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Series / Return of Ultraman

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He has returned...
He has returned...

Return of Ultraman (1971) is the fourth (fifth, if you count Ultra Fight) entry in the Ultra Series. Created by Tsuburaya Productions, this time the series was spearheaded by Eiji Tsuburaya's son Hajime Tsuburaya, and brought the series back to traditional monster-fighting after the more experimental Ultraseven and into mainstream popularity once again. The show played a big part during Toku's transition from movies to television, and a big player during the "Henshin Boom" era launched by Kamen Rider's popularity.

Plotwise it goes like this: After 3 years without an Ultra warrior to defend Earth, the Monster Attack Team is commissioned to battle various giant creatures, and has achieved limited success, but with an ever growing array of opponents, the human race is getting overwhelmed in a new "Second Age of Monsters".

Suddenly, an Ultra warrior appears who looks similar to the original Ultraman, which leads people to believe that the original has returned to help Earth. In reality, this Ultra warrior has arrived on Earth for the first time. His name is Jack, which is unbeknownst to everyone. The Japanese public and M.A.T. simply call him "Ultraman" or "New Man".

Jack battles one of the creatures rampaging and during his battle, race car driver Goh Hideki heroically rescues some innocents from the destruction, but is killed doing so. After Jack defeats the monster, Jack feels remorse about Goh's death and merges with him, leading to a recovery and a subconscious command to join M.A.T. in order to help out the brave humans who came to aid him during his first fight on Earth.

With a new purpose in his life, Goh balances his life in three ways — to be a heroic member of M.A.T., a race car driver who loves his girlfriend very much, and a human guide for Jack to ease his mission on Earth against the hordes of evil monsters and alien invaders.

