The Return of Ultraman
|The Return of Ultraman|
|The Return of Ultraman title card|
|Created by||Tsuburaya Productions|
|Theme music composer||Koichi Sugiyama|
|Country of origin||Japan|
|No. of episodes||51|
|Running time||30 mins|
|Original channel||Tokyo Broadcasting System|
|Picture format||480i (SDTV), 720p|
|Original release||April 2, 1971 – March 31, 1972|
|Preceded by||Ultra Seven|
|Followed by||Ultraman Ace|
Eiji Tsuburaya had originally intended for the Ultra Series to end with the 1967 series Ultra Seven (Urutora Sebun, 1967). Ultraman (Urutoraman, 1966) proved to be too popular a character to omit. Eiji Tsuburaya died in 1970. His son Hajime Tsuburaya (who took over Tsuburaya Productions until his own death in 1973) revived the Ultra Series with Return of Ultraman.
The show features a new Ultraman named "New Ultraman" (新ウルトラマン Shin Urutoraman?), or just "Kaettekita Ultraman" (帰ってきたウルトラマン?). In 1984, he was renamed "Ultraman Jack" (ウルトラマンジャック Urutoraman Jakku?) due to licensing issues. Tsuburaya and Bandai (which had just bought the Ultraman toy license in Japan) held a contest for children to pick a new name for this Ultraman. Although he is called "Ultraman Jack" for licensing in and out of Japan, he is still sometimes referred to as "New Ultraman"/"Kaettekita Ultraman", by some fans (and also in some official sources). This change was done due to a last-minute decision as the original plan for this series was for the original Ultraman to return to Earth to resume the fight against aliens and monsters.
While nearly identical in appearance to the original Ultraman, the red pattern on his silver suit is slightly different. Furthermore, the new Ultraman can be distinguished by his shorter pants, the pinstripes along the red areas, and the fuller sleeves/kneepads. The characters and related events are described below using in-universe tone.
This series is a follow up to the original Ultraman & Ultra Seven that is set in 1971, four years after Ultraseven left Earth. The first episode begins with a fight between two giant monsters named Takkong and Zazahn, in Tokyo. Amid the monster destruction, young race-car driver Hideki Go is killed while trying to rescue a little boy and a dog from the falling rubble. His valiant sacrifice is noted by everyone, including his friends and the new defense force MAT (Monster Attack Team), but an unseen being also takes notice. Looking over Hideki is "New Ultraman (Ultraman Jack)", who is so touched by the race car driver's heroism, that he decides to combine his life force with that of Hideki, thus bringing him back to life (just like the original Ultraman did with Shin Hayata), much to everyone's astonishment. MAT then asks Hideki to join the team, which he does, especially since in this frightening new "Age of Monsters" Earth will need a savior. In times of crisis, Hideki will raise his right arm and, by force of will, transform into Ultraman Jack to fight monsters.
MAT (Monster Attack Team)
- Captain Katsushiro Kato: Makes no sense at times, while other times he tends to joke around with his crew. All the same, he is very protective of his small MAT team, and sometimes disregards orders if he feels the circumstances warrant it. He leaves about halfway through the series, replaced by Captain Ryu Ibuki.
- Takeshi Minami: He hints that he grew up on a farm, and tends to watch over the other officers, especially the new member Gō.
- Ippei Ueno: Sometimes superstitious, and loose in his methods when compared to Officer Kishida.
- Fumio Kishida: He comes from an old military family, and tends to have connections still with the higher-level officers who oversee MAT. He lives with his mother, but his father is deceased, as is his older brother who committed suicide upon learning a family secret.
- Yuriko Oka: The only female in the team. She is very capable, having saved the team on many occasions. She also serves as communications officer.
- Hideki Gō: The newest member of MAT, he was killed while trying to save a young boy and a dog. Ultraman, upon witnessing this act, merges with Gō's body to revive him and allows Gō to transform when needed. He lives with the Sakata family during his time off from MAT, and before the series, races cars. Due to Ultraman's power, his senses are more enhanced to the point that he can hear and see monsters that other humans cannot, and attains telepathy. Transforms through sheer force of will, not requiring a transformation item like other Ultra Series heroes. However, the will is not that of Gō's but actually Ultraman's; he can either block the process or even transform against Gō's will as a defensive reflex.
- Ken Sakata (episodes 1-37): Owns the car repair shop where Gō works on his off-time. He tends to talk to Captain Kato at times, and Kato contacts him when Gō is in trouble.
- Aki Sakata (episodes 1-37): Younger sister to Ken, she takes care of her younger brother Jiro and tends to cook for the family. At times she is teased for being 'Gō's girlfriend', which is taken advantage by an alien who is after Gō. The actress later reprises her role in the Superior Ultraman 8 Brothers movie, where she is married to Gō and is also involved in an incident.
- Jiro Sakata: Young boy who lives with his older brother and sister, though after they are involved in the Alien Nackle incident, he goes to live with a cousin. He loves monsters, and even tends to make movies with various cameras.
For the first time, Ishirō Honda, best known for his work on the Godzilla movies and other classic Toho tokusatsu, worked on the Ultra Series, and directed some of the episodes of this series, including the first episode (titled "All Monsters Attack" (怪獣総進撃 Kaijū Sōshingeki?), which is the same as the Japanese title for the film Destroy All Monsters).
- "Kaettekita Ultraman" (帰ってきたウルトラマン Kaettekita Urutoraman?, "The Return of Ultraman")
- Lyrics: Kyōichi Azuma
- Composition: Koichi Sugiyama
- Artist: Jiro Dan, Misuzu Children's Choral Group