The Ultraman Connection Live Holiday Special 2022 ran live on YouTube and was held over in the Exclusive Video section of the Ultraman Connection site until quite recently, and boy, was this a big event! Guests galore, fierce foes, and a celebration of the 50th anniversary of one of the most beloved entries in the Ultraman series, Ultraman Ace! If you missed it, here’s the lowdown on everything that happened!
In a bit of a divergence from the usual routine, the stream actually started a bit early, revealing an adorable Pigmon running and hiding from a mysterious man… Wonder what that’s about? Either way, Sean Nichols, perennial Ultraman Connection host, arrived shortly after to welcome viewers to the show! After brandishing a cool Ultraman Connection T-shirt (on sale now in the Amazon Ultraman shop), he welcomed the guests for the event!
This year’s attendees were a venerated bunch, starting with Ichika Kirino herself, Yuka Murayama from Ultraman Decker. Next was the director behind several beloved Ultraman episodes (including the most recent episode of Decker, and the critically acclaimed Ultraman Z episode “The Last Hero”), Takanori Tsujimoto. Following him was Ultraman Z lead and returning UC Live guest, the inimitable Kohshu Hirano! After him came beloved Ultraman series voice actor Megumi Han, responsible for Ultraman Geed’s Pega and Ultra Galaxy Fight’s Sora, and Seiji Hokuto from Netflix’s ULTRAMAN.
To round out the group was the first major gift to fans: returning to the screen in person for the first time since 2006’s Ultraman Mebius was the original actor for Seiji Hokuto, the male lead of Ultraman Ace, Keiji Takamine! A wonderful, fitting return for the 50th anniversary of the series that brought him into the world of Ultraman.
With greetings out of the way, Sean unveiled the main thrust of the event, a discussion on the 50 years of Ultraman that have come since the first episode of Ace, using labeled cards. Takamine talked happily about his time and his experiences helping to forge the first Ultraman to stand in the “golden age” of tokusatsu heroes. Tsujimoto, a massive fan of Ace himself, had his own comments and memories to share on his time with the series.
After discussing that time, and Ace’s appearances on the following year’s Ultraman Taro, the timeline moved forward to discuss the reappearance of Seiji after 34 years, in Ultraman Mebius. Takamine and Han, a fan from the period of Mebius’s airing, had several positive comments about the series and Takamine’s portrayal of the returning Seiji.
Next, the conversation moved to the most recent appearance of Ace on TV, in Ultraman Z’s 19th episode “The Last Hero.” Hirano and Tsujimoto, the director, had a lot to say about the episode, including reminding fans that Z himself was given his name by Ace within the series. Takamine, having returned to voice Ace in the episode, also had plenty to say!
Before the presentation could continue, however, the proceedings were interrupted by the mysterious man from earlier and his allies, still hunting for their quarry. Before the show could be ruined, however, Han reminded Sean—and the audience—that Takamine wasn’t the only Ace in the series’ history… and summoned anime ULTRAMAN’s Ace! The suited hero easily took down the three agents, and the lead one ran away with his tail between his legs, beaten… for the moment.
Ultraman Suit ACE arrives to save the day!
After the fight, Han reappeared, and the presentation moved on, fittingly, to the 2011 manga, and 2019 anime where the Suit Ace debuted! Takamine discussed how the young, jovial counterpart to his character differed from the Seiji that debuted in 1972, and he and Han discussed their shared experiences being Ace of one kind or another.
Moving onto the next card revealed… Shin Ultraman? What does the Shin Ultraman movie have to do with Ultraman Ace? The answer came in the form of a special message to Takamine and the Ultraman Connection fanbase from Shinji Higuchi, director of the hit film! Higuchi, a fan of Ace himself, had plenty of positive things and kind wishes to share regarding the series, including his admiration for how Ace tended to chop his opponents in two with various deadly beams.
Finally, the last card to be revealed was, fittingly, 2022’s Ultraman Decker. Tsujimoto, who had directed many Decker episodes, including this week’s episode 22 “The Fall of Bazdor,” as well as Murayama, who had starred in almost every episode, got to show off some of their work. Takamine expressed his admiration for the ongoing growth and development of the series since his day, though there was a bit of group consternation that Ace’s nemesis, Yapool, was still showing up 50 years later…
With the anniversary look-back complete, the time came for the night’s Watch Party, where guests and fans alike got to rewatch the first episode of Ultraman Ace, “Shine! The Five Ultra Brothers!” After it ended, everyone commented happily on the nostalgia and timelessness of the series.
After the discussion of the episode, a special message from Tomokazu Seki, the voice actor of Ace in Ultra Galaxy Fight: The Destined Crossroad played, wishing everyone well for both the anniversary and the holiday season, followed by a number of trailers for upcoming and current Ultraman projects, like the upcoming Fathom Events Shin Ultraman screenings, the episodic YouTube uploads of Ultra Galaxy Fight: The Destined Crossroad, the upcoming Ultraman Regulos special, and next week’s episode of Ultraman Decker!
Ultraman Decker (Flash Type) VS. Alien Steal
What a successful Holiday Special. That should have been enough for the night… but unfortunately, there was still some unfinished business, as the mysterious agent from the teaser reappeared, having tracked down Pigmon and revealed himself to be Alien Steal, returning for the first time in 50 years to take Earth’s beloved monsters for his own! To protect Yuka, AKA Ichika, as well as the guests and Pigmon, Ultraman Decker arrived and fought off the Steal… only to be frozen in a bronze statue by Alien Hipporit at the behest of the real mastermind behind this invasion… Yapool!
Giant Yapool and Alien Hippolito gloat in front of the petrified Ultraman Decker.
Seeking revenge for their recent unfinished business, Yapool moved to destroy the petrified Decker, only for Haruki to emerge and transform into Ultraman Z to revive his junior along with the hero of the evening, Ultraman Ace!
Ultraman Z (Beta Smash) and Ultraman Ace arrive.
Yapool, driven into a mad rage by the reappearance of his most detested foe, attacked alongside Hipporit and his Terrible-Monster minions, Doragory and Baraba. The battle was joined, and despite the bile and hateful power of Yapool’s forces, the heroic bonds of the Ultras were too much for them. Even the appearance of the Terraphaser, the dreaded Bazdor anti-Ultra weapon, and a full army of Terrible-Monsters, could not overcome the heroes.
Ultraman Decker (Dynamic Type) fixes the camera after Giant Yapool and Terraphaser knock it over!
Z in his Beta Smash form scored the first victory for the heroes against Baraba, destroying it with his honed physique. Next, Decker used his mighty Dynamic Type to overwhelm Yapool himself and the Terraphaser.
Ultraman Ace engages Alien Hipporito, Aribunta, and Ace-Killer.
However, it was Ace who took on the Terrible-Monsters himself, battling not just Hipporit, not just Doragory, but even Aribunta and Ace-Killer! Ace was overwhelming in his skill and power, running through the gauntlet of foes with the energy shared by the guests. His final barrage proved why Ace is known as “The Master of Beam Techniques,” using first his Metallium Beam, then his Vertical Guillotine, then his Punch Laser, and finishing with the unstoppable Space Q!
With the forces of evil in tatters, and both the Earth and Pigmon safe, the guests emerged again; first to feed a grateful Pigmon, and then to wish all the fans watching around the world a big thank you and warm holiday wishes.
This was a big show, but Ultraman’s 2023 is going to be even bigger! And to stay connected to every huge development as they’re announced, stay close to Ultraman Connection!