Ultraman Appears During Anime Launch at Winter Wonder Festival
A SCIFI JAPAN EXCLUSIVE
Wonderfest attendees and professionals alike gathered to celebrate all facets of goods emphasizing tokusatsu, anime, and home-grown characters. 150 exuberant fans of the hit ULTRAMAN manga series by Eiichi Shimizu and Tomohiro Shimoguchi pressed into the Kotobukiya special stage on Sunday, February 10th to learn more about the 13-episode ULTRAMAN series, which bridges the comic serialization of Eiji Tsuburaya’s timeless superheroes and kaiju featured in HERO’S magazine into a modern anime directed by Kenji Kamiyama (GHOST IN THE SHELL: S.A.C., 009 RE:CYBORG, BLADE RUNNER BLACK LOTUS) and Shinji Aramaki (APPLESEED, HARLOCK: SPACE PIRATE, STARSHIP TROOPERS: TRAITOR OF MARS).
Wonderfest in Chiba, with its 8 grandiose halls of exhibitors, was the perfect showcase for the highly anticipated anime from Tsuburaya Productions. The series blends motion capture filmmaking and computer animation from Production I.G. x SOLA DIGITAL ARTS, aided by a musical score from composers Nobuko Toda (METAL GEAR SOLID, UZAMASA LIMELIGHT) and Kazuma Jinnouchi (METAL GEAR SOLID, HALO) and a theme song by rock band OLDCODEX. Kotobukiya, makers of detailed models and figures, sponsored the spectacle at the Makuhari Messe International Exhibition Hall in the wake of Tsuburaya’s popular SSSS.GRIDMAN animated program.
Actor, voice actor, and radio personality Minoru Shiraishi (INITIAL D, DORAEMON) and actress/voice actress Megumi Han (ULTRAMAN GEED, SHURIKEN SENTAI NINNINGER, MY HERO ACADEMIA) acted as masters of ceremonies, introducing ULTRAMAN manga creator Eiichi Shimizu, Tsuburaya rep Takafumi Tanibuchi, and Kotobukiya product developer Gensui to cheers and applause from the enthusiastic crowd. Shimizu spoke of his roots and love for Ultraman and the kaiju he enjoyed bringing into the manga, which led to the next generation animated production starring 18 voice and live-action actors from anime and tokusatsu programs. Shiraishi guided the discussion of the anime, noting elements from Shimizu’s creative storyline. Along with Han, Shiraishi, Tanibuchi and Gensui talked of the characters and the coolness factor of the Kotobukiya plastic model kits still being developed.
Kotobukiya displayed a fully poseable Ultraman prototype that will be on sale later this year. A live onstage video feed was linked so everyone could see the model closer. An Ultraman Suit Version 7 model, currently in pre-production, was also announced to joyous acclaim during the special event. Additionally, it was stated that the 13th volume of the ULTRAMAN comic will be published on March 5th. Soon thereafter the impressive list of voice cast actors were mentioned along with the motion capture actors who have extensive backgrounds from the worlds of Ultraman, Kamen Rider and Super Sentai productions.
Mr. Shimizu asked at one point if the crowd liked the designs, to which they all agreed and then chatted about some of his favorite kaiju like Alien Dada from the original TV program. Shimizu seemed pleased with the intricate workmanship of the model kit based on the comic, and some joined in cheering to his satisfaction. After an all too brief trailer of the program excitement continued to build, culminating in the announcement and dynamic smoke-laden arrival of an Ultraman suit actor, a faithful embodiment from the pages of the comic and upcoming anime series.
Finally, Ultraman fans were given a shutter chance to photograph the costume from near and far as the actor struck different stances, including the Spacium Beam pose, to everyone’s delight. Shimizu himself seemed a bit awestruck and shared in the joy of his creation truly coming to life on stage with fans and industry personnel (including SHIN GODZILLA co-director Shinji Higuchi) at the premiere event. The graphic novel story of protagonist Shinjiro Hayata — who transforms himself into a modern-day Ultraman — continues to unfold as an animated series from Netflix beams into 200 countries on Monday, April 1st.
Edward Holland is a photojournalist working in Japan. He has written for Stars and Stripes, Famous Monsters of Filmland magazine and assisted artists at various conventions in the US and Japan.
For more information on the ULTRAMAN (2019) anime, please see the earlier coverage here on SciFi Japan:
- Tsuburaya Pro to Release ULTRAMAN Anime Film in 2019
- ULTRAMAN Anime Gets Worldwide Release on Netflix in Spring 2019
- ULTRAMAN Anime Debuts Worldwide On Netflix In April 2019
- ULTRAMAN Anime Update: New Info and High-Res Pics From Tsuburaya Productions