Ultra Kaiju Humanization Project, feat. POP Comic Code, Vol. 1

By Tsuburaya Productions, POP, and Shun Kazakami. Released in Japan as “Ultra Kaijuu Gijinka Keikaku – Feat. Pop Comic Code” by Akita Shoten, serialization ongoing in the magazine Young Champion. Released in North America by Seven Seas. Translated by Thomas Zimmerman. Adapted by Janet Houck.

Yes, I know. I don’t know why I do this to myself either. I’m sure many people who are used to me saying that I haven’t seen the anime/game this is based on will be completely unsurprised to know that when it comes to Ultraman in particular and tokusatsu in particular, my experience with it is zero. So naturally, I am the perfect audience for a series that reimagines the classic villainous monsters from the series as high school girls in a fairly standard light comedy high school series. It’s not even the first time this premise has been done! One of the Dengeki magazines also has a series where the kaiju are humanized. So, with all that in mind, I can’t tell you whether a hardcore fan of the Ultraman series will get a great deal out of this. I can tell you that as a fan of all-girl high school light comedies, it was okay.

The other gimmick here is that the planning and character design are by POP, the creator of the insanely popular Moetan franchise which helps teach English to Japanese folks. This probably explains why their name is added to the title in the style of a rap single. The premise is that when the various kaiju are destroyed on Earth by the good guys, they die and wake up as a cute high school girl in your average everyday school. Here most of the girls concentrate on drinking tea, having fun, eating manju, etc. The newest arrival, Mefilas, is seemingly made of sterner stuff, and occasionally tries to get the others to be interested in obtaining the Earth’s heart, etc. For the most part, though, there’s antics involving a kaiju who’s afraid of water (she was drowned in the Ultraman battle), a kaiju with tea rooms seemingly everywhere, and Mefilas’ growing yuri crush on her friend Eleking, which is pretty much completely one-sided.

The manga does a decent job of trying to bring in individual quirks that match up with the original kaiju episode, and the character profiles helpfully give us a picture of what they looked like before. There’s also a vague semblance of a plot, as Melifas and her fellow fired-up partner Alien Temperor investigate a new, mysterious kaiju girl who seems to be a villain, though it’s not quite clear why yet. As for the comedy, well, it’s silly stuff. If you’ve read any of the many series that run in Manga Time Kirara _____, then you’ve seen what’s going on here. We get trying to start a club, eating too many sweets and needing a dentist, etc. So if you’re a tokusatsu fan, I’d only pick this one up if you like cute girls being cute. If, on the other hand, you’re a fan of cute girls being cute but have no idea what tokusatsu is, you’d probably still find this entertaining.

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