Big Ultraman is coming. I know that I should be excited by that. I’m sure that most people reading this new Ultraman series from Viz are probably excited, but I am not. What’s worked incredibly well for this series has been the fact that it hasn’t needed giant monsters and battles that destroy the city. Sure there’s been destruction and some giantness, but it is, and excuse the pun, far more grounded this time around. Which is why this volume is still an incredible read as the battle that was set up at the end of the fourth issue plays out here. It does not go the way you think it does. If anything it will completely blindside you with what’s to come because much like Shinjiro we have walked blindly into the world with more depth than ever realized before. There are plenty of plot reveals early on in this volume making it pretty difficult to go any further without spoilers.
That said, the SSSP is not the only thing back and that this new element is a bit like finding out that there’s an alien city on earth that you can only reach through a portal. It’s that kind of an event in which your perception of this world is entirely changed. The way this story is layered and developed is incredibly smart. Lesser storytellers would have run to these events to show them to the audience, but the team of Eiichi Shimizu and Tomohiro Shimoguchi have instead paced these events in such a way that a metaphor for an onion is needed. No, perhaps a staircase would be a better example as each arc of the story continues to take another step higher thus changing the view of the world. Since not much has been said about this volume, there is one review which is a bit spoilery, but not entirely since it should be expected, but there is a third Ultraman in the mix of things.
The artwork continues to be some of the best I have seen in a manga. The biggest reason being that both creators understand the medium and use the art to tell the story rather than just accompany the dialog. That is a problem that plagues much manga, and it is frankly very off putting when you go from something of such great quality like Ultraman to something that has pretty pictures, but shallow visual storytelling. It is enough to send you running back to Ultraman to re-read it.
While this review ended up shorter than I was expecting, hopefully, you will check out the volume. It has a couple of stumbles and even though it teases “Big Ultraman” for the future of the story, it has been one of my favorites thus far. Don’t let it be the first volume you read, though; you will be very lost, but it is worth catching up on this series as it is hands down one of the best manga out there both regarding art and visuals.
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Ultraman vol. 5 Creators: Eiichi Shimizu and Tomohiro Shimoguchi Publisher: Viz/Viz Signature Price: $12.99 Format: TPB; Print/Digital