The land is plentiful with rich fruit from the seeds that Tsuburaya Productions has planted this year, as they continue releasing more gems from their vast vault of voluminous vindicators. As we gear up for another entry in the enduring Ultraman live-action franchise with the upcoming Ultraman R/B, we have another piece of kaiju history in Ultraman USA.
Some may know this title best as Ultraman: The Adventure Begins, the anime film that struck while the iron was hot, with American audiences jonesing for some of that anime goodness in the 1980s. Not the first Japanese animated Ultraman piece nor the last, The Adventure Begins serves as an interesting stepping stone along the extensive map this franchise has traveled through the decades. Between 1979’s The☆Ultraman and the new Ultraman manga adaptation readying for its 2018 debut, there’s quite a lot of ground to cover. The Adventure Begins marks one of several fascinating crossover points between this eastern staple and the international audience it hoped to appeal to. Likewise, it’s one of the few instances where a female Ultra enjoys some prominence in this boy-dominated starscape.
Tsuburaya and Hanna-Barbera’s original plan was to create a full-fledged series based on the characters of the story, but when things didn’t pan out, the completed work was salvaged as the feature film presentation it ultimately became known as.
Animated by Ashi Productions, the story followed three American stunt pilots after their rescue from a devastating incident that should have killed them. Instead, they became the hosts of alien warriors, giving them the ability to become the Ultra Force. Scott Masterson, Chuck Gavin, and Beth O’Brien become Ultraman Scott, Ultraman Chuck, and Ultraman Beth (so it’s easy enough to remember) when the world is threatened by dangerous Sorkin Beasts (because their dialogue is really snappy, one assumes) the size of skyscrapers. Chaotic, monster-fighting giant hero action ensues.
While their influence in the grand scheme of things isn’t world-shaking, Tsuburaya was never one to waste a good set of suits, so Scott, Chuck, and Beth were made use of as part of stage shows and have enjoyed brief appearances across the multiversal canon of the Ultra Series.
We wonder if, after so many more years of experience with the Ultraman brand, if Tsuburaya might one day take another crack at the American market with another unique beast like Ultraman USA, whether animated or the more traditional (and more preferred by yours truly) live-action. One can only hope. In the meantime, fans can enjoy another peak into the vault and dream of what comes next.
Ultraman: The Adventure Begins (aka Ultraman USA) is available September 26, 2018 with both the Japanese and English language versions included.
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