Judge David Johnson used his Beta capsule to transform into Ultraman, but nothing happened. It's not a suppository, is it?
Unsheathe your Beta capsule and join me for a trip to the magical land of men in rubber suits and toy planes suspended by dental floss.
Facts of the Case
When the Earth is assaulted by giant monsters, rampaging through cities and squashing cars underfoot, who is called in to deal with the threat? The Army? Hah! These creatures laugh in the face of tanks and missiles and jet fighters! No, if you want to bring down a fire-breathing, spiky-tail wagging, prehistoric badass, you go to the Science Patrol, a squad of five super-nerds with a limitless budget, high-tech weaponry made of plastic and genital-hugging orange jumpsuits.
But sometimes (read: all the time), even the Space Patrol's impressive capabilities are no match for the might of the monsters and when the @#$% gets hot, Ultraman lands on the scene. Yes, Ultraman, the mysterious space warrior with big bug eyes and a rubber suit, who uses his impressive Greco-Roman wrestling moves and white lasers of death to fell any opponent he faces.
These final 19 episodes of the Japanese television series brings out a whole new gallery of baddies for Ultraman to square off against—and no paper mache skyscraper will be safe!
I reckon there are two approaches I could take to looking at this review. One, would be going in as Cold-Hearted Bastard Man and point out the myriad flaws in Ultraman: 1) the Xeroxed template of each show, where a monster shows up, the Science Patrol dick around a bit and in the last four minutes Ultraman makes an appearance and takes care of business; 2) the astoundingly horrible models and monster costumes; 3) the corny dialogue and cornier storylines (in "The Monster Graveyard," the Science Patrol holds a memorial service for all the monsters they've slain!); 4) the fact that Earth's guardians against cataclysmic evil are grown-ups who run around in orange tights and a tie and they call themselves the "Science Patrol" for @#$%'s sake!; 5) Ultraman himself, an uncoordinated man in a rubber jumpsuit with the face of an optical mouse and the hand-to-hand combat skills of a 5-year-old with severe gross motor challenges.
But, seriously, no one wants to hear from Cold-Hearted Bastard Man. That guy misses the whole point of this show. So instead, let us turn to Unsullied Childlike Whimsy Guy, who sees these shows as a throwback to the days he would spend Saturday mornings in front of the TV, watching Godzilla movies and speedballing Cocoa Puffs. He loves the toy-like cars and trucks that get pounded into bits of plastic and die-cast metal, the shredded cardboard buildings, the twine-supported rocket ships, the action figure stunt doubles, episode titles like "Spaceship Rescue Order" and "The Phantom Snow Mountain," and, yes, even Ultraman and his primal space-shrieks and fearsome laser ninja stars (which he should seriously consider using at the start of the fight).
Unsullied Childlike Whimsy Guy can objectively recognize the cheesiness of the stories, but rather than snort his dissatisfaction in an uppity tone that nobody likes, he recognizes that this quirky storytelling was beloved by Japanese children from all ends of the island, and is really not much different that the playbook to your average Godzilla movie: crazy monster attacks, humans reacting with weapons and firepower that do nothing, badly-dubbed dialogue, and at the very end the jumbo hero dishing out the hurt. It's a proven formula, and Ultraman gives you the condensed version, with episodes introducing different monsters, different Science Patrol gadgets that never work, and even a new superpower from Ultraman once in a while (some sucker gets chopped into bits and pwned by UM's whirling stars of death). Even better, the dialogue is some of the goofiest you'll hear.
Finally, Unsullied Childlike Whimsy Guy would just like to commend BCI for another great set. The packaging is fantastic, the episodes look great and the sound is adequate (though audio tracks often revert to Japanese in spots, even with English selected as language). Extras include a text-only monster glossary for the volume, some interesting liner notes and two collectible action cards featuring Ultraman socking it to some punks.
Ridiculous plots, laughable effects, hysterical costumes, and dialogue that likely was written with a few liters of sake in the gut. What's not to love?
The smell from the inside of that Ultraman costume after 39 episodes alone is enough to earn these guys a not guilty verdict.
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Scales of Justice
Studio: BCI Eclipse
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