Ultraman: Rising is the latest iteration of the Ultraman Series to be made in the United States, created by Netflix and Tsuburaya Productions, and animated by Industrial Light and Magic. It’s hard to deny that it’s a very good looking movie. However, it is not the first US-Japan Ultraman co-production — not by a long shot.

That honor goes to 1987’s Ultraman: The Adventure Begins, known in Japan as Ultraman USA. Made as a co-production between Tsuburaya and Hanna-Barbera, the legendary American animation company between American cultural staples like Scooby-Doo and The Flintstones

The story begins — or should we say, The Adventure Begins — with an asteroid breaking up in the skies over Earth, pursued by a trio of lights. Scientists studying the asteroid would remark that it came from the far-off Nebula M78…

We cut to a trio of ace pilots, the “Flying Angels” of the United States Air Force. Consisting of Captain Chuck Gavin, Lieutenant Beth O’Brien, and Lieutenant Scott Masterson, the three are participating in an air show for the public when they are caught in a blinding light, and forced into a terrible crash that miraculously leaves all three of them unharmed.

Placed on leave after the crash, the three are invited to meet the mysterious Walter Freeman, a mysterious older man posing as a greenskeeper of a golf course. Following Freeman, the three are informed of the truth of their accident — that the three have been merged with alien agents from the planet Altara in Nebula M78, here chasing a group of terrible monsters that escaped from the destroyed planet Sorkin. They are now Ultraman Chuck, Ultrawoman Beth, and Ultraman Scott! (Seriously.)

The Sorkin Monsters have already landed, and have begun to hatch and rampage from cocoons. The three new heroes (and Freeman, and a trio of awfully silly and entertaining robots) form the Ultra Force, and mobilize to battle the Sorkin!

This movie is frankly gorgeous — Quite possibly the prettiest project Hanna-Barbera ever undertook, and up to Tsuburaya’s high standards, comparable to other animated Ultraman projects like The☆Ultraman. The Sorkin monster designs take advantage of the medium of animation, creating horrifying creatures like King Myra and Galbarade. Chuck, Beth, and Scott are unique Ultraman designs that nevertheless fit the general aesthetic of the series wonderfully. 

Ultraman: The Adventure Begins is not currently available to Western audiences, but fans who checked out the Ultra Galaxy Fight series got to see the three heroes battling the Absolutians in The Destined Crossroad

We love The Adventure Begins and hope to be able to share it with you in the future — If you want to be the first to know when that day comes, stay close to Ultraman Connection!