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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 this 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:

  • Alien Animals: The citizenry of Planet E look like primates. Dr. Gori and Ra in particular are named after gorillas.
  • Aliens Speaking English: Dr. Gori and Ra speak native-level Japanese.
  • Antagonist Title: The series was originally named "Uchuu Enjin Gori (Space Ape Gori)".
  • Attack of the Killer Whatever: The Pollution Monsters created by Dr. Gori are often huge in size and cause mass destruction. They derive their power from the garbage irresponsibly handled by the humans.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Sure, Earth is saved and Dr. Gori is dead...but now Spectreman is recalled to the cosmos, and he is never to interact with the Earthlings ever again, even though he's made a lot of new friends. He bitterly reminisce that he will miss every human he's ever met. It can be assumed that he'll stay there until the next universal existential threat occurs, which he'll be deployed to fight against.
  • Denser and Wackier: Than most tokus of it's time. The main character is an arrogant Jerk with a Heart of Gold, the main villain is a Manchild ape, and his most loyal assistant is a bumbling idiot. The series has many comedic moments in between it's serious fights, and the Anvilicious Green Aesops just add to it further.
  • Easily Thwarted Alien Invasion: Dr. Gori doesn't get very far in colonizing the Earth because Spectreman always stops him. That, and his only minion has the IQ of a brick.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: In episode 58, Goruda The Phantom Monster, Dr. Gori brainwashes an ordinary Japanese woman into becoming a violent witch. As a witch, she wears Indian-style clothing and a bindi.
  • Flying Brick: Gori's Pollution Monsters, who possess a rotating amount of abilities depending on the episode. Though Spectreman himself also counts.
  • Flying Saucer: Dr. Gori travels in a rather cruddy-looking yellow flying saucer.
  • 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.
  • Gratuitous English:
    • The main character is called "Spectreman", a combination of the English words "spectre" (vision) and "man" (an adult male human).
    • The main villain is called Dr. Gori, which is derived from "gorilla". His lackey Ra's name is also taken from it.
  • Green Aesop: Very much so in the first half. The staff gave up on using the pollution problem as a theme due to complaints from sponsors, and decided to focus on action-filled fight scenes instead.
  • Grey And White Morality: The Pollution G-Men all have their unpleasant quirks, but they're dedicated to the safety of their people. Dr. Gori is unequivocally a bad guy, but the Grand Finale has him commit suicide out of grief over losing his only loved one - i.e. Ra. Nebula 71 is stated to be the Big Good, but is willing to allow a few humans to die as long as it stops the forces of Dr. Gori, which horrifies Joji.
  • Hero Stole My Bike: Sort of. In the first episode, Jōji declares himself one of the Pluution G-Men, before sitting on a desk and claiming it's his own. Director Kurata is very displeased to tell them that it's his desk.
  • Home Base: The Pollution G-Men headquarters.
  • Mysterious Protector: The people of Japan have no idea who the golden hero that appears out of nowhere is and why he helps them, but they appreicate him nonetheless.
  • Once per Episode: Gori sending out a Robeast and Spectreman transforming as per Nebula 71's orders.
  • 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!
  • Open Secret: The Grand Finale reveals that the Pollution G-Men knew Spectreman was Joji all along.
  • People in Rubber Suits: The inhabitants of Planet E are really hairy monkeys, though they have humanoid bodies.
  • 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.
  • Secret-Keeper: Many civilians figure out Spectreman's secret identity, but they keep quiet about it out of respect. If word gets out, Nebula 71 will deprive him of his powers.
  • 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.