That’s only 72,086 Ultraman fights away!

At the beginning of 2021, we reported on the upcoming Shin Ultraman film, based on the classic tokusatsu Ultra series. At the time, we mentioned that it was due to hit theaters in the summer, but little did we know how bad this year was going to suck too.

Production was halted due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but now appears to have gotten back on track and finally has a firm release date of 13 May, 2022.

This movie is helmed by Evangelion creator Hideaki Anno as writer and planner and Shinji Higuchi as director, and is the spiritual successor to 2016’s Shin Godzilla. Much like that film, Shin Ultraman looks to be retaining much of the aesthetic of the originals while also adding Anno’s unmistakably Eva-esque touches to create a whole new style.

There’s still little known about the production aside from the cast Masami Nagasawa, Hidetoshi Nishijima, Daiki Arioka, Akari Hayama, Tetsushi Tanaka, and starring Takumi Saito who is still simply being billed as “the guy who becomes Ultraman.”

However, the trailer did reveal one glaring difference between this new Ultraman and those of days past. There is no glowing “color timer” on his chest. In each episode of the series a transformation to the giant super-powered warrior could only last three minutes or so as indicated by a series of color changing lights on his torso.

▼ The lack of a timer can be better seen in this close up look at Shin Ultraman’s design which was revealed in 2019

Not all Ultraman designs have had color timers, but they did make for an interesting plot device, both providing the hero with a core weakness and driving suspense with a ticking clock. However, it is admittedly contrived, so not everyone loved the idea among both fans and producers. Anno appears to be in the no-timer camp, so we’ll see how that plays out in the film.

Nevertheless, there is a very welcome timer on the release of the film now, and fans couldn’t be happier according to online comments.

“That trailer is too short!”
“Finally, they decided!”
“Ultraman in May? I’ll be waiting.”
“I’m glad they kept the Spacium Beam sound intact.”
“When he’s standing still it’s creepy, but when he starts to move I’m like ‘ULTRAMAN!'”
“That’s actually a really short postponement by Anno standards.”
“I’m glad there’s no color timer.”
“This looks really fun.”

Speaking of fun, Shin Godzilla was clearly a metaphor for the 2011 Tohoku Earthquake and subsequent Fukushima nuclear disaster as a critique on the government’s handling of them. This is quite a departure from the campy films the franchise is largely known for, but took it right back to the nuclear bomb metaphor that the original 1954 Godzilla film was intended to be.

Ultraman, on the other hand, was originally pure childhood fantasy of becoming an giant superhero and tapping into mysterious alien forces to save the world from an array of bizarre monsters. So in that way we might expect Shin Ultraman to either stay true to its roots and be a fun adventure for kids of all ages, or possibly adapt the more modern and gritty atmosphere that helped make Shin Godzilla as well-received as it was.

▼ Even looking at the other, longer trailer it seems like the general atmosphere could go either way

Or to put it another way: Shin Ultraman has even odds of becoming either a Richard Donner Superman or Zack Snyder Superman.

Source: Cinema Today, My Game News Flash,
Top image: YouTube/ウルトラマン公式 ULTRAMAN OFFICIAL by TSUBURAYA PROD.
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