As this film acts as a pseudo-prequel to Ultraman Nexus, all spoilers pertaining to it are unmarked. You Have Been Warned!
An isolated scientific facility is thrown into chaos when a horrific creature tears through its corridors, killing its military personnel. Sara Mizuhara, a leading scientist at the facility, attempts to kill the beast with specially made bullets filled with a special poison. She falters, and the creature escapes...
Shunichi Maki is a First Lieutenant in the Japanese Air Self-Defense Force and pilots F-15 Eagle jets. It's been his dream to do so since he witnessed the "silver meteors" passing overhead as a child, but now he has a new dream. He wishes to be with his family: his wife Yoko and his sickly son Tsugumu. Right before he fully resigns, though, a strange light appears in the sky and he is scrambled with the other pilots to investigate. Unfortunately, his partner has to pull away when the strange light nearly crashes his plane, and Maki then has a head on collision with the light, but little does he know that he is now going to be a major part in a battle for the fate of the Earth.
Aliens, possession, giant monsters and lessons about responsibility and fatherly commitments make up this big budget movie that takes a new spin on the beloved character alongside Ultraman Nexus, the series that this film is connected to.
Ultraman: The Next provides examples of the following tropes:
- All There in the Manual: None of Ultraman's forms or attacks are given names, and unless you watched all of Nexus, you wouldn't even know this particular Ultraman's name. He is in fact Noa.
- Action Girl: Sara is pretty tough for a scientist and takes on The One twice.
- Adaptational Badass: Bemular has always been a Starter Villain and not particular stronger. The One is much stronger than any version of Bemular has ever been, with far more powers.
- Alternate Continuity: In the first place the movie makes no mention of the Ultra Garrison and everyone treats Ultraman and "The One" as the crazy things that they are. In Ultraman Zero: The Revenge of Belial it's finally confirmed that the Ultraman Nexus universe takes place in a different universe.
- Backstory: For Ultraman Nexus. The titular Ultraman of this film is actually a devolved form of Ultraman Noa, which by extension, makes him one of Nexus as well.
- A Beast in Name and Nature: The Big Bad is known simply as Beast the One.
- Big Bad: The One serves as the film's main antagonist, being murderous alien invader who Ultraman arrived on Earth chasing.
- Body Horror: The One and his many transformations can be quite sickening to look at made worse when you realize the hulking monster began as a human. The One's second, enormous form is hatched from an ugly cocoon it grew after absorbing lizards, and its third form sports a tiny head at each shoulder for no other purpose other than to look gross.
- Call-Back / Mythology Gag: Being a not-quite anniversary project, the movie threw in a few references to the old shows.
- Maki merges with Ultraman when their spacecraft collide, just like the original show. They even meet in a vision shortly afterwards, though Ultraman never converses with him till near the end of the film.
- The One's design as a spiky Not Zilla thing is a reference to Bemular, Ultraman's first foe.
- Maki transforms not with a device, but through 'Force of Will,' like Ultraman Jack
- The Next's techniques mirror the original's Ultra Slash and Specium Beam (being his two primary attacks, especially nowadays).
- More on a Meta note, this Ultraman (and by extension the same one in Nexus) are revealed to be Noa, who was first named back in the original show as a bizarre Ultraman-like statue that the people of the desert city Barraj worshiped.
- Creepy Crows: In the penultimate battle, The One, in order to counter Ultraman's airborne form, begins absorbing what appears to be a thousand crows throughout the city, all which fuses into the monster's body, turning him into a far more powerful winged form to tackle Ultraman in aerial combat. The One's crow-like wings disperses back to a flock of crows after Ultraman slices them off.
- Darker and Edgier: Keeping in tone with Nexus, this film is a pretty realistic take on the series, meaning it's a bit darker than your standard Ultraman fare.
- Dark Is Evil: The One is a thoroughly dark looking creature, having mostly black colors.
