‘Ultraseven 55th Anniversary Anthology’ Headed to Blu-ray Nov. 14 From Mill Creek

Mill Creek Entertainment is celebrating 55 years of Ultraseven and the “Ultraman” franchise with the release of the Ultraseven 55th Anniversary Anthology collector’s set on Blu-ray Nov. 14.

The anniversary release comes from Mill Creek’s license of the “Ultraman” back-catalog from Tsuburaya Productions Co. 

Included in the set are more than 27 hours of episodes and specials spanning across a total of 18 seasons and a special 12-page booklet about the warrior Ultraseven.

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Ultraseven is the third Ultra Hero to come to Planet Earth from the Land Of Light. Having defended Earth from countless alien invasions, his legacy is more than a warrior, but also as a friend and protector of justice. Enjoy 55 episodes and specials with English subtitles featuring Ultraseven from across all eras of the “Ultraman” Franchise, including “Ultraseven” (1967), “Return of Ultraman,” “Ultraman Ace,” “Ultraman Taro,” “Ultraman Leo,” “Ultraman 80,” “Ultraman Kids,” “Ultraman Neos,” “Ultraman Mebius,” “Ultraseven X,” “Ultraman Ginga,” “Ultraman Zero the Chronicle” and Ultraman Orb the Movie.

The release is available for preorder here.

Shin Ultraman

BLU-RAY REVIEW:

Street Date 7/11/23;
MVD/Cleopatra Entertainment;
Sci-Fi;
Box Office $0.6 million.
$19.95 DVD, $24.95 Blu-ray;
Not rated.
Stars Akari Hayami, Ryo Iwamatsu, Takumi Saitoh, Tetsushi Tanaka, Masami Nagasawa.

A typo on Amazon listed the running time at 1 minute. Could it be the longest 60 seconds we’ll spend watching a movie this year? The anti-fanboy in me kicked into overdrive at the hint of an effects-driven comic book, manipulating CGI with such opiatic force that viewers are suckered into confusing digitized pyrotechnics with storytelling. Fluent in Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, Anthony Mann, and even Infra-Man, Ultraman was, as of yet, virgin territory. Like a visually impaired deaf man taking refuge at a multiplex on a scorching summer day we proceeded with caution, hoping if nothing else that the air conditioning was working. For you fellow duffers out there, let us begin with the title. Why kick in the Shin rather than simply calling it Ultraman? Shin has almost as many different interpretations as shalom. The filmmakers figured they couldn’t miss with a qualifier that conveyed either “new,” “true” or “God.”

It wasn’t until a couple of episodes of the homonymous 1966 “Special Effects Fantasy Series” upon which this was based were under my belt that the accursed purist that lurks within sanctioned the screening. The first TV incarnation was primitively produced campy fluff that one assumes had the same effect on generations to follow that Flash Gordon’s sparkler-propelled tin spaceships had on mine. By the time the series first hit my youthful radar, I was too absorbed by the cult of 007 and U.N.C.L.E. to spare time for Japan’s souped-up sardine can answer to the Jolly Green Giant. Not unlike fellow countryman and kaiju, Godzilla, the cult of Ultraman refused to die as evidenced by the numerous revivals, 37 to be exact, the character has endured throughout the decades.

The Japanese government learns the hard way that it’s going to take more than a tent and a few gallons of orange oil to hamstring the swift rise in effortless destructiveness brought forth by the rampaging colossi currently terrorizing the countryside. A species suppression enforcement unit led by Kimio Tamura (Hidetoshi Nishijima) is established to exterminate the pixelated and armor-plated oppressors. Tamura heads up what at first glance appears to be four members of a high school science club whose levels of nerdiness range from Liza Dolittle on the low end to full-blown Screech. Rather than sitting in a war room and staring at a giant map, they gather at a remote location and sit apart transfixed by their laptops. The oddly effective low angle coverage of their workspace appears to be the result of cinematographers Osamu Ichikawa and Keizô Suzuki’s decision to strap a camera on a pooch in celebration of “Take Your Dog to Work Day.”

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Is what we have here a superhero flick or a monster movie? At first blush, Ultraman’s outer-casing is silver, then silver and red, and finally silver and green. (He changes color more often than a mood ring.) Other than size, the most noticeable shared trait between Ultraman and Godzilla is a limit of one facial expression per kaiju. Ultraman is half human, half extraterrestrial. The military’s determined inability to put a dent in the sudden surge of dam-busting, building-crumbling kaiju makes one thing clear: Only a monster can kill a monster. As sure as Glenda’s a good witch, Ultraman is a misunderstood mammoth. Alas, the monsters our hero wages battle against resemble digitized dinosaurs found in video games. Awkward though they might be, the feelings of warmth articulated by a human in a costume over a cold, stiff slab of CGI make for a more immersive experience.