Return of Ultraman provides examples of the following tropes

  • Alien Abduction: Alien Black's plan in Episode 40.
  • All Your Base Are Belong to Us: Twice. In Episode 38, after Alien Knackle jams all communications to the MAT base, he uses the phrase just before blowing up the MAT Space Station. In the last episode, Alien Bat destroys the MAT base.
  • An Ass-Kicking Christmas: Episodes 37 & 38.
  • Artifact Title: This is a different Ultraman. The title alludes to the original show, whose main character was originally supposed to return to Earth. Though it can be considered similar to what happened when Miles Morales became the new Spider-Man; new character, same title.
  • Arch-Nemesis: Zetton from the original series returns to fight Jack after being revived by Bat. However, Jack manages to defeat Zetton and Bat in the end.
  • Big Bad: Many aliens throughout the series, although the ones that come to mind are Knuckle (episodes 37 and 38) and Bat (last episode)
  • Big Damn Heroes: MAT pulled this almost every episode. Oka pulled one by herself on her teammates to save Goh in Episode 38.
  • Blessed with Suck: Hideki Goh's personal life is more affected by being an Ultra than most human hosts.
  • Brainwashed and Crazy: M.A.T. in episode 38. Oka and Goh set them straight.
  • The Boxing Episode: Episode 27, Go to Hell with this One Blow! have Goh befriending a boxer and training with him for a championship match. In the end of the episode, Jack's fight against Monster of the Week Gronken is intercut with the boxer fighting on a ring.
  • Butt-Monkey: Poor Jack. Throughout the franchise he's been subject to several abuses...
    • A second monster sneaking up on him during a fight (a few times)
    • Fighting to exhaustion (as in, color timer going out)
    • Being gored (King Saurus III)
    • Bitten (many kaiju)
    • Magnetised and zapped by Magnedon
    • Torn to shreds by Snowgon
    • Crucifixion (the first time happened after transforming and using up his powers twice in twenty-four hours, a big no-no for the original)
    • Decapitation (in the latter part of the show)
    • Freezing solid (led to decap and Literally Shattered Lives at the hands of Snowgon)
    • Having his Ultra Bracelet turn on him (Episode 31)
    • Encapsulated and turned into a Jade statue by Alien Hipporito in Ace.
    • Very nearly dying and having his body deflate after his Color Timer was torn out by Dorobon in Taro.
    • Getting whooped and gagged in Leo.
    • Lost two of his friends in a cruel attack meant to hurt his spirit.
  • Calling Your Attacks: An early franchise example in Episode 51, the series finale, when Jack throws Zetton II into the air:
  • Chekhov's Gunman/Irony: The doctor who declared Goh dead in the first episode is the same doctor who declared Aki and Ken Sakata dead in "Ultraman Dies at Twilight".
  • Continuity Reboot
    • Sort of a complicated example of this. Ultraseven is still debated among fans to be in its own separate continuity, however this series creates a new timeline that establishes Ultra Seven took place in 1967 instead of the 1980s like it was originally stated. It was originally supposed to be the original returned to Earth.
    • This can apply to the original Ultraman series as well, which was said to have been set in 1993 in an episode.
  • Couch Gag: Like Series/Ultraman before it, this show's opening sequence lists the name and description of the Monster of the Week/alien appearing in an episode, while "Monster Island SOS" has a clip of kaijuu Dangar with its name/description superimposed on the screen. The following episode goes back to the former style.
    • "Ultraman Dies At Twilight" only credits Black King, while "When the Ultra Star Shines" only credits Alien Nackle.
  • Cue the Sun
    • Goh's conversation with Ultraman Jack at the end of the first episode, set to a sunrise on a mountain top.
    • Jack's defeat against Gudon and Twin Tail (beginning of episode 6).
    • Alien Knackle and Black King's double-teaming Jack, ending at sunset with a couple of vessels taking a crucified Jack away (episode 37).
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Jack vs. Alien Knackle + Black King (he turns this around on them later). Before that, Jack vs. Gudon and Twin Tail.
  • Creepy Child: Teruo, the alien boy from episode 31, the same one who turns the Ultra Bracelet on Ultraman Jack. He was so devious, even Captain Hibiki wouldn't believe Goh when he first became suspicious of the kid. All the same, Hibiki saved the day.
  • Darker and Edgier: Although not actually tonally darker than Ultraseven, the characters reacted to events around them far more realistically than previous Ultra series.
