Most Popular Netflix Superhero Movie Reimagines Classic Sci-Fi Anime For The Whole Family

By Jacob VanGundy | Updated

Ultraman: Rising has made its way into Netflix’s top ten at #4, making an iconic Japanese character a surprising hit in the US. The movie is an American and Japanese co-production that recontextualizes the 60s sci-fi character for international, family-friendly appeal. With great creators and a strong sense of style, it’s become a major hit. 

Ultraman: Rising Reimagines An Icon

Ultraman: Rising follows baseball star Kenji Sato, who has a secret identity as the kaiju-fighting superhero Ultraman. His heroic alter ego is a giant robot form he takes on to keep the city safe from monster attacks. After one of his battles, he is forced to adopt the baby of the kaiju he defeated and balance raising it with his baseball career and superheroic duties.

A Joint American-Japanese Production

The English voice acting in Ultraman: Rising has been praised, particularly Christopher Sean’s performance as the lead. Other voice actors included in the stellar cast are Gedde Watanabe, Tamlyn Tomita, Keone Young, Karen Muruyama, and Artt Buttler. As a Japanese and American co-production, the movie also features a separate Japanese cast of voice actors.

Ultraman: Rising was brought together by some of the biggest names in animation, which helps explain its gorgeous animation style and phenomenal character designs. Shannon Tindle, whose previous work includes Fosters Home for Imaginary Friends and Kubo and the Two Strings, directed and co-wrote the movie. Industrial Light and Magic, the effects company created by George Lucas to work on Star Wars, was responsible for the animation. 

There’s Classic Kaiju As Well

Much of the focus of Ultraman: Rising is the relationship between Kenji and the baby Kaiju Emi. While this superhero-monster relationship is at the movie’s center, Kenji’s relationship with his estranged father, Professor Sato, the kaiju defense force, and his coach are also explored. Monster fans will also be pleased to know that in addition to the adorable Emi, full-grown Kaiju like Bemular, Neronga, and Gigantron also appear. 

Another Anime Smash Hit For Netflix

Ultraman: Rising is being received well by both general audiences and critics. Its place in the top ten on Netflix indicates that it’s found a large audience, which is unsurprising given its family-friendly nature and eye-catching character design. It’s also a smash hit with critics who have praised the quality of the animation and voice acting earning it an 80 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

The Latest In A 60-Year Legacy

While Ultraman: Rising can work as a self-contained movie, it is building on a legacy that goes back to the mid-60s in Japan. Ultraman began as the protagonist of a tokusatsu show, the style of live-action superhero shows popularized later on in America by Power Rangers. That show has continued in various iterations from 1966 to today, with the only major gap in releases coming between 1981 and 1990. 

The original show has spawned numerous spin-offs across different mediums, with Ultraman: Rising being the latest. The character and his kaiju enemies have appeared in dozens of movies, specials, mini-series, and video games. Multiple novelizations, a long-running manga adaptation, and Western comic adaptations by Marvel and Dark Horse have also been made. 

Streaming Only On Netflix

Released on June 14, Ultraman: Rising brought the iconic Japanese character into mainstream pop culture. With its popularity on Netflix and overwhelmingly positive critical response, it seems to have won just about everyone over. See the family-friendly animated superhero movie for yourself by watching Ultraman: Rising on Netflix.