The Latest ‘Ultraman’ Manga Takes An Armored Approach [Video]
If you had to compare Tsuburaya's Ultraman to a Western superhero concept, the closest comparison would probably be... Captain Marvel or a much friendlier version of Alan Moore's Marvelman? Every incarnation of the longrunning Japanese tokusatsu and anime empire is different, but more often than not, the hero is the result of a nobel member of a kind of cosmic pantheon merging with a human host (or taking on a human form) to defend planet Earth from invading kaiju from space. In Japan's Monthly Hero's Magazine, however, manga creators Eiichi Shimizu and Tomohiro Shimoguchi present a normal human donning a special high tech suit to protect the planet as Ultraman.
As seen in a new motion comic video promoting the series' third collected volume, ordinary teen Shinjiro Hayata dons a high tech "Ultra Suit" created by his father Shin Hayata -- the original human host for Ultraman -- to covertly combat threats as part of a secret organization. In this continuity, it's been around 40 years since the original Ultraman left Earth. When new monsters attack, it's up to Shinjioro to face the new foes as he's the only one with a bloodline that's compatible with the armored suit, which channels energies unique to Ultraman and other beings from the Land of Light. And don't worry, the suit of armor isn't like Iron Man's where it's just a normal dude inside some metal shooting repulsor blasts. This suit sees Shinjiro do all the usual Ultra stuff, like growing to a height of several stories and blasting evil with the hero's signature Ultra Beam/Specium Ray.
The manga has been around since 2011, but with the book's plot and backstory established, the latest collected volume that arrives in Japan in September cuts straight to action with Ultraman taking on a new alien monster.
Overall the series is darker in tone and more targeted to teens and adults than the more kid-friendly Ultraman Ginga, Tsuburaya Productions' latest live action show. Created to celebrate the company's 50th anniversary, Ginga follows a protagonist who essentially saves/teams up with every other version of Ultraman after they're turned into action figures by mysterious force.
No word on whether this manga will make its way to North America. Harvey released its own original Ultraman comic that ran for eight issues in 1993-94, with Viz releasing some translated Battle of the Ultra-Brothers manga around the same time. The last Ultraman comic released in the US was Dark Horse's 12-issue adaptation of Ultraman Tiga from 2003-2004.