Ultraman: Rising (2024) Movie Review – A Kaiju movie with a surprisingly wholesome premise

A Kaiju movie with a surprisingly wholesome premise

Based on the Japanese Kaiju (Japanese giant monsters) IP, the Ultra Series, Ultraman: Rising is Netflix’s latest venture into the sci-fi franchise. The animated movie was released in June 2024 and is helmed by Shannon Tindle who is known for animated projects like Coraline, The Croods and Kubo.

Well, Ultraman: Rising is a surprisingly wholesome addition to the Kaiju genre as it follows baseball star Kenji Sato who also moonlights as the vigilante, Ultraman thanks to his superhero genes. While Japan has its Kaiju Defence Force who are hellbent on eradicating all Kaiju, Sato’s dad, the estranged Professor Sato believes in protecting the Kaiju. It doesn’t help that when Kenji destroys a Gigantron, her infant ends up imprinting with him and believes he is her father. 

Of course, Emi, the baby Kaiju is special, she can echo-locate Kaiju Island, home to all Kaiju. This puts a target on her head as KDF’s chief, Onda hopes to use her to destroy all Kaiju once and for all. And in between all this, Kenji just wants to focus on his baseball but is forced to play a superhero and a dad at the same time.

We’ll be frank, there is nothing novel about this movie, we’ve this trope of a macho man getting stuck on babysitting duty and slowly getting fond of the kid. But all said and done, Ultraman: Rising is a fun movie. The animation is definitely a step up from Netflix’s TV adaption. It is smoother, vibrant and easy to follow despite the action you can expect from a Kaiju movie.

As for Kenji, despite being a cocky, possibly narcissistic celebrity with daddy issues, he is actually pretty relatable. And we have the writers to thank for that with the character arc they have given him. When we first see him, he doesn’t believe in saving anyone, let alone the world. But once he gets stuck with the baby Kaiju, we get a hilarious montage of him trying to navigate his life, his career, his dad and Emi.

We end up getting sweet and wholesome moments as he begrudgingly becomes a dad, taking care of Emi and teaching her how to play baseball. This changes how he views the world as well with him becoming a team player, reconnecting with his dad and understanding the difficult sacrifices Professor Sato made for his family. The witty dialogues that break the 4th wall at times do help, balancing out humour with an otherwise angst story.

Despite the high-stakes premise, Ultraman: Rising has a laidback pace which is welcome. The movie is less about a chase and more about a story of Kenji finding his way back to his family and relearning to love. All in all, a fun Kaiju movie that gives us a strong plot that otherwise is commonly found lacking in this genre.

Read More: Ultraman: Rising Ending Explained

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  • Verdict - 7/10

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