The Ultraman Series and Fatherhood Through the Ages

The Ultraman Series and Fatherhood Through the Ages

Hello and welcome, Ultraman Connection readers! Have you checked out the new Ultraman: Rising movie on Netflix? If not, you should really watch it for two pertinent reasons. Number one: it’s an incredible movie, as we’ve already examined with our comments in previous articles! But we’ll also be discussing some open spoilers from the movie in this piece, so be careful if you haven’t experienced it for yourself yet!

The idea of Ultraman being a legacy passed down between generations was one of the most striking elements of Rising. These family themes resonated for many of us here at Ultraman Connection, and among other viewers. We’ve already discussed the Ultra Family in different places, but this week, we’ll look at Kenji Sato, Ultraman in the movie, and his Ultradad, Professor Hayao Sato, to discuss how they relate to a few other characters from Ultraman’s history in more specific ways.

It was clear in the movie that the animators and directors had a lot of love for Ultraseven. It would take a lot of space here to detail all the Easter Eggs from the famous 1967 series, and many viewers probably have noticed a few of them. Little details from Sato Sr.’s license plate – and his actual car which suspiciously looked like the Ultra Guard’s Pointer, were fun visual callbacks to the show. One callback was especially important though, not just to the Ultraseven series, but to the character of Seven, Dan Moroboshi himself.

Did you happen to notice Professor Sato walks with a cane?


Dan Moroboshi in his own series was an idealist, who believed in the best of humanity and of all other living beings in the universe at large. As the Ultraseven series continued, that idealism was repeatedly challenged, beaten and battered just as Seven himself was beaten down by each successive threat against the Earth. Finally, his role as the protector of humanity would cost him his life – albeit, not permanently – at the end of the show.

These scars clearly took a toll on him by the time he appears in Ultraman Leo, six years later. He would only accumulate more scars after Alien Magma’s vicious attack on Earth in the first episode left him with a mangled leg, and unable to transform in order to fight again.


In Ultraman Rising, Ken’s dad also sustained scars during his own time as Ultraman, fighting to protect the Earth. The fight which ended his personal career leads to Ken taking on the role for himself, but it’s also clear that his duty as Ultraman was often painfully at odds with his own personal life, and his duties towards his family. At the beginning of the movie, Ken and his father are estranged, with Ken wanting nothing to do with him, and his dad reluctantly acquiescing to his wishes.


I can’t help but see some similarity to the mentor and student dynamic between Seven and Leo, even though they aren’t related in the same way. Much like Leo, Ken also starts off as hot-headed, rash, and self-centered; more worried about his own sense of accomplishment than the consequences of his role as Ultraman. Throughout the Leo series, Gen and Dan butt heads during his training, often in violent and angry ways! Eventually, through their trials together, they do develop a much more friendly relationship, one that seems to have lasted into the modern day. In fact, Leo would play a major role in the Ultraman franchise later on, as a mentor to Seven’s son, Ultraman Zero.


That’s another similarity with Ken and Hayao’s story in Ultraman: Rising  – the challenges which ultimately brought them together. Ken starts the movie resentful of his father, and his long absence in his life while serving the greater public needs as Ultraman. It takes quite a while in the movie for him to finally strip down his pride and ask his dad for help. Finally, the crucial catalyst for his change of heart comes from serving as a father and mentor himself.

Yes, that means that Emi is Ultraman Zero in this analogy.


Speaking seriously though, the same shared experience of being a parent, the responsibilities each generation has to the one following, defines both sets of these characters –  whether it’s Seven, Leo and Zero, or Professor Sato, his son Kenji, and their adopted Kaiju daughter, Emi. In the Ultraman: Rising movie, Ken has to realize the importance of this job, and the enormity of his responsibility in caring for Emi’s life, and then simultaneously realizes that he cannot fulfill any of those responsibilities on his own. In a similar way, Leo comes into his own identity as Ultraman by acknowledging these responsibilities instead of his own self-centered wishes, and then later becomes a mentor to Zero who also learns this lesson!

Of course, acknowledging those responsibilities, and actually living up to them, are two separate tasks. But that’s another reason why Ken and Hayao’s relationship reminded me of Leo, Seven, and Zero – they are far from perfect role models, or perfect honor roll students. All of them fail at being Ultraman, fail to protect the lives they are responsible for, or even fail to be decent and polite human beings at many times! Through their mistakes, their fights and arguments, and through those failures however, they come to understand their responsibilities more clearly, and can relate to their own parent’s – or mentor’s – failures with a new understanding.

I’ve been pretty vague about spoilers through this piece, but this theme, uniting together to bear the responsibility of Ultraman because of their shared experience of failures, leads to one of the best scenes of Ultraman: Rising. When all hope seems lost, and neither Kenji or his father can fight on their own, both of them cross arms to fire the final Spacium Beam attack together.

Readers, I’m not kidding when I said I cried at this moment. What a way to deliver on the emotional core of the movie, and one of the most crucial parts of the Ultraman franchise as a whole. If you got through this article without having seen Rising already, you should know that there are plenty of other moments just as powerful, and you should go check them out yourself.

For the rest of us, there’s still plenty to look forward to with the debut of Ultraman Arc, set to air on July 5th. Until then, stay tuned here to Ultraman Connection for more news and stories!