Review: Shin Godzilla (2016)
Previous Five Reasons Why I Can't Get into Kamen Rider
When one mentions the term Ultraman, whether you are referring to the character, the 1966 series or the genre at large, the mental image will always be that of the original Ultraman himself.
However, did you know that it was actually Ultraman’s succeeding series Ultra Seven which defined the genre for years to come, by not only building on ideas already established in the Ultraman, but by also introducing new elements and tropes which became hallmarks of future Ultra series.
In this article, we have put together a list of five ways in which the success of 1967’s Ultra Seven impacted subsequent series in the Ultraman genre. Let’s have a look at what they are:
1. The Defence Team Stereotype
The Ultra Guard, as a whole, seemed like a more serious outfit as compared to the Science Special Search Party (SSSP) from Ultraman. The presence of the Terrestrial Defence Force as a larger entity with intermittent appearances by various Staff Officers also formed a precedence for the shows that followed. Most, if not all, future defence teams were often a highly-specialised response unit within a variation of a militarised international organisation dedicated to planetary defence and scientific research.
The Ultra Guard uniforms, also unlike the SSSP, took on a more modern, less campy appearance. Although the functionality of the uniform was still mostly questionable (though irrelevant in the 60’s when the series was made), the Mandarin collar style jacket has been a mainstay in nearly all future defence teams.
2. Extravagant Mecha Launch Sequences
Ultra Seven was the birthplace of the complex mecha launch sequences which are now a common characteristic of nearly all subsequent Ultra Series shows. The Ultra Hawk #1 launched through a runway hidden in a secret mountain range base, but not before being moved into position via a series of motorised mechanics, while the Ultra Hawk #3 went into action through an indoor runway hidden behind a waterfall. The creation of the launch sequences in Ultra Seven demonstrated Tsuburaya Productions’ immense improvement in miniature technique and creativity, a far cry from the launch pads and ramps in the SSSP Headquarters only a year prior.
3. Complex Moral Dilemmas
The Terrestrial Defence Force, and to a certain extent, the members of the Ultra Guard (save for Dan/Seven), sometimes exhibit overprotective and overzealous tendencies in their mission to protect the Earth, or in some instances, the human race. These incidents never end well, with blood usually on the hands of the humans. This leaves Dan in a dilemma on whether protecting the human race, who are considered a very primitive species in the Ultra universe, is the correct thing to do. The concept was extremely popular, paving the way for future Ultramen to also run into similar issues, because, well, humans are evil.
4. Physical Weaponry
While Ultraman only had kousen (beam) weapons at his disposal, the arsenal of his successor Ultra Seven included what would eventually become his most iconic weapon – the Eye Slugger, which was a removable fin/blade located on the top of his head that could be thrown like a boomerang. The Eye Slugger was the first physical weapon to be held by an Ultra being, and later Ultramen also wielded various types of physical weapons, most notably the bracelets worn by Ultraman Jack and Ultraman Tarou, as well as other Ultramen who had Eye Slugger-like weapons.
5. Fuyuki Tooru
The musical compositions of Fuyuki Tooru are an important but often unappreciated piece of Ultra history, especially amongst newer fans. From heroic battle music to military tattoos accompanying the defence teams, to mellow, soothing tracks, Fuyuki’s compositions became what is fondly remembered as the ‘classic Ultraman music’. He would later go on to be responsible for the iconic ‘Wandaba’ most associated with the defence teams even till today. Fuyuki’s contributions to the Ultraman genre were celebrated in a 2008 concert titled Fuyuki Tooru Conducts Ultra Seven, which was later released on DVD.
However, Ultra Seven was originally meant to be the final episode of Tsuburaya’s ‘Ultra Trilogy’ which began with Ultra Q, and it was not until the death of series creator Tsuburaya Eiji that the franchise was picked up again in 1971 with Kaettekita Ultraman.