The confrontations keep it moving. If director Shinji Higuchi’s (Shin Godzilla) aim was an adult update of a childhood favorite, why bleep profanity? The period re-creation and twangin’ ’60s score are welcome additions, as is the stream of insightful chuckles contained in Hideaki Anno’s script. It’s brought to our attention that the holes created by monsters’ powerful rays leveling mountains will make it easier for contractors to build highways. In addition to his screenwriting chores, superfan Anno received credit as producer, editor, concept designer, co-cinematographer, music editor, and the man in the Ultraman suit.  

Zarab is extraterrestrial number two, a clothes rack from another planet topped by a fedora, looking to pit countries against each other so that humankind will wipe itself out in the resulting chaos. (Is Ultraman so naive as to think he can take him out with a bullet?) E.T. No. 3 is Mefilas, the only non-CG baddie in the bunch. He’s a good idea gone bad thanks to repetitious comic banter. Growing up, the Toho monster movies never played in their original language. While searching for special features, I scored something much more rewarding than a trailer. If nostalgia is what you’re after, it doesn’t get more authentic than a dubbed English audio track.

 

Horror Flick ‘What the Waters Left Behind: Scars,’ Japanese Sci-Fi Fantasy ‘Shin Ultraman’ Due on Blu-ray and DVD July 11 From MVD and Cleopatra

The horror flick What the Waters Left Behind: Scars and the Japanese science-fiction fantasy Shin Ultraman will be released on disc July 11 from MVD Entertainment Group and Cleopatra Entertainment.

What the Waters Left Behind: Scars is available on Blu-ray and DVD. In the film, after a packed gig in the middle of nowhere and a wild night out, an indie rock band’s RV gets stuck in the middle of nowhere. The situation is tense: there is trouble within the band and member Billy Bob (Matías Desiderio, Palermo Hollywood) lives up to his reputation as the band’s black sheep when he first sleeps with a groupie and then flees. The remaining band members Jane (Clara Kovacic, The 100 Candles Game) and Mark (Juan Pablo Bishel), as well as manager Javi (Agustin Olcese, The Red Book Ritual) and companion Sophie (Eugenia Rigón, Abracadabra) go in search of the ruins of Epecuén. They soon realize not only that they are not alone, but that they are also in acute danger — and that you should also be careful with groupies. Bonus features include trailers and a slide show.

Shin Ultraman, due on Blu-ray and DVD, is a reimagining of one of Japan’s classic superheroes, full of cosmic twists, villains, and giant Kaiju. The 37th film in the “Ultraman” franchise and the second reboot of a tokusatsu series to be adapted by Hideaki Anno and Shinji Higuchi — after the success of Shin Godzilla — it was the sixth highest-grossing domestic Japanese film of 2022, earning ¥4.44 billion (roughly $33.5 million). In the film, there’s never a dull day on Japan’s newly established SSSP Kaiju defense taskforce, led by Kimio Tamura, (Hidetoshi Nishijima, Drive My Car). After a particularly challenging encounter, a silver giant descends from the sky to rescue the planet. Dubbed Ultraman, the giant’s identity and purpose are a mystery. Nominated for eight Japan Academy Film Prize Awards (2023), including Best Picture and Best Director, the film also stars Hideaki Anno (Shin Godzilla) as Ultraman, Takumi Saitoh (13 Assassins) and Masami Nagasawa (Before We Vanish). Special features include trailers and a slide show. The Blu-ray features a bonus English-language version.

‘Battle Kaiju Series 01 — Ultraman vs Red King’ Due on Blu-ray June 27 From Mill Creek

Mill Creek Entertainment will release Battle Kaiju Series 01 — Ultraman vs Red King, the first installment from a newly curated collection on the most popular Ultra foes, on Blu-ray Disc June 27.

The release comes from Mill Creek’s license of the “Ultraman” back-catalog via international distribution company Indigo Entertainment from Tsuburaya Productions Co. Ltd.

The “Skull Monster” Red King has been a fan favorite since he was introduced back in 1966. Incredibly strong but none-too-bright, the monster is a classic bully who loves nothing more than pummeling other kaiju and fighting Ultra heroes. The Battle Kaiju Series 01 — Ultraman vs Red King set collects 16 Red King episodes from across the “Ultraman” franchise, starting with their first appearance in the original “Ultraman” series and continuing through to 2019’s “Ultraman R/B.”  Alongside the original Red King, the collection presents multiple versions of the monster, including an animated Red King, a Red King controlled by the mind of a teenage girl, and the powered-up, Popeye-armed EX Red King.

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Included in the two-disc Blu-ray release is the bonus special The Birth of Ultraman, a live stage show that introduced Ultraman, the Science Patrol, Red King and other monsters to Japanese audiences. Rounding out the set is a slipcase featuring Marvel Comics artwork, plus a 12-page collectible booklet and episode guide. 

