Ultraman: The Next, released in Japan simply as Ultraman (ウルトラマン, Urutoraman) is a 2004 Japanese science fiction superhero film directed by Kazuya Konaka and produced by Tsuburaya Productions. The film is a reimagining of the Ultraman character and franchise, and is part of the “Ultra N Project“, a three-phase experiment aimed to reinvent the franchise for an older audience. Ultraman: The Next was released in Japan on December 18, 2004 and had its American premiere at Grauman’s Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood on June 25, 2005.
First Lieutenant Shunichi Maki of the Japan Air Self-Defense Force is a prestigious F-15 Eagle jet pilot. A lifelong fan of flying since he was a child, being a pilot is his ultimate dream. Unfortunately, his duties distance himself from his wife, Yoko, who feels neglected, and his son, Tsugumu, who has a possibly terminal congenital blood disease.
Maki decides to quit the Air Force to devote more time to his family and to spend whatever time is left with his son. He takes a part-time job as a commercial tour guide for a kindly group of people who allow him time to take care of his family.
Prior to quitting, Maki and his flight partner Yamashima are alerted to a strange red light streaking towards Japan, and Maki’s plane passes through the red light seemingly without any damage. He suffers no ill effects other than strange images briefly playing out in his mind. He later discovers that the images are telepathic messages from a strange being that exists in the red light.