Young boys and girls jumped up in excitement shouting, "Ultraman!" when three characters from the iconic series appeared on stage during an event in Kuala Lumpur in November.

The Japanese superhero, who premiered in 1966 in the live-action special effects (tokusatsu) television series bearing his name, has been defending mankind against monsters (kaiju) and aliens for half a century and remains hugely popular not only in Japan, but in other countries such as China and Thailand.

In Malaysia, where the television series has been broadcast for many years, Ultraman is a household name. "He's the hero who protects Earth, so now that I've become a parent I let my children watch the series, too," a father in the audience at the November event said, holding his son.