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REVIEW: Ultraman Season 2




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MFrontier



Joined: 13 Apr 2014
Posts: 4200
PostPosted: Sun May 08, 2022 5:57 pm Reply with quote
I admit it's kind of surreal for me to see an Ultraman show that frames them more like Kamen RIders than, say, Ultras, but I think it's pretty cool how they recontexualize the Showa-era mythos and the kaiju and still stay true to the franchise in their own way.

I do appreciate how there was a little less navel-gazing like there was in season 1 where it felt like Shinjiro was constantly questioning himself or his purpose as Ultraman until the end of the season when they fought Ace-Killer while here he's more established, more sure of himself, and while the spotlight is on Kotaro becoming Taro we still get some nice moments with him.

Also Rena continues to be a fun character even if she gets less to do this season.

What I don't get is Jack being so...jacked. Like, I get they need a team heavy but where's his weapons? His Ultra Bracelet? Like every other Ultra Bros. at least feel true to a certain extent to their signature, except him.

Also the season and the Opening totally gypped the audience in making them think they were going to see the Ultra Brothers team-up together but...nope. But the dancing ED is perfect.

Tomoaki Maeno was great as Taro (seriously though, him, Ayane Sakura, and Maaya Sakamoto, this shows' cast was lit) but it's really surreal for me to hear Roger Craig Smith in an anime again, let alone Ultraman Taro.

spoiler[I love the fakeout of Maya's death and how you might not even notice it if you're not paying close attention.]

I feel like the truncated season was probably because the third and final season will also be 6-7 episodes and they'll effectively serve as a one-cour anime together.
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zztop



Joined: 28 Aug 2014
Posts: 567
PostPosted: Sun May 08, 2022 9:14 pm Reply with quote
Quote:
if you were willing to roll with an anime that is a very loose adaptation of the Ultraman mythos


I should also point out that S2 is also a very loose adaptation of its related plot arc from the source manga. It still serves as origin story for Taro, but S2's story greatly differs from the manga.

Differences include:

spoiler[- Much of the arc takes place in New York City

- The aliens' plot revolves around them distributing power-up drugs to people that can drive them berserk. Taro gets killed trying to photograph them, but some of their dropped drugs makes its way into his bloodstream, which revives him with Superpowers

- Taro moonlights as a hero (complete with spandex outfit based on Ultraman) with the help of his friend Dave, and has plenty of fun doing it, up until the Star gets wind of it and executes Dave - which leads to Taro awakening his flame powers

- The Ultras are ordered to travel to Manhattan by the Star Council in response to the Star of Darkness declaring a takeover of the city and encouraging the people to start being anarchic by claiming they've released the power-up drugs into the atmosphere (they didn't). Which turns out to be part of their plan to expose "ugly human nature" to the alien populace and government and disqualify them from being accepted by the Star Council ("we will not let you humans lord over us aliens!")

- A subplot where Dan's long-lost twin brother (kidnapped at a young age) turns out to be working for the Star of Darkness...only for Dan to find out the brother was killed off some time ago to serve as a host body for one of their members...which gives Dan the courage to finally make a break with his past and cut down the interloper
]


Quote:
I feel like the truncated season was probably because the third and final season will also be 6-7 episodes and they'll effectively serve as a one-cour anime together.


Given the source manga is also still ongoing, I guess that will also depend on whether the production people still think it's worthy to keep on making new seasons in the future. Because then they'd be able to cover things like spoiler[Rena actually having alien heritage, and that her current dad is actually her adopted dad (he was good friends with her biological parents, who were murdered after they placed Rena in his care).]


Last edited by zztop on Sun May 08, 2022 9:23 pm; edited 1 time in total
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GNPixie



Joined: 25 Jul 2018
Posts: 197
PostPosted: Sun May 08, 2022 9:17 pm Reply with quote
S1 was rough but enjoyable. I wouldn't call it edgy either. It's just a different style of camp.

As for the whole size thing; that's actually a choice on the Ultra themselves, especially in recent series where they explore the concept more. Like, Zero is prone to outright possessing his host at times as seen numerous times in Geed. In the case of Shinjiro and co; the easiest way to hand wave it is because they aren't full Ultra so it's a partial of what could be. It's like what happens with spoiler[Riku/Geed] since the latter still needs a transformation device and Shinjiro and co don't have it.

MFrontier wrote:

What I don't get is Jack being so...jacked. Like, I get they need a team heavy but where's his weapons? His Ultra Bracelet? Like every other Ultra Bros. at least feel true to a certain extent to their signature, except him.


He has the Brace in the manga. It just we never get a good shot of his wrist in the anime but given the anime did kind of change how Jack got his suit; doubt it'd be 1:1 to begin with.
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BlueAlf



Joined: 02 Jan 2017
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PostPosted: Sun May 08, 2022 9:27 pm Reply with quote
Considering how weird the pacing can be in the manga, I'm glad they made changes for this adaptation.

Also, the way they treated season 2 reminded me of an anecdote that the writer/artist duo of the manga at one point tried to adapt Kamen Rider, but then got vetoed by Toei. But when they tried doing something similar with Ultraman, Tsuburaya surprisingly gave them a go-ahead, which is why we've now got the crazy plots and costume designs in this series.
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MFrontier



Joined: 13 Apr 2014
Posts: 4200
PostPosted: Sun May 08, 2022 10:18 pm Reply with quote
zztop wrote:
[Given the source manga is also still ongoing, I guess that will also depend on whether the production people still think it's worthy to keep on making new seasons in the future. Because then they'd be able to cover things like spoiler[Rena actually having alien heritage, and that her current dad is actually her adopted dad (he was good friends with her biological parents, who were murdered after they placed Rena in his care).]

