(Karakuri Dōji Urutimo)
|Genre||Action, mecha, superhero|
|Created by||Stan Lee|
|Karakuri Dôji Ultimo Chapter: 0|
|Written by||Stan Lee|
|Illustrated by||Hiroyuki Takei|
|Published||April 18, 2008|
|Written by||Stan Lee|
|Illustrated by||Hiroyuki Takei|
|Imprint||Jump Comics SQ.|
|Original run||March 2009 – October 2015|
Ultimo (機巧童子ULTIMO, Karakuri Dōji Urutimo, literally Mechanical Boy: Ultimo) is a Japanese manga series created by American comic writer Stan Lee (and his production company Pow Entertainment) and illustrated by Hiroyuki Takei. The plot of the story depicts a conflict between good and evil, implicated through the Karakuri Dôji created by the character Dr. Dunstan. The pilot chapter "Karakuri Dôji Ultimo Chapter: 0" (機巧童子 ウルティモ: ゼロ, "Karakuri Dōji ULTIMO: Zero") was originally published in a special issue of Jump Square, called Jump SQ.II, on April 18, 2008. The series Ultimo was first serialized in Jump Square in March 2009, and it continued monthly serialization. Shueisha also published Ultimo in tankōbon format—the first published on July 3, 2009, and the fifth on November 4, 2010.
Viz Media later licensed the manga for an English language adaptation in North America and published "Chapter: 0" in the September 2008 issue of Shonen Jump. In promotion of the English adaptation, a press conference was held at the 2008 New York Comic Con with promotional artwork. The series Ultimo was serialized monthly in Shonen Jump, beginning in the July 2009 issue and ending serialization in the February 2011 issue. It is now published directly into volumes, each containing multiple chapters of the series. Starting from volume 7, Ultimo was changed to Shonen Jump Advanced while it was marked as just Shonen Jump in volumes 1-6.
Ultimo and Vice were created in feudal Japan to be "perfect good" and "perfect evil" as Dr. Dunstan's "last curse upon this world." A thousand years later, a monster wearing a Noh mask wreaks havoc in Farmless City of West Tokyo, while the S.K.A.T. Police unit cannot stop it. Ultimo plunges in to destroy the monster, explaining that the creature is about to show its true form, Vice, Ultimo's evil counterpart. The mechanical boys end their fight both badly damaged, and the movement of select groups around Japan begins.
Yamato Agari is a 21st-century reincarnation of a bandit from the Heian period. As in the past, Yamato meets the "Karakuri Dôji", mechanical boys, that transform his otherwise normal life into a battle of good versus evil. Immediately after Yamato meets the dôji Ultimo, another one called Vice appears, and he barely escapes from their fight. Now acquainted with Ultimo, Yamato is confronted by many other dôji, both evil and good.
Yamato's fights become increasingly dangerous as the fifteen prominent dôji meet on the day of the "Hundred Machine Funeral," the last day of the world as we know it. With imminent destruction at hand, Yamato uses Ultimo's ability to bring the world back to the day he first meets the dôji. In order to avoid the catastrophe from repeating itself, Yamato plans to learn for himself the meanings of "good and evil" by meeting each of the dôji himself.
Dunstan later reveals that the Hundred Machine Funeral isn't a fight to the death, which most of the doji believed; they are instead supposed to try winning a Good/Evil doji over to their side within a time limit. The side that has the most doji on it at the end of the time limit is the winner. Observing the contest for Dunstan is his own daughter.
The major characters in Ultimo possess their own Karakuri Dôji, humanoid dolls each based on the Six Perfections or Seven Deadly Sins, good or evil respectively.
Ultimo was first announced as an unnamed work between Stan Lee, the co-creator of iconic superhero titles such as Spider-Man and X-Men, and Hiroyuki Takei, the creator of Shaman King. According to Stan Lee in an audio interview, he was called by Dream Ranch and JEA who said that they wanted him to create a manga with them, and that it was to be published by Shueisha. Stan Lee stated that he has never made a comic about two robots of the same level of power, with one not being as heroic as the other. In conceptualizing Ultimo, Stan Lee wanted to create something that both Japanese and American readers would enjoy. The first fully colorized picture of Vice and Ultimo was released on the Jump Square website on April 4, 2008. The pilot chapter was finally finished and published in Jump SQ. II.
I am deeply honored for this great opportunity to collaborate with an award-winning artist/writer of the stature of Hiroyuki Takei. I enthusiastically expect that the combination of an American story-telling style merged with Takei-san's acclaimed Japanese style will result in our joint creation Ultimo presenting an original, exciting type of manga that will appeal to comic book fans around the world.
On the same day as the release, Viz hosted a press event in the Shonen Jump panel, attended by Stan Lee, Takanori Asada (Jump Square editor), and Marc Weidenbaum (Shonen Jump editor-in-chief) at the 2008 New York Comic Con. Two promotional art pieces by Hiroyuki Takei were created, one with Ultimo and the other with Dr. Dunstan both including the manga's logo. "I'm so happy that we can work with such a great creator as Stan Lee. I am so happy that two great actors are working together, and I know that Ultimo will be a great work," said Takanori Asada at the press event.
Main article: List of Ultimo chapters
The 32-page pilot chapter "Karakuri Dôji Ultimo Chapter: 0" premiered in the first issue of Jump SQ.II on April 18, 2008, with the first three pages in full color. The first three pages were earlier revealed as part of a preview for Jump SQ. II on Shueisha's S-Manga.Net. "Chapter: 0" was later adapted into English by Viz Media, and published in the September 2008 issue of their Shonen Jump manga anthology, which went on sale on August 5, 2008.
The main series Ultimo continued publication in the main Jump Square anthology, beginning serialization in its March 2009 issue. Viz Media has licensed the series for North American distribution in Shonen Jump, and it was serialized starting in its July 2009 issue.
The English translation of the Ultimo pilot chapter was reviewed by Leroy Douresseaux of Comic Book Bin. "This prologue of Ultimo doesn’t really offer enough to evaluate it, except to say that the dialogue and exposition are awkward and clunky enough to seem like the work of an amateur rather than a seasoned veteran" said Leroy Douresseaux. Leroy referred to Ultimo as a blend of mecha manga, Dragon Ball, and Green Lantern. "I’m too intrigued to be disappointed by what I read. Stan Lee’s best work was created when he riffed off unique and powerfully imaginative creators (Jack Kirby and Steve Ditko), so I’m curious to see what this combo of Lee and a manga-ka like Takei can do."
Viz Media has announced that both creators of the Ultimo action manga — American comic pioneer Stan Lee and Shaman King creator Hiroyuki Takei — will appear at the publisher's Shonen Jump panel at San Diego's Comic-Con International on July 24.