ULTRAMAN Anime World Premiere Screening in Tokyo – Report
A SCIFI JAPAN EXCLUSIVE
24 hours in advance of the ULTRAMAN (ウルトラマン, Urutoraman) anime series beaming on Netflix to 200 expectant countries, a sold-out world premiere was held Sunday, March 31st at the Marunouchi Picccadilly 1 theater in in Yurakucho, Tokyo. Premium ticket holders saw the first two episodes, and were treated to special guest appearances by the directors and voice actors.
Based on the manga created by Eiichi Shimizu and Tomohiro Shimoguchi, serialized in HERO’S magazine and distributed by Viz Media in the United States, the series by Production I.G. x Sola Digital Arts is a bold step in a different direction. Original Ultraman Shin Hayata, without his knowledge, passes a bit of his ultra-essence to his son. Shinjiro Hayata, like his father, decides to help the planet in a series that will surely open new avenues of entertainment for further interpretations of Eiji Tsuburya’s canon of historic characters.
Some fans of the original live action series and manga were extremely critical towards the animated adaption, while others were entertained by the differences in the 13 episode series. Some admitted they did not finish the whole series, complaining that it took too long for Ultraman to appear.
It is never easy to please the old guard with new variations on a theme, but the success of ULTRAMAN in this incarnation is its ability to evolve, not necessarily in the classic sense, but through a development of fresh ideas based on elements from the show celebrating its 53rd anniversary this year. This is not an old school type of anime some might have hoped for, but as in the manga, this outing takes a more realistic bent on the genre of Japanese superheroes.
The manga along with the anime recapture some of that alien magic in a bottle that the original ULTRAMAN possessed. The animated series further increases the reach of the hero to fans outside of Asia, accompanied by a solid cast of veteran voice and motion capture actors, and an effective, complimentary soundtrack.
After the screening of the episodes, Minoru Shiraishi (INITIAL D, DORAEMON) kicked off the festivities as master of ceremonies, introducing directors Kenji Kamiyama (GHOST IN THE SHELL: S.A.C., 009 RE:CYBORG, BLADE RUNNER BLACK LOTUS) and Shinji Aramaki (APPLESEED, HARLOCK: SPACE PIRATE, STARSHIP TROOPER: TRAITOR OF MARS). Director Kamiyama mentioned, “I am thrilled and really looking forward to everything the staff has built up over the course of two years, and to see now that it will be finally delivered to the public.”
Later, to giddy applause, the voice actors confidently entered from the back of the packed theater and walked onstage to stand in front of a Science Patrol-themed backdrop. The voice actors included: Takuya Eguchi (MY LOVE STORY, IDOLiSH, BAKUMATSU) the voice of Dan Moroboshi (Seven), Megumi Han (ULTRAMAN GEED, SHURIKEN SENTAI NINNINGER, LITTLE WITCH ACADEMIA) who plays Seiji Hokuto (Ace), and Sumire Morohoshi (AIKATSU, SAINT SEIYA, FROZEN) playing Rena Sayama. Discussing the fruition of years of hard work led to the quick opening of the Patrol doors and a dramatic entrance by Ryohei Kimura (EDEN OF THE EAST, MY HERO ACADEMIA, FULL METAL ALCHEMIST), who stars as Shinjiro Hayata, fully decked out in a faceless Ultraman suit made by Tsuburaya Productions. As the directors — particularly Aramaki — and fellow voice actors marveled at the craftsmanship of the costume Kimura said to the crowd, “This is the real thing. It’s not a copy, but a real suit made by serious professionals. It is so amazing that a voice actor can wear this. I’m very happy!”
After approximately one and a half hours the gala event came to a close with Kimura, dressed in his silver and red shining suit of armor, calling out in character for everyone to join him in shouting, “We are Ultraman!”
Edward L. Holland is a public affairs 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
- Ultraman Appears During Anime Launch at Winter Wonder Festival
- ULTRAMAN Anime Update: Character Pics From Netflix
- ULTRAMAN Anime Update: English Language Key Art From Netflix
- ULTRAMAN Anime World Premiere Event in Tokyo