“Ultraseven” is also exceptional at being weird. The twelfth episode of the series, “From a Planet With Love,” was banned in Japan for featuring a creature design inspired by nuclear bomb victims. The forty-third episode, “Nightmare of Planet No. 4,” transports Dan Moroboshi and his colleague Soga to a dystopia run by machines. In the episode’s most harrowing scene, the two of them witness human actors on a film set shot to death by the crew. At the end of the episode, of course, Dan transforms into Ultraseven and wrecks the machine city. The episode is framed within the series as a dream, too outrageous for even the Ultra Guard to believe. But the implication remains that there are forces in the real world far deadlier than “Ultraman” kaiju, with no Ultraseven to help us.
These two episodes and others were directed by Akio Jissoji, a filmmaker with roots in Japanese New Wave cinema. Jissoji helmed several episodes of the original “Ultraman,” including the classic “My Home is Earth.” Per Mike Dent at Zimmerit, his distinctive lighting and use of low/dutch camera angles were a big influence on Hideaki Anno, director of “Neon Genesis Evangelion” and the recent “Shin Ultraman.” Jissoji was inspired by the ambition and adult slant of “Ultraseven” to take even greater risks with his episodes. When producers complained that “Nightmare of Planet No. 4” lacked a monster, Jissoji threatened to write a new script in which Ultraseven fought every single kaiju that had appeared in the series to that point (via Ultra Blog DX). The producers backed down, and the episode was released as is.