• Ultraman Ace: The Complete Series (Mill Creek Entertainment) Blu-ray Review

    Released by: Mill Creek Entertainment
    Released on: May 26th, 2020.
    Director: Masanori Kakehi
    Cast: Keiji Takamine, Mitsuko Hoshi, Tetsurō Sagawa, Shunichi Okita, Masaaki Yamamoto, Keiko Nishi
    Year: 1972-1973
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    Ultraman Ace: The Complete Series – Movie Review:

    Tsuburaya Productions’ five Ultraman series ran from April 8, 1972 through March 31, 1973 and lasted fifty-two episodes in total and it took the series in a different direction than the four runs that came before it. Whereas those earlier Ultraman series weren’t necessarily straight superhero action, working in elements of pure science fiction, fantasy and even light horror, Ultraman Ace definitely is.

    The focus of this series is no Yapool, the first ongoing villain in the Ultra-franchise, essentially a ‘hive-mind of creatures from another dimension.’ The Yapool is bent on destroying life throughout the universe, and specifically in getting rid of Ultraman Ace. To do this, they create a series of ‘Terrible-Monsters’ who are designed for the purposes of doing battle with Ultraman Ace and basically laying waste to as much of civilization as possible.

    Ultraman Ace fuses with Seiji Hokuto and Yuko Minami, two teenagers that were killed when the first 'Terrible-Monster,' Verokron, obliterated a city and The Earth Defense Force. This fusing allows either Seiji or Yuko, with the use of some rings, to use the 'Ultra Touch' to turn into Ace as needed. Joining with Seiji, Yuko and Ultraman Ace are the Ultra Brothers and Father Of Ultra, and together they form the aptly named Terrible-Monster Attacking Crew (or TAC for short).

    And that’s the basic premise for the contents that are laid out across six discs in this set as follows:

    Disc One: Shine! The Five Ultra Brothers / Surpass The Giant Terrible-Monster / Go Up In Flames! Terrible-Monster Hell / A 300-Million Terrible-Monster Appears! / The Giant-Ant Terrible-Monster Vs The Ultra Brothers / Solve The Mystery Of The Transforming Terrible-Monster / Monster Vs Terrible-Monster Vs Alien / Life Of The Sun Is The Life Of Ace / 100, 000 Terrible-Monsters! Surprise Attack Plan

    Disc Two: Duel! Ultraman Ace Vs Hideki Go / Terrible-Monster Is 10 Women? / The Red Flower Of A Vicious Cactus / Execution! Five Ultra Brothers / 5 Stars Scattered In The Galaxy / Curse Of The Black Crab / Scary Story Of The Cattle God-Man / The Demon Woman Of Hotarugawara / Give The Pigeon Back!

    Disc Three: The Mystery Of The Haunted Kappa Mansion / Stars Of Youth Is The Stars Of Two / I Saw A Vision Of The Celestial Maiden / Vengeance Demon Yapool / A Game Changer! Here Comes Zoffy / Behold! Midnight Transformation / Pyramid Is A Terrible-Monster Nest! / Annihilation! The 5 Ultra Brothers / Miracle! Father Of The Ultra

    Disc Four: Goodbye Yuko, Sister Of The Moon / The 6th Ultra Brother / You Can See The Star Of Ultra / From Ultra Seven To Ultraman Ace / With Hopes In The Star Of Ultra / Shoot That Hot-Air Balloon / A Terrible-Monster Dances On A Rainbow Over The Sea / A Gift From Zoffy / A Terrible-Monster Registering 10,000 Phons?

