Friday, December 14, 2012

Westward, Ultra Seven!

Shout! Factory's Ultra Seven DVD set was recently released and I just got my copy. I'm not much of an Ultra-fan, but I like the Showa shows, and especially Ultra Seven -- it has a great, likable cast, an Ultra hero you can really root for and care about, some damn neat-o sci-fi stories, and some great, great atmospheric and inventive direction. I feel like I haven't really seen this show from start to finish -- I watched it REALLY out of order, in varying degrees of picture quality, often needing the TNT dubbed version because of originals being hard to find -- so I'm excited to watch the full thing, in its uncut, original form, in satisfying video quality. (OK, I'll still need to haul out a TNT episode -- for the infamous banned episode 12. I never really understood the hatred for the Cinar/TNT dub, other than the editing footage for time and/or violence. They'd put in a few more jokes, but they kept most of the plot and dialogue close to the original show -- it's not like they were making fart jokes or mocking the show like Night Flight's Dynaman. And the voice actors all fit the characters so well that they captured those characters and gave them life, which is really uncommon for a dub to go to such lengths. The TNT dub was my first exposure to this show, and I might not be an Ultra Seven fan without it.)

Some reviewers have put down this set for "poor" picture quality, and I was nervous by the case's declaration that the picture is "from the best available source from the licensor" (which sounds like code for "we didn't get this from Tsuburaya" to me), but I think the picture quality is fine. No, it's not up to par with Tsuburaya's R2 release (which has picture so crisp and purdy that it manages to look awesome on even a crappy VCD), but it's still pretty good for a 45-year-old, foreign genre show. I'm assuming the source was probably an old LD release, but I could be wrong. I think it was a mistake to cram eight episodes onto one disc each, which I think is the reason for the quality drop, however.

It's a nice set of a classic, classic tokusatsu series, at a decent price, easily available in America. If Tsuburaya can manage to get out their own sets using their R2 transfers with extras, that would be great, but for now...I think people should enjoy this show. I recommend checking it out.

By the way, if you buy this set directly from Shout! Factory online, it comes with a freebie -- a cool, very-'60s looking poster.


  1. I always liked the Cinar dub too. As dubs go, I think it's one of the most watchable.

    Thanks for reviewing the set itself, I haven't seen a whole lot of comments on the specifics of how Shout!'s version actually turned out. Figures about episode 12, but Seven fans are used to that by now. It's still great Seven's getting a chance in the US again.

  2. I should have mentioned that I LOATHE dubs. If I'm looking to rent a foreign movie and see that it's dubbed, I won't rent it. So that I was able to watch Cinar's dub should say how well done I thought it was. I usually find dubs so poorly done and distracting, but here it seemed like everyone took it seriously enough to do solid work.

    (And how awesome is the narrator? I'll still have a moment sometimes when watching the Japanese version where I'll expect the Cinar narrator.)