This is a joint review talking about both the Blu-ray releases of Ultraman Orb as well as Ultraman Geed.
The very beginning of the Ultra Series started back in 1966 with Ultra Q and Ultraman, both recently released on Blu-ray from Mill Creek Entertainment. Fast forward to 2016 and we have the 28th and 29th shows in the Ultra Series, Ultraman Orb and Ultraman Geed, respectively. Orb was released for the 50th anniversary for the Ultra Series, with Geed following later that same year and stretching into 2017. Both of the series were followed by theatrical films: Ultraman Orb: The Movie – Let Me Borrow the Power of Bonds and Ultraman Geed: The Movie – Connect the Wishes. These two upcoming Blu-ray releases from Mill Creek Entertainment each contain their series as well as their corresponding films.
Ultraman Orb follows the group the SSP, Something Search People, as they attempt to track down and document the existence of kaiju, or giant monsters. The SSP is led by Naomi Yumeno (Miyabi Matsuura), along with her cohorts — camera operator, Jetta Hayami (Naota Takahashi), and tech nerd, Shin Matsudo (Hiroaki Nerio). Together the three of them utilize the crazy tech Shin creates to locate kaiju.
They stumble upon a mysterious man named Gai Kurenai (Hideo Ishiguro) who is revealed to be the new Ultraman Orb, who utilizes the Orb Ring to transform into Ultraman Orb. He also utilizes what are essentially cards to use powers of past Ultraman iterations to gain abilities to wield against different monsters. Throughout the series Ultraman goes against his nemesis Juggler (Takaya Aoyagi), who also uses an Orb Ring, but instead mainly to attempt to raise these kaiju from the earth to create chaos and destruction!
Honestly, the most fun thing about this show is the very end of each episode, where we are given a “lesson” on today’s episode. These lessons include Gai teaching the viewers about the Ultraman ability of the episode and the Ultraman that possessed it in the past. He also discusses little tidbits about the kaiju that was fought in the episode. Another great aspect is that we get a cool, in-universe history lesson during the episodes when the SSP use the ancient texts, the Pacific Records. Once they realize the kaiju that is attacking the world that day, they can look up lore and mythology in their world that discusses possible ways of tracking them or defeating them. The characters are also a lot of fun, especially Juggler, with a nice archetypal villain laugh at times, as well as great fun quotes such as, “I like storms. They provide some relief from how dull the world can be.”
In Ultraman Geed, the second series here, we follow our main protagonist Riku Asakura (Tatsuomi Hamada) as he and his alien friend, Pega (voiced by Megumi Han), are discovered by an AI technology, RE.M. (voiced by Suzuko Mimori). RE.M. informs him that he is the son of an evil Ultra Warrior named Belial. However, Riku is not evil like his father, but instead longs to be able to help people against kaiju that start cropping up. He is given access to the Riser, an object where he can insert Ultra Capsules to transform into Ultraman and fight against these new monsters that are showing up in the world! This is similar to Ultraman Orb’s use of the Orb Ring, albiet slightly less fun yet more practical at the same time. We also have a slew of other characters that are prominent including, but not limited to, Laiha Toba (Chihiro Yamamoto), who fights off aliens and monsters with her sword, the AIB (Alien Investigation Bureau), who task themselves with — you guessed it — investigating mysterious aliens, Rika’s friend and manager that he works for and his managers family, and the mysterious villain Kei Fukuide (Kunito Watanabe), who also has access to Ultra Capsules to bring about villainous kaiju.
Where Ultraman Orb feels very much like a fun superhero show, Ultraman Geed’s strength is it’s portrayal of kaiju battles between the monster and Ultraman. Here it feels much less like a fun spectacle and instead we feel the genuine weight of what is happening. There’s a lot more emphasis on the destruction, with the first episode touching on displacement of people who’s houses were destroyed during a kaiju attack, as well as the cinematography feels much more in-line with the chaos that comes from monsters traipsing through town. I will say, it’s a bit disappointing with this one in that there is still the “lesson” at the end of each episode. It’s just not nearly as much fun as the lessons in Orb. Although, that’s honestly the only complaint I have about the show. Aside from that it’s amazing!
The films for each series, Ultraman Orb: The Movie – Let Me Borrow the Power of Bonds and Ultraman Geed: The Movie – Connect the Wishes are also both a total blast! While both are short, each running 1 hour and 12 minutes, they both have tons of fun and lots of kaiju, as well as Ultraman. They both are fun follow-ups to each series to celebrate everything we loved about their shows and add appearances of past Ultraman characters as well.
As for the technical specifications, each season comes with a really cool slipcase with wonderful art on the slipcase as well as underneath it. The absolute best thing about both releases is the booklets that come with each of them. Each booklet comes with an episode guide, a list and description of different versions of the Ultraman iterations present in the show, and a list and pictures of all the kaiju that appear in each show! It’s a wonderful little addition that I personally can’t stop looking at. Each of the two shows comes with the full 25 episodes and their respective films on six discs. There aren’t any special features on the disks themselves, but the booklets definitely help make up for that. There is the Japanese audio with optional English subtitles. Each of them also comes with a digital redemption code to stream them for free with Movie Spree. I do wish, however, that they had followed suit and gave these the same packaging that their releases for Ultra Q and Ultraman got, spine numbering included. That was relatively disappointing, but the rest of the package is pretty solid.
All in all, these are some great releases! The picture and audio quality are great, the packing is solid, the booklet inserts are a fantastic addition, and the shows and movies are a total blast! Whether you’re already an Ultraman fan or a newer one, these are a great place to start. They might not match perfectly on your shelf with the two previous Ultra Series releases from a visual standpoint, but they’re well worth picking up for fans of the series or just fans of superhero or kaiju stories overall.
Ultraman Orb and Ultraman Geed are now available for the very first time on Blu-ray in North America!