Plans Are Underway to Build a New Ultraman Legacy in the West

The twin protagonists of the latest Ultra series, Ultraman R/B.
Photo: Tsuburaya Productions

Ultraman is one of Japan’s most iconic superheroes. And while each generation of size-changing defenders of the Earth has been enchanting Japanese audiences for over half a century, Ultraman’s impact around the wider world has been in fits and starts. But it may not be for much longer.

The Hollywood Reporter has word that Tsubaraya Productions—the company founded by Tokusatsu and SFX legend Eiji Tsuburaya, Ultraman’s creator—has forged a new deal with Starlight Runner Entertainment as part of an extensive plan to reboot Ultraman’s international presence.

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While Ultraman will continue as it has in Japan—with new shows, toys, movies, and games every year, in a similar manner to the cycle of shows like Toei’s Super Sentai and Kamen Rider—Tsuburaya’s plans for Ultraman in the West will reboot the franchise for a modern, digital audience. There are plans to relaunch the character in “story-driven licensing and merchandising programs for the U.S. and international markets.” So—toys, basically!

But all that new merchandise will be anchored by potential new TV series across streaming and cable television, if Starlight Runner has anything to say about it. Different from what we’re already getting with episodes of Ultraman shows from Japan streaming on Hulu and Crunchyroll, or even different from the upcoming animated adaptation of the Ultraman manga airing on Netflix next year, this would be an entirely new, unconnected take on the Ultraman mythos, imagined specifically for Western audiences.

Given the character’s legacy in his home territory, and even our current superhero TV boom, it could end up being a very interesting deal to watch play out.


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James Whitbrook

James is a News Editor at io9. He wants pictures. Pictures of Spider-Man!