“Legacy is not leaving something for people, it’s leaving something in people” – Peter Strople.
Netflix’s Ultraman is the latest original anime series produced by Netflix and one of Japan’s acclaimed studios, Production I.G. (Whom are most known for series such as Ghost in the Shell, Haikyuu, Psycho Pass and Kuroko no Basket). In addition to this, it should be noted that it was directed by Kenji Kamiyama whom is most known for having directed the legendary Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex series for Production I.G. in the past. It should also be noted that this anime is an adaptation of the manga of the same name, that was written by Eichi Shimizu in 2011 and most importantly, it should also be noted that this series in itself is a direct sequel to the original Ultraman live-action Tokusatsu television series that aired in Japan from 1966-1967. But to give a little backstory here for those that aren’t aware of the term “Tokusatsu”, to put it simply, Tokusatsu is a Sci-fi, Fantasy or Horror series that makes heavy use of special affects involving things like Kaijuu (Giant Monsters), Mechas (Giant Robots) or Super Sentai series such as Power Rangers for example.
As stated above, Netflix’s Ultraman is a sequel series that takes place roughly 2-3 decades after the events of the original Ultraman televsion series and follows Shinjirou Hayata, the son of the former main protagonist of the series, Shin Hayata. In the original series, Shin Hayata is a member of the secret organization known as the SSSP (Science Special Search Party) who has merged with an alien being to become the hero known as Ultraman in order to save Japan/Earth from the alien invasion of the race known as Zetton which he succeeded in doing. This new series picks up immediately after the events of that series via a recap detailing what happened to Shin and Ultraman once they saved the world, and then it leads into the introduction of Shin’s son followed by his later adventures when taking up the mantle as Ultraman from his father.
The good thing about this series is that you don’t need to have seen the original series in order to follow this one and that if there’s anything from the original series that needs to be touched on, this series does a great job of filling in those blanks for you. And also, due to this being made in 2011, this entry in the franchise ends up pretty much being a more relatable and modern take on the Ultraman series thus making it a lot more enjoyable for not only fans of the original series, but for newcomers as well. In addition to this, the series is moderately paced and in terms of plot progression, it doesn’t shy away from certain reveals and developments that happens throughout the entire thing (Albeit the fact that it leaves us with a good bit of questions that still needs answers, and ends on a cliffhanger which also then leaves a lot of room for future seasons down the line IF Netflix chooses to renew it).
Before I get to the characters, I would like to touch on one of the highlights of this series in my opinion – The animation. This series is completely animated with 3DCG and within the modern anime community, CG in anime is heavily disliked and looked down upon. However, this happens to be one of those rare cases whereas the CG actually looked seamless, and that is because it was also mixed with motion capture. This is a very huge deal because most noticeably during the action scenes, a lot of the movement were so fluid that it honestly looks like you are watching actual people do these stunts and movements right in front of you, and that amount of detail goes a long way when it comes to the future of animation. And speaking of action, there are plenty scenes filled with action that are choreographed so well, that a lot of the fight scenes end up being quite epic, flashy and unique almost every single time.
I could speak a lot on characters such as Shinichirou, Dan Moroboshi, Mr. Ide, Mr. Endo and the mysterious Bemular, but I would be doing you all a disservice by saying too much on these characters since like the plot, there are a lot of twists and turns that comes with them. What I will say however, is that the series does something very interesting whereas, instead of having these characters solely focus on their own personal morals, there are times where these characters (Due to them pretty much being super-humans) find themselves in situations whereas their biggest problem is holding back against weaker foes which in itself is pretty interesting to see rather than the typical is it morally okay to kill these aliens (Which does pop up once the stronger sets of foes start to appear). Moreover, one of the biggest themes in this series is lgeacy, and the legend of Ultraman is not only something that defines and drives most of the main cast, but it’s also something that has heavily impacted Japan in such a way that the mere mention of Ultraman is something that is influential and of great importance. But be that as it may, there are some flaws in this department whether or not it’s certain characters’ motivations being randomly unclear and selfish to some characters not being fleshed out as much as the others (Like with Dan, whom also hails from an old Ultramen series from 1967 called Ultra Seven).
In conclusion, Netflix’s Ultraman is Tokusatsu at its finest, and due to its dynamic and fluid animation, coupled with its mysterious yet enjoyable plot and diverse and mysterious cast of characters, this series delivered on almost every front, despite some flaws in the character work, some lazy and very similar character designs and a few plot lines and character backstories/allegiances being left unexplained.
“Shinjiro Hayata, son of Shin Hayata, who was the first Ultraman, has a natural special power. One day, Shinjiro was attacked by unknown enemies. Ultraman saved the day, and unmasked himself to show Shinjiro that he was his father. Wearing an Ultraman suit provided by Mr. Ide, formerly a member of the SSSP (Science Special Search Party), Shinjiro throws down the gauntlet and helps his father. Then the real battle commences.”
All 13 episodes of Netflix’s Ultraman is now available for streaming worldwide on Netflix.