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Ultraman gets North American distribution

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Ultraman gets North American distribution

Postby Angilasman » Mon Oct 21, 2019 12:56 +0000

I've been a fan of kaiju movies for as long as I can remember, but beyond Godzilla, Mothra, and Gamera one of the biggest libraries of Japanese monster suit and miniature city entertainment has been much harder to come by in North America: Tsuburaya Productions Ultra series. The original Ultraman had a healthy run in US syndication for about two decades, but since then home video and other releases of the various series and spin-offs and movies have been few and far between. Complicating matters has been a Taiwanese company fraudulently claiming international rights to the series which has caused much legal trouble in the past two decades, but following the defeat of said company in court Tsuburaya is now serious about getting Ultraman distributed around the world.

Enter US distributor Mill Creek Entertainment, who've licensed almost all of the Ultra series - the shows, the movies, TV and direct to video specials - and are releasing them on Blu-ray at a fast clip! Ultra Q (1965) and Ultraman (1966) came out last week, and before the end of the year three more series will be released over here. They're taking a 'best of both worlds' approach to the release schedule and alternating between putting out the oldest and newest shows, eventually meeting in the middle.

Here's a bit about the initial annoucement:

http://www.scifijapan.com/articles/2019 ... h-america/

Here's a bit about the second wave of titles coming in November and December:

http://www.scifijapan.com/articles/2019 ... aman-geed/
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Re: Ultraman gets North American distribution

Postby maichan » Tue Oct 22, 2019 12:25 +0000

I saw these in the store last week and was wondering about them, as I had not seen any Ultraman previously. I might just break down and get them. While I don't recall ever watching Ultraman back then, I've know about Ultraman forever. I think it's about time I catch up with Ultraman. 8)

Funny story... while I was watching the advert for UltraSeven, my wife instantly recognized the theme song and specifically said to me, "Eh, you're watching UltraSeven?" I was surprised and amazed, because she is definitely not into Ultraman, but she knew exactly which Ultraman series the music was from. File that under: growing up in Japan :lol:
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Re: Ultraman gets North American distribution

Postby Angilasman » Wed Oct 23, 2019 16:51 +0000

^ Those early shows have very distinctive music!

If you dig '60s kaiju movies you'll probably like the '60s Ultra shows. Especially Ultra Q, which is 50% a Japanese take on Twilight Zone/Outer Limits and 50% Toho monster movie.
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Re: Ultraman gets North American distribution

Postby maichan » Wed Oct 23, 2019 20:50 +0000

I wasted no time, and returned to Best Buy to purchase the blu-rays.
It felt like the right thing to do, since it was my birthday.

Image
Ultraman by Michael Foertsch, on Flickr

I do enjoy a good kaiju film. As a kid of the 60's & 70's I recall watching many of the Godzilla films as they aired on various channels throughout the year.

I am waiting for my collector's set of Godzilla: The Showa-Era Films, 1954–1975 from the Criterion Collection to arrive soon. I ordered it months ago as a birthday present for myself, long before I knew about the Ultra series coming out.
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Re: Ultraman gets North American distribution

Postby maichan » Wed Oct 23, 2019 21:12 +0000

I was doing a little research on the next classic volume, Ultra Seven. I was semi familiar with this series because I have a 1/64 scale miniature model of the Pointer (a highly modified patrol car used by the Ultra Garrison (Ultra Guard)).

I found out that there were 49 original episodes, but release will only contain 48 episodes. One was pulled from wide release in Japan because of some reference to atomic bomb survivors which cause public outcry. The episode did eventually air in North America thought. It's too bad that Tsuburaya Productions did not include this episode. I can understand the reasoning, but I still think it would have been nice to have that episode finally be shown in it's original format.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ultra_Sev ... ed_episode
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Re: Ultraman gets North American distribution

Postby Angilasman » Wed Oct 23, 2019 21:49 +0000

Hope you enjoy the shows!

The controversy around what became the banned episode of Ultraseven happened a few years after the series aired. It was withdrawn from circulation in Japan, but when the series was dubbed into English for airing in Hawaii in the mid-70s it was included and when Ted Turner acquired the Hawaiian versions and then redubbed them (confusing, no?) the episode was still included! This means that while the episode had been banned for decades in Japan it was still airing on basic cable in America in the 90s!

There's some Toho films which have similar self-imposed bans. Half Human was the monster movie Ishiro Honda made at Toho right after Godzilla. It's a Bigfoot / Yeti type movie. The movie depicts the indigenous mountain people in a pretty defamatory way. The Prophecies of Nostradamus was an epic disaster movie from the 70s that has been withdrawn from circulation due to post-apocalyptic sequence showing radiation mutated children. Like with Ultraseven, the concern was due to the sensitivity from actual radiation survivors in Japan and the discrimination they often faced in addition to the physical ailments.

The bummer about the banned Ultraseven episode is that it was one of the few directed by the acclaimed, avant-garde director Akio Jissoji, who did several Ultra episodes in the sixties and then came back to do the odd episode here and there in the 90s and 2000's. His stuff is awesome!
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Re: Ultraman gets North American distribution

Postby maichan » Sat Oct 26, 2019 20:58 +0000

Thanks for the additional information. I am looking forward to watching these episodes - as soon as I get caught up with a few other programs. :roll: :lol:
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