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Series / Spectreman

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"We will never know the source
Of his power and his force
As he guides his planet's course
Lyrics from the English dub's Expository Theme Tune

Spectreman is a 1971-1972 Toku show from P Productions.

Banished from the peaceful simian Planet E, the mad scientist Dr. Gori and his brutish assistant Karras (Lla in the Japanese version, as in "gorilla") search for a new planet to rule after Gori's plot to conquer Planet E had been foiled by its government. Coming across the Earth, Gori is captivated by its beauty, but is appalled by its inhabitants' misuse of its environment, leading to severe pollution (a huge topic back when this series was made), so mankind must be quickly conquered if this planet is to be inhabitable, so he plots to, ironically, use the very same pollution that's plaguing the Earth to create horrible giant rampaging monsters to wipe out and/or enslave mankind.

Fortunately, hope comes in the form of the Nebula 71 Star, a Saturn-like artificial satellite that observes the Earth incognito. Fearing that Gori may eventually make the Earth uninhabitable, they dispatch Spectreman, their super-cyborg agent, to battle the menace of the mad apeman. Spectreman disguises himself as a Japanese man named Jōji Gamō to walk among the humans and scout out Gori's weekly menace for the Nebula 71 Star. He works with a government-run group called the Pollution G-Men, run by Chief Kurata. This group investigates phenomena involving pollution, but they don't (until late in the show's run) have the facilities to handle giant monsters, so unbeknownst to them, their comical-yet-mysterious teammate Jōji disappears on them, only to help them as Spectreman!


Spectreman provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Antagonist Title: The serie is originally named "Uchuu Enjin Gori (Space Ape Gori)".
  • The Ace: Jōji Gamō, and it pisses everyone off on the team.
  • Chuck Cunningham Syndrome: Rie Endo vanished after episode 10 for reasons that are hard to tell.
  • Da Chief: Played by Toru Ohira in a live-action role.
  • Driven to Suicide: Dr. Gori, in the final episode.
  • Expy: Gori and Karras are evil exceptions from an all-pacifist intelligent simian race, just like DC Comics' villain Gorilla Grodd. Karras shares appearance and strength with Grodd, while Gori is similar to Grodd in intelligence. Planet E, homeland of highly evolved, pacifist apes, shares similarities with Gorilla City.
  • Green Aesop: Very much so in the first half.
  • George Jetson Job Security: Jōji Gamō essentially hired himself to be on the G-Men team. He is fired and re-hired almost every episode.
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  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Perhaps the first toku hero who is like this...
  • Maniac Monkeys: Gori and Karras.
  • No One Gets Left Behind: Spectreman would sometimes get in trouble with his boss over his position to save everyone he possibly could, while Nebula is willing to sacrifice a few people here and there to avert bigger tragedies.
  • Opening Narration: In the U.S. version, almost every episode begins with stock footage of Tokyo and a voiceover speech:
    The planet: Earth. The city: Tokyo. Like all cities on the face of this planet, Tokyo is losing the battle against man's deadliest enemies: waste and pollution. Despite the efforts of local and world government, the air, the sea, and the land may soon lose their ability to support life of any kind. Who will help? Spectreman!
  • Power Limiter: Unlike a lot of tokusatsu, Spectreman actually has no ability to control his own transformations. Nebula decides when he is and isn't to change to his giant super-powered self. Refusals are rare, but possible if Nebula deems Spectreman's intervention is unnecessary (for example, if Earth's military seems able to handle the Monster of the Week).
    • This seems to be because Spectreman, at least in the earlier episodes, is portrayed as having a short battery life and passing out from having exhausted his powers at the end of every fight. It takes a long time for him to recover enough to transform again, so Nebula probably does make a point of saving him for when he's really needed.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Title: In Japan, the show's original title was Uchū Enjin Gori ("Gori the Space Ape"), which was then changed to Gori vs. Spectreman in Episode 21 and then to just Spectreman in Episode 40 for the remainder of the series.
  • Ultraman Copy: The titular character acts and resembles a cross between Ultraman (complete with a shiny pointed helmet and Sizeshifter ability) and Superman, being an interplanetary agent who protects the Earth against evil monsters and alien invaders, while also maintaining a Secret Identity as an ordinary human.
  • Unusually Uninteresting Sight: In several episodes Karras gets sent out by Dr. Gori to spy on humanity. Every time, Karras wears a Paper-Thin Disguise yet no one notices that he's a gorilla.
  • Villain Song: The first ending is Gori's theme.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: In one serial Gori abducts an Earth gorilla and evolves it into a specimen like himself and Lla in order to have a second henchman. This other ape's never seen again at the end of that serial.