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Series / Ultra Q

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"For the next 30 minutes, you'll experience a parting of mind from body and become swallowed into this mysterious time...''
Opening narration

Ultra Q (ウルトラQ or Urutora Kyū) is a tokusatsu SF/Kaiju series made in the tradition of Toho's many tokusatsu Sci-Fi Horror films.

Produced in black and white by Tokyo Broadcasting System/Tsuburaya Productions, Ultra Q is actually the first of the long-running Ultra Series, and was broadcast on Tokyo Broadcasting System from January 2 to July 3, 1966 (the final episode was preempted until December 14, 1967), with a total of 28 episodes. This series was followed a week later by the more well-known Ultraman (Urutoraman, 1966), the second Ultra Series.

Unlike most of the franchise it would spawn, it did not have a size-changing Henshin Hero. Instead, it was more of a mystery-of-the-week format that gets it compared to The Outer Limits (even with an intro reminiscent of it!) with, of course, giant monsters being the culprit a lot more often than it was in those series.

Two reimaginations of the series were released, Dark Fantasy and Neo Ultra Q, as well as a movie in 1990, Ultra Q The Movie: Legend of the Stars.

Ultra Q provides examples of the following tropes:

  • Casting Gag: Gomess and Pagos were made using the respective suits of Godzilla and Baragon. Likewise, they shared the same suit actor — Haruo Nakajima.
  • Egg MacGuffin: Litra's egg in the first episode, as Litra is the only thing capable of killing the monster Gomess, so they try to hatch the egg in the hopes that Litra will take care of the rampaging monster for them.
  • First Installment Weirdness: It is the first entry of the Ultra series but is quite different from the rest of it.
    • It features no Ultramen, which would be the norm going forward.
    • Not every episode would have a giant monster or alien; with the threats varying, sometimes being the two former but sometimes human-sized monsters, weird anomalies or some other weirdness.
    • Many of the aliens, like Cicada Human or Kemur Man would lack the Seijin title that would be common with most aliens later on. When these aliens reappear, their names would be kept the same.
    • Some monsters are much smaller than the normal sizes of monsters in the later shows. Gomess being a good example.
  • Foreshadowing: Alien Ruperts at the end of "Space Directive M774" makes a mention of other alien races that seek to protect the Earth rather than take it over.
  • Fractured Fairy Tale: "Grow Up! Little Turtle" is a modern spin on the Urashima Taro folktale, with the fisherman being replaced by a young boy that keeps making up stories that returns from his adventure isolated by nobody believing him instead of the original Rip Van Winkle plot, with the aging box becoming an The End... Or Is It? punchline.
  • Gilligan Cut: In "The Gift From Space", the lead scientist asks the small airline operator to place the story's plot Macguffin somewhere safe. Without showing him putting it away or anyone casing the facility, in the next cut it shows a thief using a blowtorch on the payroll safe. Naturally, the thief mistakes the plot device for gold he can steal and danger ensues.
  • Instrumental Theme Tune: Unlike the rest of the Ultra Series that would follow, the theme of the series is instrumental rather than having lyrics.
  • Kaiju: Plenty but there are episodes without them.
  • Opening Narration: From Koji Ishizaka: "For the next 30 minutes, your eyes will leave your body and enter inside this fantasy time..."
  • Sinister Stingrays: Bostang is a stingray kaiju that terrorized the seas, destroying ships and causing widespread destruction. It was finally taken down after a lengthy sea battle by the combined forces of the Japanese air force and navy.
  • Stock Footage: Parts of Sudar's island rampage in "Fury of the South Sea" are recycled from the giant octopus scene in King Kong vs. Godzilla.
  • Theremin: The music and the theme had this and the musical saw.
  • Too Dumb to Live: One episode, "Grow Up Little Turtle", features a child who, after being accidentally kidnapped by thieves, takes one of their guns, looks down the barrel, and presses the trigger! The gun misfires, but it goes off when one of the thieves gets his hands on it again, showing it was perfectly functional.
  • Totem Pole Trench: In Episode 10, the two young shoe shiners do this to pose as reporters so they can board a train on it's maiden voyage, but are nearly caught while in a cabin, forcing them to Undercrank back into the disguise.