Ultraman Series One / Vol 1 : 3 of 5
Along with Speed Racer, watching Ultraman was another one of my first exposures to Japanese entertainment that eventually led to my culture-obsessed life today! There have been tons of Ultraman series, but this DVD set is the original classic from 1966 (and of course, I'm watching it in Japanese). Most of my childhood memories only involve Ultraman's Color Timer (which blinks on his chest when he's running out of energy), but now that I've watched three DVDs full of episodes I'm excited about learning more and becoming a fan all over again. Each episode features a giant monster (all with insanely imaginative designs) that Ultraman must vanquish, after Science Patrol officer Hayata transforms using the Beta Capsule. Sometimes I feel sorry for the monsters, because Ultraman can get pretty violent (sometimes there's even monster blood!). The rest of the Science Patrol is cool as well, flying around in their VTOL aircraft, shooting beasts with the Spider Shot gun, and talking on their little lapel communicators. The effects were state of the art for 1966, since the studio used one of only a handful of optical printers in existence at the time. My only problem with the show is there's almost no character development at all (I guess I'm spoiled on the emotional impact of Kikaida), which means there's not much connection between episodes. But now that I've seen the first half of the series, nothing can stop me from buying the next DVD set!