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Ultraman

TV review by
Jenny Nixon, Common Sense Media
Ultraman TV Poster Image
Iconic superhero reimagined in sometimes-violent anime.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

Themes focus on honoring one's family and protecting those who can't protect themselves.

Positive Role Models & Representations

As is the case with most superhero lore, our protagonist will learn the hard way that with great power comes great responsibility. Characters who may appear scary or weird sometimes turn out to be the most trustworthy and honorable of all.

Violence

Intense fighting and action scenes featuring heavy hand-to-hand combat -- teeth and blood (albeit, animated teeth and blood) fly out of someone's mouth upon their face being struck, people are impaled with sharp weapons and guts spill out. One particularly gruesome monster is shown sucking the organs out of a human's body as if it's a juice box. The motion capture technology used for the fight scenes gives them an overall look that is more on par what you'd see in a live action flick or a sophisticated video game than a simple 2D cartoon, and gives the violence a realistic feel.

Sex

A girl is cornered by a group of aggressive schoolboys who seem to have ill intentions, but a bystander intervenes.

Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Ultraman is an anime series about the classic silver superhero. Its CG animation style uses motion-capture technology for action and fight scenes, making them particularly realistic-looking -- and, thus, possibly a bit intense for younger/more sensitive viewers. While the Ultraman franchise has been around since the 1960s, this particular series is an adaptation of the 2011 manga. Expect plenty of violence -- hand-to-hand combat, laser fights, and more -- complete with simulated blood and guts splattering. Aliens and monsters have epic battles with Ultraman; some are shown devouring humans and doing other disturbing things. There are positive messages about protecting the weak and honoring family legacies, but there's also a disappointing lack of agency among many of the female characters, who seem a bit underused in general. As with many anime series on Netflix, Ultraman can be viewed either with subtitles and Japanese audio or in a dubbed-English version (for that, Hunger Games star Josh Hutcherson steps into the lead role as Shinjiro/Ultraman).

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What's the story?

ULTRAMAN is an anime series which updates and pays tribute to the 1960s live-action series from Japan. The original Ultraman series featured an oversized, silver-clad superhero -- who was actually a powerful alien fused with a human man, Shin Hayata, who served as a sort of "host" -- who protected the earth from gigantic monsters (kaiju), often battling them in somewhat cheesy-looking hand-to-hand combat. This series briefs viewers on Ultraman's origin story, introducing us to the now-retired Hayata (who has no memory of his earlier alien-fighting days) and his curiously resilient son Shinjiro, who seems to possess strange abilities his father cannot explain. As the series progresses and alien forces return to threaten the earth, Shinjiro's true destiny and powers come to light, and he takes the mantle of Ultraman -- though even with the help of the Science Special Search Party (nicknamed "Science Patrol"), the job may be tougher than he bargained for.

Is it any good?

This anime spin on a classic sci-fi franchise isn't just a nostalgia-fest -- it's a genuinely entertaining reboot, though fans should know the tone is grimmer and less goofy than the original. This version of Ultraman treats its characters as more nuanced and layered than the rubber-suited villains of the past: here, not all monsters are innately bad (some work alongside humans for the betterment of mankind), just as not all humans are good (there are some highly questionable things going on at Science Patrol). Pity, though, that female characters like giggly pop-star Rena get such short shrift, with a seemingly aimless romantic subplot for Shinjiro that fizzles out before it even gets going. Overall, though, the series does a wonderful job updating the Ultraman legend for a new generation, with some eye-popping and intense action scenes that really help the show come alive.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about Shinjiro's discovery that he has special powers, and how he adjusts to this knowledge. Was his father right to keep this a secret for so many years? What effect did this decision have on their relationship in Ultraman?

  • Discuss the role that the Science Special Search Party (aka "Science Patrol") plays in Shinjiro's life. Do the powers that be seem to have his best interests at heart? 

  • Families can talk about anime. What's unique about this genre of animation? 

TV details

For kids who love action

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