I have realized that there are not a lot of Blogs for anything other than to give other users advice, news for the latest show etc. We have a tournament going on and not much else and that's soon over at the time of this writing. As such I am writing this blog to give Users something else to come together about. We can talk and debate about like a community.
This is just a blog for fun, so I ask that you hold your fanboyisms, whoever you may and just accept this as my own personal opinion, you are free to create your own response blogs and I encourage it. Also, these lists are not to say that I do not like any of these Ultras, I believe to each their own, but think of it of a look back at how far Ultraman has come. These are the rules I will setting for myself...
- I will divide the listing into sub lists, Showa Ultras, Heisei Ultras and Main Neo-Hesie Ultra (That's after Gaia). There will also be Neo-Heisie Secondary Ultra, since there was only one Heisei secondary Ultra, Agul, it makes no since to make a list for his era. There will also be be a least original listing for the Showa and Neo Heisie eras.
- Ginga is not included. I do not feel as though I need to explain myself, at the time of this list Ginga has not come out.
- A rule of three, each list will consist of three Ultras, since that smallest possible number is three (the Heisei Trio)
- Ultraman, Zoffy, Ultraseven and his Superior will not be on this list. Most Ultras are based on either Ultraman or Seven and Zoffy and seven's boss are carbon copies.
- Also, no animated Ultras, animation is an easier medium than suit mation, in live action a great deal of care is given to sets, choreography and suit designs. Animation has no limit beyond what you can draw on the page.
- I will be judging the Ultras on design and their series in terms of themes and contents (atmosphere and characters). This is not a review of quality, please under stand that, instead of originality, how much of an Ultra/Series is unique onto itself instead of relying on the things that came before. The categories for judging are the Ultra himself, their design, powers, the mood of the series and the effort and imagination felt from the fights.
- Note, since you have to read down I am ordering the list from top to bottom, so the one at the top is the lowest rank and the bottom is the top of the list.
Most Original Showa Ultra
- Ultraman Taro: Ultraman Taro was the first series where Ultraseven was used as the base for the Star Ultra, unlike Jack who was literally marketed at being a rehash of the first series Taro was designed to be unique. They did with Taro something that personally annoyed me but it was something they in the prior series, which was present Taro as being super powerful compared to the previous Ultra brothers, but unlike before there was an actually legitimate reason in the series for this to actually work... Taro was the son of two unique powerful Ultras, Father and Mother of Ultra, his series was also more fantasy base. Taro is a common Japanese name often used for the naming of the protagonist of any generic fairy tale and that's what Taro was meant to be a Fairy tale, unlike Ace and Jack who were either monster of the week like Ultraman or Interplanetary intrigue like Ultraseven. Taro was also the first instance of two Ultra's dying
- Ultraman Leo: Coming of Taro, Leo was not the happy fairy tale of Taro, Leo leaned more into the realm of a melodrama while still being accessible for kids (Japanese kids seem to be more mature thus ours here in the west, don't believe me, then you have no idea many times Japanese cartoons and shows brought over to the states get ridiculous censoring). Before the series even began Leo had lost his entire world, family and friends and his reason for coming to Earth wasn't entirely altruistic, Earth was being attacked by the same race that destroyed his home. Leo combat was also very different from previous series, instead of relying on beams, Leo relieved more heavily on his training, his fights were more acrobatic and choreographed and ultimately more interesting watch ( his are some of my favorite fights after Ultraman, Seven and the next Ultra in the Showa era). Leo dealt with loss more than most Ultras overall and more than any in the Showa Era, he got back his brother yes, but he soon lost his entire team, forcing him to fight his battles alone, his pet returned but as a monster, there is also the guilt he feels for failing to save the people who died during his first fight on Earth. In total Leo was a much more mature series save perhaps Ultraseven.
