A deal has been struck to bring the entire 50-plus year history of the Ultra Series to the west in high definition, with many of the shows/films in question being localized and transferred to HD for the very first time ever. Vitally, everything will retain its original audio and music, recaptured from the original master recordings.
The first round of releases — 1966’s Ultra Q and Ultraman television series — will arrive in both physical and digital formats on October 15. Bluray box sets will run for $39.98 per series ($49.98 for the Steelbook edition), and while DVD printings will also be available, no price point was given in the announcement.
Physical copies also come with download codes for digital versions through Moviespree, a streaming service operated by distributor Mill Creek Entertainment, which secured the rights for Ultraman’s great western expansion from Tsuburaya Productions. In the announcement, Mill Creek’s marketing VP Barrett Evans also says that Ultraman will be available on conventional streaming services as well, but does not name names. Given that Netflix recently launched its own original Ultraman animated series, we figure it’s on the shortlist.
Mill Creek plans to release modern Ultraman entries in tandem with the classics, but — you guessed it! — no details were provided as to which modern shows would get first dibs, or when they might be expected to release.
For those unfamiliar, Ultraman is an alien from Nebula M78 (an actual, factual nebula) that inhabits the body of Shin Hayata, an Earthling enlisted in the Science Special Search Party, or SSSP. The two meet when Ultraman collides with Hayata’s spaceship while pursuing a rogue alien across our solar system, gravely wounding Hayata. In order to save Hayata’s life, Ultraman fuses himself into Hayata’s body, healing his injuries while also combining the two into a single being. Through the use of a device called the Beta Capsule (which Ultraman gave to Hayata before the merger0, Hayata can temporarily transform into Ultraman to fight the intergalactic forces of evil.
It’s also worth mentioning that Ultraman is 131 feet tall, that he weighs 35,000 tons, and that he’s 20,000 years old. Small, but important details! His power comes from solar energy, and because the Earth’s atmosphere filters out most of the sun’s brutal rays, he can only stay transformed for three minutes. The glowing light on Ultraman’s chest, called the Color Timer, informs both Ultraman and his enemies of when his time is almost up.
If you’re considering buying, know that Ultra Q is more of a campy X-Files kinda thing, which serves as a precursor to Ultraman but does not actually feature Ultraman. Additionally, Ultraman isn’t the only Ultraman. Many Ultra Warriors hail from Nebula M78, and each new Ultraman series focuses on another, different Ultraman, providing new characters, origin stories, and villains as a result. These Ultramen share the same universe and often appear in each other’s shows, but as far as we’re aware, no two Ultraman shows ever overlapped.
Ultraman‘s impact on Japanese pop culture can’t really be overstated. If a hero/monster/villain/robot can grow from person-sized to building-sized, it’s because of Ultraman. If a show maintains format but refocuses on new characters every season, it’s because of Ultraman. Even the EVA mechs in Neon Genesis Evangelion owe their three-minute time limit to Ultraman’s Color Timer. The latest installation of the Ultra Series, Ultraman Taiga, is the 31st show to bear the Ultra name; it debuted on TV Tokyo late last month.