Ultraman! or why the power rangers suck balls.
Written by The Dgeypscun Thursday, 20 November 2008 00:00
(Just a quick forward. I had tries to embed several videos with this blog but for what ever reason they wern't working so I've included the links. Sorry for all the clickyness.)
Yeah. I said it and you know what? It felt good. As the father of three I have had to smile and lie to my kids when they would ask, "You like Power Rangers, daddy?" Well no more! They no longer like the Power Rangers and thanks to the freedoms granted to me by the bill of rights I can shout it from the rooftops! The Power Rangers suck balls! They suck big donkey balls! They suck big hairy and slightly vinegary donkey balls! How do I know? Because I grew up with the only large scale alien ass kicker from Japan worth his weight in silver spray paint...Ultraman!
Now I know that a lot of you guys out there have fond memories of the Power Rangers but I was in my twenties when they first hit the American airwaves so my ability to enjoy the bad scripts, bad acting and bad special effects were killed by age. The first thing out of my mouth when I saw the show was "Ultraman rip off." Well actually "Ultraman/Voltron rip off." Well actually I don't remember what I actually said but it was along those lines.
I don't hold any misconceptions, Ultraman was horrible in it's own ways but when I first saw it as a stupid little kid in the early seventies Ultraman was the coolest thing since Godzilla and because Star Wars was still a couple of years off there was nothing to top it.
Watch the opening to the show...
What's with the melty, backwards stuff? I'm fairly certain that the melty unspooly thing was some sort of CIA mind control. If you wern't rendered naseaeus by the swirling pool of goo you could enjoy the upbeat theme song. From the ages of 5 to 8 I lived for that theme song. It may not make a whole of sense or be particularly deep but it's better than "Go Go Power Rangers" repeated 90 times.
For those who don't know, the basic plot to Ultraman was as follows: It's the near future, sometime in the early 1990s. For whatever reason Sinister aliens and giant monsters constantly threaten Earth. The group able to handle these dastadly intergalactic bastards is the Science Special Search Party (SSSP), a police force with stations worldwide. Despite the stupid name they were equipped with some of the greatest tech bad assery known to man. The branch of the Science Patrol that is focused on in the series is located in Tokyo, Japan. Led by Captain Mura the Science Patrol is always ready to protect the Earth but it sometimes finds itself overpowered. When the shit hits the fan, Hayata, the rockstar of the squad, is the keeper of the "Beta Capsule", which, when ignited, transforms him into the amazing, super-humanoid, silver neoprene giant from space-Ultraman! See below.
Right there in that clip you can see why the silver and red one kicks ass. Just one press of that button and BLAM he is ready to stomp on that somewhat leafy monster's head. The transfomation sequence for the power rangers took for-fucking-ever. View this and compare...
Great! Now they are all transformed and it only took 8 seconds. Granted Ultraman was locked, cocked and ready to rock in half a second but whose counting...What's that red ranger? You're not done yet? Oh right. You gotta form the Mega zord. Please go right ahead...
Damn...Almost two minutes. One would think that Rita Repulsa could have had one of her monsters stomp you little rangers into Rainbow colored paste in the time it takes for you to form the large clunky robot you call megazord...Which kinda looks like Voltrons chubby and less successful cousin. And what's with Trini? She only has to say "Saber tooth tiger!" yet she manages to say it like she's gonna get hit by an off camera stage hand if she doesn't.
Anyways back to the Awesome show. Now being Utlraman had a drawback, he only had a finite amount of power and when his battery got low his chest light would blink and he would have to fly off to the sun to recharge. This happened every episode and usually at the worst possible moment.
In fact the same thing happened in every episode. Monster or alien threatens Earth, the SSSP investigate, things get out of hand, Ultraman is summoned to dish out some chop sake goodness, he is nearly defeated as his power drains, he gets free, recharges and then stomps the monster/alien until it either exploded or resembled so much pummled foam rubber.
Of course the same thing could be said about the PW's. Rita Repulsa would send some jack off monster but before the rangers could fight it they would fight some human sized henchmen(usually in a public park for some reason), then they would summon their zords to form megazord and...fuck it. You all know the drill, blah, blah fight, blah, blah sword kill.