- Ultraman 80: The last Ultra in the Showa Era and also the most unique. While not as fantastical as Taro or brooding as Leo, 80 was a series onto itself. 80 is the first ultra with a nose, (Leo's can be argued to be part of his crest), the first series to have a secondary Ultra and the first series to try to explain why monsters appear, that's right Minus Energy was introduced in this series. For those that don't know, Minus energy is the energy waves created by negative emotion and actions (but mainly emotion) such as fear, hate and greed, they are what cause monsters to appear, often creating them in the first place and even what attract aliens to Earth. This meant that 80 had to deal with human emotions and relationships as he fought these monsters which brought about his unique situation. Unlike many Ultras 80 had three alter egos, there was his Ultra form, his job at UM as part-time and his teaching job. As a teacher he was eccentric and helpful to his students but had to keep both of his other secrets from them. Even though this eventually ended and he became a full time UM member it is still an important part of the series. Lastly, the fights, 80's fights are more choreographed than even Leo's and are in my opinion some of the best in the series even up to this day. He is powerful, skill but not over-powered like some Ultras (cough, zero, cough, cough) and most fights manage to feel energetic from transformation to finisher.
Least Original Showa Ultras
- Ultraman Taro: Taro is only here by default of a place holder.
- Ultraman Ace: He is also here for a similar reason to Taro. Ace draws heavily from the first two series but still manages to be his own. Firstly he introduced the Super Beasts, kaiju weapons, all of which were controlled by Yapool, the first recurring villain in the entire series. Ace was an effort to be original but was still and Ultra series. He's on this list as a place holder.
- Ultraman Jack: Now this guy really deserves this spot, that's not to call him bad all you Jack fans, but let us be reasonable. Jack looks Ultraman in the same way Ultraman looks like Zoffy, the three could be presented as brothers and no fan or anyone else would argue, Tsuburya could change everything and say they're triplets and as much as we would shout no, we could not deny that from appearance that is plausible. To show how unoriginal Jack is, his show is not called Ultraman Jack its, "The Ultraman that Returned". Tsuburya Prod. marketed him as the original Ultraman returned to Earth, the attack team's uniform is heavily based on the SSSP's, his host's transformation pose looks almost identical to Hayata's. Everything unique about the series seems to only be there to make sure he isn't a complete copy and paste. It doesn't get more unoriginal than when the character is marketed as being a copy and paste of a previous one. Also Jack's name is because of legal issue they had copyrighting the character to they had a competition to name him and some kid came up with the name.
Most Original Heisei Ultra
- Ultraman Gaia: Gaia is an interesting series, instead of the normal formulas, the series presents itself as realistic as possible while still being kid friendly, there's drama, good action and scientific facts to explain the plots and monsters (Who doesn't like a sci-fi series that scientifically accurate... to a point). Unlike most series Gaia is presented as being original in that it uses realistic incarnation of classic Ultras series clich`es. A prime example is the Defense Organization, it actually feels like an organization unlike most of the others. There is no one attack team, even though Team Lightning is the one that most appears, each team has it specific strengths that are used for specific situations. Also the relationship between Gaia and Agul is rather unique, while the two are separate beings, Gaia exists as the power Gamu wields and not a background individual, their relationship is also more emphasized than most other Host/Ultra relationships
- Ultraman Agul: While Agul is indeed a secondary Ultra to Gaia he is much more unique than his counterpart in certain areas. Agul is the first true blue Ultra, not an alternate form, but a truly blue Ultra. Agul is also unique in his demeanor and story arc, he is first presented as a shady character who loyalties are uncertain for the main hero, a fellow protector with differing opinions and morals, ultimately a broken man looking for redemption and finally an ally dispensing words of wisdom all while ultimately staying the same character. Agul is a rare gem not seen since.
