The Ultraman Series of television shows and movies enter their 54th year in 2020. Within that venerable history, three distinct eras of storytelling have emerged, each presenting a distinct feel and style resonant with the times and audience expectations.

The First Generation of the Ultraman Series, also known as Classic Ultraman, started with 1966’s Ultra Q, and distinguished itself immediately with its emphasis on mystery and the bizarre, explaining and solving those strange situations with the power of science. The heroes who emerged in this time period, like the original Ultraman and Ultraseven, were bold and stoic beings of action, working to uncover the unknown and protect humanity from marauding Kaiju. In addition, despite the episodic nature of each series, the universe of Classic Ultraman maintained a strong continuity, with the heroes of earlier series often arriving to help their contemporaries, passing the torch to them, and even teaming together to form the fan favorite team, the Ultra Brothers.

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The Second Generation of the franchise, beginning with 1996’s Ultraman Tiga, stood in contrast to the single canonical universe of the Classic series, exploring diverse and fascinating spins on the Ultraman concept. Frequently exploring perspectives and situations of non-human species that come into contact with the Giants of Light, the Second Generation promoted a diversity of beliefs and thoughts, with each Ultra hero being significantly different from those before and after.

The Third Generation, having begun with 2013’s Ultraman Ginga, has drawn inspiration from many of the best qualities of its predecessors, while forging an entirely new identity. Focusing on the power of the bonds between individuals, the stories of the Third Generation have distinguished themselves with long-running, serialized plots and a greater unified continuity. The Ultra heroes form closer friendships with one another and with the humans around them, and those friendships prove to be key to solving problems, averting crises, and routing the forces of darkness