Ultra Galaxy Legend is perhaps the ultimate Ultraman continuity porn. It starts out with a scene that references the first episode of 1966‘s Ultraman and then goes on to explain the entire origin of the Ultramen and the Land of Light, while also being a direct continuation of both Ultraman Mebius (2006) and Ultra Galaxy Mega Montster Battle: Never Ending Odyssey (2008). If none of that sentence made a lick of sense to you this movie is not aimed at you, but it is a fast moving sci-fi romp with constant special effects and tons of rubber monsters.

The plot is set in motion when the Alien Zarab (as always, played for laughs) releases Ultraman Belial from the prison that orbits the Land of Light. Belial is the only evil Ultraman, who long ago coveted the Plasma Spark that gives all the Ultramen their powers. He was exiled for his transgressions, which led to him allying with Alien Rayblood. Gifted with the Rayonix power of controlling monsters Belial attacked the Land of Light but was defeated. Now free, Belial assaults the Land of Light again, beats up every Ultraman he can find, and makes off with the Plasma Spark. The Land of Light is left a frozen wasteland, and the only beings who can retrieve the Plasma Spark are the few Ultramen Belial didn’t freeze (including Mebius, Ultraman, Ultraseven, and the new Ultraman Zero) and Ray from the Ultra Galaxy Mega Monster Battle shows.

The plot is just an excuse to cram in nearly every Ultraman from the past 40 years plus (allegedly) one hundred monsters into one movie. From that perspective the movie is a roaring success. Though the cynical sci-fi nerd could argue that a lot of the special effects are cheesy, the effects make up for quality in sheer quantity and enthusiasm. There is no downtime, with super-powered kung fu fights happening between Ultramen, aliens, and monsters every few minutes, always against interesting backdrops. By the end of the movie I felt like my eyeballs were full, just from the sheer variety of fantastic beings and settings onscreen.

The attempt to include so much does have a downside. Ultraman Belial is a suitably bad-ass opponent, but his hundred monster army is a bunch of push-overs. There certainly isn’t time for there to be a ten minute long fight with every monster, but it is a little odd to see Red King explode after a single shoulder throw, or Birdon, a monster that (temporarily) killed two Ultramen, blow up after getting hit by a single small ray blast.

The move also doesn’t do itself any favors by perpetuating two of my least favorite trends in Ultraman movies. It’s nearly become standard ever since Ultraman Dyna & Ultraman Tiga: Warriors of the Star of Light (1998) for movies to end with a giant CGI monster, usually made up of a bunch of other monsters combining into one. Well, Ultra Galaxy Legend takes this to its logical conclusion, with every monster combining into one. Once the combo-monster shows up you know that the only way the movie can end with with all the Ultramen shooting combined beams at the monster until it blows up. Ultra Galaxy Legend also throws open the door on Ultramen who have been killed being resurrected for no apparent reason, after episode 3 of Ultraman Mebius seemed to slam it shut by stating that death really is final for Ultramen. I won’t spoil too much here, but a very prominent Ultraman is killed, only to show up in the last scene perfectly okay.

I had never really noticed this before, but the Ultramen and their Land of Light greatly resembles the Green Lantern Corp and Oa. I suppose part of it is that the Land of Light is portrayed in this movie as being made up entirely of translucent green crystal, but it’s more than that. The origin we see for the Land of the Light is that it was an ancient planet inhabited by a race that looked exactly like humans (except, I assume, 150 feet tall), but their sun was extinguished. The planet’s scientists built the Plasma Spark to replace the sun. The Spark worked, but it had the unintended side effect of turning everyone on the planet into silver and red superheroes. The Ultramen renamed their planet the Land of Light and swore to use their power to bring justice and peace to the universe. I suppose that the Plasma Spark turning everyone into a silver and red giant isn’t much more unlikely than a Power Battery allowing rings to manifest the “emotional spectrum of willpower” as giant green boxing gloves.

And now that I think about it the story of Hayata being given the Beta Capsule by Ultraman after his spaceship crashed in the original Ultraman series is pretty similar to Abin Sur giving his ring to Hal Jordan. Is it possible that the Silver Age Green Lantern comic book was influence on Tsuburaya? I’m not really sure how much awareness there was of DC Comics in Japan in the 1960s.

Now I’d like to talk about a thorny issue: Continuity. Continuity has always been a fluid concept in the Ultraman universe, to put it mildly. In the original Ultraman series there was plenty of evidence that the stories were taking place in the present (i.e. 1966), while at the same time the Science Patrol had airplanes capable of traveling all over the world in minutes and spaceflight was routine. Even things like the public knowledge of the existence of aliens and monsters was highly changeable from episode to episode. But there are general guidelines, like certain series are direct sequels to others, and many series take place in their own self-contained universes. Ultra Galaxy Legend acts a capstone for the whole series, and pulls together many Ultramen that have never interacted before, while leaving some others out. I think the rest of this piece will be about how this movie fits in with all the Ultraman continuity that’s been established.

