Quick Thought: Ultraseven

I just finished watching the second Ultraman series, Ultraseven, and felt I should say at least a little something about it. The goal of my posts is to mostly write about the things I like or find interesting in shows, rather than go negative, so I’ll just mention a few of the issues I had with this series. Overall I was kind of lukewarm about it through most of the run, though I did start to enjoy it more as the later episodes got stranger and more unpredictable.

Predictably was the main problem. Since every episode was about some race of space alien trying to invade Earth, the only potential surprises came from finding out what crazy scheme that week’s bad guys would try to pull off. I wondered a lot about what was so great about Earth that everybody in the galaxy was so keen to come here. There certainly were some very imaginative ideas for these invasions — stealing entire city blocks, making giant robots out of old battleships, microscopic vampire insects, and so on.

The show was clearly taking inspiration from Gerry Anderson’s Thunderbirds, but for all that I admire Tohl Narita’s monster designs, the Ultrahawk aircraft never achieve the personality of the Thunderbirds, which is a problem given how much screen time is devoted to the ships flying around and attacking the alien spacecraft.

My understanding is that Ultraseven was a big hit when in it debuted in 1967 and remains one of the most popular shows in the franchise. I can see they were going for a more straightforward and serious tone than the previous series, yet that often led to some cognitive dissidence with fundamental elements of the premise, such as the bizarre aliens, the crazy schemes, and of course the presence of a size-changing, red-costumed superhero, whose origin, goals, and true nature are never questioned.

I know the different Ultra series all have their own styles and ways to the arrange and present the core concepts they all share, so I’m curious to see where The Return of Ultraman takes things.

For an episode by episode review of Ultraseven, I recommend checking out the write-ups at Scrapbook Infinity.

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