Lesley Aeschliman

Manga Review: Ultraman Volume 1

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Ultraman Volume 1 is inspired by the Japanese superhero TV show from Japan that began airing in the 1960s. This manga adaptation appears to be a “new generation” story to continue from the original television series.

Ultraman Volume 1

Ultraman Volume 1

Written by: Eiichi Shimizu and Tomohiro Shimoguchi
Publisher: HERO’S INC.
English Publisher: VIZ Media
Release Date: August 18, 2015

Volume 1 starts out by establishing the basic premise from the original Ultraman television series, but quickly moves ahead to a time when Ultraman has left Earth and has become a memory.

Shin Hayata, a former member of the Science Special Search Party that worked with Ultraman years earlier to fight alien creatures called kaiju, takes his young son Shinjiro to a museum dedicated to Ultraman. But during this visit, it’s established that there’s something strange about Shinjiro: he falls a great distance but is unhurt.

This bothers Shin, but things become even more complicated after he talks with his former teammate, Ide. Shin admits to having no memory of the time when Ultraman was around but can remember everything clearly from before and after then. Ide drops several bombshells, including the fact that Shin was Ultraman after the two of them had merged. Personally, I felt that the first chapter of Ultraman Volume 1 did a great job of establishing the concept of Ultraman for readers who don’t have familiarity with it, and it also effectively set the stage for what happens later in the story.

The story jumps ahead 12 years to Shinjiro as a teenager, and it’s revealed that he has other abilities besides not getting hurt if he falls from any height. It’s reinforced that Shinjiro has these unusual abilities, but has no idea why he does. But when a new alien threat comes to Earth both Shin and Shinjiro find themselves facing off with it. Near the end of the volume, Shinjiro is given a way to amplify his power in order to help fight the kaiju. Volume establishes that Shinjiro is becoming the new Ultraman, whether he really wants to or not.

Much of Ultraman Volume 1 spends its time trying to establish the characters, their situations, and the world that they inhabit. It can make the early portion of the story feel like it’s dragging a little but once it’s hinted there’s something unusual about Shinjiro and Shin learns the truth about Ultraman, the story starts picking up. And the reader is rewarded by impressive fight sequences during the last third of the volume.

The art in this volume looks impressive, especially the fight sequences. There’s also a drawing that caught my interest in a two-page spread on pages 120-121 which depicts Shin revealing to Shinjiro that he’s Ultraman. The contrasts of the shades make it stand out, and the details included for the drawing of Shin also catch the eye. The overall art style, when combined with the storytelling, makes this volume of Ultraman an engaging read.

Ultraman Volume 1 seems to be off to a good start. From what I see here, I believe it’s a series that can appeal to readers whether or not they have any familiarity with the Ultraman television series. Readers who enjoy the Tiger & Bunny anime or manga series will likely find something to like about Ultraman.

The reviewer was provided a review copy by VIZ Media

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