I would have liked it.