Monday, October 5, 2009

Ultrabox of Ultraman

There are times when I can't pass up a bargain. When something gets too cheap I'll be tempted to buy it even if it's something that may not fully interest me. This problem most recently struck me when I came across a DVD box of the entire first season of Ultraman for $10.99 USD. I can't even say I'm a fan of Ultraman but it was sixteen hours worth of Ultraman for a bit over ten bucks. How could I say no to that?

Having established that I have no willpower what am I supposed to do with 960 minutes worth of Ultraman? That's a butt-load of Ultraman to sit through. Since I'm now the proud(?) owner of thirty-something episodes of Ultraman I figured I should watch a few so I could not only get the gist of the show but so I could have something to post here.

I should look up who was responsible for this show [geez, I just started this blog and I'm already getting lazy with these reviews] but it's obviously from the fine folks at Toho's monster section since it has that mid-sixties Godzilla vibe going on. While the monsters are the main draw you can tell the creators are putting their hearts into the creations of the models. The camera lovingly lingers over tiny buildings or miniature vehicles that have fireworks and flares spitting out the back to simulate jet propulsion. I get the feeling the people making Ultraman would have been perfectly happy to let the show be nothing more than thirty minutes of little rocket planes spinning around on wires.

Even the regular cast come across more like pieces of the set than characters in their own right. The heroes of the show are supposed to be part of some sort of world-wide scientific anti-monster squad, or something like that. The narrator tried to explain what their job was at one point but it the exposition got a little out of control. Whatever it is they do, their main duty seems to be to run around in these adorably dorky matching orange jump suits that come accessorized with neckties. If an episode I watched is to be believed they even sleep together in bunk beds in a dormitory side-room of their super-science headquarters. Nobody tunes into a giant monster show for the humans but in the few episodes I've seen I've found this team to be oddly endearing in how they simultaneously act like adults and children living in a club house.

Speaking of children, I should say that I find most of the humans endearing with the exception of the kid that shows up. Yes, Ultraman is another one of those shows that features some boy in short pants and a cap who seemingly has unlimited access to government buildings. What is with this character type? Did Japanese children actually identify with these snot nosed brats back in the day? The only thought that comes to mind when I see him show up on the screen is that I hope he wanders a bit too close to the death ray the monster of the week is spitting out.

Since I brought up the monsters I should get to what it is that people would tune into Ultraman for in the first place: what is the monster going to do in this episode and when is Ultraman going to show up and beat it to death? Perhaps it is due to the brevity of a thirty minute television format but Ultraman is brutally direct when it comes to dealing with opponents. In one episode I think he committed genocide on an entire race of aliens because one of their representatives got on his nerves. In another episode Ultraman took to pounding on this monster in such a lopsided battle that I began to feel sorry for the poor creature. After bashing it so badly that pieces were literally falling off the monster's body, Ultraman went for an hysterical level of overkill and blasted the beast to pieces with a laser built into his forearm. The people watching the fight seemed thrilled by the outcome even though I'm not certain if the huge pile of smoldering monster chunks was really that much of an improvement. When Ultraman starts doing his thing it's violent, loopy and totally lacking in any sort of socially redeeming values. Yeah, it's awesome.

So while I don't know if I need this DVD set or this much Ultraman in my life I'm nevertheless glad it's there. In the complicated world we live in there are times when we all wish that problems could be solved thanks to the help of a giant guy with a robotic fish face.

1 comment:

  1. Your review lacked one thing: the Beavis & Butthead Binary Theory of Opposition. Did it totally rule or did it suck worse than anything has ever sucked before?