After having seen 30 episodes, I hope I'm not too quick to say I'm enjoying Ultraman Taro a lot. Which is a bit surprising since I was kind of dreading the series, or more like dreading the main character (I heard that he might be a type I don't care for). But, now that I can judge for myself, I think he is pretty much fine. (I totally prefer Kotaro over his immediate predecessor. But, gee, I would have liked almost any main character better than Hokuto, so maybe that's not much of a compliment.)
The funny thing is, when Kotaro's actor first showed up in Ultraman Ace (as a guy who picks a fight with Hokuto, but then Hokuto picks a fight with almost every guest of the week, so), I was like, 'he should have been a main character in another toku show!' I didn't even realize that he would, the very next Ultra show, in fact. And randomly, I like the short hair he had in Ace better.
(Somehow in all of a few sites I went to, Kotaro's picture was absent (surely some kind of conspiracy), so I never knew what he looked like (except apparently he's the most handsome one out of all the Showa Ultra human forms, and I almost got swayed except I still think that honor belongs to Hideki Go (Ultraman Jack)) until I watched the first episode of Taro (well, I first saw his actor in Ace, but I didn't know that then). Honestly, the only representation I have ever seen of Kotaro before watching his series is from this cute comic strip I found six years ago (now I want more cute comic strips -- should have saved them). But, okay, I hadn't really gone searching for his picture -- I am the type who would rather be surprised and not wanting to see the characters beforehand. Can't be avoided with the rest of Showa human forms, since they show up in Ultraman Mebius, but I was actually kind of happy that I had no idea what Kotaro looked like (almost compensated for him not being in anything post-series that I know of).)
(Wonder wonder what will happen when Hokuto (probably along with Hayata, Dan, and Go) returns later in Taro. Wouldn't he go 'Shinoda???' <-- (I like how lazy they were about naming this character. It's the same as his actor's last name.) But I guess that is unlikely, though. They already missed the opportunity the first two or three times, so what makes me think they would make this type of reference only I care about?
Oh, and speaking of Hokuto, I hope Kotaro hadn't inherited that white scarf* from him. ^^;; He wore it differently at first, but now it looks almost like the way Hokuto used to wear it.
*I mean the prop -- but then I'm sure Hokuto changed his scarf (or at least the prop people changed it for him) over the course of Ace. Sorry, Ultra Mother, I just can't get over how much the same the scarves look. But then again, I never know where Hokuto got his scarf either...)
Since I already go on and on about Kotaro, let me just add that I wish Kotaro and Gen (Ootori) get to meet on screen. They seem kind of similar to me -- free-spirited people who practice sports (well, boxing in particular for Kotaro, but Gen most likely could take him on for that, too). I'm sure I'd find their interaction interesting at least.
But, speaking just for Ultra forms, I don't remember if Taro and Ultraman Leo ever have any conversation (or any kind of interaction for that matter) on screen (well, they probably have, but I forget when and where. Also, Taro and Kotaro are not really one and the same, are they? Admit that I'm rather confused on this detail since he seems to talk like he is Taro and not just a host. Anyhow, looks like Taro got quite a few voice changes over time).
As for the series, I think the tone is somewhat mismatched. For some odd reason, I find it rather similar to Leo's, when Taro bothers to be serious and dramatic (those episodes are usually accompanied by very disturbing visuals -- for me at least), that is. (Or more likely it's because both series have their shares of outrageous-looking vehicles that I just can't take seriously.) But then there are those silly episodes that seem like they should belong to a different series. (Leo is mostly consistent in its 'grim dark end of the world' atmosphere, I think.) And some episodes have contradicting feelings to them within the same episodes (like they can't decide whether to be serious or to be silly or to be happy or to be sad). That said, all of those things don't bother me at all.
And Taro is definitely spoiled. How many times already have someone from Ultra Land (when did they get around to calling it the Land of Light?) come bailing him out? He is definitely capable when forced to fight alone, so I kinda hope they cuddle him less... That said, though, I guess I have a soft spot for the youngest child since I find Taro rather adorable in that role (spoiled rotten, I mean). And perhaps I shouldn't, but I like it when he (whether as Kotaro or Ultraman Taro) orders everyone around, and, most of the time, they all indulge him. ^^
Now let's talk about the defense team, ZAT, which stands for "Zariba of All Territory". I'd never heard of a zariba until now. And if I trust the definition I've seen, now I picture their base in some enclosure in a savanna in Africa instead of on a raised platform (sort of like a pavilion) right smack in the middle of the town (no attempt at being a secret base at all). It's so ironic that the only TV series so far with a Japanese-named Ultraman contains an English(?) word that I didn't know. I hope they were trying to be creative (since the previous team's name is terrible, literally (it's the T of TAC)) with the name rather than simply grabbing a dictionary and randomly picking a word that almost no one would recognize so wrong usage would not be detected.
This team seems to have more women than previous teams (or even most future teams), though I only recognize one of them. And different uniforms for women. (The only other series I see something similar are probably Ultraman Gaia (well, for the operators only--they still wear same uniforms as the guys do for the out of base mission) and Mebius (though, unlike in ZAT and XIG (the operator uniform), the top part of GUYS uniform doesn't seem to look any different for either gender.) Anyway, I love ZAT uniforms. Very very different from the teams before it and the teams after it (and maybe I'm biased, since I am partial to the color blue in the defense team uniforms).
Oh, whatever happened to the captain? He was in early episodes and then disappeared without an explanation (that I can remember). Not that I mind, though. I really like the vice-captain -- he is so refreshing. :) (But I think I like what little I've seen of Captain Asahina, too.)
In any case, I'm glad there is a Showa team I can like again (haven't seen one of those since UGM (from Ultraman 80)).
Probably there is something else I've forgotten. But oh well.