Ultraman: Rising review – endearing kaiju animation battles the monster that is parenting

Appealing superhero film saddles a kaiju fighter with an orphaned infant, who brings challenges to test supernanny’s domestic mettle

In this family superhero animation with a twist, the monster that must be grappled with by our hero is parenthood – and specifically baby-care. We open in Odaiba, Japan, with a flashback to the childhood of Ken Sato, whose dad is passionate about kaiju, the giant monsters of Japanese pop culture (of which Godzilla is probably the best known in the west). Twenty years later, Ken is a baseball star by day and gigantic kaiju fighter Ultraman by night (or indeed, whenever the kaiju show up) though like his father before him, it’s more about protecting people and monsters from each other than a standard slay-the-beast trajectory.

Things get complicated when he finds himself unexpectedly landed with an orphaned baby kaiju to look after. Ken is not prepared for single parenthood, and is duly rushed off his feet managing the competing demands of work and adopted infant, getting covered in bodily fluids in the process, and making all sorts of delightful discoveries about the limits of his own knowledge. “Babies get acid reflux?” he exclaims despairingly at one point, in a line that feels rooted in lived experience. Mind you, this baby is 35ft tall and breathes fire, so, you know, a challenge even for Supernanny.

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