TsubuCon was an utterly enormous event, and though it ended on November 26th, one of the largest moments of the convention happened on the evening of the 26th, when a number of the greatest performers in Japan converged on Tokyo Dome City Hall to perform a once-in-a-lifetime concert — Ultraman Music Live ~Ultraman Spirits 2023~! The concert is over, but the memories remain — and of course, Ultraman Connection is happy to share those memories with you. Let’s get into what happened.
The concert started how any good Ultraman Series music should start — with the creaking, crawling percussion that led to the Ultra Q theme from 1966! The song started up in a jazzy, highly percussive iteration performed by the live band on stage that would be accompanying the performers for the rest of the concert, immediately bringing the audience into the world of over 55 years ago, priming them for what would be a truly unforgettable show.
After Ultra Q, fittingly, came Ultraman — or rather, Ultraman no Uta! Every performer who would show up over the course of the night made their way onto the stage to sing the legendary anthem, priming the audience and letting them know exactly who would be performing them — that being, of course, basically everyone to have sung a song for the Ultraman Series up to this point!
After the song ended, the MCs of the night, TAKERU and Chiaki Seshimo of the band Voyager, greeted the audience and introduced each performer in turn — Tatsuomi Hamada, AKA Riku Asakura of Ultraman Geed, Masayoshi Oishi of OxT, Hiroshi Kitadani and Masaaki Endoh of JAM PROJECT, legendary anisong artist Hironobu Kageyama, Ryoichi Fukuzawa, formerly Taro Takemura, Ryu Manatsu, AKA Gen Ohtori of Ultraman Leo, Katsuya Maeda, Tsuruno Takeshi who played Shin Asuka in Ultraman Dyna, Project DMM founder Tsuyoshi Matsubara, the band SCREEN mode, Tasuku Hatanaka who portrayed the voice of Ultraman Z in the eponymous series, and Takao Sakuma! What a lineup!
The first track started right after introductions, as Voyager teamed up with Hironobu Kageyama to sing “Orb no Inori”, the theme song for Ultraman Orb. As the song reached its crescendo, Orb himself appeared to perform along with the singers, but he wasn’t the only giant to be honored on that stage during the piece. As the song came to an and, a portrait of the late Ichiro Mizuki, the father of the “anisong” genre and the original singer of “Orb no Inori”, was featured, and all three artists paid their respects, highlighting the emotion and sincerity that would suffuse the evening.
Afterwards, the energy ratcheted right back up as Masaaki Endoh rushed onto the stage to perform his rendition of the hard-rock first theme song of Ultraman Nexus, “Eiyuu”! Nexus himself appeared, and rocked along with Endoh, a rare moment of hype from the mysterious Ultra. After that, the show continued the interpretive covers as Tasuku Hatenaka and Yuu-YOU- of SCREEN mode came together to sing “Buddy, Steady, GO!” from Ultraman Taiga.
Voyager returned to the stage alongside Takeshi Tsuruno to honor “Aniki” Ichiro Mizuki again with “Susume!” Ultraman Zero!” the theme song for Zero himself, with Zero running out to practically mosh with the performers — how in-character for him to get this excited! Afterwards, Tsuruno spoke for a short time about how “Aniki” had positively affected his life and career.
From there, fans were returned to the early 2000s as Tsuyoshi Matsubara returned to the stage to represent Project DMM, the band behind so many beloved Heisei-era Ultraman OPs. He started with a strong choice — “Ultraman Max”, the theme song of the eponymous show. The entire hall resonated as fans sang out “Max! Max! Max!” at the top of their lungs. From there, Voyager returned to perform a New Generation double-feature, singing “Ultraman X” and “Ultraman Ginga no Uta” and reminding fans of how the Ultraman Series returned to the world in the early 2010s.
After that, however, fans were treated to a very unexpected treat, as Masayoshi Oishi came onto the stage and sang “Imperfect,” the theme song to SSSS.Dynazenon! An entry in the successful Gridman franchise, the giant mecha series has no connection to the Ultraman Series… and yet, the screaming enthusiasm of the crowd could not be denied!
Matsubara returned afterwards to represent the work of his old Project DMM bandmate, Kazuya Daimon, by performing “Ultraman Gaia,” the theme to the eponymous work, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. (Check out our article on the 25th anniversary event held at TsubuCon here.)
SCREEN mode came out after that song ended, and before they began their hit track, “Wake up, Decker!” from Ultraman Decker, Yuu-YOU- reached out to the crowd. The “Wake Up, Decker!” video is somewhat famous among the Ultraman Series fanbase for its creative and unusual music video, and the singer requested that the fans play along with the band and strike some of the signature poses and raised arms from the video at key moments of the song. The audience was more than happy to join in, and every cry of “Decker!” had every person in Tokyo Dome City Hall raising their arm to the sky with excitement, multiple times during the performance!
