By Steve & Tamami Laser; with Nahoko Osuka reporting from Japan
Among the roll call of top superheroes, we recognize names like Superman, Batman and Spider-Man. Yet in Japan, one of the most popular is Ultraman. Originally the star of a 1960s TV show created by Tsuburaya Productions, Ultraman is a pop culture phenomenon surpassed only by the likes of Godzilla.
When the cosmic giant who uses stored solar power to combat evil forces returned last year in Tsuburaya’s new 16-part “Ultraman Ginga S” miniseries his human defense team relied upon a new dynamic duo of modified Nissan Electric Vehicles – the Leaf and e-NV200.
In this episode of the Nissan Dashboard, Ms. Sato interviews Sei Okazaki, Chief Producer, Tsuburaya Productions, and Nissan Car Marketing Manager, Mr. Hirata about Nissan’s EV product placement in the new Ultraman X series. (video: Nissan Newsroom Japan)
“Ultraman is an imaginative special effects series combining real scenes with huge monsters, aliens and spacecraft using special effects,” said Okazaki. “It’s a science fiction drama in which a huge hero, Ultraman, together with humans, overcomes many threats to protect the earth.”
The latest series, called “Ultraman X,” premieres on Japanese TV this week. “Team Zeo” members pilot a trio of Nissan EVs modified by Tsuburaya including the Leaf, called “Athos” in the series, that combines with and powers a jet to fight monsters in the air.
Meanwhile, e-NV200, dubbed “Aramis,” fires rockets to do battle against evil forces in space.
A new addition for Team Zeo is the e-NT400 test truck, called “Porthos,” that becomes a tank to battle on the ground. While the Leaf and e-NV200 are based on current production models, the e-NT400, based on Nissan’s NT400 Atlas, is in the testing stage for now.
Prior to launching the series, Tsuburaya held many meetings with Nissan to learn about the features of electric vehicles and the automaker’s endeavors in developing innovative equipment.
Tsuburaya widened the story and came up with weapons to defeat monsters using Nissan EVs as a power source. As the story goes, Ultraman is a hero who protects humanity. That segues nicely with EVs which are environmentally friendly.
According to Nissan, the Ultraman sponsorship began via the company’s licensing department where the toy company Bandai originally promoted the idea.
Beyond pleasing Ultraman fans of all ages, everyone wins in this product placement deal: Bandai can sell more toys, Tsuburaya can elevate its story content and Nissan can highlight the innovative features of EVs in creative new ways.
News source, photos and videos courtesy Nissan Motor Corp.
Additional photos ©Tsuburaya Productions
Story text ©2015 CarNichiWa.com