As stated last week, I often like to look at a new year and review something I’ve not reviewed yet. So, if we don’t count my reviewing of Ultra Q from last year, let us go and look at the very first episode of Ultraman!
Ultraman is the second of the Ultra series by Tsubaraya productions and started in 1966. It’s a Kaiju Super hero Tokusatsu show featuring a giant monster of the week formula. Best way to describe it is the Megazord fights from Power Rangers but most of the time skipping the small monster part.
After the jazzy opening sung by Japanese children (at least I think they are given the sound of their voices) we are introduced to members of the Science Special Search Party or SSSP who are tasked with looking into anomalies and protecting Earth from extra-terrestrial invasion. Shin Hayata is out in his jet thingy and observes two orbs, one chasing the other. The Blue Orb landing in a lake which begins to boil but he soon collides with the chasing red orb and dies. The Jet and the red orb crashing into the ground together.
Hayata’s corpse soon rises up and is encased in the red orb, and he is talked to by a strange figure. The figure identifies himself as an alien from Nebula M78 who was taking the criminal Bemular to a space graveyard, identifying himself basically as a space policeman. Feeling remorse that Hayata’s death was his cause he says he will merge with Hayata to save his life and gives him the Beta Capsule, that when used will swap Hayata for the alien, and then the orb explodes to the shock of the gathered people watching all this.
As the other members of the SSSP arrive all they find is the crashed jet and the story from the watchers about the red orb. But then Bemular the escaped prisoner shows up, emerging from the lake. Now if this was another show it would be some human sized alien, but this is Ultraman so in comes a (profanity) KAIJU! towering over man. Then it goes back into the water after having been zapped a few times by the SSSP showing us humans aren’t useless in Ultraman they are quite capable of fighting against the threat, maybe not enough to take it down but at least enough to hinder it.
Of course the highlight of the episode is thus the battle between Bemular and Ultraman. It is best described as professional wrestling with special effects. We get some of our first introductions to Ultraman (who is also giant, just need to make that clear) and some of his abilities, but also that the light on his chest changes from blue to a blinking red as the fight goes on revealing that Ultraman has a time limit in which to be active, creating a sense of tension. But eventually Ultraman triumphing finishing him off with his signature Spacium Beam and flying up into the sky.
Ultraman is a very fun show, yeah, the early series looks dated and you can see some issues with the costume, but the design of the head improves with later episodes and heck this was 1966, go look at what we were making at that time and say it looks better?