Annecy: ‘Ultraman: Rising’ Gets Superheroic Response at World Premiere

“Ultraman: Rising,” the first animated feature from the Japanese franchise that began back in 1966, had its world premiere at the Annecy International Film Festival on Wednesday night, and as the credits began to roll, the crowd broke out in a standing ovation that lasted for the entirety of the movie’s main-on-end credits sequence (by our calculation more than three minutes). When the movie’s mid-credits scene ran, the crowd sat down. When the scene was over, they erupted into applause again. (Our review was similarly effusive.)

There have been enthusiastic responses to the movies and footage screened at Annecy this year – everything from “Transformers One” to “The Wild Robot” to the Looney Tunes movie “The Day the Earth Blew Up” – but there hasn’t been a response as prolonged as the one for “Ultraman: Rising,” which debuts on Netflix later this week. At the party afterwards, fellow filmmakers like Jeff Rowe and Henry Selick were seen congratulating “Ultraman: Rising” director Shannon Tindle and co-director John Aoshima for their achievement. (Tindle, making his directorial debut, had been working on the project off and on since the early 2000s.)

“Ultraman: Rising” follows Ken Sato (Christopher Sean), a world class baseball player in American who returns home to Japan at the urging of his estranged father (Gedde Watanabe). His father, once Ultraman, wants him to continue in the family tradition – turning into a giant, towering superhero. The only problem is that Ken is kind of a lousy Ultraman. And after a particularly fraught battle with a kaiju, Ken ends up adopting the monster’s baby. If Ken thought protecting Tokyo from oversized threats was tough, raising one of those oversized threats is even tougher.

Created in 1966 by Eiji Tsuburaya, Tetsuo Kinjo, Tohl Narita and Kazuho Mitsuta, “Ultraman” has become one of Japan’s most powerful cultural exports, leading to scores of subsequent series and a truly staggering amount of merchandise. Shortly after the original series aired, it was being broadcast overseas, including America, and soon led to the character, with its distinctive, vaguely robotic design and large eyes, becoming a pop culture icon. “Ultraman: Rising” arrives on Netflix on June 14.

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