Original Run: April 12th, 1974 – March 28th, 1975 (Japan)
Created by: Tsuburaya Productions
Directed by: various
Written by: various
Music by: Tōru Fuyuki, Makoto Kawaguchi
Cast: Ryu Manatsu, Kōji Moritsugu, Mieko Mita, Tomoko Ai
Tsuburaya Productions, 51 Episodes, 24 Minutes (per episode)
While the character of Leo might not be as popular as the original Ultraman or Ultraseven, he is my favorite Ultraman of all-time. I also find the most enjoyment with his show, the self-titled Ultraman Leo.
What makes this show really cool, is that it starts with Ultraseven being crippled in a fight. Leo, an Ultraman from a different part of space than Seven, essentially replaces him as Earth’s protector. Seven becomes Leo’s teacher and trains him throughout the series to become the best Ultraman he can be. Seven’s human form, Dan Moroboshi, is played once again by Kōji Moritsugu.
Ultraman Leo is the first Ultra show that I watched outside of the original and Ultra Seven. At this point, the franchise had been around awhile and was pretty comfortable with itself. This was the seventh Ultra series and the sixth Ultraman series in the franchise.
This show featured some of the really cool classic monsters and it introduced a slew of new ones that were equally as cool. Like the previous shows, this version of Ultraman protected Earth from invasion by giant kaiju monsters and alien threats. It was also an incredibly physical series and featured fantastic fight scenes and stunts.
The character of Leo also fights and eventually teams up with his Ultra brother Astra. We also see Ultraman King introduced to the series’ mythos. He would become a powerful figure throughout many of the later series and films.
The thing that really sold me on Ultraman Leo was the pilot. That first episode is pretty incredible and it is the best pilot in the entire franchise. The seemingly unstoppable Seven gets beat by the swashbuckling Alien Magma and his cronies and Leo defends the crippled Seven. Leo proves himself to his future teacher before going on the long journey to becoming the valiant protector Earth needs.
It will take a lot for another Ultraman series to usurp Leo as my favorite. Granted, I’ve loved almost every incarnation of Ultraman that I have seen but there is just something special about the experience I had while watching Ultraman Leo for the first time.