Just a Single X

Serving as the 50th anniversary series, Ultraman X returns, mostly anyway, to the series’ original form. Serialized storytelling is limited, coming and going as the anti-monster team Xio battles each giant villain.

In that way, Ultraman X hearkens back to its lineage. Even the music uses themes and rhythms from 1966’s Ultraman. The renewed lore isn’t quite as simple though. Xio resulted from a worldwide effort, not just Japan (even if the monsters so rarely attack anywhere else).

There’s also a unique empathy for the creatures, which were spawned by a freak atmospheric accident that activates “Spark Dolls” (read: action figures). Although a small narrative sub-plot, Ultraman X carefully directs the young target audience to consider that what’s different isn’t inherently bad, evil, or wrong. Japanese culture struggles with individuality; Ultraman X makes clear monsters doing monster things isn’t their fault – it’s just what/who they are.

In celebrating the 50th anniversary, Ultraman X shows technological progress

The same goes for the Xio team themselves. Dr. Guruman is the lead scientist and a colorful alien. If Ultraman X finds a way to suggest Xio is a team effort, it’s giving this outsider a key role. He keeps Xio going. Through him, Ultraman X finds a technological side, the nifty idea introducing cyber-kaiju and the means for Ultraman to change armor forms. Doubling on that idea, X’s human form Daichi (Kensuke Takahashi) can capably add to the arsenal, rather than being a meaningless host. That furthers the symbiotic theme, asking us to come together as one.

Ultraman X lacks a needed hook though. Episode-by-episode, the show loses momentum frequently. Following the formula of other recent Ultraman entries, selling toys is key. Here though, it’s too often more commercial than story. Scenes with Xio vehicles interlocking to form larger fighting units may as well be implemented into ad campaigns. Then the Spark Dolls, literally just vinyl figures that transform. And while new armor forms look cool, each one is destined for plastic.

Luckily, the visual effects always draw the eye. Miniature cities look fantastic, digital compositing allows grand scale, and explosions put the cast dangerously close to danger (or so it looks). In celebrating the 50th anniversary, Ultraman X shows technological progress and reach toward perfectionism, increased through each new series. Here’s the result, and this decidedly Japanese superhero never looked better.

Video

Initially appearing Stateside on streaming service Crunchyroll, the Blu-ray release by Mill Creek improves slightly. Higher bitrates matter. Plain digitally recorded TV-based photography brings significant sharpness, and nearly unblemished clarity. Certain effects introduce mild noise, but utterly insignificant in the overall quality. That’s no fault of the disc anyway, rather the source material.

HD resolution adds pleasing bite. Detail remains high, in close and afar. Anyone looking to appreciate the model work can do so here. Same goes for rubber suit construction too: paint strokes, bends, and texture all reveal the intricacies. Facial definition shows in close. Overall bright contrast and lighting help too.

Spectacular color saturation adds zest, never blown out, just richly heightened. Dr. Guruman’s orange/reddish skin is a delight. Xio’s suits line with red and blues, as do their cars. Even with this boost, flesh tones maintain integrity.

Audio

The series utilizes DTS-HD stereo, making grand use of that soundstage. Any action moving side-to-side travels across the fronts, notable and aggressive. Action is a joy to hear, although by way of being designed for TV, dialog stays centered.

Dynamics stretch a little. Bass isn’t prevalent, if enough. If Ultaman X smashes through a building, enough weight is transferred to the LFE. Again, it’s not mega-budget feature mixing, rather sufficient for this form.

Extras

The package contains a booklet giving a rundown on characters and each episode. The set includes Ultraman X: The Movie too.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided to us for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page to learn more.

Ultraman X: The Series
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
3

Series

While there’s a nice theme to this anniversary series, Ultraman X feels routine and stock to the formula, if paying homage to the original.

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