Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.

From the Land of Light, for all our sakes, here he comes, our Ultraman!

Ultraman is a Sci Fi Superhero television show in the Japanese Kaiju tradition, which aired on Tokyo Broadcasting System (TBS) from July 17, 1966 to April 9, 1967, with a total of 39 episodes (40, counting the pre-premiere special that aired on July 10, 1966). It was created by Eiji Tsuburaya from Tsuburaya Productions, a pioneer in special effects who was responsible for bringing Godzilla to life in 1954.

It is the second edition of the Ultra Franchise and the first to have an Ultraman.

The storyline begins in the near "future," established in one episode as the early 1990s. As with the Kaiju movies, e.g., Godzilla and his various oversized playmates, Earth is under the near-constant threat of attack by sinister aliens and giant monsters, most of them focusing, for obviously convenient reasons, on Japan. The Science Patrol, a special international police force, is the only organization on Earth capable of handling this barrage of threats, although even they are consistently overmatched. But little do they know, the second-in-command of the Patrol's Japanese headquarters, Hayata, can transform secretly into the giant super-humanoid from "a billion miles away," Ultraman.

The series begins when Hayata, flying his plane on a routine mission, inadvertently crosses paths with a red sphere of light (called a "ship," but more resembling a red crystal ball) containing Ultraman, who is pursuing an alien monster. Hayata is killed in the crash, and out of remorse, Ultraman merges his life essence with Hayata to resurrect him. From then on, Hayata serves as Ultraman's human form, and depresses a button on a cylindrical device called a Beta Capsule to transform into Ultraman in times of need -- almost always at 19 minutes into each 24-minute episode.

Ultraman stands 40 meters (130 feet) tall, weighs 35,000 tons, and is 20,000 Earth years old. He can fly at Mach 5 in essentially the same manner as Superman, has super-strength, and is in possession of various superpowers, sometimes rather surprising ones that only appear once. Most, but not all, of his special abilities involve animated energy beams or rings that he emits from his hands.

Upon first transforming from Hayata to Ultraman, a large disk in the center of his chest, his Warning Light (a.k.a. the Color Timer), shines a steady blue color. However, as he exerts himself, the Warning Light changes to red, then blinks with increasing rapidity, and a helpful narrator informs us, "The energy that Ultraman receives from the Sun diminishes rapidly in Earth's atmosphere. The Warning Light begins to blink. If the Warning Light should stop, Ultraman may never rise again".

Ultraman spawned a mini-genre of half-hour Kaiju action shows, such as Ambassador Magma (The Space Giants) which actually came 3 months before Ultraman, Johnny Sokko and the Flying Robot (a.k.a.: Giant Robo), and Spectreman, as well as several shows that extended the Ultraman lore. However, while many have been quite popular in Japan, no other Kaiju-based shows have been replayed with anywhere near the frequency as Ultraman in syndication in the United States.

Not to be confused with Superman's Evil Counterpart from Earth-3.

