Post Reply CATALOG SPOTLIGHT: Ultraman Max and Ultraman Mebius
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Posted 1/8/15 , edited 1/21/15
by FloydYoder

Before Pacific Rim, there was Ultraman. In Japan, Ultraman is one of the most recognizable characters of all time and the leader in kaiju entertainment. Almost every series that involves giant monsters from Power Rangers to the bizarre Japanese version of Spiderman owes something to Ultraman for basically establishing the whole genre. Now Ultraman is available on crunchyroll in Ultraman Max and Ultraman Mebius .

In Ultraman Max giant monsters attack the earth and it is up to DASH (Defense Actions Squad Heroes) to stop them. DASH is made up of a rag tag group of fighter pilots and an android operator. The main character, a young man named Kaito is not a DASH pilot. In fact, he tried to be a DASH pilot and failed the test. However, Kaito has within him the burning desire to protect everyone and the courage (or recklessness) to try. So when a DASH ship crashes near him with its pilot incapacitated Kaito jumps in to the ship to try to save the day. It doesn't go too well. Just when things look their darkest, an extra-dimensional being named Ultraman Max makes contact with Kaito and asks Kaito to be his vessel on Earth since Kaito has a heart that burns for justice. From then on Ultraman Max becomes humanity's greatest protector against the the giant monster menace.

Ultraman Max is a pretty standard romp through the kaiju genre. The effects are cheesy and the monsters are mostly dudes in rubber suits. The pacing is full blown monster of the week and the battles all end basically as you'd expect them to. However it's still pretty fun, mostly due to its cast of characters. DASH has a few interesting characters that help move the story along. There is the willful Mizuki who is the token female pilot and so far the only candidate for love interest to Kaito. There is DASH's android operator, Elly, reliable but perplexed by human behavior. Elly is the root of many a gag in which a crew member does something and her response is, "Why are you doing that?" To which the usual response is a variation of "Humans aren't logical and we don't always have an explanation for what we do." My favorite so far has been Sean, who transferred in from DASH North America and is the first foreigner on any Ultraman team. Mostly I like him because he spouts out random english phrases at random and inexplicable moments. It's so corny but so very enjoyable. Another thing that Ultraman Max does well is they manage to have some sort of lesson that needs to be understood before the baddie goes down. For example there is an episode early on where Kaito misunderstands the purpose of Ultraman and this endangers him and his team because Ultraman doesn't summon during a monster attack. It isn't until Kaito reexamines his reason for being Ultraman's vessel that he can finally summon the titular hero and saves the day.

Overall this is a pretty neat series but it is also very lighthearted. If you come in to this series expecting a deep story and serious moments you will find yourself disappointed. However, if you go into it expecting a simple fun romp that you don't have to pay too much attention to I think you'll find it quite enjoyable. If you are interested in the kaiju genre or you want to get to know the cultural phenomenon that is Ultraman then check out Ultraman Max. It's a great way to get a feel for it without having to get too emotionally invested.

The other series this review will be talking about is Ultraman Mebius. Now the first thing I want to say about Mebius in comparison to Max is that it is a lot more serious and in depth. Where Max is great if you wanna relax and have a saturday morning monster of the week romp Mebius is the better choice if you are interested in character arcs, consequences and higher stakes. If you are looking for an Ultraman series with more meat then Mebius is a good choice.

The first scene we see is Ultraman in what I can only assume is the ULTRAWORLD and he has been given permission by THE ULTRAKING to come to earth and protect it. In Mebius giant space Kaiju have not been seen on Earth in 25 years and the world is largely at peace. This peace is shattered when a giant monster attacks from space. At first nothing really separates it from Max. It even has its own organization with ace pilots, the internationally spanning CREW GUYS. Where things really take a different tone is after Ultraman's first battle which has so much collateral damage that he essentially protected nothing. This, I feel is what the major theme of Mebius is: Consequences. Collateral damage and avoiding it is a big deal. The monsters often leave corpses or explode, so cleanup and containment is of utmost importance. Danger is also more explicit in Mebius. In a very early episode the series explain Ultraman's color timer and its connection with his well being. But more importantly it explicitly states that Ultraman can die, and more importantly, he has died in the past. So now that you've gotten a feel for this high stakes tone for Ultraman all you gotta do is add some interesting crew members to GUYS (which include a preschool teacher, a female moto gp race, an ultraman fanboy, and a japanese soccer player who speaks spanish) and you've got Ultraman Mebius. I just wish we got more ULTRAKING.

Overall, Mebius is pretty fun series that serves a different purpose than Max does. If you wanna feel like a kid with a bowl of cereal watching the good guys crush the bad guys go with Max. If you are more interested in a story about what it means to be a hero and if you are interested in having a more vulnerable Ultraman who needs the assistance of his human crew to cover him with exemplary teamwork to generate more varied clutch victories then you'll definitely want Mebius. Whichever one you choose be sure to watch it right here on Crunchyroll.
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Posted 1/12/15 , edited 1/20/15
Of the two, I'm a fan of Ultraman Mebius, but regardless it's still great to see Cruchyroll being allowed to legally sub these Ultraman shows now. I can't wait to see which Ultraman show they'll dub next! (Personally, I'm hoping for the two Ultra Galaxy series', and Ultraman Cosmos!)
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57 / M / Texas
Posted 1/16/15 , edited 1/20/15
Yes , my childhood is reborn ! I rember hurrying home from school to watch Ultraman on TV , poor dub and all . Then they stopped showing it . Will the seriesmbe subbed and dubbed or just sub ? Don't really care on this golden oldie title...
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23 / M
Posted 1/19/15 , edited 1/20/15
OMG!!! YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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39 / M / CA, USA
Posted 1/20/15 , edited 1/20/15
Holy crap, it can't be... Ultraman Max and Mebius subbed on Crunchyroll?! YEEEESSSSS!!!!!! Thank you!!!!

Will we be getting any more Tsuburaya goodness? I've got my fingers crossed for Ultraman Gaia and Nexus.

What would it take to get Toei to release the Super Sentai Series subbed on Crunchyroll? That would be stupidly epic.
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32 / Somewhere in Clai...
Posted 1/26/15 , edited 1/26/15
Just to let you know that is Father of Ultra, not Ultra King. That's a completely different character.
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