Couple of weeks ago while tumblin' my way through the wilderness of moonrunes and wwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww's (also known as Nico Nico Douga) I stumbled upon a real archeological treasure: a treasure I was sure I'd never see for I had searched for it many, many times in the past without slightest success (best catch would be handful of screenshots from GAINAX's homepage and few short clips from one Japanese tv program). And there it was, recently uploaded for all to see!
Ladies and gentlemen, I am talking about DAICON production of legends and Anno action figures: Ultraman Returns
DAICON FILMS of course was the legendary fan studio, made up from hardcore anime, tokkusatsu, scifi etc. geeks that would later - following a name change - turn into GAINAX. Hideaki Anno, Shinji Higuchi, Takami Akai, Hiroyuki Yamaga, Yoshiyuki Sadamoto.... all the core personnel who'd form the heart of GAINAX hails from this group of insanely talented crazy fans. While practically everyone knows the legendary Daicon Opening Animations it's far less well known that DAICON Films also produced number of live action fan movies that parodied tokkusatsu, kaiju and scifi films without slightest mercy (though it was still done with much love, of course).
The 3rd film in the series was Ultraman Returns (1983), directed by 23 year old Hideaki Anno(!!) with special effects direction by Shinji Higuchi (who would later end up as one of the top special effects men in all Japan no less!). Basically it's a parody of similarly named fourth Ultraman tv series.
But enough with talking. I'm sure you all want to witness this low budget piece of glorious amateur filmmaking:
Hideaki Anno's Ultraman Returns in its full 27:31 minutes glory
Making Of footage (15:59 minutes)
in case you can't watch the video it's because you haven't logged in/haven't registered at all to nico nico douga
In case you don't have an account here are couple of different registration manuals (though one should be enough, of course)
Asiajin how to register guide
Asiajin how to use guide
Thenextweb how to register guide
Moemania how to register guide
The only problem that might come up is the way NND's visual designs changes every now and then so the registration button might not necessarily be where these guides indicate. But with some quick test clicks you'll find it soon enough and after that all you have to do is follow the directions. At least that's how it worked for me last year.
By all means it can be considered as Hideaki Anno's debut work. It's extremely fascinating (not to mention entertaining!) watch with some really, really neat special effects (for their budget & amateur status) thrown in. Anno's unique directing style is already here, as incredible as that sounds, in of course more unrefined form. There's some really brilliant camerawork, editing & special effects for such an amateur production every now and then. It's also fun to spot all visual & design echoes to works ranging from original Star Wars to SDF Macross and elements which would later come up again in Neon Genesis Evangelion and others. For example (in addition to certain deja vu inducing set designs...) there're these few bizarre framings with glasses that are highly reminiscent of one shot from ep 6 of NGE. Or the bizarre focus on telephones (Gunbuster ep 5, everyone?).
In any case: enjoy!
If someone has NND downloader (I don't have it installed) I think it would be prudent to DL these vids just in case they're deleted
(technically speaking this could go under related works & people section too but I've noticed that ever since it was turned into an subforum less people seem to check it out. So I'm putting this here since it'll get higher exposure)
ULTRAMAN RETURNS AT GOOGLE VIDEO FOR THOSE WHO CAN'T USE NICO NICO DOUGA
Quality is even worse due to the big screen google video uses...
Now to be found at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kJZBt6wTNe0 -- Tines, Dec '14