ULTRASEVEN X Debuts in October
Something X-tra for Ultra Seven’s Anniversary
Author: Bob Johnson, James Ballard, and Oki Miyano
Source: Sponichi Annex, Hyper Hobby Magazine, Oricon Style, various
Official Site: UltrasevenX
Translations by: Oki Miyano and James Ballard
As Tsuburaya Productions ends a year of celebrating the 40th anniversary of Ultraman, they turn their Ultra-Eyes to another commemoration. Next month begins the 40th anniversary of one of their most critically celebrated characters, Ultra Seven. To mark the occasion, Ultra Seven will be returning to the airwaves this fall in an all-new series, ULTRASEVEN X (Urutorasebun Ekkusu). The series will debut the first week of October on three Japanese networks. The show starts on TBS (Tokyo Broadcasting System) at 2:25am and on the high-definition service CBC (Chubu-Nippon Broadcasting) from 2:15am on Friday, October 5th, followed by MBS (Mainichi Broadcasting System) on Saturday, October 6th at 3:25am during their regular Anime Shower slot from 1:55-3:55am every Saturday. There will be 12 episodes in all.
The basic storyline of ULTRASEVEN X involves an alien invasion whose goal is to exterminate mankind and take over the Earth. An amnesiac young man named Jin is assigned as an agent to DEUS, the special investigation team defending the Earth. Unaware of his true identity, Jin becomes involved in the conflict with the aliens.
The original ULTRA SEVEN (Urutorasebun) was broadcast from October 1967 through September of 1968, lasting a total of 49 episodes. Although Nippon Television made a special TV movie, ULTRA SEVEN: OPERATION SOLAR ENERGY (Urutorasebun Taiyou Enerugii Sakusen) in 1994 and TPC followed with two direct to video series, this is Ultra Seven’s first return to a regular broadcast television series. ULTRA SEVEN is considered by many to be a TV drama which appeals to a more adult audience than the typical kid-oriented tokusatsu show. The stories were sometimes seen from the points of view of the villainous characters, and the use unique camera angles (thanks to the late Akio Jissoji and other talented directors) and a darker perspective created a different tone from the other Ultra series.
The new ULTRASEVEN X will retain this serious, adult approach while still offering viewers monsters, aliens and the requisite science fiction elements found in the classic series. According to the Series Organizer/Director, Takeshi Yagi, “At that time there was great respect for Ultra Seven. After 40 years, how has it evolved? This is not a remake, we’ve developed a newly reformed Ultra Seven world; for older fans, for people watching Seven for the first time, the work was aimed to endure the appreciation of adults.”
Yukiko Omote, a female producer at Tsuburaya Productions who also worked on ULTRA Q: DARK FANTASY (Urutora Kyuu Daakufantajii, 2004), explains, “Although we modernized it, we stuck to the simple and cool original forty-year-old Ultra Seven look.” As with the original, the human character will use the red glasses or “Ultra Eye” for the transformation.
Although the new Ultraseven has six-pack abs and a slimmer figure, he still has the classic design of the original series. Seven will also use his trademark head-mounted boomerang, the “Eye Slugger”, to subdue his foes. Ultraseven’s other weapons will also remain the same, though undoubtedly enhanced with state of the art CGI. A human character will transform into the red and silver hero, so the series will still appeal to the old-time Ultra fans. Among the changes brought to ULTRASEVEN X is the backstory for the titular hero; while the original Ultra Seven came from space and was a fixed star observation member (meaning “astronomer”), in the new series his existence is enshrouded in mystery. There are also no uniforms for the members of the Ultra security force, nor does a base or advanced mecha appear in the show.
In the original series, a relationship between Ultra Seven’s human guise, Dan Moroboshi and Anne Yuri, a member of the Ultra Garrison, developed over the course of the 49 adventures. This trend will continue in ULTRASEVEN X, though Dan and Anne are conspicuously absent. In their place are Jin, a member of DEUS, who will transform into Ultra Seven and is played by 25-year-old actor Eriku Yoza from Okinawa and Elena, a co-member and object of affection, played by 22-year-old Saki Kagami.
Yoza, playing the leading role, stated at a recent press conference, “As a child I thought of a hero as being very strong, and I wanted to become a strong man, too. I performed as the 21st century’s slightly evil-ish hero.” Discussing the training for the action scenes, he said, “I probably look stronger than Seven. I have self confidence now that this sci-fi drama is completed.”
