SCIENCE PATROL: Episode Zero?

Damn you, Hideaki Anno. Thanks to a viewing of Evangelion 2.22 which had all manner of Ultraman references peppered in, I found myself going for my BCI Eclipse box-set of the original series for an impromptu marathon. My Dad, who was one of the two forces that got me into it, joined me; in proper geek family fashion, we were talking trivia throughout. Things like how the second episode was the first one produced, whether or not its Jet VTOL or Beetle, and so on. In our rambling, an interesting point came up:

In the first episode, “Ultra Operation No. 1”, we’re told by the narrator that the Science Patrol’s been around for quite some time, having been based out of Paris, and that their purpose is to protect humanity from any kind of invasion or otherworldly threat. When Bemular shows up, the team doesn’t flinch and immediately goes on the attack like it’s business as usual–Nobody’s in awe that they’re witnessing a monster for the first time, Fuji doesn’t scream her head off, the Self-Defense Force isn’t even called in; They have experience and a reputation. In the world of Ultraman, you sort of take for granted that the team has the means to take on whatever threat they go up against due to training, but when you think about it, they must have been doing this sort of thing before Hayata had his accident. Bemular, the Baltans, they couldn’t have been the first.

The idea is backed by Episode 4, “Five Seconds Before The Explosion” with the appearance of Ragon. The team is able to identify Ragon on sight and speak casually about him like they’ve had experience. Sure, you could pass this off as a passing nod to Ultra Q, but why does no one bat an eye when they see Pigumon a few episodes later? Either the Paris Science Patrol had experience with Ragon or the Japanese branch had their own scuffle with the beast. Heck, maybe that particular experience is how Muramatsu got his Captain pin, by helping them out or something–See what I’m getting at here, folks?

It’d be something worth exploring, that’s for sure. For now, it’s the subject of…well..fanfiction, maybe? At least until somebody figures out the right way to pitch it as a comic to Tsuburaya.

Oh and another thing that came up? Muramatsu must have had something “special” in that pipe of his as he’s got to be the most tolerant captain ever. Think about it.

Ultra Galaxy Legends, Now Powered By Microsoft

I’ve really been keeping silent about the new Ultraman movie, haven’t I?

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Truth be told, I was keeping away from this as I didn’t want to be spoiled by anything. Sadly, this was one of those things that I couldn’t escape from. However, that’s to be expected, considering that Mega-Monster Battle: Ultra Galaxy Legends is looking to be the big Tokusatsu event of 2009. Bigger than Decade, which doesn’t really take much effort to be. Even bigger than the Wecker Signa spinoff movie that everybody seemed to forget about. What’s larger than the hype and the scale of this movie though…is the tie-ins.

In Japan right now, there are all kinds of Ultra Galaxy Legends tie-in promotions and events. For instance, there’s the infamous Honda Stepwagon commercial….

And then the Windows 7 event featuring Ultraseven and Ultraman Zero….

And now Tsuburaya has announced a Ultraman Film Festival!

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The film festival, held on November 11th, consists of three Ultraman compilation movies: Chohen Kaiju Eiga (Compilation Monster Film): Ultraman from 1967, made up episodes 1-8 of the original series; Ultraman: Kaijuu Daikessen (Great Monster Decisive Battle) from 1979 which combined new and old footage to form a new story (and not to mention was the first ever live-action appearance of Ultraman Jonias); and Jissouji Akio Kantoku Sakuhin (Director Akio Jissouji‘s Opus): Ultraman, another film from 1979 that compiles all of the director’s memorable episodes. The event also boasts a talk show featuring the man himself, Susumu Kurobe, and a performance by Tsuburaya-backed pop group, Voyager. If this has piqued your interest, go over to the official site for more information and tickets.

What trumps all of this is the fact that Ultraman recently teamed up with an equally mighty force: The Blue Man Group!

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This past Tuesday, Ultraman was the special guest at a Blue Man Group concert in Japan! Videos have yet to surface on the interwebs but I can only imagine how epic it turned out to be. And even after this, there are still TONS tie-ins for Ultra Galaxy Legends emerging from the ether! Heck, Ultraman Belial even has his own Nico Nico Douga channel! After hearing that Newtype gave the film a nine-star review after seeing it, I can only foam at the mouth with anticipation for this cinematic rubber suit throwdown! Truly, this year is the best time ever to be an Ultra fan!

ULTRAMAN…(License) Rescued?!

No sooner did I post my last entry that stumbled upon some great news for Ultraman fans in the States: BCI Eclipse’s box set of the full series appears to have been rescued!

For those wondering what the hell I’m talking about, as you may or may not know, BCI Eclipse went under awhile back. They released several Asian entertainment titles like Shadow Warriors, and also started releasing Tokusatsu series like Red Baron, Iron King, and even Ultraman. They were poised to release Fight! Dragon and Silver Mask when the company finally folded.

Fast-forward to now: Amazon is now listing Mill Creek Entertainment, a company that distributes through Navarre (the parent company of BCI) for the release of BCI’s Ultraman: The Complete Series box, consisting of all the DVDs from the original two sets. The release date is set for September 26th and the set will only cost a full whomping $14.98! Slick, right?

Now yes, this is a repackaging of the controversial release that was unfortunately done through Chaiyo. Because only Tsuburaya/TYO has the original masters from the United Artists dub, the English voice track here is horrible quality, sounding like it was lifted from third-generation bootlegs. Also, the video and Japanese audio tracks are reportedly lifted from a Laserdisc release of the series. (IMO That isn’t too bad as you’re better off watching in Japanese with the subs anyways.) As this is a rescue, don’t expect Mill Creek to go through all the trouble of getting the proper masters from Tsuburaya for this one. I’d say think of it as an “official” bootleg!

This isn’t a plea for you guys to SUPPORT THE INDUSTRY, rather this is more me letting you know that “Hey, a new option has presented itself!” It’s a relatively inexpensive boxset and quality withstanding, it is worth the purchase. If your interest has been piqued, head on over to Amazon now and pre-order!

Ultra Opportunity

Apparently, Tsuburaya was busy at the recent Licensing Show, as evidenced by this flier.

Tsuburaya: An Ultra Opportunity Employer

Closer inspection...

Fandom is already abuzz about this, with hopes that Adness will step in and claim one of the more recent Ultra shows for a possible localization attempt. Here’s hoping that whatever “strategic partner” they team up with actually knows what they’re doing. Lord knows we don’t want this again:

The Targeted City Opera Hall (Or “The Return of a Legend”)

If you find yourself in Japan around March 13th and you’re an Ultra fan, don’t waste a moment and order tickets for “Toru Fuyuki CONDUCTS Ultraseven”.

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For the unaware, Fuyuki is a legend of the franchise, having done musical work for numerous Showa era Ultra Series including Ultraseven, Ultraman Ace, Leo and Ultraman 80, and also other TPC shows like Mirrorman and Fireman. It was actually him that was responsible for the iconic “Wandaba” chorus that’s heard in so many shows! Now, he’s back conducting the Tokyo Symphony Orchestra for a night of live renditions of Ultraseven’s legendary soundtrack.

The show will be March 13th at 7PM at the Tokyo Opera City Concert Hall. You can order tickets here which start at 5,000 yen. Don’t allow yourself to miss this if you have the opportunity!

In the meantime, Tsburaya’s posted a two-part interview with Fuyuki on their Youtube channel.