Fans new and old have been enjoying Mill Creek Entertainment’s Blu-ray collection of Return of Ultraman, and with an updated booklet now available for people who have already purchased the disks, it’s high time we take a look at what made the show itself so great, and how well its conveyed in this gorgeous collection.
Return of Ultraman is generally considered the fourth entry in the Ultraman Series, after Ultra Q, Ultraman, and Ultraseven. However, in many ways Return is truly notable, because it’s the series to bind previous and future iterations into an ongoing continuity, reintroducing previous Giants of Light over the course of its 51-episode run, and following up on memorable fights and storylines from past series.
The story of Return itself focuses on Go Hideki, a young race car driver, who is tragically struck down while attempting to save a child and dog from the disastrous fallout of a Kaiju attack. Go’s heroism is noticed by a newly-arrived Ultra, who resurrects the earnest young man by merging his essence with his. Now imbued with the power of Ultraman, Go is driven to take a more active role in humanity’s struggle against these giant monsters by joining MAT (Monster Attack Team). Though the team is skilled and brave, when the going gets tough, they can rely on the aid of the returned Ultraman to save the world—even if they don’t realize his human form is their new friend Go.
Return of Ultraman features a number of the best-loved stories and monsters of the entire 55-year run of the series. A number of the key threats to Earth during this time came in pairs, like the prehistoric rivals of episodes 5 and 6, Gudon and Twin Tail, and the monstrous master and servant of episodes 37 and 38, Alien Nackle and Black King. Others emerged from the great fights of the past, like Alien Baltan Jr. in episode 41, and the dreaded return of Zetton in episodes 51. Many more were newly borne in this terrifying age of monsters and left their mark for future generations, like the threat of the ravenous Bemstar, and the utter tragedy of the alien, Meits.
With such a wide variety of threats and trials, the returned Ultraman, who would in following years come to be known as Ultraman Jack, found himself armed not only with the skillful techniques learned as an Ultra warrior, but the shapeshifting Ultra Bracelet, which allowed him to adapt to the increasingly bizarre circumstances imposed by his foes. And, of course, he could rely on the backup occasionally of his Ultra Brother predecessors during especially dire situations. These include the original Ultraman and Ultraseven. Seven, by the way, is the one who bestows the Ultra Bracelet to Jack.
From the standpoint of tokusatsu, Return of Ultraman boasted continued improvement in terms of special effects and miniatures. The sunset battle between Jack and Gudon and Twin Tail—in which Jack is temporarily beaten—is perhaps the most memorable in the series. The Alien Nackle and Black King battle is one of the darkest in all the Classic Ultraman series. A true “Red Wedding,” it features the loss of several key cast members!
Return of Ultraman – The Complete Series is available in both Steelbook and standard editions, each one containing all 51 episodes in HD quality and English subtitles. Each copy contains an updated series booklet containing all the information new and old fans could ask for, as well as a code to redeem a digital version of the entire series on movieSPREE. For more Mill Creek Entertainment profiles and other Ultraman merch and media, keep your eyes locked on Ultraman Galaxy.
Series Booklet info: