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Gaia and Me 
24th-Mar-2008 11:23 pm
Finished Dyna, so I've been watching Gaia. Man, this show is not subtle at all with its messages. In fact, I think it's more preachy than Cosmos. Basically, humans are the cause of everything bad happening on this earth, the reason evil creatures appear, the reason normally placid monsters attack Earth. And, as one such evil creature asserts, humans' carelessness of this earth is the reason the universe will end. (1)

I do agree that humans' actions affect this earth, not necessarily in good ways. (Earth getting hotter is the first example that came to mind.) But the universe? I laugh. True, I don't have any idea how vast is the universe, save that it is probably close to infinite. Still, saying humans will destroy the universe seems to me like saying one small insignificant ant will destroy Earth.

And the show mentions so much scientific stuff (even though mostly made-up, I believe) it makes my head spin. That one time-warping episode still leaves me confused, no matter how many times I've seen it.

Gaia is not my absolute favorite series, but I think it's the best Heisei Ultra series in terms of storylines.(2) It does not have anything that seriously annoys me (sadly, other shows do). And I've never heard of anyone who had negative opinions of this show, or who just thought it was so-so. (Now, will someone prove me wrong, I wonder?) Well, maybe scientific people might find much amiss with the theories passed around casually in this show, but since I watch any toku show as an entertainment, I don't let those details bother me. And Ultraman Hikari fans? You should see the original blue Ultraman who started it all.

(1) This might be based on an incorrect translation (from episode 47), so my apologies if I spread misinformation.

(2) As a disclaimer, I do like all of the following series, and yes, a few more than I like Gaia, but...

I think Nexus is too dark to appeal to kids, and, in many ways, it is not a very traditional Ultra series. It is very possible that people who like Nexus may not enjoy any other Ultra series.

As for Seven X, my reasons are the same as the ones I give for Nexus. Also, the show is too short to develop its characters properly.

Mebius' main strength is not plot, imho, but characters. Mebius' characters have the chance to grow because the episodes tend to focus on them a lot. I don't know. I kind of get the feeling that if one doesn't care for GUYS, one would have a difficult time liking Mebius. Seriously, one can't even hang around for the past Ultras alone because they take ages to show up. (Outside of the first movie, I mean. ^^;)

Tiga is an all around good show, but, curiously, the main character (who is close to nauseatingly pure) doesn't seem very well developed, as compared to other characters. He seems like an old school type of hero, who knows his duty and does it without complaining (well, apart for one time or two). I believe I understand the reason for his lack of character development, but I'm not sure how to articulate it into words. Perhaps he just seems almost larger than life. He doesn't seem to have any discernible failing. Almost every mistake I've recalled, he does not cause it. Most of the time, it's someone else.

As for the episodes, they are perhaps a little too independent of one another. (Yet, besides a few clearly marked ones, Tiga does have some interconnected episodes that are not very obvious, for example, episodes 15 and 16 / episodes 37, 38 and 39. I admit I didn't come up with these connections myself, but they make senses to me.) But what is an Ultraman show if not episodic? As much as I prefer them, story arcs don't seem very typical of Ultra series.

As for Dyna, it has a different kind of main character problem. He is a comic relief, to put it simply. And rather bothersome, actually. Dyna makes fun of itself too much for me to take the series very seriously, but it does have a good side. Still, it's not really a series I would choose to show anyone who has never seen an Ultra series before. (But I still think the Miji seijins episodes are ones of the best. These guys are just too hilarious and pathetic in their repeatedly failed attempts to conquer Earth. :)

Cosmos is another series with the main character problem. I'm not sure sometimes if he is Ultraman Cosmos. Not because I don't believe him a hero, but because Cosmos and he seem too much separated entities. And he is annoying, in a way like a child who needs growing up. And if one can somehow overlook him, one needs to look to team EYES' idealistic goals of saving/protecting monsters. Yes, the environmental concerns are also (actually, first, since Gaia was made before Cosmos) covered in Gaia, but the way they handle things in Gaia seems more grounded in reality (well, as much reality as a fictional show with giant monsters can).
Fake Green
28th-Jul-2010 08:53 pm (UTC)
So the general trend is that the series get less preachy as the time moves on, and the characters get more development, is that so?
29th-Jul-2010 05:57 am (UTC)
It might sound that way, but I don't know. I think Mebius is a special case for some reason. Because I'm sure UltraSeven X (the series after Mebius) is still being pretty much preachy (aliens wanting Earth, saying they will be able to take care of it better than humans do, etc. etc.).

Anyway, I'm not sure about trends, but let just say I think each (newer) series is whatever the writers want to take it: dark for Nexus and Seven X, mostly light for Cosmos, a perfect (imho) mixture of fun and serious for Tiga, mostly comedy for Dyna, mostly science and reality for Gaia, mostly Showa Ultramen fun but with updated technology for Max (and for some reason, I can't really categorize Mebius). The character development has always been at least decent (except for Seven X, probably, since it's a short series, and maybe Gaia, since it has too many characters). When I say things like I don't know the team members, I am referring more to the Showa Ultramen (i.e. series before Tiga), which are not included at all on the entry since I don't feel I've seen enough to really have an informed opinion. And the environmental concerns have always been more or less in many series (can't remember what happened in Dyna much, though). Only Mebius seems to lack them (but then maybe Mebius is just subtle with its message, I don't know), and Nexus, but I think this is the case of Nexus not really spelling anything out more than it outright dismissing an opportunity to be preachy (and note that these two series do not have any outside narrator commenting on stuff, announcing what happens, etc).

What you said from another comment:
"It was interesting, but since I don't know the timeline of the series, it was a bit difficult to understand whether the series actually has some sort of trends, or each particular Ultra series is sort of separate..."

As for the timeline, if we are only talking about the newer series, the series are mostly independent of one another. Except Tiga and Dyna, which are directly connected. But from air dates, it goes like this:

Ultraman Tiga (1996-1997) - 52 episodes
Ultraman Dyna (1997-1998) - 51 episodes
Ultraman Gaia (1998-1999) - 51 episodes
Ultraman Cosmos (2001-2002) - 60 episodes (I know I said 65 before, but 5 were never aired on TV)
Ultraman Nexus (2004-2005) - 37 episodes
Ultraman Max (2005-2006) - 39 (or 40) episodes
Ultraman Mebius (2006-2007) - 50 episodes
UltraSeven X (2007-2008) - 12 episodes

Mebius, of course, is in continuity with the Showa Ultramen series, which I believe are all connected. I'm not sure of their timeline myself but I believe it goes like this:

Ultraman Jack (Return of Ultraman)
Ultraman Ace
Ultraman Taro
Ultraman Leo
Ultraman 80

And then there is Mebius. Which I think is correct since in episode 1 (and maybe episode 41?), people say that it has been 25 years since the last monster appeared on Earth. And 25 years ago from 2006 (the time from Mebius) is 1981, which is the time from Ultraman 80.

Oh well. I don't know if all this answers your question exactly (if at all), but I hope it helps somewhat. :)

Edited: pretty much re-wrote the first part and removed typos that I caught.

Edited at 2010-07-29 06:28 am (UTC)
29th-Jul-2010 02:31 pm (UTC)
Thank you for such an informative reply, it really helped to put things into perspective when I see all the series written down like that.

I think now I understand how it goes - all the newer series except Mebius happen sort of in different universes, and are not really connected, but Mebius is a part of Showa Ultramen, and is in continuity with those series.

You answered my question - now I see why it's difficult to say that there are any general trends at all there.
29th-Jul-2010 06:17 pm (UTC)
You're welcome. And thank you for asking an interesting question, too. :) Hopefully, I haven't missed any series with Ultraman in it. (I haven't listed Ultra Q or Ultra Galaxy, since they don't have someone transforming into Ultraman to fight monsters, and in case of Ultra Q, I haven't seen even one episode of it.)

Yes, with the newer series (which usually are referred to as Heisei Ultraman series), there is one case of continuity: Dyna is a sequel to Tiga. Everything else takes place in a separate universe. But to please the fans, perhaps, sometimes Ultraman movies would bring those universes together so the characters can appear alongside each other and/or interact with each other. I never regard those movies as anything but as alternate universe versions, though, since they are usually not what viewers are familiar with from the TV series.

Now, Showa Ultraman series are different, since they are in the same universe and all connected. So, the instances of the Ultras interacting together in those series and movies are canon, as well as their appearances in Mebius.

As for trends, I actually like that there doesn't seem to be a real pattern, at least for the Heisei series, because I like each of those series for their differences, for whatever freshness they could still bring to Ultraman franchise. Not having seen much, I can't really speak for the Showa series, but I suspect the general formula of what makes Ultraman iconic might be repeated a bit more in those days.
31st-Jul-2010 05:34 pm (UTC)
What do you mean they don't have anyone transforming into Ultraman? Are those Ultra series without an Ultraman? :D

Thanks again for the explanation, the wikipedia article was too long, so I totally didn't get what the continuity of the series is supposed to be. The movies sound like crossover fanfics :D It's actually nice that the producers make such things, the fans are probably happy. Well, the producers do it to earn money, of course, but it's still nice :)

Too bad you don't know much about Showa Ultraman series, the concept of them being connected is intriguing... Like, does Ultraman #1 meet Ultraman #2 and tell him that 2 will have to take care of the Earth now, while 1 will go back to their home planet? :D It would be fun if they had that sort of interactions.

I guess they would not really have any common trends if the stories are not really connected. But I suppose in a way it's good because one can watch separate series and not worry about not knowing the background.
31st-Jul-2010 06:57 pm (UTC)
Yes. Ultra Galaxy and Ultra Q (and Ultra Q: Dark Fantasy) are Ultra series without an Ultraman as a main character (well, can't speak for Ultra Q or the Dark Fantasy version, as I haven't seen them). But those shows have plenty of monsters that also appear in other Ultra series.

Reminds me that I've heard other people also called AU movies crossover fanfics. :) Well, for some reason (well, other than money) Ultraman franchise seems to be willing to cater to fans.

Yeah, they probably had something like you said. But I think they interact a bit more than that (3-4 of them in one series to bail out the current Ultra, for instance--wait, that sounds familiar...).

And that is what I really like about non-connect series: the ability to pick it up without having to watch the prior series. I mean, I don't mind only one or two (like watching Tiga before Dyna), but, for instance, if I have to watch the twelve series that comes before it before I could even make sense of Ultraman Max, I would have given up Max before I even start...
2nd-Aug-2010 05:49 pm (UTC)
That’s weird – I thought that there has to be an Ultraman for the series to be counted as Ultra series. But then again, some monsters are probably so popular that they are as much a symbol of the series as Ultraman himself...

I can’t blame them – who doesn’t like crossover AU fanfics? :DD

That sounds like fun :D Like a team made entirely of Ultramen, cool :D That sort of team would probably be much more efficient than just one Ultraman fighting the monsters.

Yeah, same here, that is just too much backstory. In the beginning I was really confused about which series I should start watching because there were just so many of them. Well, turned out I could find only Mebius and Nexus, so those were what I watched :D
2nd-Aug-2010 07:18 pm (UTC)
I thought it was weird, too, but since the company wants to classify those series as Ultra series, they do count.

I totally love crossover AU fanfics, and would have written my own anyway. But having official one(s) is even better. :)

I don't know which series they are in, but I'm looking forward to seeing them in action. :) (But well, I've seen something like that in team-up movies before, and yes, the Ultras are totally cool and efficient.)

You could actually pick any. I think the continuity thing might not be so bad, after all, even with the series known to be connected. But yeah, Mebius and Nexus seem to be the only two series available completely subbed. Ultraman Max, though, is properly subbed up to episode 23, and I think there are some Engrish subs floating around for the rest, so that's another choice if you feel like checking out another series. (UltraSeven X is also completely subbed, but it is not a traditional Ultraman series in the sense that it's dark (but actually not so similar to Nexus, after all).)
3rd-Aug-2010 12:56 pm (UTC)
Well, I guess the longer the series, the better, so they count these two, as well - even if the series do not contain an actual Ultraman :D

Lol, I would totally write a crossover AU fanfic for Mebius, but probably some sort of crossover with anime :D I'm thinking about possibilities :D

Even if the series are connected, there are probably some explanations for new viewers anyway, so it would not be incomprehensible. But these two series were the easiest to find. I'm happy I started with Mebius, if I had watched Nexus first, I probably would not be interested in Ultra series :D

Ultraman Max, you say? I'll remember that in case I need something to watch :)
3rd-Aug-2010 05:28 pm (UTC)
In case of Ultra Q, I heard it was an inspiration for the original Ultraman (the first series). And Ultra Galaxy supposedly takes place in the same universe as Showa Ultraman series (which includes Mebius), but far into the future. I don't know for sure if those were the reasons these two series counted as Ultra series, though.

Hmm...even though live action and anime seem different (one uses real people, the other just uses their voices at most), I suppose you probably could make that kind of crossover work somehow. :)

Nexus was not my first introduction to Ultraman, so I don't know how I would have reacted if it were, but from what I've read, most who watched Nexus first went on to watch more Ultraman series. So, in a way, Nexus worked in attracting new fans to Ultraman franchise.

Yes, Ultraman Max. :) It is a fun series which I think is probably closer in spirit to Showa Ultra series, especially to the original Ultraman.
4th-Aug-2010 05:23 pm (UTC)
Ultra Galaxy sounds like they had expanded the idea of maquette monsters...

Lol, that had not even occurred to me - there are no real people in either anime or tokusatsu, there are characters. In the context of their series, both are real, so that is not the problem at all.

Maybe it depends on the person :D

Sounds like fun :D BTW, talking about fun, in Ultraman Tiga, when does the team find out that Daigo is the Ultraman?
4th-Aug-2010 06:47 pm (UTC)
Yeah, perhaps you're right. The main character is a 'monster user', after all, who could control the way his monsters fight.

True, there are only characters, but I'm thinking 3-D (live-action) and 2-D (anime) and I guess I've never really seen them before on the same screen, so to speak.

Well, it could be considered a spoiler, but since you most likely don't mind if you ask it, way toward the end, like most every other series. I'm happy that Mebius is an exception in this regard (even though I'd guessed it anyway). Speaking of Tiga, though, I hope you're enjoying what you've seen. :)
5th-Aug-2010 12:12 pm (UTC)
Lol, it's totally like Pokemon (if you know what that is :D).

Well, in a story both of them will be just words, so it doesn't really matter :DD

That's too bad, I kind of hoped it will be sooner, like in Mebius. Yeah, I'm quite enjoying it. I don't really care about the characters as much as I cared about the characters in Mebius, but the monsters in Tiga are pretty cool. The one in episode 5, I think, was the nastiest thing I've ever seen. The fights are a bit different than in Mebius, too - they have more plans and strategies, I think, while in Mebius it was usually like 'let's fly there and see what to do!':D
6th-Aug-2010 09:27 am (UTC)
Well, I suppose I know of Pokemon, even though I've never watched or played any. (My youngest brother was into Pokemon cards many years back.) I think in Ultra Galaxy, though, a monster user can have only a few cards (though there seem to be one exception).

Most Ultra series (at least the newer ones I've seen) are more subtle with character development, but I'm all right with that, as long as I still know who they are and not having to resort to Unnecessary Guy/Girl, Annoying Girl/Guy, Cardboard personality Guy/Girl, the token Foreigner, etc. etc. Sometimes, the only way to learn more about these characters are simply observing the way they interact with other team members...

Mebius seems to do many things differently yet somehow still stays within the confine of traditional Ultra series format, which is why I think it is special in many ways. The GUYS we know is a team made up of mostly civilians, so they seem to be less strict than the teams from other series, for instance, they don't refer to each other by using -member suffix, but simply use -san, -kun, -chan, or nothing, as with the case for Ryuu and George (rude, but it's expected of them). GUYS are definitely less professional than, as you said, the GUTS team from Tiga.

Glad to hear that Tiga seems to be quite enjoyable for you. :) It's moving kind of slow in the early episodes, but I think it picks up the pace quite nicely later on. And you probably don't need them now, but let me know whenever you would like to see more episodes...
6th-Aug-2010 01:48 pm (UTC)
Well, Pokemon were clearly targeted at kids and collecting cards, so it would be rather disappointing if an Ultra series was the same...

That could be true. There are some character cliches in the series, but at least they have enough individuality to be a bit different. Lol, I wonder if Mirai could be the Token Foreigner of Mebius.

I think I like GUYS more, though - it is somehow friendlier when they don't treat each other so officially. And they did turn more professional as the series went on, at least that's how I feel about it :)

I haven't really noticed it being slow, I like the development so far :) Thank you :)
6th-Aug-2010 05:17 pm (UTC)
Ultra series are targeted at kids, too. ;) But I guess I would also feel rather disappointed if an Ultra series was exactly like Pokemon. After all, even though their main audience are kids, I feel that Ultra series tackle bigger issues, such as the environmental concerns and how humans are being responsible (or irresponsible as many aliens like to accuse) with Earth.