Tropes used in Ultraman include:
  • A Day in the Limelight (The Nintendo DS game Kaiju Busters functions as this for the Science Patrol. The game is a more sciency take on the Monster Hunter formula, featuring Science Patrol members who manage to defeat various classic Ultraman monsters without an Ultraman's help. Unless you unlock the hidden Legend Weapons, which are all red and silver with a little blue Warning Light/Color Timer on them, and are even created from Specium ore.)
  • All Myths Are True (If a legend exists about an ancient monster, you can bet Ultraman's going to have to fight it in the next half hour.)
  • Applied Phlebotinum (far too many examples to list, mostly employed and/or sought after by the Science Patrol.)
  • Attack of the 50-Foot Whatever
  • Arch Nemesis (Baltan aliens)
  • Badass: Ultraman, of course, do you even need to ask?
  • Badass Normal (Gomora is nothing more than an extraordinarily large Earth dinosaur, and its only special ability is tunneling through the ground (which it doesn't use in combat), yet it is the only monster to fight Ultraman to a draw.)
  • Blob Monster
  • Combat Tentacles
  • Cool Gun (The Science Patrol standard-issue Supergun, as well as the Mars 133/Ichi-San-San.)
  • Critical Annoyance (Ultraman's Warning Light/Color Timer may even be the Trope Maker.)
  • Dungeonmaster's Girlfriend (Hoshino, a young boy who becomes the Science Patrol's unofficial mascot.)
  • Eye Lights Out: After Zetton defeated him.
  • Energy Weapon
  • Expository Theme Tune (interestingly, the US/English version of the theme song is far more expository than the original Japanese version, or it may be just a case of cultural difference: both praise Ultraman, but the English version stresses his powers, and how he saves the day, while the Japanese version praises him in far more abstract/metaphorical ways -- "he is our Shining Star," etc.)
  • Family-Unfriendly Violence - Despite most series being kid's shows, monsters, and sometimes Ultras are often blown up, have limbs sliced off, or are brutally killed.
  • Frickin' Laser Beams
  • Henshin Hero (Hayata has no super-powers while in human form.)
  • Hey, It's That Voice! (Alien Mephilias is voiced by Kato Seizo in his first tokusatsu role.)
    • And of course the US dub was handled by Peter Fernandez and his team - better known as Speed Racer, Racer X, Trixi, et al
  • Hour of Power (It became a hallmark of the series that after transforming, Ultraman only had a few minutes [usually three] to deal with the monster or he'd die)
  • Implacable Mon (Zetton. None of Ultraman's ability work against it.)
  • Improbable Weapon User
  • Kaiju
  • Last-Episode New Character: Zoffy, Ultraman's superior officer in his home planet, only appears in the final episode of this series, but goes on to become a key character in subsequent Ultra shows and movies.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall The opening shot of the second episode appears to be Ide talking about how he got his black eye to someone we can't see - but he tells his story directly to the camera.
  • Master of Delusion
  • Meaningful Name: Zetto (last letter of the Latin alphabet) + N (last letter of the Japanese language) = Zetton, the ultimate alien badass.
  • Monster of the Week (Again, if not the source of this trope, Ultraman is an archetypal example.)
    • Mascot Mook Red King, Gomora, Zetton, Baltan, Mephilas, Sadora, and Pigmon just to name a few.
  • Name's the Same (Superman had an evil counterpart also named Ultraman, who preceded the series by about two years.)
    • Also, the main character of the TV series My Secret Identity called himself "Ultraman", but never actually used such an identity.
  • New Powers as the Plot Demands (Who knew Ultraman could just levitate the monsters when necessary? And wouldn't that have come in handy in, um, most of the other episodes?)
    • In the second Baltan-seijin episode, while he and a few others are stranded on Venus while Earth is under attack, he suddenly gains the power of interplanetary teleportation. Convenient.
  • People in Rubber Suits
  • Plucky Comic Relief (Science Patrol member Ide, known as Ito in the English dubbed version, is a bumbling, cowardly klutz who is also the team's weapons designer. Subverted in a couple of episodes, wherein Ide/Ito actually provides the most tear-jerkingly dramatic moments.)
  • Powered Armor
  • Reality Warper: Bullton.
  • Recycled in Space
  • Reluctant Monster (Pigmon, who despite being quite monstrous-looking is only human-sized and just wants to help people.)
  • Rings of Death (The Ultra Slash, a razor sharp energy ring that the hero occasionally uses to slice the Monster of the Week in half -- or on one occasion, in thirds.)
  • Rocket Punch
  • Shoe Phone
  • Sizeshifter
  • Spell My Name with an "S"
  • The Smurfette Principle (Fuji is the only female member at the Japanese Science Patrol headquarters, and what's worse, she's the communications officer.)
  • Strictly Formula
  • Super-Powered Alter Ego (Ultraman is this to Hayata)
  • Super Speed
  • Symbiotic Possession: The reason Ultraman takes a human host is to save Hayata's life, and in exchange Ultraman gets to stay on Earth. They remain two distinct beings, and in the last episode, they separate to let Hayata stay on Earth while the big guy goes back to M-78 to recover after his defeat at the hands of Zetton.
  • Tokyo Is the Center of the Universe
  • Toku
  • Transformation Sequence
  • Transformation Trinket (the Beta Capsule)
  • Traveling At the Speed of Plot
  • True Companions: The Science Patrol.
  • Wham! Episode ("Don't Shoot, Arashi!" Arashi, the team's shooter, goes off-policy and opens fire on a monster during an incident where there are large groups of schoolchildren present who are at risk from his actions. He gets (temporarily) drummed out of the Science Patrol as a result.)
    • Also, Gomora's fight with Ultraman that resulted in a draw brought kids to shock, as Ultraman lost a fight for the first time in the shows run.
      • "My Home Is Earth", a beautifully-shot episode where the MOTW is revealed to be a Space Race astronaut named Yamila who was mutated by exposure to an alien atmosphere and painstakingly repaired his ship to return to Earth, only to be hunted down by the Science Patrol because his return threatened to expose the cover story over his initial disappearance. Emotions run wild amongst the group, with Plucky Comic Relief Ide symphasizing with his plight as a pioneer of science, and eventually Yamila dies writhing in pain in the mud at the doorsteps of a World Peace Conference. A memorial plaque is placed in this spot, but Ide bitterly notes that the lofty words of politicians mean nothing compared to their actions.
  • What Do You Mean Its Not Symbolic (Frequent use of crosses and Christian symbolism (especially the famous "sign of the cross" gesture Ultraman makes to invoke the Specium Beam; creator Tsuburaya was a (Catholic) Christian. Despite this, there are occasional nods to Shinto and Buddhist traditions, most notably an instance of the hero Hayata praying in a manner that Western Christians would condemn as idolatry. Also, in another episode, the Science Patrol arranges a Buddhist memorial service to pray for the repose of the souls of the monsters they've been obliged to kill.)
  • What If: The Ultraman Fighting Evolution 3 game had an unlockable Alternate Ending to the Final Battle. If you hold off Zetton long enough as Ultraman before losing, Zoffy arrives in time to fight Zetton himself instead of after him. After destroying Zetton, things essentually progress the same as the series did.
  • When Trees Attack (Greenmons.)
  • Worthy Opponent (On several occasions. One of the most notable is episode 10, when Ultraman has to deal with a Godzilla Expy (it was in fact an old Godzilla suit with a ruff around it's neck) in Scotland; after the battle in which Ultraman vanquishes the monster, ripping the ruff off his neck during the fight, Ultraman respectfully -- in fact, tenderly -- replaces the ruff around his defeated enemy's neck.)
    • Ultraman makes a distinct effort to try to avoid killing his enemy on several occasions if there's a chance he can fulfill his mission while preserving his opponent's life (for instance, in the Gabadon episode).