October 20, 2005

ULTRAMAN NEXUS (2004) - HK DVD review

(37 episodes)

ULTRAMAN NEXUS is a much more adult series than its predecessor, ULTRAMAN COSMOS. Admittedly it's still a guy in a rubber suit fighting monsters that are other guys in rubber suits but Tsuburaya Productions don't like to slack. I've remained a fan of the various Ultra-series ever since ULTRAMAN TIGA because of their constant inventiveness with the format.

ULTRAMAN NEXUS is set after the movie ULTRAMAN NEXT. It delivers the usual Ultra-fights, but defies the usual formulaic episode structure by using a complex story arc involving multiple Ultra-men both good and bad. The subplots range schizophrenically between sudden death and balloon animals, alien invasion and sappy romance. There's a new underwater base and far more physical action from the Earth Squadron than usual - like energy weapon fights with smaller monsters lurking in forests and factories. There are some great new CGI monsters thrown into the mix - the first monster to appear defies description! Less successful is the intercutting between CGI aircraft and slow-motion miniatures - they suddenly become extra fast and manoevrable. The same can be said of the infrequent fights using CGI Ultramen. But, all in all, a darker, unpredictable, action-packed series.

ULTRAMAN NEXUS was released in Hong Kong as 7 dvds. These were sold individually or as 2 fold-out boxsets (pictured). The same discs were used in both releases. I bought these Hong Kong versions because the Japanese releases had no english subtitles. These subs aren't the best translations in the world - you can follow the plot, but people's names aren't consistent and are occasionally translated. Attempts to translate pseudo-scientific jargon can only be understood using an excess of lateral thinking.

Also annoying is the presence of a clock top-left in picture throughout each episode. Looks like these were mastered off breakfast-time transmission tapes! (This also happened on the FIRESTORM anime release).

There are absolutely no extras and the chaptering is sparse. The picture is standard 1.33 aspect ratio, as originally broadcast. The cover art is excellent, showing off the designs of the various Ultra-suits, and the fold-out cases of the boxsets are well made and very displayable.

Lastly, I've never seen a series with as many different theme tunes!


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