Ultraman: Rising mischievously mixes Kaiju and The Incredibles [critique]

Presented in Annecy, Ultraman: Rising successfully hybridizes anime and current pop animation to renew the Japanese monster film genre.

By day, Ken Sato is a baseball star. But at night, when monsters land on earth and threaten the planet, he transforms into a Kaiju fighter. He becomes Ultraman. However, more than a warrior, Ultraman, like his father before him, is a protector, and he first tries to save people and especially monsters rather than stupidly killing them.

Things get complicated when he finds himself with an orphaned baby kaiju on his hands. Ken will have to manage his job, his new “child” (who is still 2.5 meters tall and breathes fire) and his private life (notably his complex relationship with his father)…

Somewhere between Pacific Rim (the definitive Kaiju movie) and The Incredibles (parenthood in a superhero family), or between Godzilla And Three men and a bassinet, Ultraman: Rising therefore attempts to renew one of the craziest franchises in history. Since 1966, Ultraman has produced nearly 50 films, around a hundred video games, numerous mangas and endless TV versions – up to the animated series on Netflix. That it is a feature film produced by the platform is not innocent and this Rising attempts several impressive splits. Between specifically Japanese Anime and globalized animation (less angular, more rounded); between a very kid audience (the baby Kaiju looks like a Pokémon) and more adult spectators; between a Japanese idiosyncraticism (we never recall the fundamentals of the story of Ultraman) and a globalized culture (the hero is an American baseball player who leaves the United States to return to Japan)…


Risky, but it works. Firstly thanks to a spectacular achievement. In the action scenes or the fights between Ultraman and the Kaiju, the animation is exceptionally fluid, vibrant and colorful (but without the usual flaws of computer-generated images), building a bridge between a 3D look and drawings. clearly imbued with manga and comics. We feel that Spiderman went through there.

But above all there is the story and beneath the Tokyo neon lights or the shattering fights, the film seeks, in the manner of Brad Bird's masterpiece, metaphorical power. Here, the Family becomes the last bastion of rebellion and living together. The film shows how much easier it is to understand your parents when you become a father yourself. “Ultraman's most important task is to find balance”, explains Professor Sato at the beginning of the film. The film achieves this quite nicely.

Ultraman: Rising has been available on Netflix since June 14, 2024. Here is its teaser:

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