The crew for ULTRASEVEN X is made up of staffers from ULTRAMAN NEXUS (Urutoraman Nekusasu, 2004) and the late night TV programs GARO (2005) and ULTRA Q: DARK FANTASY which should be an indication of the tone and direction to expect from the new series. Based on early reports, ULTRASEVEN X will be decidedly more adult and serious, continuing the story and character-driven style of the original ULTRA SEVEN. Heading the staff for the new series are…
Takeshi Yagi (Director) is the Series Organizer on ULTRASEVEN X. He also directed Episodes 1 and 2, and may return for more episodes later in the series. Yagi was an assistant director on some of the direct-to-video ULTRA SEVEN productions, ULTRAMAN TIGA (Urutoraman Tiga, 1996) and ULTRAMAN DYNA (Urutoraman Daina, 1997). He was promoted to director and FX director for ULTRAMAN GAIA (Urutoraman Gaia, 1998), ULTRAMAN COSMOS (Urutoraman Kosumosu, 2001), ULTRA Q: DARK FANTASY, ULTRAMAN NEXUS, ULTRAMAN MAX (Urutoraman Makkusu, 2005) and ULTRAMAN MEBIUS (Urutoraman Mebiusu, 2006). He also took charge as the series producer for ULTRAMAN MAX.
Kenji Suzuki (Director) was the special effects director of Toho’s REBIRTH OF MOTHRA 3 (Mosura 3 Kingugidora Raishuu, 1998), GODZILLA 2000 (Gojira Ni-sen Mireniamu, 1999) and GODZILLA VS. MEGAGUIRUS (Gojira tai Megagirasu, 2000). He was later an FX director for ULTRAMAN COSMOS, ULTRAMAN MAX and ULTRAMAN MEBIUS. He made his debut as a live-action director for Episodes 11 and 12 of ULTRAMAN MEBIUS.
Kengo Kaji (Director) has written episodes of ULTRAMAN COSMOS and ULTRAMAN MAX. He has also directed episodes of ULTRAMAN MAX and ULTRAMAN MEBIUS. Most importantly, he served as a director, writer and as the Series Organizer for GARO.
Kazuya Konaka (Director) is one of the top veterans of the Ultra series. He was the director for the theatrical films ULTRAMAN ZEARTH 2 (Urutoraman Zeasu 2, 1997), ULTRAMAN TIGA & ULTRAMAN DYNA (Urutoraman Tiga & Urutorman Daina Hikari-no Hoshi-no Senshitachi, 1998), ULTRAMAN GAIA: THE BATTLE IN HYPERSPACE (Urutoraman Tiga & Urutoraman Daina & Urutoraman Gaia Choujikuu-no Daikessen, 1999), ULTRAMAN: THE NEXT (Ultraman, 2004), ULTRAMAN MEBIUS & ULTRAMAN BROTHERS (Urutoraman Mebiusu & Urutora Kyoudai, 2006) and MIRROR MAN: REFLEX (Miraaman Rifurekkusu, 2006). He’s also directed episodes for many of the various TV series from ULTRAMAN DYNA thru ULTRAMAN MEBIUS.
Yuji Kobayashi (Writer) was a writer for ULTRA Q: DARK FANTASY, ULTRAMAN MAX, ULTRAMAN MEBIUS and BIO PLANET WOO (Seibutsu Suisei Wuu, 2006), and was credited as the “Main Writer” for GARO.
Ai Ota (Writer) has written for ULTRAMAN TIGA, ULTRAMAN DYNA, ULTRAMAN GAIA, BOOSKA! BOOSKA!! (Buusuka! Buusuka!!, 1999), ULTRAMAN COSMOS, ULTRA Q: DARK FANTASY, ULTRAMAN MAX and ULTRAMAN MEBIUS. She was one of the main writers after ULTRAMAN NEXUS’ major transition, writing many of the episodes for the new Ultraman host Ren Senju.
Takurou Fukuda (Writer) wrote the 1991 film ALL’S QUIET ON THE RECRUIT FRONT (Shushokusensen Ijo Nasai) along with the film’s director, Shusuke Kaneko.
Sotaro Hayashi (Writer) has written episodes of ULTRAMAN COSMOS and ULTRAMAN MAX, as well as the film EKO EKO AZARAK III: MISA THE DARK ANGEL.
Keiichi Hasegawa (Writer) was the leading writer and Series Organizer of ULTRAMAN NEXUS. Hasegawa also co-wrote GODZILLA MOTHRA & KING GHIDORAH (aka GMK, Gojira Mosura Kingugidora Daikaiju Sokougeki, 2001) with Masahiro Yokotani and Shusuke Kaneko. His other Ultra series credits include many of Tsuburaya’s recent theatrical films such as ULTRAMAN GAIA: THE BATTLE IN HYPERSPACE, ULTRAMAN TIGA: THE FINAL ODDESSY (Urutoraman Tiga Za Fainaru Odessei, 2000), the three ULTRAMAN COSMOS movies, ULTRAMAN: THE NEXT and ULTRAMAN MEBIUS & ULTRAMAN BROTHERS.
With the advancement in special effects over the last forty years, ULTRASEVEN X will provide, as TPC puts it, “dramatic images implemented through CGI and other current special effects techniques”. By combining the best of all worlds— drama, characterization, special effects and action— Tsuburaya hopes to capture the unique vision of 1967’s ULTRA SEVEN and present it in a new, updated package for modern viewers to enjoy!
For more information on ULTRASEVEN X, please see the previous coverage here on SciFi Japan.