It started, as it did in 1966, with Gomess. Original Gomess too, twenty meters tall and no less dangerous for it, rampaging through a city full of people; a far stranger sight to see in 2020 than any monster. I was immediately enraptured by the effect. I’d seen Ultraman on TV (and YouTube) before, but New Generation Ultraman had rarely played with scale like this. My surprise was doubled when Sevenger showed up, at 55 meters tall and interacting with the smaller Gomess in such a realistic fashion. Through it all, I watched a young man risk his life (perhaps a little bone-headedly) to save a dog among the chaos.
And then I heard the opening words of the song.
“Chant my name with me!”
I’ve been an Ultraman fan for a long time. If I wasn’t, I wouldn’t be where I am, writing for Ultraman Galaxy. However, that moment, that introduction to the world of Ultraman Z, was something different. I was hooked in an instant. Every Friday night for 25 weeks, during one of the hardest years of my life so far, I sat down and forgot about the difficulties I was dealing with, and tuned in to watch Z, be it by myself, or with friends or family the few lucky times I was able to see them.
And as I write this, the 25th episode, “Warriors Shining Beyond,” has just ended, and frankly, I’m a little bit misty. I could opine for hours on the episode alone, but it doesn’t exist in a vacuum. 24 episodes ramped up to this moment, from that first appearance of Gomess to a brilliant blue Z against the blackness of space. I got to watch Haruki Natsukawa grow from an earnest, but inexperienced young pilot to Earth’s greatest hero, in a fantastic performance by Kohshu Hirano that will be remembered fondly for years to come. I got to watch the four-year arc of Takaya Aoyagi’s Jugglus Juggler reach yet another apex with the new guise of STORAGE Captain Shota Hebikura. I got to see Sevenger’s return leave an adorable, robot-shaped impact in the hearts of audiences worldwide.
In a year full of difficulties, I got to enjoy what I felt may be one of the best entries in the Ultraman series, and for that I am deeply, truly thankful. I know that we’ll all be seeing Haruki and Zett again soon, and when that time comes, I hope that you’ll all chant his name with me.
Editor-in-Chief, Ultraman Galaxy
That banging theme song has been echoing in my ears for the past 24 weeks, and it’s one of the few earworms I truly haven’t minded. In a world of darkness, Haruki Natsukawa and Ultraman Z have not simply been beacons of light—they have stood for a purity of intent, a mindfulness of how humanity needs to coexist with other creatures (even Kaiju), and the determination not to surrender in the face of overwhelming challenges.
At first, I wondered whether Zett’s human host was too childlike, steering the series toward the youngest of audiences, but soon I realized that Haruki’s earnestness was both a response to tragedy, and a genuine sensitivity to the plight of others. Contrast Haruki’s perspective with those of his colleagues at STORAGE. Yoko believes that Kaiju and humans simply cannot coexists, so you have to blast ‘em. Yuka doesn’t need them alive to study them. The varied perspectives of all the characters in the series reflect an underlying maturity, a thoughtfulness that elevates Ultraman Z, making it well worth watching for older fans.
Under the masterful lensing of such directors as Kiyotaka Taguchi and Koichi Sakamoto, the series featured some of the most exciting tokusatsu effects in years. Nighttime city battles, 360-degree heavy metal blowouts. Cars and bicycles flying through the air. Blinding beams and crackling lightning bolts of power weren’t simply flashing across the screen for their own sake. There were human characters driving those giant robots and inhabiting the Giant of Light. The stakes were always personal in Ultraman Z.
Finally, there is the unique pairing of Haruki and Zett. We rarely see an ongoing dialog between host and Ultra in the franchise, but here both characters are young, innocent, and exuberant. One never dominates the other. They are peers. In fact, they face their final enemy (the nigh indestructible Kaiju, Destrudos) alone. Zett conducts the entire battle in his original form. He and Haruki no longer need to call upon the power of previous Ultras in order to triumph. They have come into their own as heroes.
A part of us wants Haruki to go in for that kiss with Yoko and stay with her on Earth, but not for an instance to we question his decision to depart with Zett. The good they have done on Earth will almost certainly be amplified out in space. I hope one day we’ll get to see what happens between them amongst the cosmos.
And rest assured, Earth won’t stand alone against Kaiju and alien threats for long. A new Ultraman is on their way!
Producer, Ultraman Galaxy