  • A Day In The Lime Light: Episode 11 gives focus to MAT member Kishida due to learning about his military father having a dark history with mustard gas. While Minami gets to shine in episode 25 when he reveals he was a quiet bullied child and bonds with a similar one. In Between a Devil and an Angel gives a strong focus on Ibuki. While Oka wasn't exactly the star and hero of The Targeted Woman she was given a little more focus than usual. In the pen-ultimate episode Ueno is given some limelight as he struggles to find out how and why his mentor died while protecting his friend.
  • Deus ex Machina: The Ultra Bracelet was this in episode 40, after Jack lost to Snowgon. Ultra Seven was this in Episode 18, when he delivered it.
  • Diabolus ex Machina: Aliens Knackle and Bat, as well as Bemstar.
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Jack in episode 23 as he destroys the planet eating cloud Vacuumon by going inside of him and using the Ultra Bracelet to chop him up (causing him to explode of course).
  • Do Not Adjust Your Set:
    • Alien Knackle jammed communications at the M.A.T. base and showed his true face to M.A.T. this way in episode 38.
    • Beakon would broadcast plane crashes caused by its own EM interference.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: In episode 37, Goh jumped off the roof of a hospital, only to transform as he fell. Otherwise, it looked like he was trying to kill himself.
  • Dramatic Timpani: Examples are not limited to: the end of the opening theme song, at the moment Goh leaves the hospital to fight Black King in Episode 37, and when Jack fights Alien Knackle and Black King in the following episode.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Vacuumon, a cosmic horror that seems more like a living mass of darkness than a monster. It roams the universe, devouring every planet in its path].
  • Establishing Character Moment: The first episode has one for Jiro Sakata. When he hears about Takkong and Zazahn, he run into his brother's shop, gets the largest wrench he can find, and runs toward the rampage.
    • Hideki Goh gets one of his own when he goes after Jiro, then saves a boy and his dog in a collapsing building.
  • Evil Doppelgänger: Hideki Goh had one in Episode 10 of Ultraman Ace.
  • Evil Twin: The plot of episode 49 with the Mystellar brothers.
  • Eye Lights Out: The hero had this happen to him a few times.
  • Fantastic Racism: Said about Ultraman Jack in Ep. 37:
    "Not quite human, not quite alien... He's a freak!"
  • First-Episode Resurrection: On par for the course...
  • Flaw Exploitation: Alien Knackle had Aki and Ken Sakata killed to push Ultraman over the edge and force him into a fight he couldn't win.
  • Gravity Sucks: Ultraman Jack lost his initial fight with Bemstar. He flew into the Sun to recharge, just like his predecessor did one time, but the Sun's gravity pulled him in. Fortunately, Seven saved him.
  • Hero of Another Story: Ultraman and Ultraseven, both Ultras in "When the Ultra Star Shines" and the latter in "Ultraseven arrives"
  • Heroic BSoD: Goh had such a moment in Ep. 37 after the deaths of Ken and Aki, which is precisely what Knackle intended.
  • Heroic Second Wind: Inspired by Seven and Ultraman's rescue, Jack stands up and delivers a Curb-Stomp Battle to Black King and Alien Knackle.
  • Horror Doesn't Settle for Simple Tuesday: In-universe and meta-example. Episodes 37 & 38 take place around Christmas (Jiro wishes "Merry Christmas" to Goh at one point), and aired Dec. 17 and 24 in 1971 (Christmas Eve in America) note  Now it wouldn't be hard to picture just how miserable Goh and Jiro were...
    • Turns out Christmas in Japan holds special meaning for couples, especially sweethearts. Poor Goh.
  • Humans Are Bastards: Episode 33 featuring benevolent alien call Meits, who came to Earth for observation. He took care of an orphan boy, who often got bullied by villagers. When the boy was accused of being an alien, he showed up to protect him and got beaten to death. You can't blame Goh for just standing there and watch as the alien Muruchi, previously trapped in a pocket dimension of Meits's psychic, caused havoc on the town.
  • Ice Queen: Snowgon
  • Injured Limb Episode: Jack defeats Robonez early in one episode, but gets his arm chewed by the kaiju in the process, leaving behind an injury on Goh which sticks around. In fact, Alien Messie, the master of Robonez, exploits this in the penultimate battle near the end by grabbing and squeezing at Jack's injured arm!
  • Kansas City Shuffle: The Big Bad's plan in episode 37 from Goh's point of view, until his BSOD.
  • MacGuffin:
    • Satan-Z (Saturn-Z?) in episodes 37 and 38.
    • The Monster Sonar in "Monster Island SOS"
    • The Ultra Bracelet in "Ultraseven arrives"
  • Meaningful Echo: From Episode 37
    Aki: Don't worry. I'll get the best watchmaker on the case right away.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Aki Sakata. And briefly, Yuriko Oka.
  • Mythology Gag
