The Ultraman Series has existed for 57 years, telling stories with countless characters from Earth and across the stars, played by hundreds of deeply talented performers. Many of them have returned to reprise their roles, decades later. Some play new characters when they reappear. However, few actors can lay claim to a place as formative to the Ultraman Series as a whole as Hiroko Sakurai, the “Original Heroine” of the Ultraman Series.
In honor of Ms. Sakurai’s special appearance at Japan World Heroes this weekend, Ultraman Connection is shining a spotlight on her most notable roles — the characters she played that built not only the Ultraman Series, but set a model for female protagonists in decades of media to follow. We continue our coverage with Ms. Sakurai’s most famous role, a heroine known across the entire planet: The main heroine of Ultraman and the heart of the SSSP, Akiko Fuji!
Referred to by only her last name during the events of the series, Akiko Fuji is the communications officer for the SSSP, a vital position that keeps the team connected. Though Fuji was often needed at the SSSP base in order to facilitate proper communication, it was incredibly common for her to end up out in the field — especially when civilians got involved. Popular and likable, Fuji was in many ways responsible for the SSSP’s good reputation with the populace, and the children that seemed to always be adjacent to whatever the crisis of the week was.
A side-effect of Fuji’s high reputation was that she frequently found herself targeted by villainous aliens who sought to bring her down for the sake of their ambitions. The most famous of these incidents occurred in Ultraman episode 33, “The Forbidden Words,” where Fuji was kidnapped by Alien Mefilas, alongside fellow SSSP officer Shin Hayata and her younger brother Satoru. With the famous Fuji in his grasp, the propagandizing alien used his technology to grow her to titanic size in order to intimidate and terrify humanity alongside an army of illusory aliens. The imagery of this “Giant Fuji” is now one of the most famous images of the entire Ultraman Series!
Fuji is among the most famous characters in the entire Ultraman Series, and is the benchmark by which heroines not only in Ultraman, but across many series are measured by. “The Forbidden Words” is being screened today, August 19th at 3 PM PST at Japan World Heroes, with Ms. Sakurai herself as a special guest, so if you want to experience the legendary heroine’s story for yourself and you’re at the event, don’t miss it!
Tomorrow, we will finish our coverage by taking a look at the other incredible roles that Ms. Sakurai has portrayed in the five-plus decades since Ultraman first appeared on screen. See you then!