Team TokuNet Managing Editor Jorge attended 2019’s Ultraman event, the Ultra Heroes Expo.
The yearly Ultra Expo event is a travelling stage show/museum of sorts, displaying goods from the latest Ultraman shows. This year’s event, titled Ultra Heroes EXPO New Generation World, focused heavily on the recently concluded Ultraman R/B TV series.
This version of the event took place on the 5th floor of Tokyo Soramachi, right next to the famous Tokyo Skytree tower. As you enter the Expo you’re greeted by a large statue of Ultraman GRB, the combined form of Ultraman Rosso, Ultraman Blu, and Ultrawoman Grigio seen in the Ultraman R/B Movie, Select! The Crystal of Bonds.
Ultraman GRB was an all CGI form in the movie so it was neat to see the suit itself in person. It was surrounded by various poster advertising the movie.
As you continue down the main hall there’s a display featuring Figuarts and other figures of the various New Generation heroes (Ultraman Ginga onward). There’s a room off to the corner of the main hall that also showcases merchandise and unique items from various past Ultraman TV series.
Leaving this room takes you to a maze of sorts featuring giant video screens showing transformations, as well as giant versions of the Crystals and the forms seen in Ultraman R/B itself.
Going farther into the mazes allows you seen a handful of screen used monster suits – these things are incredibly impressive up close in person. They’re also gigantic, giving you a deeper sense of appreciation for what the suit actors go through on a daily basis when filming these shows.
Exiting the maze brought me to my second favorite part of the event – a table filled with screen used props. Helmets, masks, and some of Asahi’s art were all on display.
However, the props that grabbed my attention the most were the costume worn by Mitsurugi, the villain from the show’s second half, and a test-version of the R/B Gyros, seen in flashbacks during the show. This was my first experience with screen used props and, again, seeing them up close gives you such an appreciation for all the work that goes into them.
Once you leave this area, you come to the main event – the live show. There’s a stage at the back of this portion of the hall with kids and parents seated up front. A peppy presenter thanked everyone for coming and was then “shocked” when a monster appeared out of nowhere and began roaring.
This prompted the arrival of Ultraman Blu and Ultraman Rosso, who were forced to transform into their combined state, Ultraman R/B. When even R/B himself wasn’t enough, the presenter encouraged the audience to call out for a “special someone” – Ultraman Orb himself! This led to a fantastic fight and light show filled with interesting effects meant to mimic a monster attack and energy beams from the Ultras.
This was my first time seeing any sort of live stage show event for a tokusatsu hero and it was amazing. Going into this as an adult, you know it’s suit actors, but you almost can’t help getting caught up in the moment. I was smiling like a kid when I see Orb (one of my favorite tokusatsu heroes) come on stage to help finish off the monster.
After the fight, the heroes posed on stage for people to take pictures as the ending theme from Ultraman R/B played. Kids and parents were then allowed to walk by the Ultras, giving them high fives, before being given the option of getting in line to have their pictures taken with them.
It was a massive line and I unfortunately didn’t have time to stick around, but I’ll definitely make the time at the next Ultra Expo.
Also, as an adult fan, you sometimes forget who these shows are primarily made for these days. When you’re in the expo (and trust me, you won’t be the only adult without a kid there) you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how much the kids in the audience get into the stage show and cheer on the heroes. If you’re lucky, you might even see a few cosplayers – as I walked in I saw brother and sister pair dressed up as the lead characters from Ultraman R/B.
Whether or not you’re an Ultraman fan, giving these live shows a shot is absolutely worth the 1,000 yen price of admission. You get to see some great displays, screen used props, monster suits, and a fun stage show that you’ll be thinking about for a long time to come.