Netflix's Ultraman: Rising director says not knowing everything about Ultraman is kind of the point: "There's a mystery to him that I love"

Ultraman: Rising still from the movie
(Image credit: Netflix)

The new Netflix animated sci-fi movie Ultraman: Rising might at first seem somewhat imposing. Even a cursory look online will reveal that Ultraman as a franchise has been around for decades with a storied history in Japan. But while that's all true, and there's plenty more Ultraman where Rising came from, the folks that made Rising have a simple answer to whether you need to know about Ultraman to get what Rising's doing: You don't.

The movie follows baseball star and reluctant superhero Ken Sato after he inherits the role of Ultraman. He quickly ends up becoming a surrogate father to a baby kaiju and must learn to juggle all of the expectations of him while still defending the world. It's a lot! But also, at least according to the people that made it, you don't really need to understand anything beyond what's presented.

"It was the thing that was most important to us, was to make a film that doesn't require any knowledge about Ultraman," says Shannon Tindle, director of Ultraman: Rising. "And we just wanted you to connect with the character of Ken. It's why I never wanted to tell an origin story; I just wanted to tell a story about this guy who's struggling, because he's had these bad experiences. He's been separated from his father for quite some time. So the answer is you don't have to have anything, and we worked really hard. We showed it to a lot of people, people who knew nothing about it, to dial it in so it'd be something that everybody can enjoy."

Ultraman: Rising | Official Trailer | Netflix - YouTube Ultraman: Rising | Official Trailer | Netflix - YouTube
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"And in a way, it allows the way we discovered Ultraman when we were kids, not knowing," says John Aoshima, co-director of Ultraman: Rising. "You just see this amazing, giant silver red superhero and you go, 'What is this about?' And you learn who he is and what the meaning of heroism is through the stories and characters."

So, OK, you can come into Ultraman: Rising with basically no knowledge of the franchise. If that's the case, what is it about Ultraman as a character and franchise that's compelling then? Why Ultraman as opposed to literally anything else? According to Tindle, at least, the not knowing is actually kind of part of the whole deal that makes it initially interesting.

"When I was a kid, he wasn't like any hero that I'd experienced," says Tindle. "He's this alien that comes from the Land of Light to fight giant monsters, nobody knows who he is or where he came from, and there's a strangeness in the best way to that. And there's a mystery to him that I love. I don't like having all the answers right up top, and Ultraman certainly is filled with questions."

Ultraman: Rising is now available to stream on Netflix. If that's not your speed, you can always check out some of the best Netflix movies to watch right now.

Rollin Bishop
US Managing Editor

Rollin is the US Managing Editor at GamesRadar+. With over 16 years of online journalism experience, Rollin has helped provide coverage of gaming and entertainment for brands like IGN, Inverse,, and more. While he has approximate knowledge of many things, his work often has a focus on RPGs and animation in addition to franchises like Pokemon and Dragon Age. In his spare time, Rollin likes to import Valkyria Chronicles merch and watch anime.