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



    Released by: Mill Creek Entertainment
    Released on: January 12th, 2021.
    Director: Eizo Yamagiwa
    Cast: Saburō Shinoda, Takahiko Tōno, Yumi Asakama, Kotaro Higasahi, Yūtarō Asahina
    Year: 1973-1974
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    Ultraman Taro: The Complete Series – Movie Review:

    Tsuburaya Productions’ sixth Ultraman series ran from April 7, 1973 through April 6, 1974 and lasted fifty-three episodes in total. The main premise of this series revolves around Kotaro Higashi (Saburō Shinoda), a young man whose life lacks purpose. As such, he’s a bit of a vagabond when we first meet him, but when he returns to his native Japan, he winds up joining ZAT. When he’s out on a mission to fight the Astromons, his jet takes a hit and he is severely burned and dies.

    When this happens, the five Ultra Brothers bring Kotaro’s corpse back to Nebula M-78 where the Mother Of Ultra turns him into Ultraman Taro! He, of course, joins with the five existing Ultra Brothers but it sent back to his home planet where he defeats the Astromons in a rematch.

    From here, the series follows Kotaro and the other members of ZAT as they battle various monsters of various origins, receiving help from Ultraman Taro and, occasionally, the other Ultra Brothers as well, when needed.

    Like most of the entries in the Ultraman franchise, this isn’t deep but it is fun. Made when the Ultraman content was still entirely done with guys in suits and miniature work (rather than with bad CGI like we see in Ultraman X: The Movie), this series has got all sorts of goofy, low budget charm. The monster design work here is always creative and always quirky, and while the series was clearly made on a modest budget, the effects are always a lot of fun to see.

    Suitable for kids of all ages, the monster battles are always the highlight of the episodes here. The human drama is all well and good, sometimes quite amusing actually, but it’s more or less just there to bridge together the scenes where Ultraman Taro goes up against whichever monster has been thrust upon the Earth at any given time.

    Here’s what is included in this collection:

    DISC ONE:

    Mother Of Ultra Is Like The Sun / That Moment, Mother Of Ultra / Mother Of Ultra Now And Forever / Giant Sea Turtle Monsters Attack Tokyo! / Parent Star, Child Star, First Star / Jewels Are A Monster's Meal / Heaven And Hell, The Island Moves! / The Spirit Of The Man-Eating Marsh / The Day Tokyo Crumbles

    DISC TWO:

    The Tusk Cross If The Monster's Grave / The Vampire Flower Is A Girl's Spirit / Monster's Solo Journey / The Monster's Cavity Aches! / Taro's Head Flew Off! / Young Girl Of The Blue Will-O'-The-Wisp / The Monster's Flute Sounds / Two Big Monster's Close In On Taro / Zoffy Died! Taro Died Too!

    DISC THREE:

    Mother Of Ultra, Miracle Of Love! / Surprise! A Monster Fell From The Sky / The Sinking Of Tokyo New Town / Wrath Of The Monster With Cub! / The Gentle Monster Father! / This Is The Land Of Ultra! / Burn! The 6 Ultra Brothers! / I Can Beat A Monster Too! / Here He is! Alien Mefilas!

    DISC FOUR:

    Monster Eleking Barks At The Full Moon! / Bemster Revives! Taro's In A Desperate Pinch! / Revenge Of The Monster Army! / Watch Out! The Lying Poison Mushroom / Wintry Wind Monster! Matasaburo Of The Wind / Five Seconds Before The Great Explosion Of The Land Of Ultra! / The Last Day Of The 6 Ultra Brothers! / Fatal Attack! Taro's Strike Of Anger! / You Swine! The Bride Cried

    DISC FIVE:

    Monster, Return To Your Homeland! / The Ultra Christmas Tree / The Ultraman Father-And-Son's Grand Mochi Making Plan! / Surpass The Ultra Brothers! / The Mother's Wish, A Midwinter's Sakura Blizzard! / The Phantom Mother Is A Monster Tamer! / Pickle The Monster In Salt! / Oh! Taro's Going To Be Eaten! / She Wore Red Shoes...

    DISC SIX:

    The White Rabbit Is A Bad Guy! / Monster General / Monster Doll Festival / Sing! Monster Big Match / The Monster Sign Is V / Father Of Ultra And The Bride Have Come! / Steal The Life Of Ultra! / Farewell, Taro And Mother Of Ultra!

    Ultraman Taro: 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 4 and 6GBS of space on their respective discs, but despite the decent bit rate compression artifacts abound and sometimes there are even some noticeable issues with macroblocking (though this fluctuates from episode to episode they’re always there, but sometimes noticeably worse than others). 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.

    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 (which is definitely a good thing!). 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.

    Additionally, for those who prefer fancier packaging, Mill Creek has also opted to release the same discs in a more compact, but definitely more deluxe, steelbook edition that looks like this:


    Ultraman Taro: The Complete Series – The Final Word:

    Ultraman Taro: The Complete Series is, like the other Ultraman sets compiling vintage seasons together, a lot of fun. There aren’t really any extras here and the transfers could have been better, but it’s nice to have original versions of the series on Blu-ray. There’s a lot of entertainment value to be had here, some really creative monster designs and some fun fight scenes too.

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