Ultraman sets a futuristic premise but fails to entice the audience due to its use of wafer-thin characters.
I think one of the major problems with Netflix anime series Ultraman is that the lead protagonist Shinjiro Hayata (voiced by Ryohei Kimura) is a wafer-thin character in a fancy, futuristic plot. I know the anime series is based on the manga of the same name so it could be that the source material delves deeper into how we, as an audience, should care about him.
Ultraman fast-tracks the story with a series of exposition; the first episode is designed to set up the premise for the rest of the series. The background is predicated on the Giant of Light who once saved the Earth, secured peace and left. Shinjiro learns that his father was once Ultraman and that he has inherited the same genes, and can use the impressively modified suit to perform super-abilities.
The anime series does not take long to provide Shinjiro with the “Ultraman” status, in a moment where an alien enemy attacked his father, he becomes accustomed to his suit, which impresses his peers on how well he can use it. The action scenes, and the build-up to the dramatics are impressive, with well thought-out animation to present the audience this broken world, infested with aliens and inter-planetary politics.
Removing my concerns with the lack of character impact, once the series delves into a series of missions involving aliens, and the other acquaintances in suits get involved, you have yourself a tidy, sharp superhero series grabbing tropes from the genre and sliding them into the anime form for us to enjoy.
Shinjiro’s adjustment to becoming Ultraman is one of the most enjoyable aspects of the series, as they tentatively ask him to perform in the suit. There are moments where he has to adjust his principles to complete an object, but this is a character that is sold as shy and distant socially at the start, so there is growth to the role despite the woeful base of a premise.
In terms of the anime series catalog in Netflix, I’d argue this isn’t the strongest in the suite, but it’s still worth a lazy morning.
Daniel Hart is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has operated as Editor-in-Chief since 2017.