Original Run: April 2nd, 1980 – March 25th, 1981 (Japan)
Created by: Tsuburaya Productions
Directed by: various
Written by: various
Music by: Tōru Fuyuki
Cast: Hatsunori Hasegawa, Jin Nakayama, Eri Ishida, Sayoko Hagiwara
Tsuburaya Productions, 50 Episodes, 24 Minutes (per episode)
Ultraman 80 sort of gets lost in the shuffle of the Ultraman franchise. It was the last of the Shōwa era shows and also the last Ultra show for sixteen years until Ultraman Tiga kicked off the Heisei era. Also, it came out five years after the previous live action show, Ultraman Leo. Plus, kaiju films and television shows were in a steep decline.
It is a unique show for the Ultraman franchise, as it initially starts with the human alter ego of this Ultraman being a school teacher. The show initially follows the characters within the school, mainly the teacher and his young students.
After a dozen or so episodes, however, the show shifts back to its regular plot format and follows our hero as he joins an Earth defense force. It pretty much ignores the teacher storyline and leaves all of those characters’ lives unexplored until decades later when there was a cast reunion in an episode of Ultraman Mebius.
It is still kind of sad that you had to wait so long for a resolution of sorts for those characters. And honestly, I kind of enjoyed those earlier episodes of Ultraman 80 before it became a cookie cutter version of the formula the franchise relied on for so long. The change was refreshing and they took it away.
Ultraman 80 isn’t a great Ultraman show. It is fairly mediocre. It may have shined had they committed to the early changes. It had some cool kaiju monsters and revisited some of the classic ones but there wasn’t anything too memorable.
The show also introduced the female Ultra, Yullian. She was cool for the most part but 80 and Yullian weren’t as cool of a duo as Leo and Astra from the previous show, Ultraman Leo.
I do like Ultraman 80. I would say that it is the weakest of the Shōwa era shows, however. But it still maintains that awesome classic feel and is entertaining enough, if you are an Ultraman fan.