The first volume of Shun Kazakami’s Ultra Kaiju Humanization Project is out now from Seven Seas Entertainment and we take a look at this interesting twist on the Ultraman formula.
The Ultra Kaiju Humanization Project began in 2015 as a light novel series that has since spun off into anime, manga, and a movie. The series, as its title implies, follows the human personifications of the monsters seen throughout the Ultraman franchise. While you typically see tokusatsu shows push its heroes to the forefront, Ultraman is a little different in this regard. In Japan, the Ultra Series monsters are just as popular as its transforming heroes.
This manga follows daily life at the Kaiju Graveyard school, based on the Kaiju Graveyard found in the original franchise, where monsters are sent after their deaths. The twist here is that the monsters are turned in to teenage girls, with no idea of how they ended in their new forms.
Our hero(ine) here is Alien Mefilas, originally seen in episode 33 of the first Ultraman series. Mephilas arrives after being defeated, soon encountering Eleking, her new dorm mate at the school. Mefilas is played as the sort of straight man among a cast of unique and boisterous characters included but not limited to the dim-witted Red King-chan, the crybaby Jamilar-chan, the mysterious Zetton-chan, the rowdy Temperor-chan, and the weird Metron-chan.
After arriving at the school, Mefilas quickly settles into her new life, though she never forgets her original intent of wanting to take over the earth. She ventures out beyond the Kaiju Graveyard School, discovering a planet split into four unique and mysterious zones, including one with a graveyard, which Zetton-chan calls home.
The first volume covers the first 16 chapters of the series and is a blast to read. The chapters are fun and fast-paced, filled with cute antics as the monsters (mostly) settle into life as teenage girls, although some are still just as eager to find a way to earth to destroy it, defeat Ultraman, and or cause mayhem all around. Mefilas gives us a solid lead to follow as she’s mostly played as being just as confused by what’s going on as the reader is. Each character has their own quirk and although Mefilas is no exception (she seems to adore this group of baby alien chickens), she serves as a good surrogate for the reader to discover how this new landscape has warped and exaggerated the desires of many of its residents.
Although it’s mostly a fun, light read, there are hints of an interesting twist, with Mefilas dreaming about being a child forced to leave her pet bird behind as her home is being destroyed. This only covers a page or two of content, but it’s definitely setting something up for the future and that’s where I think the strength of this series will be found: its comedy and eventual drama. While this first volume is almost entirely played for laughs, I get the feeling this will endear the reader to these characters before eventually slamming them with a realization that will tug at the heartstrings.
In addition to the solid slice of life stories peppered with a Tsuburaya flavor, there is tons of content for an Ultraman veteran to love here. Many of the jokes are based on events from the various shows themselves, often including dramatic artistic renderings of those scenes that contrasts so well with the cute and lively art style of the series proper, we often see the original forms of the girls as their inner selves, and fun plots based on events from those older episodes as well. My personal favorite is the insane amount of tea rooms Metron-chan has all over the school; be sure to check out episode 8 of Ultra Seven for more on this!
The first volume also comes packed tons of additional content including character bios, notes on the original monsters, as well as some great interviews. Character designer POP says the series is overflowing with love for Ultraman and that’s absolutely true. We’re given the chance to follow classic characters in a new and hilarious setting that is brimming with love for Ultraman. I’d recommend this one to any existing Ultraman fans wanting to branch out as well as those looking for a fun way into the franchise that slowly but surely exposes you the lore its built up over 52 years. (and a really lovable take on its monsters)
You can pick up the first volume here, with volume 2 coming in December and volume 3 to be released on March 26th of next year.