For two seasons, we’ve been locked into Shinjiro Hayata’s wildly action-packed adventures in the anime ULTRAMAN currently streaming on Netflix. It’s a journey that is approaching its end as the third and final season looms on the horizon. A while back, we cast our critical eye on the first three heroes to show up, Shin Hayata, Shinjiro Hayata, and Dan Moroboshi. However, there are three other warriors who have joined the fight using the powered Ultraman suits, and we think it’s high time that they got a spotlight as well. So, let’s start with a question: Do you know Jack?
The foreigner known only as Jack didn’t suit up himself until Season 2 of ULTRAMAN, but he’s been a presence in the series since season 1. One of the few humans living in the extraterrestrial city, Suit Jack has carved out a place for himself by becoming a wrestler — a gladiator, really — who fights, and wins, against the alien residents. In addition, he serves the vital role of SSSP informant within the alien city, a position that leaves him with little trust from either the SSSP or the city’s inhabitants.
And, of course, that distrust is reasonably well-earned by the end of season 1, when Jack breaks into the SSSP’s headquarters and abducts alien inventor Yapool. Viewers are left unsure of his allegiance as the season ends, with answers not given until Season 2 started three years later, in 2022.
Thankfully, Jack’s trustworthiness issues did not seem to get in the way of his desire to do the right thing, as in the intervening period, he and Yapool developed new Ultraman suits, a hulking, linebacker-sized one made for him personally, and a smaller spare that seemed to be designed almost more for containment than anything else. This spare suit came in handy when he encountered an out-of-control Kotaro Higashi while investigating a rash of disappearances, using his own powered armor to subdue the blazing man, and giving him the spare to allow him to control the boundless energy surging from his body.
Despite his kidnapping of Yapool from the SSSP, the other Ultraman suit wielders clearly are willing to put their faith in him to some degree, with Taro especially relying on him after he was saved by the more experienced fighter. In battle, Jack seems to fulfill the role of the tank, his extra-bulky armor armed with a shield generator and designed to take advantage of his boxing prowess.
In complete contrast, the Ultraman Jack of the original television series Return of Ultraman (1971 – 1972) cuts a lot closer to his towering predecessors in the Ultra Brothers, looking similar to his allies Ultraman and Zoffy. Merging with young race car driver Hideki Go after he sacrificed his life to save a dog during a monster attack, Jack’s similarities to his predecessor initially drew rumors that this was the original Ultraman, returned to protect humanity again (Hence the name of his show.)
However, Jack distinguished himself through his use of the Ultra Bracelet, a fantastical tool that could shift into any shape that the Ultraman needed to defeat a Kaiju or solve a problem. When the original Ultraman and Ultraseven made appearances to aid in the fight against particularly tough or dangerous foes, Jack fought alongside them, proving him to be just as skilled a combatant as his forebears. Together with his allies in the Monster Attack Team, or MAT, Jack stood fast against an incredible lineup of monsters and aliens, and even defeated Zetton, the terrifying kaiju that killed the first Ultraman!
Unfortunately, as Jack’s host, Hideki Go would endure countless tragedies, including the loss of his loved ones to alien attack. Eventually, he would leave Earth to remain with Jack, the only time that a classic host has maintained his relationship with an Ultra in this way.
Perhaps more than any pair of anime/tokusatsu heroes, Jack exists in contrasts. With virtually no similarities between the two beyond a name, whichever Jack you try will be a unique experience — so try both!
Return of Ultraman is available on Blu-ray from Mill Creek Entertainment now, and the first two seasons of the ULTRAMAN anime is available on Netflix, with the third and final season coming in 2023.
To find out more about Return of Ultraman or ULTRAMAN, feel free to explore Ultraman Connection!