- Delicate and Sickly: Tsuguma has a bad bill of health, which is what spurs Maki to resign from the military.
- Demonic Possession: The One takes Udo as his host and begins destroying his will and personality and transfiguring his body.
- The Determinator: Maki, though reluctantly at first, being essentially a prisoner of the government. Meeting with his family one last time before the final battle gives him the courage to face the One to protect them. He even pushes past his body's limits during the final battle for a heroic second wind, after Ultraman himself said it was over!
- Evil Counterpart: In this incarnation Ultraman evolves to suit his human host, while the monster mutates and transfigures his own human host.
- Face Death with Dignity: It's made pretty clear that Maki should have died after the final battle, but he seems at peace when Ultraman tries to apologize. Maki does end up surviving, and is able to take his son for a ride in his plane just like he promised, implied to be Ultraman's doing.
- Finishing Move: The iconic Specium Beam, of course (here called the Stratos Edge-Schtorm, apparently).
- Gondor Calls for Aid: The military shows up in the nick of time to save Ultraman during the final battle.
- Heroic Second Wind: When The Next is shot out of the sky and begins to plummet down to earth, Maki remembers his family and gathers the strength to rise up one last time. Potentially a downplayed moment since the One just proceeds to subdue him and eat his energy five seconds later.
- Heroism Motive Speech: When Ultraman tries to apologize to Maki during their final chat, Maki just says it was all fate, and then he goes on to explain:
- Hour of Power: As with all Ultra shows, Ultraman can only stay on Earth for a few minutes. In this case, it's because Maki's body can't take it.
- High-Altitude Battle: Ultraman and the One both gain the ability to fly during the Final Battle, resulting in the two of them having a dogfight 30,000 feet in the sky. Though the battle ends on the ground after Ultraman severs the One's wings.
- How Do I Shot Web?: Maki slowly learns how to use his new-found powers. When transformed the only thing he can do is punch things and only manages to launch an energy shot at the end of his first fight. By the second battle he's much more proficient. It's noted part of this is he and Ultraman haven't fully merged.
- I Am a Humanitarian: The One. Overlaps with To Serve Man as he very quickly stops being human.
- It Can Think: The One is no mindless beast, but fully sapient and actively malevolent.
- Kill the Ones You Love: Sara and Udo were in love before he became possessed by the One. The One exploits this multiple times to make her falter.
- Make My Monster Grow: Twice, for both Ultraman and The One. And the second time for both is a real growth spurt.
- Manipulative Bastard: The One, taking advantage of Sara's feelings for Udo so she won't kill him. It works the first time, but not the second, although he survives the attempt.
- New Powers as the Plot Demands: Justified with The One, who absorbs things to gain new abilities and more mass.
- Omnicidal Maniac: The One is this, through and through. He stops absorbing humans and starts rampaging and blowing up buildings just because he feels like it.
- One-Winged Angel: Whenever the One is overwhelmed, it will draw in and absorb hordes of animals in order to transform into a stronger form. Fittingly, his final form has gigantic wings.
- Reduced to Dust: Beast the One's fate after it's defeat in the hands of Ultraman Noa.
- Shape Shifter Guilt Trip: The One uses Udo's form to manipulate Sara twice. The first time by manifesting his face on its skin to prevent her from killing him when she had the chance. Later, just before the Final Battle, it turns into Udo fully in an attempt to get to her, but she sees through it, realizing the real Udo was already long dead.
- Title Drop: When explaining that the first monster to appear is "The One", Maki asks what Sara and the others will call him. She suggests "the Next". At the end of the film, people start referring to the mysterious red-and-silver giant as "Ultraman".
- With Great Power: A major theme of the movie. Maki is living the dream as a fighter pilot, but he decides to step down to spend time with his son, who may only have a year left to live. Once he's merged with Ultraman and thrust into the plot, he struggles with being the only one who can kill the Beast and going back to his family.