    • Kingsaurus III from episode 4 is referred to as "The Third" as he is the third "king" monster of the franchise (after Red King from the original series and Eleking from Seven). Very few fans are aware of this, though.
    • Detton from episode 3 is also referred to as the brother of Telesdon from the original series considering the same suit is used with a different head.
    • The appearances of Aliens Zetton and Baltan.
    • The plot of a certain two-part episode is similar to Episodes 39 and 40 of the previous show.
    • Seven once flew into the Sun to recharge, successfully. When Jack did it, it didn't work out.
  • Names to Run Away from Really Fast: An object for a change. Saturn-Z, or "Hell on Earth", an explosive compound 6000 times more powerful than nitroglycerin. Created by humans for peaceful purposes (like blowing up mountains along western Japan to produce a cooler climate across the archipelago), coveted by Knackle aliens for their planned invasion of Earth.
  • Narrator: Akira Nagoya
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: The Japanese army in episode 13, where they attack Seamons against MAT warnings. This angers Seagorath, who almost immediately causes a tsunami and floods Tokyo. They do this again in the next episode, which ends up prompting the two to create a tornado.
  • No Good Deed Goes Unpunished:
    • Goh saves Jiro, a second kid, and a dog from Zazahn and Takkong. For his trouble, he gets pinned down in a cave-in, dies (temporarily), and his favorite race car is burned down to honor him. On the other hand, Ultraman Jack revived him, and he joined MAT.
    • A very dark example is the death of Aki Sakata, as she was on her way back from having Goh's watch fixed at the jeweler's when Alien Knackle and his mooks grabbed her, threw her in a car, terrorized her, and dragged her as she tried to jump off the moving vehicle. Not to mention, Ken was run over as he tried to stop them.
    • In "Monster Island SOS", Minami flew to New York on a mission to deliver the Monster Sonar instead of Gohnote , who was going on a hiking trip with Jiro and Aki. Then, his plane crash landed on the titular island in the Pacific. When Goh flew in to rescue him, Goh himself crash landed as well.
  • No-Holds-Barred Beatdown: Knackle and Black King give Jack one, spending several minutes brutally beating him unconscious. Notably one of the few times an Ultra has lost by being beaten so badly they're physically incapable of fighting back, rather than running out of time and reverting to their host.
  • No-Sell: Against Bemstar (before he got the Ultra Bracelet) and Black King (with the Ultra Bracelet!). Speaking of which, in Episode 31 the Ultra Bracelet acted up and attacked Ultraman Jack.
  • Not Himself: In Episode 48, Yametaras spread some kind of spore that had all of MAT in a daze, not caring about anything or having the energy to do anything. Even the MAT theme was playing slower and slower and Jack was lethargic, too!
  • Our Hero Is Dead:
    • Episodes 37 — Ultraman Jack has been defeated by Black King and Knackle, complete with Eye Lights Out as two of Knackle's spaceships have the hero's motionless body paraded throughout Tokyo, announcing to Earthlings his intent to have Jack executed the next day. But luckily Ultraman and Ultraseven comes to Jack's rescue on the next episode
    • Episode 40 — Jack gets frozen alive by the monster Snowgon's Ice Breath, and the monster proceed to rip the hero limb-from-limb. Thankfully the Ultra Bracelet has a reserve energy charge, allowing Jack to pull himself together.
    • Episode 51 — In the final episode, Hideki volunteers to pilot a malfunctioning Arrow-1 against the last two monsters, Alien Bat and Zetton. The plane ends up being shot down and exploding with Hideki on board, as Hideki transforms into Ultraman Jack, but none of the MAT Team are aware of the fact and believes Hideki had indeed perished.
  • Our Vampires Are Different: The alien monster Draculas in episode 36, it possesses the corpse of a woman (dubbed "Vampire Woman") and Jack even kills him by impaling him in the heart with a lance from the Ultra Bracelet.
  • Put on a Bus: A Father to His Men Captain Katou in Episode 22. Captain Hibiki, his replacement, was more strict and stern.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Ken Sakata gave a minor one to Goh in Episode 2 for being suspended after Takkong reappeared. Ueno gave one to Goh for quitting MAT in Episode 5.
  • Recycled Soundtrack: There's a few themes from Ultraseven used throughout.
  • Red Shirt
    • The crew of the M.A.T. Space station in episode 18.
    • Goh was this to his teammates in the last episode, but Jiro and Rumiko got to say goodbye to him afterwards.
  • Resign in Protest: Goh in Episode 5, after Staff Officer Kishida ordered MAT to drop a bomb on Gudon, with no regard to the five people trapped in a shopping center building collapse (Aki was one of them). Earlier in the episode, Goh had been suspended for three days due to disobeying an order.
