MR.COOL’S DREAMS OF ULTRAMAN BROUGHT HIM INTO THE WORLD OF FILM
This week’s fan profile focuses on Mr.Cool, who definitely lives up to his screen name. Short film maker, internet personality, and Ultra-fan, Mr.Cool is best known in the Ultraman community for his role moderating the Ultraman Reddit and Discord.
Mr.Cool began his journey through the Ultraman Universe at a very young age, with his first entry point being the 1966 classic Ultraman series. The show served as a common ground for him and his father, who grew up watching as well. At the time, however, Ultraman wasn’t as accessible in the west so the two resorted to watching old VHS tapes of Ultraman Ace, Ultraman Taro, and The Return of Ultraman.
Although the tapes were not in English, Mr.Cool found himself enamored by the “chaos” of the series. It didn’t matter that he couldn’t understand what was being said, the whimsical intensity was unlike anything he'd seen from shows made in the United States!
“I remember this one episode that was very formative for me. It was these Kaiju (Bad Baalon and Yapool) in a hot air balloon. They were stealing the souls of children or something. I couldn’t understand the dialogue, but I remember having to pick up on what was really going on and figuring it all out was exciting.” Editor’s note: this was an episode of Ultraman Ace, Airship Terrible Monster.
Inspired by these riveting stories, Mr.Cool taught himself the basics of filmmaking at only 10 years old by making stop-motion animation shorts starring his Ultraman and Kaiju figures. Using his Nintendo DSi, he would direct his own epic Ultra-adventures. Papier-mâché buildings, construction paper roads, and Hot Wheels cars served as the recipients for all of the Kaiju battle collateral damage.
“Well at the time I only had access to Ace, Taro, and classic Ultraman. I’d see these great Kaiju figures on eBay and not know who they were because they were from Ultraseven or other newer series I’d never seen. I’d look up descriptions of the Kaiju online to find out more about them, getting information from Wikipedia and toy reviews. They had this mythical quality, I never thought I’d be able to see them in action.”
Mr.Cool used what he’d learn about the characters online to inform his short films, essentially building his own version of Ultraseven before he’d even seen it.
“I had built Ultraseven up in my head to this high status and then when I finally watched it… It was even better than I had expected. It instantly became my favorite show of all time. It had this heavy subject matter and this artful quality that I just wasn’t used to seeing. It made me think a lot.”
Ever since then, he’s been keeping up to date on all the new Ultraman releases and taking advantage of the new availability of older series.
“I’m very excited about Ultraman’s expansion into the west. It’s incredible how things have changed.”
Mr.Cool found his place in the Ultraman community by starting as a passive content enjoyer. He began by finding blogs, Reddit threads, YouTube channels, and Twitter accounts that catered to his interest in Ultraman. As time went on and he found himself more and more immersed in the online subculture, he conjured the confidence to take on the position of a moderator on the Ultraman Reddit and then subsequently, on the Ultraman Discord.
“I really enjoy reading and being part of the conversations on Ultraman. It’s something I’m passionate about so even if I don’t necessarily agree with some peoples’ opinions, I can appreciate their different perspectives. Sometimes those perspectives give me new things to think about and deepen my appreciation for the franchise.”
He acknowledges that he has blind spots stemming from his American upbringing and how seeking out internet analysis has helped him build a cultural context for Ultraman.
“I read about what current events were happening in Japan at the time of each series and even about some of the Japanese folklore and mythology that serve as inspiration for Ultraman themes and plot.”
Through being open minded, explorative, and immersing himself in his passion for Ultraman, Mr.Cool has broadened his horizons and exercised his creativity impressively. Even with limited access to fellow fans and relevant content when he was younger, Mr.Cool sought out the Ultraman Universe and is definitely reaping the benefits of the community.
He’s even bringing the people in his life closer to Ultraman, and they’re into it!
“Not a lot of people I know are as into Ultraman as me but I recently brought my mom and sister to see the new Shin Ultraman movie and they really enjoyed it despite not having seen Ultraman before. I think it does a great job of being a stand-alone piece and maintaining those classic Ultraman themes.”
When asked about the Ultraman themes that are most valuable to him, he answered with great sweetness and sincerity.
“Togetherness, humanity, not giving up… These are all integral concepts to Ultraman. It might seem like it’s about aliens, but it’s about all of us. I can’t express the positivity I get from Ultraman; it really means a lot to me. It makes the world feel less lonely. I’m definitely a lifelong fan.”
Mr.Cool is now in school for filmmaking and has a portfolio of live-action, Claymation, and of course, stop-motion animated films that he’s written, directed, and acted in. Although he preserves his anonymity, you can connect with Mr.Cool through the Ultraman Discord as well as the Ultraman Reddit.