The Ultraman franchise continues flying to new heights this season, as Tsuburaya Productions announces the arrival of the first animated title for the long-running superhero brand since 1980. We recently discussed possibilities for the mysterious countdown leading up to this announcement, courtesy of the eponymous manga series published in the pages of Shogakukan’s Monthly Hero magazine, guessing (among other things) that there could be an anime adaptation of the popular comic in our future. And now, we have the first official teaser video to confirm it.
Beginning in 1966, the giant monster-fighting Ultraman wowed audiences with its live-action special effects wizardry and imaginative action, giving birth to a lineage that endures to this day, where dozens of new entries into the saga have carried across the generations, adding to the massive tapestry of the Ultra Series.
The last time Ultraman ventured into the world of animation long-term was with the series simply called The*Ultraman, featuring its own unique characters battling kaiju to protect the innocent. This new venture takes a decidedly different approach, adapting the exploits depicted in Shimizu Eiichi and Shimoguchi Tomohiro’s manga story. The series invites us into a world focusing squarely on the aftermath of the original ’66 series, in which none of the later live-action stories took place but modern society still feels the effects of the alien giant’s arrival all those years prior.
Viz Media‘s manga synopsis for Volume 1 follows:
Shinjiro is an ordinary teenager, but his father is the legendary Shin Hayata. When he learns that his father passed on the “Ultraman Factor” to him and that he possesses incredible powers, nothing will ever be the same again.
As the teaser makes quite clear, this new project will employ a 3D animation style. I’ve never been the biggest fan of that particular choice, but it’s growing more in popularity all the time, and has notably been used recently with Toho’s launch of the animated Godzilla film trilogy, starting with this year’s Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters. It’s a brave new world for tokusatsu properties with a CG anime twist, so the doubters and naysayers may have to step aside or be swept away by cosmic beams before it’s all said and done. For the time being, this style isn’t going anywhere.
At the end of the day, what matters most is the story. And, as someone who has dabbled in Shimizu and Shimoguchi’s loving continuation of the original series, I can say that the anime has plenty of exciting material to work from. Though some who are searching for a direct comparison to the kaiju combat stylings of the typical live-action offerings may need to brace themselves. The manga offers plenty of action, but the new lead character’s power set differs greatly from that of his legendary father, and the opposing monsters are not often of the skyscraper-sized variety. Nonetheless, those who remember the Ultra Series’ first steps into the realm of transforming heroes, or those who are simply looking for something cool to watch, may find themselves thoroughly entertained by this new piece.
The animated Ultraman drops sometime in 2019. Until then, we await more details with baited breath.
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