Hideaki Anno, the man who gave us Neon Genesis Evangelion, has already taken a wild spin on tokusatsu in his work with Shinji Higuchi on Shin Godzilla—and now he’s about to do the same for another icon of the genre with Shin Ultraman. But a new up-close look at the movie’s design of Japan’s famous giant-sized hero reveals that this time around, Anno and Higuchi are staying a bit more familiar.
As part of a formal announcement about the film’s launch in the middle of next year, Anno and Higuchi (who are collaborating once again for Shin Ultraman) appeared alongside associate director Katsuro Onoue to unveil a new statue based on the movie’s Ultraman design. The statue will be part of the new Tokusatsu Archive Center in Sukagawa City, Fukushima—the birthplace of Eiji Tsuburaya, the founder of the special effects studio house that created Ultra Q, the show that kicked off the Ultraman franchise, redefining tokusatsu as the Japanese TV industry knew it forever.
The statue itself though gives us a chance to see just what’s different about the new Ultraman design. Surprisingly, if you were expecting Higuchi and Anno to have done something similar to what they did for Shin Godzilla, you might be surprised that, well...he looks like Ultraman.
There are some differences, albeit very minor. The iconic Color Timer that’s been a part of every Ultraman design since the original—the chest gem that pulses different colors for when Ultraman is either injured or about to run out of transformation time—is absent. And the red patterning on the character’s legs and arms is more angular and sharp compared to the rounded edges of the original suit.
This isn’t the first time we’ve seen Shin Ultraman’s design—earlier this year, a blurry shot of the character in his giant form as planned for the film was released, but the style and tone made it a bit hard to really peek at what little changes had been made for the movie. It’s interesting to see that while Anno’s work on Godzilla pushed the king of all monsters to a more monstrous, almost alien place, aesthetically at least, Ultraman is largely sticking to the roots that made him an icon over half a century ago.
Shin Ultraman is set to release in Japan in summer 2021.
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