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August 24, 2015

Bento Bako Weekly: Ultraman volume 1

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Written by: Kristin
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ultraman1Title: Ultraman
Author: Eiichi Shimizu and Tomohiro Shimoguchi
Publisher: Viz Media (Viz Signature)
Volume: Volume 1, $12.99
Vintage: 2012 by Shogakukan, August 2015 by Viz Media
Genre: Science fiction, action

Decades after the Giant of Light, Ultraman, protected the Earth from alien invasion, a man named Shin Hayata and his son, Shinjiro, visit a museum dedicated to the feats of Ultraman. While playing, Shinjiro falls from a balcony, but is unharmed. Shin later visits with Mitsuhiro Ide and confesses that he has no memories of the time period Ultraman was on Earth. When Ide shows him footage of a recent plane accident, Shin’s memory is jolted, and he remembers that he was Ultraman years ago. Ide also explains that the entity behind the plane accident may be after Shin and his son, as Shin still retains abilities from bonding with Ultraman, which he has passed on to his son – the Ultraman Factor. Twelve years later, Shinjiro is struggling with his abnormal strength and a sense that he’s different from everyone around him. After he saves a girl from some unwanted attention, he’s attacked by the alien entity that destroyed the plane years before. This armored being knows exactly who Shinjiro is, and insists the power he retains does not belong on Earth. An armored Shin arrives just in time to rescue his son, and tosses Shinjiro to safety while he faces their enemy. Shin does well to hold the alien off, but his age begins to show. When Shinjiro insists on going back to save his father, Ide reveals a new suit of armor, made especially for Shinjiro.

It’s my understanding that this manga series is a sort of part sequel, part reboot of the 1960s Japanese tokusatsu series of the same name. In the TV series, Shin Hayata is killed when Ultraman crashes on Earth. Ultraman revives him and uses Shin as his host. This is briefly depicted in the introduction and in a couple flashbacks, and while it’s not fully spelled out, it’s simple enough to infer. The point being, it isn’t necessary to be familiar with the series’ history. This book is easy to pick up and dive into. There’s a new Ultraman and a new legend. Hence the series’ subtitle: This is the Beginning of a New Age. That said, creators Shimizu and Shimoguchi are big fans of the original TV show, so I’d expect them to have a good handle on this story going forward, and slip in some goodies for the show’s fans. Now, normally this isn’t a genre I enjoy. I’m not big into science-fiction, and I tend to steer away from heavy action titles, but Ultraman is such an easy, entertaining read. Unfortunately, that may mean readers who expect a more over-the-top, lightning-speed approach will be a little bored. For me, there was just enough techno babble, just enough action, and every panel was easy to follow. The action is clear, not muddied with an over abundance of action lines. There’s a lot of detail, from armor design to facial expressions. For old fans, Shin Hayata returns to the battle field for a final chance to shine, then the new, younger guard rises up as his son claims a new set of armor. Plenty in here to draw on long time fans’ nostalgia, as well as introduce the Ultraman legend to a new group of fans. Viz Media has also done well with the presentation, a smooth translation, and the inclusion of several beautiful color pages.


Review copy provided by Viz Media.



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