From what I can gather the Ultraman festival is an annual event sponsored by Tsuburaya Productions for fans of the Ultra family. The festival includes a live stage show featuring the various Ultra heroes fighting an army of monsters and interacting with the audience. Just forget everyone is oddly human-sized. This takes place in Japan and to my knowledge they don’t do this elsewhere. It would be like the BBC sponsoring a Doctor Who festival in Japan. It’s probably not happening.
The official Ultraman YouTube channel has a subtitled version of 2018’s stage show. I don’t know why it’s the only one, but I thought I had already posted it here for a Saturday Night Showcase. I was going to link to it in last night’s Art Of Storytelling discussion on plays, so this isn’t going to be a trend of following an AOS article with a sample in SNS. However, since I haven’t posted it and it’s a good fit why not do so tonight? This highlights the use of virtual sets and how they use the video walls to showcase the energy blast powers of the various Ultramen. It also shows how the play manages to get the audience involved, and since kids make up the majority of the audience this is a very good thing.
Ultra Live Stage for 2018 actually features two adventures but they do tie together. The first story has the studio audience visiting the Land Of Light, where they meet some of the latest Ultra Heroes of the time as well as an Ultrawoman scientist who has created a device that can turn cheers into light energy the heroes need. (It makes more sense when she describes it.) It will be put to the test when the visit is interrupted by evil monsters. The second has a group out for revenge against the champions of Nebula M-78, which will also bring in the audience and their magic cheer power. Now the video itself is in Japanese, but there are subtitles if you turn on the closed caption settings on the player, for those of us English-speakers who don’t understand Japanese. The songs are not translated, like in the previous official Ultraman videos, but at least you can follow the story and cheer on our heroes. Enjoy!
One negative I have to note is the intro. It’s not a bad intro but the audience has to pretend they didn’t see it and not warn the Ultra Heroes that a bad guy is around, yet for the rest of the show they are essentially part of the story. At least when the Ninja Turtles Coming Out Of Our Shell stage show did the same thing the Turtles don’t believe the audience that Shredder was just mucking with freezing time or whatever it was they were doing. Plus we have a kids production (or family at least) where a dude snaps an Ultrawoman’s neck and stabs a bunch of others? Not cool, Alien Empera! However, the fights are really good and the “Ultra Flash” allows the kids to save their own heroes. I also like how they project the environment and energy blasts on the walls as well as the platforms facing the audience. Even Zog’s costume was designed to be projected on. There has to be some good choreography to make like the monsters are being blown up or the nameless Ultra Warriors taken down.
Part two is immediately interrupted by the Magma siblings, out to conquer Earth because for a backwater planet we’re awfully popular.
The first part had the better story but part two had the better battles. Not that story 2 had a bad story, as it explored the sibling relationship between hero and villain alike. However the first one had higher stakes and was more interactive. The second one however had the larger monster, a whole squad of baddies to fight, and Ultraman Tiga getting to show off sky and power types thanks again to the projections. Both were fun and the only reason I’m sorry I didn’t see it in person is that I wouldn’t understand the language. It was nice of Tsuburaya to include captioned subtitles. I wish they did that for ALL their Ultraman postings.