The original Ultraman is an unparalleled sci-fi TV classic, and one that has had a tremendous amount of influence in the realm of Japanese fantasy fiction after its initial debut 55 years ago. However, even after the successful long-running TV spinoffs, movies, toys, Marvel comic books, and many more pieces of memorabilia and follow-ups, the original show is still in a class all its own. However, for someone new to the series, what makes this show special, aside from being the first?
Ultraman features the title hero, a Giant of Light from a distant galaxy, arriving on Earth and fusing with SSSP member Shin Hayata after Ultraman’s craft accidentally collides with his during Ultraman’s pursuit of the monster Bemular. Now a single united being, whenever the SSSP finds itself outmatched by giant monsters (called Kaiju) and alien invaders, Hayata uses the Beta Capsule to transform into Ultraman and save the day!
Ultraman himself is quite a unique being compared to most superheroes. Standing at 40 meters, Ultraman is as tall as a skyscraper. Armed with an array of amazing attacks such as his Spacium Beam, a powerful ray of light from his folded arms that can vanquish foes; the Ultra Slash, which can bisect opponents into kanji sushi; and the Ultra Barrier, which can deflect any energy-based attacks from his opponents. What other strange powers does Ultraman have at his disposal? Tune in to find out!
However, Ultraman’s greatest strength is his compassion. While he may be an alien from across the universe, Ultraman is capable of caring and kindness. He isn’t just a monster-battling giant, he’s a defender. Ultraman, despite his stoic exterior, cares not only for humanity, but for non-humans as well. Ultraman’s appreciation of all life is the driving force behind his heroic deeds. This is what causes him to remain on Earth in the first episode. Instead of letting Shin Hayata die, he fuses their lives together, granting Hayata a second chance, as well as granting Ultraman a human’s perspective.
A great hero needs a fine supporting cast, and the Special Science Search Party (SSSP) fits the bill. A special team dedicated to defending Earth against all sorts of strange invaders. Leading the charge is Capt. Muramatsu, a fatherly leader who places his direct trust in his team. There’s also the hot-blooded sharpshooter Arashi, a man who boldly battles Kaiju and aliens with the SSSP’s Spider-Shot gun. Creating the team’s weapons and gadgets is the goofy inventor Ide, a man with a comical demeanor, but also with a big heart. And lastly, there’s Fuji, the team’s communications officer, who, despite her title, always joins her comrades in battle. Together, the SSSP serves as a force to be reckoned with…until Ultraman’s help is needed of course!
You can always judge a hero’s worth by the enemies they fight, and the rogue’s gallery of Ultraman is by far one of the most colorful and unique in the annals of sci-fi TV. Ultraman’s most famous rival are the Baltan aliens, a species of insectoid space ninjas, the Baltans accidentally destroyed their home world and seek to make the Earth a replacement. Other foes include alien Zarab, who seeks to ruin Ultraman’s reputation on Earth, as well as the surreal and frightening Dada and thesinister and cunning Mephilas. Not all of Ultraman’s threats come from spacethough, as the Earth is home to several monsters who are just as dangerous! There’s the invisible, electricity eating Neronga, the acid spitting Aboras, the belligerent and violent Red King, as well as the prince of monsters, Gomora!
Ultraman stunned family audiences when it debuted in the 1960s, because Tsuburaya Productions successfully endeavored to bring feature film special effects (called tokusatsu in Japan) onto TV screens on a weekly basis. The series featured miniature vehicles and spacecraft, even whole miniature cities in which Ultraman and his Kaiju foes battled. Trick photography, rotoscoped animations, and highly detailed Ultra and creature costumes vividly conveyed the action on an epic scale, and continues to do so to this day.
There is a whole galaxy of Kaiju that Ultraman and the SSSP encounter, some of whom have recurred throughout the franchise’s 55 years. Ultraman takes viewers into thrilling, rip-roaring adventures with a memorable cast of characters and monsters that have endured for half a century and is sure continue for just as long, if not longer. To learn more about the series that began from here, stay connected to Ultraman Connection!