The release features DTS-HD Master Audio of the original Japanese soundtrack with English subtitles.

 

Mill Creek to Celebrate ‘Ultraman’ Day With Home Video Discounts

Mill Creek Entertainment will be part of the annual, internationally celebrated July 10 “Ultraman Day,” offering all of its “Ultraman” titles currently in stock at 50% off retail. 

Mill Creek is the exclusive North American home video distributor of the majority of the “Ultraman” series. 

From July 1-10, Mill Creek is holding daily “Enter-to-Win” contests via its social media accounts. Consumers can visit its Facebook page to enter. Each daily contest will feature a different “Ultraman” title, with five winners chosen each day. On “Ultraman” Day, July 10, “Ultraman” fans will be chosen from all previous daily entries, and two fans will win the Grand Prize of an “Ultraman Ultra Prize Pack” that will include more than 30 “Ultraman” titles currently available from Mill Creek Entertainment. 

There are more “Ultraman” complete series due from Mill Creek later this year, including six “Ultraman” titles on DVD: Ultraman Zearth: Double Feature, Ultraman Kids: 30 Million Light-Years in Search of Mother, Ultraman Cosmos: The Complete Series & Specials, Ultraman Neos: The Complete Series, Ultraman Max: The Complete Series, and Ultraman Nexus: The Complete Series + Ultraman The Next Movie

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Mill Creek Entertainment has licensed “Ultraman” from Tsuburaya Productions through international distribution partner Indigo Entertainment.

‘Ultraseven X,’ ‘Superior 8 Ultra Brothers’ Headed to Blu-ray April 5 From Mill Creek

Two Japanese Ultraman titles, Ultraseven X: The Complete Series and Superior 8 Ultra Brothers, are heading to Blu-ray Disc April 5 from Mill Creek Entertainment.

Superior 8 Ultra Brothers unites three generations of Ultra Heroes for an interdimensional adventure. The story begins in 1966 as three boys named Daigo, Asuka, and Gamu watch the premiere of a new television series called Ultraman. Captivated from the start, they continue to follow and be inspired by the ongoing exploits of Ultraman and his fellow Ultra Brothers. Decades later, Daigo is working for the tourism board in Yokohama when he witnesses a strange mirage of a dying world ravaged by giant monsters.  Additional visions soon follow, including one in which the friendly shopkeepers Hayata, Dan, Goh and Hokuto transform into the famous Ultra Brothers from TV. Daigo confides in Asuka and Gamu, who begin to have similar dreams in which they become Ultramen called “Dyna” and “Gaia.” The sudden appearance of Monster Guesra and the hero Ultraman Mebius convince Daigo that his visions are coming true, and his world is in great danger.

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In Ultraseven X: The Complete Series, available on Blu-ray and digital, a young man is awoken from a fevered dream and barely recognizes himself. A mysterious woman hands him a spectacles-shaped item, says the key holds tremendous power, and tells him it is his duty to save the world. Before asking any more questions, he and the woman are torn apart by a violent explosion. Soon, he is contacted by a secret organization named Deus. He is told he is Agent Jin and his job is to rid this world of vicious alien invaders.

‘Ultraman Gaia’ Available on DVD Dec. 7 From Mill Creek

Mill Creek Entertainment will release “Ultraman Gaia,” the third series in the three-part “Ultraman” collection, on DVD Dec. 7.

The six-disc release sports part of the collectible spine mural showcasing “Ultraman Tiga,” “Ultraman Dyna” and “Ultraman Gaia.”

The series includes Japanese audio with English subtitles and a full episode guide.

“Ultraman Gaia” consists of 51 episodes plus special releases Ultraman Tiga, Ultraman Dyna & Ultraman Gaia: The Battle in Hyper Space and Ultraman Gaia: Gaia Once Again. With a storyline centering on the fight between two Ultras with opposing ideas about defending mankind and the Earth, the show offers a fresh take on the long-running “Ultraman” series. A global defense force known as G.U.A.R.D is formed to resist the attacks when a wormhole emerges just outside the planet’s atmosphere, and monstrous creatures descend upon the world’s cities. Young Gamu Takayama acquires the ability to change into the massive superhero Ultraman Gaia and joins G.U.A.R.D’s frontline defense team, XIG. But Hiroya Fujimiya, a young man with the capacity to transform into Ultraman Agul, a huge warrior with his own agenda, appears. Is this new colossus an ally or an enemy? Gaia would also come face to face with the heroes Tiga and Dyna in the feature film The Battle in Hyper Space.

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The exclusive collection is made possible by Mill Creek Entertainment’s license of the available “Ultraman” back-catalog via international distribution company Indigo Entertainment from Tsuburaya Productions Co.

‘Ultraman Dyna’ Series Heading to DVD Nov. 16 From Mill Creek

“Ultraman Dyna,” the second series in the three-part “Ultraman” collection, will be released in a six-disc DVD collection Nov. 16 from Mill Creek Entertainment.