- Ultraman Tiga: The first Ultra of the Heisei era, the leader of the Heisei trio, Tiga is one of the most original Ultras in the entire series. First, Tiga is the first Ultra to use more colors than just red and silver which also reflects in his abilities. The power to form change is nothing new now, but when Tiga did it, in the series it wasn't treated as alternate forms, his alternate forms were treated as techniques in and of themselves. Other than the obvious it's hard to tell where the design elements from Ultraman actually begin besides the crest and color timer. As for his series, Tiga episodes were all treated as epics, they followed a simple rule, "it's about the characters". Each episode at least one of the GUTS team was emotionally affected by the events, either due to their relations to one of the victims or because of their efforts in solving the problem, as idyllic a world the Universe of Tiga was the people were still treated as being real and having to go through real problems. The theme of Ultraman Tiga was light, Light represented more than just the goodness of mankind. With the Maxima Overdrive, light represented the progression of mankind, it represent out hope for a bright future and our possible potential as a species. With that in mind, think about Tiga an Ultra, a warrior of light, and this about what he's really fighting for. Also Tiga, instead of being an alien, in the series he is Daigo transformed, Daigo knows Tiga's moves by instinct, or from his merger with the statue but it was ultimately a man fighting for humanity not an alien admirer of our species. Daigo was worthy of the power of Tiga because he valued his humanity above all else and recognized the responsibility that came with his power. When he fought Evil Tiga he was basically fighting what he was afraid of becoming. Then there is the ending, what other Ultra series has the hero face against this sort of threat, yes in the series after all the final threats were big but Tiga was the first. Tiga fought against a Dark God, prophecised to destroy mankind, not some regular monster that came out the woodwork, he was fighting against fate a cycle of destruction. Tiga fighting Gatonazoa is the equivalent to Superman stopping the apocolypse.
Least Original Heisei Ultra
- Ultraseven 21: Not much to say, he's heavily based on Ultraseven.
- Ultraman Neos: Not really here because he's unoriginal but he is heavily based on Ultraman. Granted his series in very short and the premise of the Dark Matter saves him from being the no.1 least original Heisei Ultra.
- Ultraman Dyna: For those who don't know, (I will assume all of you) I am not a fan of Ultraman Dyna. I quickly wrote him of as a carbon copy of Tiga and I know that's wrong. Later on I eventually went and watched the series and...I'm not sure I can my original assumption was wrong. Dyna takes place in the same universe as Tiga while that's not new there are things done here that were done much better in the Showa era.
- Firstly the new team, SUPER GUTS, that's just an uninspired name, I would say that sounds like a Showa era team but none of them have name remotely like that, they were ALL unique, even if outlandish at times.
- The characters, each character is similar to the characters from Tiga, the tough love interest, the young analyst, the captain who acts as parental figure, the good looking hot shot, the fat genius, the immature hero. The problem is that in Dyna, the characters are more stereotype than the characters they are based on, the fact that they are based on other characters says something of itself, but when the originals are more original, that's not good. Daigo was actually immature, he was a guy that grew up as he better understood his powers but Asuka was just like the hosts of the showa era, he had a crutch that Diago didn't, his Ultra alter ego was a being to himself that Asuka depended on.
- I will give Dyna credit here, his fights are generally more entertaining to watch than Tiga's due to the target audience being younger but this brings me to my issue Dyna's powers. Dyna has basically the same powers as Tiga, a speed form and strength form, but his are played up as being more powerful (in reality Dyna is a long range fighter while Tiga is a close combat fighter) for the sake of ratings, the same thing they did in the showa era (and I hated it then)
- The ending of Dyna felt like it was trying to do the same thing as Tiga's ending, having Dyna fight a powerful menace that was leaps and bounds above his usual foes, the Grand Sphere. I personally think it fails, the spheres were first presented as figure similar to Yapool, a recurring enemy, but they were ultimately just typical monsters. Grand Sphere was not even that much of a threat to mankind, once Dyna made the opening for humanity they easily finished her of, granted have a black hole for garments is by default epic, the execution just wasn't there. Also I can see too many similarities between Dyna's fate and Tiga, with the Ultra disappearing at the end being similar to the Hero loosing his powers/ Ultimately the titular Ultra is gone.