  • ReTool: The series took a turn toward sci-fi and alien threats beginning with "Ultra Seven arrives".
  • Retronym: The protagonist was originally meant to be the original Ultraman. When it was retconned that he was a different Ultrabeing, he was referred by a series of nicknames such as the "New Ultraman" or "Ultraman II" before the name Ultraman Jack was officially decided years after the fact.
  • Sacrificial Lion: Aki and Ken Sakata. Ken Sakata's actor, Shin Kishida later appeared in Faiyaman and narrated Ultraman Ace, both shows from Tsuburaya.
  • Scare Chord: Used every now and then, a classic example is when Aki sees the face of one of her kidnappers in Episode 37.
  • Sinister Geometry: Priz-Ma in episode 35 complete with drug inducing powers.
  • The So-Called Coward: In "When the Ultra Star Shines", Captain Hibiki, under alien Mind Control, accuses Goh, who just returned from the crucifixion ordeal in space, of hiding when Black King attacked Ultraman. Goh is taken outside to stand before a firing squad, and would have been shot if Oka hadn't gotten suspicious of her teammates and pulled a Big Damn Heroes on them, knocking Hibiki unconscious.
  • Special Guest: Real-life kickboxer Tadashi Sawamura makes a brief appearance as himself in episode 27, when Goh and a kickboxer he's coaching visit a gym where Sawamura also happens to be training.
  • Stellification: Magnedon and Stegon are turned into a series of constellations after their defeat. The former is done because it was a Non-Malicious Monster, while the latter is because several children pleaded for Jack to hold back from killing it.
  • Swiss-Army Weapon: The Ultra Bracelet, which can serve among other things: as a mirror (against Paragon); a spear (against Draculas and Bat); or a boomerang not unlike the Eye Slugger (against Bemstar). It could even put Jack back together after Snowgon tore him to pieces.
  • Symbiotic Possession: Started out just like in Ultraman, but the longer Goh was a host, the more the two beings merged into one, so they became inseparable at the end of the show. Hayata's own situation was Retconned in one of the movies to be similar to Goh's.
  • Take a Third Option: To paraphrase, "We'll drop the bomb on Gudon after we rescue the five victims at the shopping center." From Epiosde 5.
  • Theme Music Power-Up: Its name was "The Ultraman Who Rises at Twilight" and came in at least three versions: vocal (rare and unused in the show proper); an instrumental march; and the better-known, shorter instrumental version (played in a lower key; also used in episode previews). A fourth version (slow with a trumpet solo) was played occasionally at the aftermath of a fight.
  • To Know Him, I Must Become Him: Alien Knackle studies, not just Ultraman or even Hideki Goh, but MAT as a whole, to further his alien invasion agenda.
  • Tragic Keepsake
    • Goh's watch, which Aki had taken to the watchmaker that day to get a new band for it; she is clutching it and gives it to Goh as she is dying after Alien Knackle's kidnapping and vicious attack. No word on how long Goh carries it after the episode in question.
    • The shirt Aki bought for Goh in Episode 5 almost became this.
    • Averted with Goh's car at the beginning of the show. The Sakatas burned his race car down as a Due to the Dead when they thought he'd been killed.
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The previews for "Ultraman Dies at Twilight" and "When the Ultra Star Shines" (especially the former) give away the plot and more than a few surprises.
  • Transformation Sequence: Somehow Ultraman Jack (aka "Shin Man" or new "Ultraman") started it from within, until Goh learned to do it spontaneously. Looked like Jack was always in control, to the point that Goh couldn't transform in front of Alien Bat as the "New Man" could sense the danger it entailed.
  • Transformation Trinket: None, Jack is the only Ultra with a human host in the entire franchise that had no transformation item.
  • Wedding Smashers: Rumiko dreamed she was in the middle of her wedding to Goh, with MAT (in traditional garb) and Jiro as guests, when somebody whispered in Captain Hibiki's ear, and everybody but Jiro tore off their wedding garb to reveal their uniforms and marched off on the Captain's order. Rumiko runs after Goh. Alien Bat appears and she screams, only to wake up in a sports stadium, where Alien Bat had her and Jiro prisoner.
  • Wham Episode: 1 (Goh's life has a new meaning), 2 (Goh gets a swell head and gets fired from MAT), 18 (Ultraman Jack has a new weapon, and the show goes into a Sci-Fi direction), 37 (Tearjerker)
  • Jack merging with Goh
  • Aki's death
  • Alien Nackle's true identity
  • Jack drifting into the sun, too weak to fly, when suddenly a familiar figure flew up and saved him.

Alternative Title(s): Ultraman Jack