Today’s selection: Ultraman Gaia: Battle in Hyperspace (1998, dir. Kazuya Konaka)
Subgenre: Henshin Hero, Kaiju
Available from: Image
When Ultraman Tiga got its US release, Image made an odd licensing choice: rather than picking up Tiga’s tie-in movies, they instead released two crossover movies that he was in to a US that had never seen the other series. While the first film (Ultrama Tiga & Ultraman Dyna) can be confusing without a proper introduction to Dyna, the second movie (today’s selection) is fine even if you’ve never seen Ultraman Gaia, mostly because it doesn’t take place much in his world. The movie is about a boy in “our” world (where Ultraman is just a TV franchise), wishing on a magical orb that Ultraman Gaia could come to life, and before you can say “Last Action Hero“, it happens, leading to the usual humorous existential crisis of characters in such situations. Of course, bullies get a hold of the sphere and wish monsters to life, so Gaia (along with cameos by Tiga and Dyna) has to battle them. It’s a fun, cute movie; not in my top five for Ultraman films, but close, and an easily accessible starting point for the uninitiated.