Uber Ultraman

As with the original TV series on which it’s based, Shin Ultraman splits into three separate episodes, just invisibly stitched together. That’s a gamble, and each chapter increases in severity, beginning as a lone threat to Japan then up to a potential global catastrophe.

The unconnected Shin Godzilla chose a stable tone. Shin Ultraman, again in deference to the source material, wavers between ludicrously bizarre fantasy and government criticisms. The various Ultraman series often produce(d) an allegorical, even thoughtful look at philosophical ideas, buried in a children’s show. As a movie then, Shin Ultraman takes that to the next logical standard.

Shin Ultraman takes aim at Japan’s right wing parties

Left with only a self-defense force post-WWII, Shin Ultraman takes aim at Japan’s right wing parties, who in recent decades pushed for increased military spending to realign the nation with rivals. As monsters appear, backroom deals begin pushing for nuclear armament, going against one of the world’s most steadfast anti-nuclear weapon policies. All of this, just before a silver-clad space alien drops to Earth to fight the creature.

Like Shin Godzilla, the script and eccentric visual flair makes these political duels engaging. It takes but a second for a leader to specify the department to bill for the American missiles they purchased, and it’s not his. Going ever deeper, Shin Ultraman then introduces a villain whose job it is to send humanity to extinction for their messy civilization, giving Ultraman (Takumi Saitoh) a further heroic cause that goes beyond Japan.

While Godzilla vs King Ghidorah (1991) caused international controversy for showing American troops dying by a dinosaur’s hands, Shin Ultraman is more apt to take the United States to task. Dialog directly cuts through propaganda, politicians noting America’s disinterest in helping defend against monsters, but showing increased interest in obtaining the alien technology shown by Ultraman. It’s colorfully tinged, with serious implications, just dropped into an often wild, wacky kaiju spectacle.

Director Shinji Higuchi chooses all-digital monster effects, an odd choice given his penchant for keeping the original show’s music and style. The CG Ultraman even shows folds where the practical suit would. While allowing for creative leeway and wow factor, it’s also disappointing to not see Japan’s physical effects prowess, especially in a project that calls for it. By the end though, Shin Ultraman is so otherworldly, CG was inevitability anyway. Shin Ultraman’s distinctive Japanese superhero aesthetic does separate it from the west’s glut of comic book cinema.


Varying at the source, Shin Ultraman uses an all-digital shoot in varying methods. Certain eccentric angles were captured on iPhones, creating a visible gap in definition and sharpness. Nearly every frame carries some form of digital flatness/softness, but it’s clear aside from notable artifacting. That’s potentially at the source too, but it’s annoyance either way. Too often the screen appears noisy and swarmed by blocking. This even includes general dialog scenes, not just fast action.

A beautiful, bright color palette draws out gorgeous, warm flesh tones. Colorful beam attacks show the greatest contrast, blindingly bright, including the resulting explosions too. Black levels sink to appropriate depth as needed. Dimensionality is at a constant.


Given Shin Ultraman uses a disappointingly compressed Dolby Digital track, it’s better than many such mixes. Monster action brings greater than expected bass, low-end support resonating to produce a satisfying (albeit muddled) response.

Japanese films rarely utilize true surround mixes, but this disc has two, undoubtedly upmixed from stereo or 3.1. Rear channel action lacks the sharpest separation, although motion is audible in places. The stereo split is the stronger one, used liberally to the extent of the 2.35:1 visual frame.

Elements balance the rapid-fire dialog, action, and monster roars perfectly. Note the on-screen text is not translated, a problem given Shin Ultraman’s setup is done with text in the opening moments.


Trailers and a stills slideshow are the only bonuses.

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.

Shin Ultraman
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  • Extras


Wild and expressive, Shin Ultraman has fun while dissecting Japanese politics.

User Review
4 (2 votes)

The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 60 full resolution, uncompressed HD screen shots grabbed directly from the Blu-ray:

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