Cult TV

Cult TV Essentials: The Return of Ultraman

The Return of Ultraman is a tokusatsu science fiction/kaiju/superhero TV series, and is the fourth in the Ultra Series, lasting 51 episodes.

Eiji Tsuburaya had originally intended for the Ultra Series to end with the 1967 series Ultra Seven (Urutora Sebun, 1967). Ultraman (Urutoraman, 1966) proved to be too popular a character to omit. Eiji Tsuburaya died in 1970. His son Hajime Tsuburaya (who took over Tsuburaya Productions until his own death in 1973) revived the Ultra Series with Return of Ultraman.

The show features a new Ultraman named “New Ultraman”, in 1984, he was renamed “Ultraman Jack” due to licensing issues. Tsuburaya and Bandai (which had just bought the Ultraman toy license in Japan) held a contest for children to pick a new name for this Ultraman. Although he is called “Ultraman Jack” for licensing in and out of Japan, he is still sometimes referred to as “New Ultraman”/”Kaettekita Ultraman”, by some fans (and also in some official sources). This change was done due to a last-minute decision as the original plan for this series was for the original Ultraman to return to Earth to resume the fight against aliens and monsters.

While nearly identical in appearance to the original Ultraman, the red pattern on his silver suit is slightly different. Furthermore, the new Ultraman can be distinguished by his shorter pants, the pinstripes along the red areas, and the fuller sleeves/kneepads. The characters and related events are described below using in-universe tone.

This series is a follow up to the original Ultraman & Ultra Seven. The first episode begins with a fight between two giant monsters named Takkong and Zazahn, in Tokyo. Amid the monster destruction, young race-car driver Hideki Go is killed while trying to rescue a little boy and a dog from the falling rubble. His valiant sacrifice is noted by everyone, including his friends and the new defense force MAT (Monster Attack Team), but an unseen being also takes notice. Looking over Hideki is “New Ultraman (Ultraman Jack)”, who is so touched by the race car driver’s heroism, that he decides to combine his life force with that of Hideki, thus bringing him back to life (just like the original Ultraman did with Shin Hayata), much to everyone’s astonishment. MAT then asks Hideki to join the team, which he does, especially since in this frightening new “Age of Monsters” Earth will need a saviour. In times of crisis, Hideki will raise his right arm and, by force of will, transform into Ultraman Jack to fight monsters.

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