First I’ll all out all the various Ultraman universes that exist. For the most part these are based on TV series. Many of the Ultraman movies, like Ultraman Story, Ultraman Gaia: The Battle in Hyperspace, and Superior Ultraman 8 Brothers don’t seem to be taking place in any established continuity but don’t introduce any new characters either, so I’ll leave them out.

- All the Ultraman series from Ultraman (1966) through Ultraman 80 (1980) take place in one continuity. Arguably Ultraman Neos (2000) takes place in this continuity, and Ultraman Mebius (2005) certainly does. The Ultramen in this universe include (roughly in order of appearance) Ultraman, Zoffy, Ultraseven, Ultraman Jack, Ultraman Ace, Father of Ultra, Ultraman Taro, Mother of Ultra, Ultraman Leo, Astra, Ultraman King, Ultraman 80, Yuria, Ultraman Neos, Ultraseven 21, Ultraman Mebius, and Ultraman Hikari. Ultra Galaxy Mega Monster Battle (2007) and its sequels also takes place in this universe. I’ll call it the M78 universe, after the location of the Land of Light.

- The Ultraman (1979) was an animated series in Japan. The main character was Ultraman Jonias.

- Ultraman: The Adventure Begins (1989) was backdoor pilot American animated series from Hanna-Barberra. There were three Ultramen: Ultraman Scott, Ultraman Chuck, and Ultrawoman Beth.

- Ultraman: Towards the Future (1990) was shot in Australia, and features Ultraman Great.

- Ultraman: The Ultimate Hero (1993) was shot in the USA, but never aired here. It has Ultraman Powered.

- Ultraman Tiga (1996) and Ultraman Dyna (1997) take place in the same universe. The only Ultramen are the ones in the titles.

- Ultraman Gaia (1997) is set in its own universe. Ultraman Gaia and Ultraman Agul star.

- Ultraman Cosmos (2001) is yet another new universe. The Ultramen are Ultraman Cosmos and Ultraman Justice, and they combine to be Ultraman Legend.

- Ultraman Nexus (2004) and the related movie The Ultraman (2004) take place in their own universe. Ultramen include Ultraman Next, Ultraman Nexus, and Ultraman Noa.

- Ultraman Max is its own universe. Ultraman Max and Ultraman Xenon appear.

Back to Ultra Galaxy Legend, the Ultraman featured include:


Zoffy, Father of Ultra, Mother of Ultra, and Ultraman Taro


Yuria, Ultraman 80, Ultraman Ace, Ultraman Jack


Ultraman, Ultraman Leo, Astra, Ultraman Mebius, Ultraman Hikari


Ultraseven


Ultraseven 21, Ultraman Xenon, Ultraman Boy, Ultraman Max, Ultraman Neos


Ultrawomen Beth, Ultraman Scott, Ultraman Chuck, Ultraman Powered, Ultraman Great


Ultraman Dyna


Ultraman King


Ultraman Zero

So what does this tell us about Ultraman continuity? Well, there are some curious decisions. The animated American Ultramen are included, but not the animated Japanese one?

I don’t detect a lot of love for Ultraman Great, who is dressed in a baggy spandex costume. Sure, that Ultraman was portrayed by a guy wearing spandex back in 1990, but the costume looked pretty good. And there’s no real reason they couldn’t make the Great design using the better-looking rubber.

Also no love for Ultraman Nexus/Next/Noa continuity, as none of those Ultramen appear. I should say here that I’m basing continuity on the Ultramen, and not the monsters. At least two monsters unique to Ultraman Nexus appear during the course of the movie, but let’s face it, they were using every monster suit they still had laying around whether or not it made any sense to be in the Monster Graveyard.

Ultraman Boy is here as comic relief, and as a far as I can tell the character is from Ultraman Tiga toy commercials.

Ultraman Dyna’s somewhat sudden and inexplicable appearance in this movie apparently reflects the end of the Ultraman Dyna TV series (which I haven’t seen), with Dyna being pulled into a black hole, and then, I guess, being transported to the M78 universe. He appears familiar with the Land of Light and environs, but he doesn’t hang with the other Ultramen. He says something about “being on a journey,” but there’s no specific references to his being from another universe.

I’m really wondering where Ultraman King fits into the whole pantheon. He seems to the Grand Poobah of the whole Land of Light, and as near as I can tell his whole job description is delivering ludicrous motivational speeches (voiced by former Japanese Prime Minister and international Elvis aficionado Junichiro Koizumi). He doesn’t do squat in fighting Belial, even though he’s not among the Ultramen frozen at the beginning of the movie. I guess it really is good to be the king.

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