NETFLIX Ultraman Season 2: A butchered adaptation

NETFLIX’s ULTRAMAN 2nd season has finally hit the streaming site in April 2022. After quite sometime and some major problems with the production, the armored Ultraman finally return for another round. But sadly, the 2nd season is not just short, but a downright mangled corpse of its source material. And viewers are left to wonder what could the series have been if it was adapted properly.

After season 1 wrapped up, fans weren’t sure if we would be getting another season. So when Netflix and Tsuburaya announced the continuation of the new era Ultraman anime, fans were ecstatic since we were expecting the USA arc – which was really cool in the manga, – as well as marking the debut of the flaming warrior – Taro, as well as Jack suit. Although season 1 had some major deviations from the manga’s plot, they weren’t huge dealbreakers and brought a bit of uniqueness to the animated series. But it does tells us that the anime intends to change things up a bit, so fans are both excited and reserved to see how this turn out.

The results? It wasn’t…desirable.

Season 2 of ULTRAMAN was a letdown, especially from the writing standpoint. Not only did they cut short the episode count, they completely changed the plot…for the worse. There’s virtually nothing from the manga included in the story aside from the character’s….names. The story didn’t take place in the U.S, the Taro we know is different from the manga Taro, the villains are all different as well. Basically all the things we love from the manga – the development of Dan, Taro, and even Shinjiro were non-existent. They were replaced by almost emotionless version of themselves and just act like puppets according to a script.

But a complete change wouldn’t be so bad if they manage to write a decent overarching plot – sadly they didn’t. The story is basic and full of plot-holes and questionable screenplay. A lot of elements feel like they were thrown into a blender and not caring what the mixture will taste like. The new character – Izumi – is introduced as Kotaro (Taro)’s girlfriend, yet the chemistry between them are almost non-existent, and she was used as “motivational” drive for Taro which felt empty and vague. The returning cast: Dan, Jack, and Shinjiro, act completely out of character. Dan became a sentimental guy, Jack completely go the good cop route and Shinjiro had the galls to say “The Ultras must have abandoned you because they don’t like the way you do things.” That is like a slap across manga and Ultraman fans alike. One could go on about the inconsistencies and poor screenplay of the series, but that’d make this post 10 times longer.

Shinjiro – I haven’t felt the responsibility of his great power. He still hasn’t grown up despite that badass display at season 1’s ending and is still a simp lol. I feel that he is not pressured from being THE Ultraman and is still taking things lightly. Then there’s Dan, to be honest, he’s like a nasty guy, has no empathy (yet felt remorse after turning Izumi away), and doesn’t have a story of his own, and the development of this character has come to an end even though his background and motives are still unclear to viewers. In the manga, we remembered Seven as this badass fighter that can take on anything. Yet he is not without a past and can also experience a moment of weakness. In the anime, all of that is non-existent.
Aside from the Ultramen, the villains are also a letdown. Kenichi Suwabe played the very intimidating Alien Pedant, which isn’t that far off from the source material. But there is just one issue: why did the competent Seijins decided to employ some absolutely idiots for their extremely important plans? Also that princess has the most soap opera background ever and her servants are also incompetent and cringe buffoons that basically caused the entire downfall of Pedant Seijin’s plan due to their carelessness and incompetency. My impression of the princess is no different from a villainous noble lady in a school-life anime, but this is a shounen-action anime not shoujo-slice of life anime. Is there any villain built in the background as a princess of an almost extinct race that has the personality of an arrogant lady living in peace?

Some of the more gaping plot holes could be the introduction of Taro’s power and his Ultra Suit. The way Izumi died was so…lazy written that it felt empty. And somehow Taro’s suit can control Taro’s power – which is similar to a fusion reaction and that thing is crazy powerful. How can a suit counter a power that it doesn’t even know exist, the alien technology is so good, the armor can control all kinds of power? The debut of Jack only boils down to the problem of stopping Taro from losing control and fighting the big guy in the final episode. It is too lackluster and leaves no impression on viewers other than his armor like Hulkbuster. Not to mention why Yapool made extra armor and left it with Jack. It’s like he expect a certain someone will use it.

Animation wise, it is still the same style in season 1 – so it’s not like it’s dipped in quality or anything. If I had to point to one scene in particular, I really like the chase scene between the 3 Ultramen in ep 4 or the fight scenes of the in ep 6 (which I’m pretty sure because it is that the last episode that’s why it’s so good). Also the dance in the ending was quite funny and actually really well choreographed and it gives a unique flavor to the (already) bastardized series.

The music continues to be the highlight of the series, the eloquent Ost when the golden fortress appears and sweeps, besides, the opening and ending songs of the whole series are quite good with an upbeat opening and catchy rhythm and unpredictable at the ending.

I don’t know what people think but I think this Ultraman Netflix part 2 is cursed. From the controversy of the seiyuu Tatsuhisa Suzuki who was originally given the voice of Taro, to the op song was changed. I think there must be some internal problems between Tsuburaya, Netflix and the studio as well.

Overall, Ultraman netflix season 2 will be a series for you to just-watch-no-think, without expectations about quality of plot or character, or simply a weekend movie between father and children, then I think it will satisfy somehow of your needs. To be fair, besides the good animation and sound, those can’t help Netflix hide the big and fatal weakness in the writing. I don’t have much expectations for the Ultraman final season either, but I do hope Netflix listen to their viewers and make changes at the right time for next project.
=Aaron & Golgo17=

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