‘Ultraman: Uprising’ (2024) Review: An Ode to Parenthood

Nuha Hassan
4 min readJun 13, 2024


Ken Sato voiced by Christopher Sean/Ultraman. Image courtesy of Netflix.

Netflix Animation’s Ultraman: Rising is one of the best superhero animated movies of the year. It’s not just an exaggerated first sentence because of the famous Japanese character. It combines elements of grief, loss and paternal responsibilities, which makes it a fresh introduction to newcomers and original fans alike.

Directed by Shannon Tindle in his feature directorial debut, who was previously attached to Netflix’s limited series, Lost Ollie, and co-wrote Kubo and the Two Strings, and co-directed by John Aoshima, it reinvents the franchise’s latest instalment. Ultraman: Rising is a colourful and mesmerising animated feature that centres around the perils of parenthood.

Ken Sato (voiced by Christopher Sean) is a legendary baseball player who returns to Japan, after his estranged father, Professor Sato (voiced by Gedde Watanabe), insists on coming back home. His father is Ultraman and Ken isn’t excited about taking on the mantle while balancing his baseball career and being a superhero. Ken is egotistical and prefers to work alone on the field, which doesn’t excite his coach. At home, he prefers solace and the occasional help from his AI assistant, Mina (voiced by Tamlyn Tomita).

Ken Sato voiced by Christopher Sean/Ultraman. Image courtesy of Netflix.

One night, Ken receives news about a kaiju fight in Japan. A battle between a giant-winged lizard and the Kaiju Defense Force, headed by Dr. Onda (voiced by Keone Young), ends with Ken adopting a 30-foot-tall baby kaiju, Emi. While Ken figures out how to balance his career and being a father — with Mina’s assistance — Dr Onda is obsessed with kidnapping Emi and finding the kaiju island to destroy all the creatures for good.

Apart from the characters and the kaijus, the most important part of Ultraman: Rising is parenthood. The relationship between Emi and Ken stands out as the emotional centre of the animated film. Ken’s egotistical behaviour and desire to be the lone wolf are interrupted when he adopts Emi. He learns to balance his life and career and meet Emi’s needs. This is Ken’s journey of learning and unlearning things about himself and allowing him to be a better person.

In a series of montages, Ken hunts for food and teaches Emi how to walk at night. During the day, he goes to work and plays baseball while collaborating with his players to bring out the best outcome for his team. He’s doing most of the work — with a bit of help from Mina — but he takes the sole responsibility for taking care of Emi. It’s a quite charming journey of father and child bonding over family.

Ken Sato voiced by Christopher Sean/Ultraman. Image courtesy of Netflix.

As he’s learning to be a parent, he also learns what it means to be Ultraman, something he has never grasped because of his father’s absence. This emotional aspect drives the story, and Tindle is exceptional in creating stories that take this route; in his other stories like Lost Ollie and Kubo and the Two Strings, which incorporate themes of found family, grief and loss.

Ultraman: Rising is a gorgeous animated film. It incorporates 2D and 3D animation and comic book style, much like the Spider-Verse movies, but its aesthetic stands out from the previous projects. The fighting sequences are flashy, colourful, and look incredibly spectacular in every shot. The visuals are consistent throughout the film, and it is a world unlike anything ever seen before. The character designs also stand out due to its unique styles.

Tindle and Aoshima’s Ultraman: Rising is vibrant and takes on a familial drama to tug on the emotional aspect of the story, which blends successfully. These characters overcome the trials and tribulations of being a child and parent, which encapsulates the realities of parenthood. Even if viewers haven’t seen the previous instalments of the Ultraman franchise, don’t worry, Ultraman: Rising works as an animated movie that explains the lore and mythos of kaiju for newcomers.

Here are some reading materials to learn about the genocide, ethnic cleansing and illegal occupation in Palestine:

Decolonise Palestine

Books about Palestine on Verso Books

Books about Palestine on Haymarket Books

The Free Palestine Library

More reading materials on Palestine

Operation Olive Branch is another useful resource to help families evacuate to Egypt and buy medicine and food by donating directly to their GoFundMe links.

You can also join the BDS (Boycott, Divest, Sanction) movement, a Palestinian-led movement as a form of resistance to Israeli occupation:

Read about Readers for Accountability on their website.