As repetitive as Ultraman was it still managed to throw in a surprise or two. Check out this fight scene that Ultraman has with this..uh...chicken, Santa Claus, Godzilla thing...
Two words: Fucked up. As a six year old seeing a giant silver man get impaled by heat seeking feathers can screw a brother up but it was awesome. Ultraman fights were like that. The monsters were ridiculous but they would often times hurt Ultraman, just as you saw in that clip, those feathers looked fucking painful. The problem with the power Rangers is that if you've seen one Megazord fight you've seen them all. In this fight we got to see Ultraman fly, use about three different energy weapons, spin in midflight while straffing feathery projectiles, use that weird shield wall thing, pluck out the feathers from a monster and then willingly get blasted by an SSSP officer while his life gauge blinks away. All of this was done with no dialogue really. Compare that fight to this one...Oh wait. They gotta 'morph' again...
So after they are all transformed into the Megazord they take one hit form that beetle thing and they have to take a knee and engage the back up power? Then they punch it once and then slice it with their butter knife and win? THAT is a battle? If they could take out the roach motel reject with the sword in the first place why didn't they and why is it that the transformation took longer than the actual fight?
When I started this review/trip down memory lane I fully expected to find that Power Rangers wasn't as bad as I remembered and that Ultraman was a festering pile of crap but I was wrong. Granted there is a lot about the English version of Ultraman that leaves a lot to be desired. The english dubbing is awful and some of the monsters were just, well, weird but the stakes seemed higher on Ultraman than on Power Rangers. When Ultraman gets hurt you feel it, when the MegaZord is damaged I'm left feeling...eh.
The proof of how high the stakes are is in how these shows ended. The Power Rangers...never end. They just paste on a new cliche to a bunch of bad actors in jumpsuits. They've been ninjas, space cops - uh- Baboon firemen and god knows what else. What happened to the first Ultraman? He died.
Yeah. He was killed protecting the Earth. Suck on that Power Rangers ya bunch of wimps. Basically it went down like this. While fighting yet another intergalctic bad guy said bad guy damages Ultraman's timer so he couldn't tell how much energy he had left. At one point during the battle Ultraman just sort of drops dead, the light going off in his eyes the SSSP then manage to defeat the monster but they are left with a 100 foot dead, silver guy. I was seven when I first saw this episode and I could safely say that I was in shock. Mouth open, holy shit I can't believe they did that, shock. Eventually Ultraman's boss Zoffy (just...don't ask.) shows up and Ultraman begs Zoffy to give what life he has to Hyata but Zoffy brought enough life for everybody so Hyata lives and then he carries the nearly dead Ultraman back to his home planet.
Imagine that you were watching power rangers for the umpteenth time and at the part where the giant monster knocks them down for the first time instead of the rangers regrouping the monster then bites off the Megazord's head, scoops out the Rangers and eats them. You'd freak out, wouldn't you? Well that's what I did at the end of the Ultraman series.
In the end Ultraman beats Power Rangers not because the fight scenes were better or because the scripts were better, Ultraman beats Power Rangers because they were both products of their time and in the late sixties to mid seventies production companies could get away with a lot more when it came to kids shows. Lemme explain.
Ultraman could actually be seen punching and kicking his opponents anywhere he liked. In the face, in the chest, in the groin...anywhere. Since Power Rangers was on FOX in the nineties, and since FOX standards and practices didn't allow their cartoons or kids shows to have any punching or kicking it limited what the fights could look like. A lot of off screen punches, flips and acrobatics.
Compare that to Ultraman. In one episode Ultraman uses one of his energy weapons which looks like a deadly donut made of energy that he hurls at enemies. In this case the monster has launched himself at Ultraman so that when the donut of death hits him...he is cut in half...lengthwise...The deadly donut cut him in half like a bandsaw.Fight over. You would never, ever be able to get way with that on FOX.
So what can you do if you can't show brital fighting? Well an extra long "morphing" sequence will fill in some time, as will expositionary dialogue. Don't forget to add long tired sequences with Bulk and Skull to pad the time and some half assed moral. There you go, one Power Rangers episode, ready to go.
Now if you don't believe in the Awesomness that is Ultraman then you need to go and rent or buy the series which was just released. All 39 of the original episodes. My father has purchased them for my kids (actually for me...thanks dad) and I can't wait.