The series includes Japanese audio with English subtitles and a full episode guide.

The exclusive collection is made possible by Mill Creek’s license of the available “Ultraman” back-catalog via international distribution company Indigo Entertainment from Tsuburaya Productions Co., Ltd.

“Ultraman Dyna” features 51 episodes from season one and two specials “Ultraman Tiga” and “Ultraman Dyna: Warriors of the Star of Light,” and “Ultraman Dyna: Return of Hanejiro.” The series showcases the events seven years after “Ultraman Tiga,” where humanity has embarked on the Neo Frontier project of building settlements throughout the solar system. When a massive insect-like monster attacks the Martian village without warning, a colossal Tiga-like humanoid appears to fight the monster. Ultraman Dyna is the new warrior, a being of light born after a light joined with Agent Asuka of the Super GUTS Team, to wage war against the marauding aliens and monsters that threaten humanity. Tiga and Dyna would eventually team up in the theatrical movie Warriors of the Star of Light.

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‘The Ultraman,’ ‘Ultraman 80’ Collections Coming to DVD Sept. 14 From Mill Creek

Mill Creek Entertainment will release “The Ultraman” and “Ultraman 80”  in their North American DVD debut Sept. 14.

Both collections will be on six DVDs at $34.99 each.

Mill Creek Entertainment has licensed the available “Ultraman” back-catalog via international distribution company Indigo Entertainment from Tsuburaya Productions.

“The Ultraman” is the eighth original entry in the “Ultraman” series. This DVD collection includes all 50 episodes. In the animated series, across the planet Earth, strange glowing objects in the form of an unknown language appear in the skies. In order to investigate these strange phenomena, the Earth Defense Forces form the Science Guard Agency led by Captain Akiyama. Akiyama immediately forms a top-rated team of scientific experts. Choichiro Hikari from the Earth Defense Forces space station is chosen to join the Science Guard Agency and begins making his way back to Earth. But as he is traveling through space, Hikari meets Ultraman Joneus. Ultraman Joneus tells Hikari that the Earth is in great danger. In order to defend the Earth, Ultraman Joneus says he must become one with an Earth man. Hikari agrees and he and Ultraman Joneus join forces. When danger strikes, Hikari is able to transform into the gigantic 40 meter tall superhero Ultraman Joneus.

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The ninth original series is “Ultraman 80.” This 50-episode series follows Takeshi Yamato, a 22-year-old young man who lives a double life. During the daytime, he is a rookie but popular science teacher at a junior high school in Tokyo. But after school and on Sundays he works as a member of the elite UGM (Utility Government Members), an Earth defense organization that tackles difficult situations such as alien invasion and attacks from monsters. When the situation gets out of control, Takeshi transforms into a 50-meter-tall mighty warrior, Ultraman 80, and knocks down the most terrifying monsters to save the day.

The “Ultraman” and “Ultraman 80” sets feature episode guides and audio of the original Japanese soundtracks with English subtitles.

Shout! Factory TV Schedules ‘Ultraman’ Streaming Marathon

Shout! Factory TV and its Tokusatsu channel TokuSHOUTsu on July 10 will host an all-day streaming event featuring the series “Ultraman,” in celebration of the show’s 55th anniversary.

Starting at 7 a.m. “PT Ultraman Day: Ultrathon” can be viewed across TokuSHOUTsu and Shout! Factory TV platforms; on TokuSHOUTsu.com and ShoutFactoryTV.com or TokuSHOUTsu’s Pluto TV, Twitch and THETA.tv channels; Shout! Factory TV’s Amazon Fire TV, Android, Apple TV, and Roku apps; and digital streaming platforms including IMDb TV, Local Now, Pluto TV, Redbox, Samsung TV Plus, Sling TV, STIRR, Twitch, Vizio and XUMO.

The Ultrathon will feature 19 hand-picked episodes across nine “Ultraman” series, including “Ultraman,” “Ultraseven,” “Return of Ultraman,” “Ultraman Ace,” “Ultraman Leo,” “Ultra Q,” “Ultraman X,” “Ultraman Orb,” and “Ultraman Ginga.” They will stream alongside segments of a new “Ultraman” special, leading up to the 5 p.m. PT U.S. streaming debut of “Ultraman Zero: The Revenge of Belial” as a grand finale. Additionally, the event will include exclusive giveaways of popular toys from Bluefin Brands, with promotional support from Marvel Entertainment, Factory Entertainment, VIZ Media, and Right Stuf Anime.

Following “Ultrathon,” “Ultraman Zero: The Revenge of Belial” and “In Search of Ultraman! The Invasion from Another Space!” will join the catalog of “Ultraman” content also available for streaming on demand across Shout! Factory TV platforms.