Seems like season 3 is set to be the "last."
BlueAlf wrote:
Considering how weird the pacing can be in the manga, I'm glad they made changes for this adaptation.

Also, the way they treated season 2 reminded me of an anecdote that the writer/artist duo of the manga at one point tried to adapt Kamen Rider, but then got vetoed by Toei. But when they tried doing something similar with Ultraman, Tsuburaya surprisingly gave them a go-ahead, which is why we've now got the crazy plots and costume designs in this series.

Tsuburaya seems surprisingly more chill than Toei at times.

Those live-action versions of the anime suits look amazing.
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TranceLimit174



Joined: 21 Jul 2004
Posts: 931
PostPosted: Mon May 09, 2022 9:09 pm Reply with quote
Finally, we get to talk about Ultraman S2! Sadly, it was not the event I was hoping it would be.

For starters, this felt less like the 1st half of a season packaged as a full one and more like a movie that was chopped up into a TV miniseries. Especially knowing what we know now about NetFlix, I think this season was impacted by 3 things: COVID-19, NetFlix's animation cuts, and the simple fact that this iteration just didn't catch on internationally at the level NetFlix wanted.

Because of the above, my conspiracy theory is that the original S2 plans got scrapped and were instead re-configured and streamlined into what we got which is essentially an extended toy commercial for Ultraman Taro.

As for the show itself, what's frustrating about watching it as a manga reader is that nothing was gained from all the changes; you're just getting less. In the manga, when Kotaro drops the "Ko" from his name to become "Taro," it's actually a really cool splash page and cliffhanger. Here, the moment lands with a thud. Turns out by dropping all the subplots you end up with a story that's actually pretty bland and it magnifies the issues that have always characterized this iteration of Ultraman.

It's actually an interesting case study. On paper, a lot of smart decisions were made with the central concept being "We are gonna filter Ultraman through a Western superhero lens." Also, the actual references and callbacks to the franchise are very clever and often subtle. Problem is, the superheroics are pretty standard stuff by today's standards, the references are too insider baseball, and then on top of that the concept doesn't read as being Ultraman enough for a lot of fans. The end result is a product that only pleases a certain niche within a fanbase and ends up not working for most people despite it all coming from a thoughtful labor of love.

So unfortunately, I think you can only appreciate this series / version of Ultraman if you already know the franchise well and can spot how they use various elements of it. For example, this is Taro's season and the kaiju from the opening scene is based on a kaiju from Ultraman Taro or the fact that the big robot at the end is actually a really cool take on King Joe from Ultraseven. If you don't know, none of this stuff matters but its what makes this version interesting and entertaining.

Bottom line for me is I got some entertainment value out of this, but it is vastly inferior to the manga. And that said, I'm appreciative that NetFlix will at least be giving this series a final season rather than outright cancelling it. Sadly, that means no Leo Brothers.

MFrontier wrote:
What I don't get is Jack being so...jacked. Like, I get they need a team heavy but where's his weapons? His Ultra Bracelet? Like every other Ultra Bros. at least feel true to a certain extent to their signature, except him.


If you have seen Return of Ultraman, then you'd know that Ultraman Jack / Hideki Go's actor, Jiro Dan, is a very tall man. This again is one of those clever, subtle references used to differentiate Jack from everyone else cause as we know, unless you're a big Ultra fan good luck getting someone to tell the difference between Ultraman, Zoffy, and Jack.

BlueAlf wrote:
Also, the way they treated season 2 reminded me of an anecdote that the writer/artist duo of the manga at one point tried to adapt Kamen Rider, but then got vetoed by Toei. But when they tried doing something similar with Ultraman, Tsuburaya surprisingly gave them a go-ahead, which is why we've now got the crazy plots and costume designs in this series.


I have always said that the best way to describe this series is as an Ultraman sequel that's a Kamen Rider story starring a Sentai squad. It's why I love it.
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MFrontier



Joined: 13 Apr 2014
Posts: 4200
PostPosted: Mon May 09, 2022 11:25 pm Reply with quote
I love whenever Shinjiro does the "shuwatch."
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Bluuumeee



Joined: 23 Feb 2009
Posts: 31
PostPosted: Tue May 10, 2022 2:39 am Reply with quote
"Josh Hutcherson has been doing his best as Shinjiro, to be fair, but his performance feels a bit too removed from the more classic “anime dub” style voices of his co-stars."

I think this might be why I like his performance so much. It sticks out, but somehow doesn't become a jarring distraction.
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Stelman257



Joined: 26 Jul 2013
Posts: 154
PostPosted: Tue May 10, 2022 2:47 am Reply with quote
MFrontier wrote:
Tomoaki Maeno was great as Taro (seriously though, him, Ayane Sakura, and Maaya Sakamoto, this shows' cast was lit) but it's really surreal for me to hear Roger Craig Smith in an anime again, let alone Ultraman Taro.

The dub cast in general is wild yeah, alongside Roger you've got the likes of Fred Tatasciore, Steve Blum, Matthew Mercer, and Liam O'Brien too. I can see why the reviewer would think Josh Hutcherson's performance sticks out from theirs.
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