Coming from the same team behind 2016’s Shin Godzilla, Shin Ultraman was announced last year but updates have been few. We have the latest on the reboot.
YouTube’s Monstrosities contributor and independent filmmaker Yoko Higuchi, who knows some people involved in making the project and visited the set in November, delivered some dirt on a recent live stream panel.
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Higuchi couldn’t say much for legal reasons since the movie hasn’t been released yet. But he could share Ultraman won’t be a man in a suit this time and shall be made possible entirely by CGI.
This might be a stumbling block for fans. “It’s gonna be weird that he’s like a full CG,” said Higuchi. “That’s gonna be kind of a thing I think all the fans are gonna have to kind of overcome.”
”And even myself,” he added, “I’m gonna have to accept a no-suit Ultraman.”
He continued, “If you asked me ten years ago, I don’t think I could ever imagine the character not being a guy in a suit.” CG has been used sparingly to render Ultraman in trailers and shorts but never for a full-length feature before.
Higuchi added that writer Hideaki Anno “lives and breathes Ultraman” and peppers elements from the TV series into his work.
“It’s like how George Lucas took Kurosawa elements and John Wayne elements” and put them into Star Wars, Higuchi observed. Parts of Star Wars lift from Akira Kurosawa’s Hidden Fortress.
Ultraman made his debut in the second series that spun off from Ultra Q. The makers of Shin Ultraman drew heavily from that according to Higuchi. They had stills on an iPad to remind them:
“One of the cinematographers, he had an iPad…and I asked him, like, ‘Hey, what’s on the iPad?’ And he said, ‘Oh, these are just pictures…from the original Ultraman series.’ And Anno said ‘do that’ on set.”
Higuchi emphasized Anno is “a fanatic” for the original Ultraman created by Japan’s renowned special effect wizard Eiji Tsuburaya, who also had a hand in Godzilla’s beginnings.
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Yoko Higuchi also trusts the vision of unrelated director Shinji Higuchi (Attack on Titan). “I have no doubt of Higuchi’s talent, he is amazing,” he said, lauding his work on Gamera.
Shinji Higuchi was the special effects director for the Heisei Gamera trilogy (Guardian of the Universe, Attack of Legion, and Revenge of Iris) heralded as the best in the entire franchise and kaiju cinema writ large.
Yoko Higuchi hopes the buzz and name recognition attached to Shin Ultraman will mean a US theatrical run like Shin Godzilla had. “It’s Anno and he’s got a big name,” he said. “And he’s got clout and I feel like that clout was able to bring Shin Godzilla over to the States.”
He mentioned how trailers played up that Shin Godzilla was “from the creators of Evangelion,” the anime series Hideaki Anno wrote and is most known for.
Higuchi added it would help him immensely if Shin Ultraman saw an American release. He’s not sure he has the money for another trip to Japan.
One frame of the movie showing the new Ultraman was released this year. Below is the official image of Shin Ultraman.
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A few modifications have been made. This version lacks the famous color timer that show’s Ultraman’s energy levels. Anno issued a statement saying this was a tribute to the intention of Ultraman art director Toru Narita.
Shin Ultraman’s design is based on Narita’s 1983 illustration “Shinjitsu to Seigi to Bi no Keshin” which translates to “Avatar of the truth, justice, and beauty.” (Credit: Asahi Shimbun)
Shin Ultraman doesn’t hit theaters until 2021. IMDb lists it as in pre-production and offers the following summary which is close to the original show’s premise:
“An alien is out for justice and pursues a rogue criminal to a planet called earth. to atone for his deeds he leaves the power to transfer a human into a hero out for good and earthly protection. Thus The ultra Man is born as fashioned after the original early 1960s televisions serial that was on many Japanese households’ TVs.”
Takumi Saitoh, who played Ikeda in Shin Godzilla, portrays the character who becomes Ultraman.