Shin Ultra Fight morphs 70s-style monster suits with real-time tools
In the West, the best-known example of a Japanese kaiju character is arguably Godzilla. However in Japan, there are many famous characters in the genre—including one with various super powers to rival the titanic might of the sea monster: Ultraman. Broadly analogous to Superman (in that references to the character are made throughout Japanese culture), Ultraman is one of the most prominent tokusatsu heroes.Ultraman was the title of a Japanese television series broadcast between 1966 to 1967, and also the name of the superhero who vowed to protect justice and peace in the TV show. As soon as it began airing, Ultraman became hugely popular among children and adults in Japan, spawning a number of spin-offs known collectively as The Ultra Series.
One of these spin-offs was Ultra Fight, a low-cost production of five-minute long shorts from 1970. Children enthralled by Ultraman who had discovered a love of kaiju through the franchise became fascinated with Ultra Fight, leading to a revival in the popularity of the kaiju genre. Ultra Fight’s popularity rekindled the public’s interest in the Ultras and helped sway the decision to broadcast a new Ultraman series.
Initially, Ultra Fight was produced by reconstructing battle scenes taken from the original Ultraman series. Eventually however, episodes were produced using new shots, and it was these later episodes that led to the show’s cult-like popularity.
For the newly shot episodes, the production team put actors in monster character suits that had been used for previous live shows and events. Ultra Fight featured intense battles between kaijus on the beach, in the mountains, and on the streets in the suburbs. There were no special effects but these lo-fi kaijus duking it out undeniably had a unique charm.
Though it only ran for a year—1970 to 1971—the quirky, laid-back vibe of Ultra Fight led to the show winning a special place in the hearts of Ultraman fans.
Fifty years later, the concept has been revived. To support the release of the new Shin Ultraman film, Tsuburaya Productions resurrected Ultra Fight and hired Studio Bros to revamp the spin-off series for 2022.
The result is Shin Ultra Fight. This time around however, the monster character suits would stay in the wardrobe—characters for the new version of the show were created using real-time technology.
Source: Unreal Engine Blog