    Disc Five: Star Of Friendship Forever / Resurrection! Father Of Ultra / Seven’s Life! Ace’s Life! / Return Of The Panda! / Scary Story! Lion Drum! / Mystery! Monster! Woo Rises Again / Scary Story! Yeti’s Cry! / Setsubun Scary Story! Sparkling Beans

    Disc Six: A Desperate Situation! Save Ace! / Ride Over The Time Machine / Salamander’s Curse! / Revenge Of Verokron / The Flying Jellyfish / Tokyo Great Panic! The Mad Traffic Signals / The Life-Sucking Sound / You Are The Ace Of Tomorrow

    The big draw in this series, more so than the others, is the barrage of ‘Terrible-Monsters’ that the team at Tsuburaya Productions came up with for the run. There’s a lot of really wild creativity on display here and a massive variety of foes for the TAC to square off against, every episode delivering in that department. It’s hard not to smile when you see Ace and company throw down with giant ‘rubber suit’ foes episode after episode, it’s the kind of things that fans of Kaiju movies and Japanese superhero shows like the Ultra series, Kikaida and Kamen Rider geek out over and the Ultraman Ace run really does excel in this arena – it offers up a LOT of different monsters.

    Bringing Yuko into the mix also helps the series stand out. Previously, it was a lone male character that was able to fuse with Ultraman but here that changes, though oddly enough Yuko is more or less done away with about half way through the series. Was this a failed attempt to bring in younger female viewers? Either way, Yuko was pretty cool while she lasted, but once she splits Seiji, in many ways, becomes the focus and the run does lose some originality in that department once it happens.

    Either way, the series is a lot of fun from start to finish. It never gets all that deep, but then, it probably never needed to. It offers up enough with the human characters to provide some drama in between the monster battles, but those battles are what makes the series as entertaining as it is.

    Ultraman Ace: The Complete Series – Blu-ray Review:

    The AVC encoded 1.33.1 fullframe 1080p high definition transfers on the six 50GB discs in this set are less than perfect. Compression artifacts are visible throughout the presentation and detail is soft. Each twenty-five-minute episode takes up between 6 and 7GBS of space on their respective discs, but despite the decent bit rate compression artifacts abound (though this fluctuates from episode to episode they’re always there, but sometimes noticeably worse than other – the final Farewell, Ultraman! episode, for example, is a big offender here). There appears to have been some DNR applied here, waxing out the grain and softening texture in the process. These were all shot on 16mm so they should be naturally grainy but they aren’t. Colors look very nice – which is obviously important to a show like this – and black levels are okay. Are they better than the previous DVD releases? Yep, they absolutely are and by a noticeable margin as well, but room has been left for improvement here.

    The only audio option for the content in this set are Japanese language DTS-HD 2.0 Mono tracks. Optional subtitles are provided in English only. There’s audible sibilance throughout, which is unfortunate, but the levels are properly balanced. The subtitles are clean, clear and easy to read, free of any noticeable typos or errors.

    There are no extras on the discs themselves outside of menus offering episode selection, but it’s worth taking up a bit of space to discuss the packaging for this release. The six discs stack fit inside a ‘flipper case’ with each disc given its own spindle, there’s no stacking in this release. This flipper case fits inside a slick looking cardboard slipcover. This slipcover also contains a booklet that offers few pages detailing the history of the series and its character as well as some info on the monsters and characters that appear in this series. It’s a very nice-looking product. An insert card for a digital HD download of the series, redeemable via MovieSpree, is also included.

    Ultraman Ace: The Complete Series – The Final Word:

    Ultraman Ace: The Complete Series is a blast, offering up a whole lot of ‘Ultraman Vs Monsters’ action in pretty much every episode and trying, if not always succeeding, in doing something just a little bit different with the concepts that gave birth to the series. Mill Creek’s presentation could have been better in the video department, but it’s more than watchable and features solid audio. The extras are slim but the insert booklet definitely adds some value to the collection. Easily recommended to Ultraman fans.

    Click on the images below for full sized Ultraman Ace: The Complete Series Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 1 Comment
    1. Andrew Monroe's Avatar
      Andrew Monroe -
      I plan to get this one and then probably stop there. Not really interested in the later stuff (I have one from the 90s on dvd). This looks pretty damn awesome though.

      That 6th cap from the bottom is one creature they've used since the original Ultraman series.