Greetings and salutations, my fellow dudes, dudettes, Kaiju and Tokusatsu lovers! With all the love and attention the Ultraman franchise is getting as of late, what with the second season of the Netflix anime finally available for streaming. But that’s not the main point of this post, rather, we’re here to take a gander at Tsuburaya’s upcoming movie, Shin Ultraman!
You’ve probably heard of this movie for some time now, as it was meant to coincide with the franchise’s 55th anniversary, with the movie originally meant to release in the summer of 2021, but was forced to delay due to Covid restrictions. Thankfully, the movie will eventually see the light of day in just a couple weeks’ time, and set for a May 13th release.
What’s more interesting about the movie is that it is a part of the Shin Japan Heroes Universe, which consist of Shin Kaman Rider, Shin Godzilla, and Evangalion.
Production for the film began in early 2019, with the creator of Neon Genesis Evangelion’s Hideaki Anno producing and writing for the film, and it should be noted that he had previously written and co-directed the Shin Godzilla movie. While directing duties fell to Hideaki’s long-time partner and colleague, Shinji Higuchi, who he has worked with in previous Shin movie reboots also. He has been credited for his works in anime, both animated and live-actions films like Kill La Kill and Sinking of Japan respectively. Besides that, Higuchi is well known in the Japanese film industry as one the country’s top special effects supervisors, so do expect some amazing SFX spectacle in the movie.
Taking on the role of the titular hero’s human persona, Shinji Kaminaga, fell to actor and model Takumi Saitoh. The character had previously made a cameo appearance in the Shin Godzilla movie. Aiding him on his quest is Hiroki Asami who will be portrayed by actress Masami Nagasawa, she will serve as the female lead in the film. Additionally, other cast members include Daiki Arioka, Akari Hayami, and Tetsuji Tanaka.
For the film, the designers went for a more classic approach as oppose to the more modern Ultraman designs which have gimmicks in mind, and meant to sold as toys to children. A clear contrast to the more recent manga and anime suits which are more mechanical and angular, this new suit evokes of that worn back in the early 1960’s with the suit closely resembling of a strong man in spandex- much like the original. The suit is not free from criticism though, as the iconic timer on Ultraman’s chest has been removed entirely and has irked longtime fans. Judging from the trailer, Ultraman seems to be completely done in CG (a la Ryan Reynolds’ Green Lantern suit), so the classic black dots in the eyes are absent too- this is a nice improvement.
Besides the suit, Ultraman’s henshin device has also been given a makeover. Like the original Beta Capsule used by the original Ultraman, Shin Hayata, this modern one takes inspiration from what had came before. The device is still shaped in cylindrical rod with an activation button at the center and a red jewel at the top portion. This is maybe due to make the device look more realistic and less toy-ish for moden audiences. Although, this new design makes the device does somewhat resemble a Lightsaber in Star Wars or a Deneuralyzer from the Men in Black movies.
Despite certain criticism over the redesigns, Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy director, James Gunn, a known Tokusatsu fan, took to Twitter to show his approval of the movie. So, if this movie is enough to wow a Hollywood director, that’s high praise!
According to Wikipedia, the premise of the movie is about how Japan is constantly under the threat of giant aliens kaijus bent on invading the planet, known as “S-Class Species.” To combat this, the Japanese government forms the S-Class Species Suppression Protocol (a play on the original series’ Science Special Search Party). As the threat is ever increasing, a hero able to grow to the size of a giant appears to protect the planet.
It was previously announced there would be a web miniseries titled Shin Ultra Flight consisting of three episodes, each lasting for three minutes. Unfortunately, these episodes are only available to those who purchase tickets in Japan as they are locked behind a code. The first two episodes will made available a day after the movie premieres, while the third will be on the 30th of May.
So, now the question is, are you going to watch this movie when it comes out? This month Ultraman will not only face the threats of Kaijus, but also the mutiversal madness of Doctor Strange as both are certainly summer flicks worth watching in the cinema. Regardless, stay safe out there, my dudes and dudettes!