Sunday, September 25, 2011


Tomorrow, we launch a new, ongoing feature here at All Monsters Blog! I'm calling it ULTRAMAN MONDAYS. For the next 39 weeks, every Monday I will review an episode from the original Ultraman television series, moving in chronological order from premiere to finale. Since Ultraman debuted in 1967 during the giant monster (daikaiju) craze in Japan, prepare to start your weeks with a healthy dose of campy model spaceships, cheap rubber-suited monsters, and giant alien superheroes. It's like sugary cereal for your eyes.

Some of you, like me until recently, may be unfamiliar with Ultraman. In Ultraman, evil aliens and giant monsters appear to threaten the earth and its people. These creatures are investigated and stopped by members of the International Science Police Organization's Science Special Search Party (or just "Space Patrol" in the English dub). In the first episode, a deadly accident occurs and Science Patrol member Shin Hayata is saved from death when a benevolent alien space-cop from "The Land Of Light," Nebula M78, fuses with Hayata's life force. Now, whenever the Science Patrol needs help, Hayata uses a device known as the Beta capsule to unlock his alien power and become Ultraman, a 131 feet tall alien superhero. Each episode he battles a different monster.

"Suck it, Jet Jaguar."
Ultraman originally aired in Japan, but it did reach American shores in 1968 with an English dub. While a small number of western fans got to watch the adventures of Ultraman, few realized the show was actually the followup series to another sci-fi/fantasy show in Japan: Ultra Q. Ultra Q was a sort of Japanese fusion of The Outer Limits' monster-of-the-week structure and the kaiju monster explosion that had compelled Godzilla and Gamera into popularity. Ultra Q (January 1966- July 1966) was a black-and-white series about a pilot with a passion for science fiction, his assistant pilot, and a newspaper photographer who would stumble upon and then investigate strange phenomena (often involving giant monsters). Ultra Q was created by special effects wizard Eiji Tsuburaya, the man who helped bring Godzilla to life for Toho before starting Tsuburaya Productions in 1966 to produce Ultra Q and then Ultraman.

Toho's Godzilla costume is redressed to star as a new monster in Ultra Q
So what's the connection between Ultra Q and Ultraman? Nothing really except an interest in monsters and sci-fi fantasy. There's no ties in overt continuity (although Ultraman would reuse monster suits from Ultra Q, which itself reused Tsuburaya`s monster suits from Toho`s Godzilla creature features). The popularity of Ultra Q's giant monsters, however, served as a launching pad for Ultraman which brought audiences even more monsters and colourful sci-fi/fantasy diversions.

Ultra destruction!
Starting tomorrow, we will devote every Monday to reviewing an episode of the original Ultraman series. Tomorrow, we'll begin with the first broadcast episode; however, it's worth pointing out that the first episode was not the first appearence of Ultraman on TV. To prepare kids for the coming of Ultraman, the last episode of Ultra Q was preempted in order to show "The Birth of Ultraman," a special live stage performance to introduce the cast, characters, and concept of Ultraman. Here's an undubbed clip:

Ready for some giant monster mayhem? Then I'll see you tomorrow as I look at the first episode of Ultraman: "Ultra Operation #1".

What's your favorite Ultraman episode? Post in the comments.

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