"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

Friday, October 10, 2014

2005 Ultra Series Premieres October 13, 2014


One of the best of the post-1970s series will stream world-wide!

The Ultra Series goes streaming on premier anime streaming site, Crunchyroll, this Monday, October 13th with ULTRAMAN MAX! This announcement seems to be a two-sprong strategy by Tsuburaya Productions to breech the US market and establish the brand to English-speaking countries around the world — the first being the "Ultra Hawaii" travel campaign established in the Islands, coupled with the English Subtitled broadcast of ULTRAMAN LEO (1974) on Honolulu's KIKU-TV. The Crunchyroll presentation of ULTRAMAN MAX will be available in the United States, Canada, Latin America, UK, Australia, and New Zealand.

DASH agent Kaito Toma (Souta Aoyama) who transforms into Max!

ULTRAMAN MAX was originally aired on Chubu-Nippon Broadcasting from July 2, 2005–April 1, 2006 with 39 episodes (and one "farewell special"), and while following the direction of the modern Ultraman series, such as ULTRAMAN TIGA (1996), also took a step back to its roots with references to the original Ultra Series from the 1960s, ULTRA Q, ULTRAMAN, and ULTRA SEVEN. This retro respect also included three actors Susumu Kurobe, Hiroko Sakurai, and Masanori Nihei, who were in the main cast of the original ULTRAMAN — Kurobe played Hayata, Sakurai played Fuji, and Nihei played Ide (Ito in the US version) of the Science Patrol.

Max gets a chokehold on old-time Ultra Kaiju favorite, Red King!

Many of the original Ultra Kaiju were brought back to life for ULTRAMAN MAX, in addition to all-new monsters and alien creatures (with Episode 29 being as a full-blown homage to ULTRA Q), although the series is set in its own unique universe. In addition to the familiar monsters, a number of guest stars from the long history of the franchise, including Kenji Sahara (ULTRA Q), Sandayu Dokumamushi (ULTRAMAN), Koji Morisugu (ULTRA SEVEN), Ryu Manatsu (ULTRAMAN LEO). Not to mention original ULTRAMAN directors Toshihiro Iijima (Baltan) and Akio Jissoji (Jamila), as well as modern directors including Shusuke Kaneko (Heisei Gamera Trilogy), Takashi Miike (AUDITION), Hirochika Muraishi (DENJIN ZABOGA) and Takeshi Yagi (ULTRAMAN NEXUS).

Director Kaneko behind-the-scenes with actress Hikari Mizushima.

In the very first episode, a strange visitor from space notices Kaito Toma's bravery when the young man risks his own life to help save a lost little boy from danger. The alien gives Toma (Souta Aoyama) the power to become the mighty superhero Ultraman Max, a towering red and silver giant 40 meters tall. When two gigantic monsters threaten the world, Toma uses his new powers to destroy them.

Captain Shigeru Hijikata (Kai Shishido) of Team DASH (Defense Action Squad Heroes), an elite squad of the United Defense Federation, learns of Toma's brave actions and invites him to join Team DASH. To defend from otherworldly dangers, their fantastic arsenal includes the fighter jets DASH Bird 1 and DASH Bird 2, located at their headquarters in Base Titan, a massive off-shore structure in Tokyo Bay.

The agents of DASH include Kenjiro Koba (Nobuyuki Ogawa), the hot-headed weapons expert, Mizuki Koishikawa (Hitomi Hasebe), DASH's ace pilot as brave as she is beautiful, American Sean White (Sean Nichols), and Ellie (Hikari Mizushima), who looks like a beautiful girl, but is really a high powered super android, who serves as Team DASH's operations officer.

Could this new break in North America lead to a possible DVD or Blu-ray release? Who knows, but hold fast to your Max Sparks and remember to set your browsers to Crunchyroll this coming Monday and schuwatch ULTRAMAN MAX!

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