Most Original Neo-Heisei Ultra
- Ultraman Mebius: In my opinion Mebius did what Dyna should have, the series takes place in an already established place but the main character is treated as an entirely new character with a new personality and new powers, granted there are things that are obvious tropes but they are handled better.
- The main character, making Mebius and Mirai the same being was not new, what was new was the idea of making him a rookie, a greenhorn for whom everything on Earth is new. Mirai's journey pays homage to previous series while still being fresh.
- The team. Mebius supporting case most fall into stereotypes, but those stereotypes are treated as guidelines to their personality not personalities themselves, also these stereotypes are not worn and used as some other. GUYS as an organization is interesting, it grows in response to the increasing dangers. You are also presented with the feeling that it is larger than what you normally see, most organization in any era don't do this, even XIG, you quickly forget the organization is world wide, but with GUYS the memory doesn't go stale that quickly with other members of the organization stopping by every once in a while.
- The enemies, the Four Heavenly Kings are somewhat unique, a group of aliens a cut above the standard invader but ultimately just herald of an even greater threat. Their existence was a interesting way to prelude to the Emperor and he was a baddie not seen since Gatonozoa or Angel Zogu, he was built up over a series of episode and he didn't go down in just one. He was alive for at least three episodes, handing out opponents their backsides, making characters established as being strong, like Zamusha and Hikari, seem like children. The fact that he used the Royal 'We' form of speech was a nice little touch that helped sell that he was an "Emperor" and not some would-be-connquerer
- Ultraman Cosmos: Cosmos is unique in the series, he is the first, and so far only, blue Ultra to star in a series. Cosmos method of dealing with problems is different, instead of fighting he his ultimately a pacifist when force into a corner always wanting to calm the monster instead of killing it. His is the first series where the main hero has to make tough moral choices as he matures, Musashi having to decide between saving the monsters or protecting mankind and destroying them as represented in a dream battle between Ultraman Cosmos Luna and Corona mode. His gaining of Eclipse mode can be seen as a reward for his growth. His ending is also unique for a Ultra series. The presence of two organizations with conflicting ideas is also interesting in and of it self, even though the SHARKS are just typical... let's call them jerks, cause I know I can't use the word I really want to use on a Wiki.
- Ultraman Nexus: Nexus is my favorite series and Ultra for those of you don't know (I'm assuming all of you) for certain reasons.
- Of ALL the series Nexus is the most mature, being specifically geared towards an older audience. Nexus was dark and at times terrifying with the civilian casualties being surpassing that of any other series, even possible world ending events did take as much lives as in this series. Everything was realistic in it presentation while still holding true to the heart of an Ultra series. It is also the first series to have a back story, for several characters and the series it self in the form of Ultraman The Next movie
- The Ultra. Nexus is not the first Ultra to have multiple human forms, but unlike Ultraseven 21, each was a different person. With five different heroes wielding the mantle of Nexus, the question of what was Ultraman was obviously going to be brought up. It was actually thought about beyond the simple "he's an alien" answer. His motivations and nature were a thing of interest, the desire for these questions was actually and motivation for one of the side characters. The fact that Nexus never spoke. though his hosts could somehow understand him, even when on screen before a future host made him a topic of interest and mystery unlike other Ultras who were just simple superheroes (Not that, that's a bad thing).
- The Main character. I do not mean the Ultra Hosts, but Komon, we watch him grow more than most Ultra Heroes, perhaps more than any other despite the show having the least episodes in the series. He starts out as naive and uncertain, goes through a depression, gets back on the horse, goes through a worse depression, saves himself from the powers of darkness (Not even Nagi for all her tough girl act managed that), become a big brother figure for the next Ultra Host, save someone else from darkness and finally become Ultraman himself, becoming the strongest of all the Ultra Hosts and saving the world.
- The monsters. The Space Beasts are not your run of the mill monsters... actually they are but they are different. Instead of the monsters being just things for the hero to fight, they are actually a topic of interest within the series and actually have behavioral patterns. The Space Beast evolved, before the Night Raiders could deal with them on foot, then they needed the Chesters (Their vehicles) and finally Ultraman became a presence they could not do without. Despite being run-of-the-mill monsters, they were actually a credible threat which was established early on in the series.
- The Organization. Unlike before, the attack team and the defense organization, where not the same things, instead one was a branch of the other. TLT was also more mysterious than other Organizations with secrets that came to the light over the course of the series, their founding, the visitors, Project Prometheus, Lethe, the Potential Barrier. TLT was a big bag of interesting secrets, while it protected mankind it did so from the shadows, something no other organization did. How they acquired their technology was unique to them as well and perhaps the most realistic thing in the series. This organization had more in common with Nerve from Neon Genesis Evangelion than it did most other Organization in the series. (Actually, I can see a lot of similarities between Neon Gen and Nexus, like Komon and Shinji always going of on a depression, only difference is that Komon's a boy...)
- The other Ultras. With most series, when the main hero fights another Ultra, the opponent is generally a doppelganger of some kind, a monster, alien or robot in a form the mimics the heroe's. In the Nexus, the Ultras the hero fought were just that...Ultras. No other series had genuinely evil Ultras, the closest was Cosmos with Chaos Ultraman but he was ultimately a doppelganger. These Ultras, Faust, Mephisto and the big bad himself Unknown Hand were genuine articles, unique, different from each other and from Nexus and greater threats than the space beasts they ruled over.
Least Original Neo-Heisei Ultra
- Ultraman Mebius: Place Holder
- Ultraman Max: Unlike Mebius, which also draws upon the Showa Era, Max draws on it to heavily. Max is based primarily one Ultraseven with added elements of Ultraman (His, Power Timer, which is basically just a Color Timer... don't know how a change in name was suppose to cover up the fact that it performed the same function as Tiga's and the Show Ultras'). The attack team was a cross between the SSSP and the Ultra Garrison, leaning heavily towards the SSSP but have a mother organization in the form of the UDF. Max's powers were heavily based on Seven's with the Max Spark serving as the thin line between new and carbon copy. His transformation seen was also heavily based on Seven's with some of Hayata thrown in their for originality.
- Ultraseven X: There is a lot needed to go into this series, the main character is redesigned older hero and the stories can be described as Ultra Q:Dark Fantasy but with an Ultra. The powers are nothing we haven't seen before but just better special effects.To be honest this is a good mini-series if a bit short (It's a mini-series, what do you expect) and I recommend watching it, be warned it not as fast paced as most Ultra shows.
Most Original Ultra
- Ultaman 80
- Ultraman Tiga
- Ultraman Nexus
Least Original Ultra
- Ultraman Dyna
- Ultraman Jack
- Ultraman Zero: Right now I can hear Zero fans, gearing up in uproar over this choice... but its my Blog too bad. Okay to be serious, what is Zero and don't tell me he's Seven's son are by the grace of the almighty I may just figure out a way to slap a man across the internet... As a character, Zero is an amalgamation (A mixture of different parts for those who don't know, not trying to be insulting I just want everyone to understand) of different aspects from different Ultras across the previous eras. He is obviously based heavily on Ultraseven with Ultraman's Color Timer thrown in there (because it is expected in this day and age). His fighting style is based of Leo's, he has an Ultra Bracelet like Jack, which has similar functions to the Mebius Brace. He had gained alternate forms like every prior Ultra up to Tiga. He has gained the power of Ultraman Noa, and a strength form and speed form like Dyna and Tiga, his only unique form is an amalgamation of all previously mention powers. His "series" (for lack of a better term) is a space drama like Ultra Galaxy and let us be honest, any experience Toku fan can guess every "plot twist" before the end of his movies.