REVIEW: ‘Ultraman’ Season 2 Trades Character Journeys For Tokusatsu Overload

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Ultraman Season 2 - But Why Tho

Ultraman Season 2 continues the story that began in the first season of the Netflix Original Anime Series. Shinjiro Hayata (Josh Hutcherson) has embraced his role as Ultraman, helping the Science Special Search Party battle alien invaders. However, a new threat has emerged in the form of the Black Star Army, which has been abducting human beings over the planet for an undetermined purpose. When Shinjiro is among the abducted, it falls to other Ultramen, including journalist Kotaro “Taro” Higashi (Roger Craig Smith) to discover a way to save mankind before the Black Star Army razes the Earth.

As a major Ultraman fan, I’ve loved how the manga by Eiichi Shimizu and Tomohiro Shimoguchi has managed to blend together different elements of the Ultraman legacy while also presenting a new take on fan-favorite Ultraman characters. And while that trend continues in Ultraman Season 2, it ends up shifting the focus from Shinjiro to Kotaro as the younger Ultraman is sidelined for nearly the entirety of the season. What made the first season great was how Shinjiro learned to become Ultraman. A second season could have faired better had it focused on the lessons he learned and how the Black Star Army could have presented a new challenge for him. Preferably, it would have seen Shinjiro’s father Shin (D.C. Douglas) be the one who was abducted. This would have added a more personal element to the narrative.

One thing’s for sure; the series definitely benefits from a shorter run of episodes. Compared to the lengthy Season 1Ultraman Season 2 is a breezy six episodes – and it manages to balance another superhero origin (this time for Kotaro) with a full-scale alien invasion. This buildup leads to a final battle between the leader of the Black Star Army and the collective Ultramen, which includes both Hayata-men, Kotaro, Dan Moroboshi (Liam O’Brien), Seiji Hokuto (Gunnar Sizemore), and Jack (Robbie Daymond). And it’s a knock-down, city-leveling battle that features enough energy beams and special moves to satiate even the pickiest Toksatusu fan.

Production I.G., whose previous work includes Ghost In The Shell and “The Ninth Jedi” for Star Wars Visions, gives each Ultraman their own distinct armor and power set which corresponds to their personalities. Jack is a brawler who prefers to solve his problems with his fists, so his Ultraman suit is large and bulky and makes him strong enough to tackle alien threats. Shinjiro and Shin have similar suits, representing how the Ultraman legacy has passed on from father to son. And Kotaro, who gains flame-based powers, has an Ultraman suit with vents to let out his cosmic flame.

Special credit also has to go to co-director Kenji Kamiyama, who gives the series some truly excellent fight scenes. From a classic superhero misunderstanding between Jack and Kotaro, to Moroboshi engaging in a swordfight with a pair of alien maids (yes, really), Ultraman Season 2 manages to be one of the few 3D anime series that actually feels like it has motion. And that’s not even getting into the transformation sequences. Kotaro, in particular, has a fiery transformation that pays homage to the original Ultraman Taro series. This bodes well for Lord of the Rings fans as Kamiyama is slated to direct the War of the Rohirrim film in 2024. My one issue continues to be the English dub. It’s fairly clear that the words aren’t matching with the characters’ mouths, which makes dialogue-heavy scenes extremely jarring.

Ultraman Season 2 continues its action-packed reinvention of the Tokusatsu legend, but ends up shifting the focus from its main character in the process. Should Netflix greenlight a third season of the story, I hope it manages to keep Shinjiro in the limelight while also exploring his dynamic with the other Ultramen. With Netflix set to launch a new Ultraman animated film in the future and Marvel presenting its own take on the Ultraman mythos, the legend of Ultraman will continue to flourish on and off the screen.

Both seasons of the Ultraman anime are currently available to stream on Netflix.


Ultraman Season 2
  • 7/10
    Rating - 7/10
7/10

TL;DR

Ultraman Season 2 continues its action-packed reinvention of the Tokusatsu legend, but ends up shifting the focus from its main character in the process. Should Netflix greenlight a third season of the story, I hope it manages to keep Shinjiro in the limelight while also exploring his dynamic with the other Ultramen. With Netflix set to launch a new Ultraman animated film in the future and Marvel presenting its own take on the Ultraman mythos, the legend of Ultraman will continue to flourish on and off the screen.