So this is something!
Firstly, check this out. Get's ya' in the mood [link]
Secondly, ULTRA SEVEN, the classic Ultraman series, is finally getting a wide US release![link]
For those uninitiated, ULTRA SEVEN is the third television show in the legendary and long-running "Ultra Series" from the Tsuburaya Production Company (TPC) and considered a fan-favorite among adult fans for its smart plots and more science-fiction-heavy storytelling than the more Twilight-Zone-esque ULTRA Q and more kiddie-oriented ULTRAMAN that came before it. In the series, a researcher from Nebula M-78 enters our solar system and realizes that Earth is about to come under attack from a plethora of extraterrestrial threats. Taking human form, he joins the elite task force, the Ultra Garrison, as Dan Moroboshi, in the interest of lending a hand to protect the planet. When he transforms into his gigantic, true form, he is able to battle giant monsters and the like when all else fails. The other members of the Ultra Garrison have named him "Ultraseven," making the giant an honorary 7th member of their 6-man team, not knowing that Dan and Ultraseven are one in the same!
Your savior and mine, August Ragone (I love saying that!), was brought in to do a little extra work on the new box set coming from Shout! Factory, who have been KILLING it with the DVD releases lately!
Granted, in the interest of full disclosure, there are a few things that should be made known to those who are planning on purchasing this box set.
- This is not the "complete series," despite the box art. Tsuburaya has maintained a self-imposed ban on episode 12, "With Love From Another Planet" - here's a description from the long-dead Absolute Ultraman website -
"Tsuburaya Productions has agreed to officially remove all mention of this episode. As far as they are concerned, it does not exist. It has been excised from the cannon, and is no longer shown in reruns. You cannot find it mentioned in any Japanese books, and it is simply skipped over on episode lists. Japanese fans obviously go nuts for the opportunity to see it.
The episode's aliens were considered offensive by a group of Japanese activists who defend "HIBAKUSHA" (survivors of the World War II atomic holocausts of Hiroshima). In the story, the aliens are Spell-seijin, who use fashionable wrist watches to suck blood out of their victims in order to replace their own blood, which is polluted with radiation. At first they go after only young women, but discover that the blood of children is more pure.
However, in the only country to ever have radioactive wartime casualties, the topic of cleansing evil radioactive vampires with the blood of children brings up a whole bag of politics, since HIBAKUSHA were already experiencing considerable discrimination as it was.
When a Japanese magazine article referred to the Spell-seijin as HIBAKUSHA-monsters, activists operating on behalf of HIBAKUSHA had Tsuburaya Productions promise to ban the offensive episode.
Having now seen it, I can understand why the creature was considered offensive.... he's got all of these welts on his body that seem to be the result of the radioactive poisoning."
More info and video can be found here:[link]
- The episodes are Japanese-only with English subtitles. Apparently most of the English dubs out there are either incomplete or outright missing.
- This series is, unfortunately, being released stateside thanks to Chaiyo, not TPC proper. Here's a little bit o' info -
"We've received some emails asking about the Amazon.com listing for an ULTRA SEVEN Complete Series DVD set from Shout! Factory. This set is a real release and is scheduled for December. It is licensed from UM Inc., a Japanese company affiliated with the Thai company, Chaiyo, who has been in a legal dispute with Tsuburaya Pro over the rights to some of the early Ultra series. The legal battles have been fought in multiple countries with Tsuburaya winning in court... except in Japan. This has allowed Chaiyo/UM to license ULTRA SEVEN for DVD in America. The good news is that this series will finally get released on DVD and, knowing Shout, they'll do a great job with the materials they were given. The downside is Tsuburaya is not involved, no one who made ULTRA SEVEN is involved, and Shout will not have access to any of the original TPC materials from this show. I wish this was a fully authorized Tsuburaya release but that won't happen until TPC chooses to fight Chaiyo/UM's efforts in the US and deal directly with American distributors themselves."
So, knowing all of that, we can make informed decisions about our purchases. Personally? I'm going to buy it. It's a long time in coming and it'll be nice to finally own. IF TPC manages to win the rest of those court cases and re-release some Ultra goodness stateside, you're damn right I'll be front and center to buy![link]