Lol, Mirai is actually the hidden (for some time) Token Alien, but yeah, he could be the Foreigner one too. :) In fact, I did write something about that here. Anyway, I was thinking more along the line of a real foreigner, like the guy Ultraman Max has.

Yeah, GUYS members not being so formal with one another is probably one of the reasons they are getting along well. And for some reason, I can kind of see some other Ultra teams berating GUYS for being too friendly (I don't think there is any kind of crossover like that, unless someone wrote fanfic and I didn't know about it ^^;). And, well, I don't know about them turning more professional. It seems like they usually operate along the line of 'charge in first and deal with damage as needed' attitude, with some occasional brilliant plans in between which somehow I've never really remembered going exactly the way they were written.

Tiga started off a bit slow to me, but it's good if you haven't noticed that, since the series only gets so much better, imho.
7th-Aug-2010 06:34 pm (UTC)
Really? I would think they are for teenagers, at least that's the feeling the series gives - after all, it raises some rather important moral questions.

That was a cute little fic bit :) I haven't seen what foreigner there was in Ultraman Max, but I guess it's kind of difficult to get a real foreigner in a Japanese series :DD

I guess the other teams could actually do that, it would be a cool fanfic idea :DD That's their usual way, yeah, but sometimes GUYS manage to come up with a good plan, too :D

Good, that's something to look forward to :)
7th-Aug-2010 07:07 pm (UTC)
Maybe Nexus and UltraSeven X, which I think are aimed at older audience. But the rest of Ultra series are pretty much for kids, as in 5-6 year old kids. Have you seen the no jam video (subbed by Fushigi-chan)? It has Ultraman explaining to two little kids how to take care of a DVD disc. :) As for the moral questions, I think it's great that Japanese kids can take this kind of things in their entertainment.

Thanks again. :) The foreigner in Ultraman Max was a Westerner, I think, whose actor seemed to have his own show about teaching English in Japan. And actually, it probably is not very difficult to get foreigners in Japanese shows, only that they usually seem horribly stereotyped. (I'm glad the guy in Max was kept at a more realistic level. Yes, he was exaggerating some of his actions, but at least not to the point that would bother me.)

Well, I actually want to see this one done by someone else, officially or not, but if not, I guess it's one more idea I can play with. :) And I think GUYS always has a good plan whenever they come up with one; they just never really manage to execute it according to what they planned. ^^;;
9th-Aug-2010 07:48 pm (UTC)
I've been watching a series for kids at my ripe age, what an embarrassment >_< Lol, not really :DD

I don't think I have seen that video... Lol, that really does sound like it's for kids.

Yeah, that's true, the shows for kids made in other countries are all about adventures and nothing much else, the moral lessons are often lacking.

I think it might be difficult, because how many foreign actors could there be in Japan? They could always hire some amateurs, I suppose... Good to know the guy in Max did a good job :)

I can sort of imagine how it would be if Nexus team met up with Cosmos team that didn't kill monsters - Nagi would have a heart attack :DD Lol, it could be so, anyhow, they did have a cool plan in that episode with Isana :D
10th-Aug-2010 02:07 pm (UTC)
It is a short video at the beginning of Ultra series DVDs. Not sure if Nexus discs have it, but Mebius discs definitely do. Anyway, the Fushigi-chan subbed version should not be difficult to find if you're interested in seeing it.

Yeah, if it were Nagi in the beginning of Nexus, I would have agreed with you. But, I think, after her interactions with Komon and Himeya (especially the latter, since she had apparently run out of counter arguments to his numerous selfless sacrifices), Nagi seems to have become more flexible (as much as her character can, anyway). She might still scoff at such ideal (of living with monsters), but she would likely be more tolerable of team EYES of Cosmos.

That plan didn't go exactly as planned either. But that's fine, since Isana was saved in the coolest way possible (well, I think he did say 'that's so cool' or something along that line ;).
11th-Aug-2010 01:16 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I'll search around for it - Ultraman interacting with kids is always cute, even if it is something like that :D

I guess it's good that she would be able to accept their way of dealing with monsters - it would be too boring if she never changed her way of thinking even after all that happened in Nexus.

Lol, that's true, the plan did not work exactly as planned, but since the result was cool, I don't mind :D
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