Thursday, August 27, 2015

Graphic Novel Review: ULTRAMAN Volume 1 (Retro Hero, New Concept)

Hello everyone! This is my review of ULTRAMAN the graphic novel volume one!

I am a big fan of Ultraman since I was a kid. I watched every series thank to the advent of Internet and with the coming of the 50th year anniversary approaching next year, Ultraman is still going strong despite tough competition from the other big two toku series-Kamen Rider and Super Sentai.

So what happen if you put Ultraman, Men In Black, X-Files, Teenage Drama and Iron Man's suit and blend them all in one? You get this manga-ULTRAMAN and I have one word to say-Awesome!

Synopsis: Years ago, Ultraman merged with Science Patrol member Shin Hayata and defended the Earth from all sort of Alien invasions. When Ultraman finally separated from Hayata and left Earth, he has no memories of him being Ultraman but decided to keep quiet about it. Soon, he got married, became the Minister of Defence and had a son, Shinjiro. However after a near freak accident which leave little Shinjiro unharmed, Hayata started to suspect something is wrong with his son and himself. As Shinjiro begin high school, he too suspected something was wrong with him but before he could find answers, an old enemy from the past attacked him and Hayata. Both Father and Son are thrown into a destiny they cannot escape any more...

If you watch one Ultraman series, you probably watched them all. Since the concept is similar with aliens invading Earth and Ultraman support team will investigate and the final act will be Ultraman battling a monster and save the day. This manga is not your father's Ultraman!

Here, the idea of what happened when an Ultra Being leave your body for good and you went back being a normal person? In the case of Hayata, he actually retained a small portion of Ultraman's powers. Named Ultraman Factor by his close friend and former comrade, Ide, Hayata somehow passed on to Shinjiro some of Ultraman's powers to him.

The first chapter is from Hayata's point of view as he tried to piece together the events before he became Ultraman and it was nostalgic to see how things went through during his time as Ultraman. The shocking twist was Hayata's former comrades in the Science Patrol already knew that Hayata was Ultraman but played dumb in order to protect him from government hands. Ide even mentioned that the Science Patrol still exist despite being a front for tourists to see the museum in the day. Ide later showed Hayata a recent airline disaster and revealed that aliens are already on Earth and the Science Patrol has covered the matter from the public. Hayata then decided to join Ide to take on the alien invaders.

The following chapters showed teenage Shinjiro as he could not explain his new powers to anyone. When he nearly killed a thug with his bare hands, he ran away from everyone however an alien named Bermular appeared and tried to kill him. Hayata appeared and tried to fight Bermular but was too weak and Shinjiro decided to help his father-Wearing a new Exo Suit created by Ide, Shinjiro became ULTRAMAN...

Shinjiro played the good natured teen with a sense of justice. However he could not control his strength and nearly killed a person which reveal his fear of hurting another human being. But when Bermular (who is the first monster that Ultraman faced in the original series) claimed that both Hayata and Shinjiro are ammonites and must be eliminated. The fight scenes were pretty hardcore detailing ULTRAMAN as acrobatic with his stylish moves and Bermular who fought with fury. Even the color timer on ULTRAMAN's suit bring a moment of nostalgic and his final attack- Specium Ray left me waiting for more.

But once the battle is over, more questions were revealed since who is Bermular and why Shinjiro and Hayata are marked for death? Furthermore, Ide and a mysterious Alien were beside Shinjiro's sick bed when he woke up. In the end, it is a great start for one of the most beloved Tokusatsu heroes of all time!

Overall, three and a half stars since it took four chapters for ULTRAMAN to get into action! But we are just getting started!

P.S: I actually started reading the Mandarin translated version of ULTRAMAN a while back and in this universe, Ultraman was the only Ultra Being that came to Earth. However we will be getting more characters from the original canon like a certain man whose name is Seven. Go out and get this book if you love Sci-Fi actions or a true Ultraman fan like I am! If you can read Japanese, there is actually a web comic in the Tsuburaya Channel on Youtube based on the first few chapters of this title and I will said this manga has the potential to be animated!

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