Ultraman (vol. 1) by Eiichi Shimizu, illustrated by Tomohiro Shimoguchi, translated by Joe Yamazaki
In case you initially peruse this manga the Western way (flip pages from the right side to left), here’s what you’ll see a few pages in: “We used to fanatically watch reruns of Ultraman as kids,” the creators Eiichi Shimizu and Tomohiro Shimoguchi confess. “We never dreamed we would be working on an Ultraman manga several decades later.” They’re talking especially, directly, to groupies like ME! Those many decades ago, my brothers and I watched the series fervently, devotedly … so I can hardly hold in my giddiness as I share with you: “This is the beginning of a new age.” Waaaaaaah!!!
“Once there was a being known as the Giant of Light, who merged with an earthling,” the new series opens, “… and saved the planet countless times from acts of chaos and destruction caused by alien invasions and giant creatures called Kaiju.” When peace was finally restored, the Giant of Light returned to his faraway home, while the earthling went on with a “normal” life, albeit with his “Light” memories erased.
The Giant of Light, also known as Ultraman, lives on decades later in the Giant of Light Memorial Museum. A small boy, Shinjiro, is visiting with his father, Shin Hayata, a member of the Science Special Search Party who worked with Ultraman to save the world. In the minute that Shin is distracted while greeting former colleague Chief Ide, Shinjiro falls over a railing and plummets three flights … and is just fine.
Soon thereafter, Ide calls Shin in for a meeting and reveals one shocking truth after another. Not only was Shin Ultraman, but he’s passed on the so-called “Ultraman factor” to his young son. Earth is once again at risk: the extraterrestrials are back – and they’re “no friend to humanity.”
Fast forward 12 years. Teenage Shinjiro is just trying to fit in with other boys. No matter how hard he tries, he knows he’s different. After a disturbing incident with bullies, Shinjiro escapes to a rooftop to calm himself. A mysterious voice speaks out, promising, “I can tell you more about your power.” When the being reveals its destructive intentions, Shinjiro’s father is suddenly there … and father and son are finally able to show their true selves. Let the adventures begin …!
Talk about a gleeful hop-skip-and-a-jump down memory lane with a 2.0 reboot of epic delight. Creators Shimizu and Shimoguchi have done their homework: Ultraman is really baaaaack! For those of us of a certain age, it’s an ahhh-inducing throwback to childhood perfection – one you can rapturously share with the new generation.
More. Now. Please?!
Readers: Middle Grade, Young Adult, Adult
Published: 2012 (Japan), 2015 (United States)
© Eiichi Shimizu and Tomohiro Shimoguchi / Tsuburaya Prod.
Original Japanese edition published by Hero’s Inc.