After the opening for Decker came its ending theme, “Kanata Toku” by Hironobu Kageyama, a lighthearted breather for what came next. With the banging of familiar drums, Hiroshi Kitadani leapt out onto stage and began singing “Bokura no Spectra,” the theme song of the currently-airing Ultraman Blazar! Blazar himself wandered onto the stage during the show, seemingly mystified by the audience and the music playing around him. By the end, it seemed he had come to understand, in some way, the power of music himself, and raised a hand to greet and thank Kitadani and the audience before running off as the song ended. At least, that’s what it looked like — you can never really tell with Blazar…
After that was the final song for the first act of the show, and Takao Sakuma came out to deliver an incredible cover of the theme song of Ultraman Tiga, “Take Me Higher”. “Take Me Higher” occupies such an important place in the hearts of Ultraman Series fans, and Sakuma’s vocals truly did justice to the track. As the song, and the first act, came to an end, Ultraman Tiga himself made an appearance on the dais, the hero that in so many ways signaled a new beginning for the Ultraman Series back in 1996.
A ten-minute intermission followed, and when it ended, the show returned in a BIG way, as Endoh returned to the stage wearing the signature outfit he wore when he sang “Goshōwa kudasai ware no na wo!” or “Chant My Name!”, the theme song of Ultraman Z — fittingly, as he began to sing that very song, encouraging the audience to chant “Ultraman ZETT!” alongside Z himself, who came out to party with Endoh and the audience. As soon as the song ended, Hatenaka, who had voiced Z on the show, came out to sing “Promise for the Future,” the second ending theme and occasional insert theme for the show.
Continuing the trend of actors from series returning to sing their theme songs, Tatsuomi Hamada came out with Voyager to sing “GEED no Akashi”, the theme song for Ultraman Geed! Geed himself came out afterwards, leading to a bit of a trippy moment as both faces of Riku Asakura looked each other in the eye!
Matsubara took the stage once more afterwards, this time to perform “SPIRIT”, the theme of Ultraman Cosmos, heralding the appearance of the peace-loving hero to alight on the stage, and when that ended, Oishi returned to the Ultraman Series with his next track, “Hands” from Ultraman R/B! For his final song, Matsubara returned with Voyager to sing the final Project DMM main series theme song, the eponymous “Ultraman Mebius”, used to celebrate the fortieth anniversary of the series — How far we’ve come.
From there, fans got a triple dose of Ultraman Dyna, as Tatsuya Maeda came on stage to perform the eponymous “Ultraman Dyna”, a track that had the entire audience screaming “FLASH! STRONG! MIRACLE!” all together. When that ended, Kageyama returned to sing his rendition of “ULTRA HIGH”, the second ending theme song for Dyna, and after that… Well, he may not have been the original singer of “Kimi Dake o Mamoritai”, Dyna’s first ending theme, but Takeshi Tsuruno, AKA Shin Asuka/Ultraman Dyna himself, has long since made the track his own, and performed it with a big grin on his face, holding the Lieflasher he used to transform so many years ago.
When “Kimi Dake o Mamoritai” ended, the audience was pulled back, back, back to the Showa era as Ryu Manatsu, the original actor of Gen Ohtori, came out to sing “Ultraman Leo”, the original opening song of the show of the same name. Fittingly for the man who was Leo, Manatsu’s voice was clear and strong, even at 73 years old! Audiences were taken even further back again, however, as Ryoichi Fukuzawa returned to the stage name of Taro Takemura for a brief moment to reprise “Ultraman Taro”, the theme song of the eponymous show, to raucous cries of “TARO! ULTRAMAN NUMBER SIX!”
After the last song came to an end, Voyager came out and thanked the band, introducing them to the audience, while bringing every performer out to give a final thank you. Of course, that wasn’t quite the end — As we’d said before, TsubuCon marked the finale of the 55th Anniversary of Ultraseven — and so, everyone who had performed tonight came together one last time to sing Ultraseven no Uta, alongside the crowd.
This was more than a concert, this was a once-in-a-lifetime supershow. The theme of the night had been “Ultraman Spirits,” and every performer — and the audience as well — showed more spirit than Tokyo Dome City Hall could have possibly contained. Even this, however, was not all that TsubuCon had for attendees. Check back to Ultraman Connection to find more of the amazing reveals and events that the weekend held in store!