There is a formula to most Ultraman series episodes that initially seems repetitive and counter to the often weird and interesting setups; no matter what happens, there will be some kind of fight against a giant creature, because ultimately that is the franchise’s core motif. Indeed, the episodic monster-fighting nature of several entries may possibly seem different to viewers (like me) introduced to the franchise by the very interestingly continuity-driven Ultraman GEED. GEED had a shorter running time, and while it frequently had the giant fights to cap off episodes compounded with a veritable stable of heroes and forms, it told a fairly strong plot which itself tied into (in a fashion that used neat metatextual trickery) a wider cinematic universe.
After efforts to write stories about the gaps between action, about day-to-day life, it was refreshing to write something simple and heroic. And so, a simple action scene.
In writing a continuation of Night / Morning I decided to change the perspective and tense slightly; I wanted to keep my idea of trying to write something about the senses, about how it feels to feel alive, and indeed the discomfort of the setting, but to expand it slightly in scope. It has moved from one person in one room, in a way; it is now about someone trying to turn their current situation over in their mind.
Not knowing a significant amount about Astro Boy outside of having seen Atom the Beginning, I perhaps entered the stage show Pluto with a very different perspective; one of a true outsider to the source material, aware of it by reputation and not so much from personal familiarity. This open-mindedness will inform this review; I am aware of the debt so much science-fiction anime owes to Astro Boy, but only from this secondary perspective.
This is, effectively, a rewrite of a story I wrote on this blog a long time ago, Thanks. I thought Thanks was a decent enough piece of writing, but I wanted to try and make it more descriptive, more of an attempt to paint an immediate scene rather than anything else. To try and communicate a wide range of feelings and sensations, to paint a picture with more senses.
And to decouple “realism” in military science-fiction from pessimism and cynicism and darkness and just paint it as bathetic routine and minor irritations, with a bit of humanity.
I’d like to extend some thanks to @schneiderheim on Twitter for helping proofread this.
Everything continues to build towards the big race, yet the most interesting thing I found when writing this was how it let me throw down in words, in safe, science-fiction form, snapshots of my own introspection.
While this is, throughout, a work of colourful fantasy, I think it is from these chapters onwards where I let a little more of my own doubts and memories cloud the characters.
Ultraman GEED was the first series in the franchise I had watched to completion, and it proved consistently impressive – not least because of the enthusiasm and love the cast seemed to have for it, which came across very clearly in the performances. It was a series that managed to make something quite continuity-heavy accessible; by this point there is a fairly established Ultraman mythos, so to speak, and the relationships between the various heroes and villains are quite central to the main plot of GEED. Nevertheless, it used various different angles to make itself accessible to its family audience – if anything, Ultraman is interesting in the long-running superhero franchises because it is very focused on referencing and maintaining its canon, but at the same time doing so in a way that attracts, rather than puts off, new fans.
Special Rescue Police Winspector (1990) is a series that regularly has me overreacting to its stupidity; it is gloriously over-the-top, often nonsensical in its approach to science and science fiction, and feels at times like it has perhaps two or three stock plots that are recycled in different settings. At the same time, though, I would absolutely recommend it to people looking for an entertaining and frequently plain daft superhero series. It may be stupid and contrived, even within the standards of its genre, but it is stupid in a very sincere and heartfelt way which manages – often enough – to make the viewer feel like they are laughing with the writing not purely at it.
At the end of the day, Garden of Eden is a novel about chance encounters and the new friends waiting to be made in groups you thought familiar. It’s about the excitement of being somewhere, being part of something.
The experience of live music is dreamlike, intense and memorable. This is a chapter that tries to communicate that, while also offering a little calmer activity beforehand.