The weeks around San Diego are always pretty big for live-action superheroes, but if you were caught up in all the movie news that came out of Comic-Con, you might've missed one of the most interesting announcements of the year. On Tuesday, Ultraman X, this year's iteration of the venerable franchise created by Eiji Tsubaraya, became the first tokusatsu show to ever be broadcast simultaneously in Japan and America, thanks to the Crunchyroll streaming service.
My tokusatsu preferences have always leaned towards the Super Sentai and Kamen Rider franchises, but it's impossible to overstate the popularity of Ultraman. Created by Eiji Tsuburaya, the series launched in 1967 and has continued with a run of popular TV shows and movies ever since. Now, the alien hero from the Land of Light is getting a tribute in the form of four new statues in Tsubaraya's hometown of Sukagawa.
The statues feature both Ultraman and Ultraseven, the first two heroes of the franchise, posed to deliver their finishing moves at statues of two of the show's monsters, Gomora and Eleking.
This past fall I had the pleasure of visiting the island of Maui, where I got to eat a bunch of shave ice, surf while shark fins visibly poked up from the waves and eat at this place that housed a giant sculpture of a sea turtle eating pizza. It was dope. Still, as always, it seems I've been bested by Tsuburaya's Ultraman, who seemed to have an even better time vacationing in the Hawaiian islands with his family.
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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.
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