"There is so much writing in English on Japanese cinema that can't be accepted at face value — not because the writers are careless, but because the differences in culture and language are just too intricate. When I see August Ragone's name on a piece of writing, it gives me permission to place my faith in it completely. Among Japanese fantasy film historians, he's the best working in English." —Tim Lucas, Video Watchdog

Saturday, April 6, 2013

2013 IS 1973: "ULTRAMAN TARO"
April 6, 1973 - April 5, 1974


Promotional poster for Panasonic's original DVD release from 2005.

ULTRAMAN TARO was not only the fourth sequel to the original ULTRAMAN (1966), but also was the third of three visual effects series produced in celebration of the 10th Anniversary of Tsuburaya Productions in 1973, and features the 6th member of what was to become the "Ultra Brothers." An elite membership of the Galactic Guard, the Ultra Brothers are each assigned different planets to watch over and protect throughout the cosmos — and our planet is no exception.

In this series, the Mother of Ultra creates Ultraman Taro, from the combined power of the Ultra Brothers and the lifeforce of Kotaro Higashi (Saburo Shinoda) — creating a hybrid being to defend the Earth against the strongest monsters ever seen. The most radical departure in the second wave of Ultra Series, starting with RETURN OF ULTRAMAN (1971), ULTRAMAN TARO was not only the most fantastical and outrageous in writing and execution (almost to the level of parody), but was also the most shockingly violent.

Underlining this were the outlandish monster designs and an off-kilter music score by Masanobu Higarashi (Silver Mask). TARO also flipped the Ultra Series on its ear with revealing the up-to-then-mysertious "Land of Light," their homeworld in the M78 Nebula, giving viewers a peek into a rather disappointing civilization (elevated in the manga by Mamoru Uchiyama). For all of it's eccentricities, TARO was the highest-rated series of the '70s, and remains one of the most popular characters in the "Ultra Family."

No comments: