Mill Creek has graciously provided us with a copies of their Ultra Q and Ultraman Steelbook Blu-ray releases which is just the tip of the iceberg of their Ultraman releases. While some Ultraman series have been available to some degree previously this is the first true full fledge release.
First the packaging, both sets are very similar to the previous Mothra release featuring a clear sleeve with the Steebook and booklet inside, the clear sleeve has the series logo on the front and series info, technical specs, and some pics. The Steelbooks themselves feature clean unobstructed looks, Ultra Q has a circular white area in the center with the Ultra Q logo embossed within surrounded by a number of Ultra kaiju from the series. Around back there is Namegon, Garamon, and scenery.
The Ultraman set features Ultraman (nearly full body)with a few Ultra kaiju and scenery near the bottom, on the back is another image of Ultraman (close up) in the specium ray pose with scenery near the bottom. Both sets have similar spines with series 1 or 2 near the top, series logos in the center and Mill Creek logo along with Ragon (Ultra Q) and Ultraman (Ultraman) at the bottom.
Inside Ultra Q feature a multi colored background (based on the Ultra Q opening), while Ultraman has a close up of his chest and color timer. The disc feature the disc numbers, series logos different Ultra kaiju, and logos for Mill Creek, etc. at the bottom. The discs themselves are stacked half on the front half and half on the back, this isn't horrible for the Ultra Q set because it is 4 discs but for Ultraman there is 6 discs which requires a fair amount of swapping to watch all.
The booklet are fairly similar, Ultra Q features Tsuburaya: A History, Introduction, Episode Guide, Key Monster Guide, Character Guide, and Technology Guide. Ultraman features The Birth Of Ultraman, Series History, Hero Profile, Episode Guide, Monster Guide, Character Profiles, and Key Technology, not sure why they didn't use the same headings for certain sections but it wasn't a big deal. The sections were overall well done and layed out but seeing the booklet is relatively small (only 24 pages), the images are too big and descriptions are short but had they been bigger the booklet would have had to be much larger and more expensive.
When it comes to the content for each series has it own vibe, but both have similar quality and features. Ultra Q is definitely a more odd series, basically Godzilla meets the Twilight Zone and the fact it is filmed in black and white actually helps that analogy. There are episodes where there is more traditional monster fighting while others have a more mysterious feel to them. The quality of the Blu-ray transfer is pretty good both video and audio there are some moments where there are scratches or marks but this maybe from the original film used. The one negative was with the subtitles it was hard at times to see them depending on the background image since it was in black and white, white lettering on a light colored image.
Ultraman is a little more like short versions of Godzilla films, the drawback is there is not a lot of time to develop a good story for each episode some episodes are somewhat weak, but the realization is this series was geared towards children, more so than Ultra Q. Now I haven't seen an original Ultraman episode in some time so one thing that got me was the short amount of time Ultraman has before he gets his color timer warning (red flashing), oddly he seems to go almost as long on that limited power. I found the intro music was kiddish but it caught on after a few episodes and I found myself humming along.
The transfer to Blu-ray was pretty good but the drawback with that was I noticed wires being used in some scenes, problems with Ultraman costume, for example tears in the suit (noticed one under his arm) or something from the set stuck to it (pebble or something small), one of the problems with high definition transfers on older films and series. One thing with both series that fans were hoping for was an English dubbing, but sadly that didn't happen, for a few reasons. Both series do have digital copies available from Mill Creek's Moviespree streaming service, currently they are only available there but they may be available through other services in the future.
Overall we feel this is a good release, some items like English language track or other extras could have been included but the fact this has not been available in the US in its entirety is a great reason to get it. The one option is to get the standard Blu-ray sets instead of the Steelbook, while the content is the same the packaging is different so that would be a decision each person would need to make based on their preference.