Ultraman Orb is a 2016 tokusatsu series produced by Tsuburaya Productions. It serves as the 50th anniversary entry in the long-running Ultra Series. It was preceded by Ultraman X and is the first series since Ultra Galaxy Mega Monster Battle: Never Ending Odyssey not to be a part of Ultraman Retsuden. It's also the first show since Ultraman Mebius to air on Saturdays.
Since she was a small girl, Naomi Yumeno has had a recurring dream where she witnesses a battle involving a giant alien made of light. Now in the present day, Naomi runs a scrappy Paranormal Investigation blog called the Something Search People, along with plucky videographer Jetta Hayami and resident science geek Shin Matsudo.
When a group of titanic monsters known as the "King Demon Beasts" start to be roused from their slumber from deep within the Earth, Naomi is saved from their rampage by a mysterious traveller named Gai Kurenai. But Gai has a Secret Identity: he is Ultraman Orb, a warrior of light from beyond the stars who fights to protect the innocents of Earth. Having been wounded in a previous battle, Gai must call upon the powers of his Ultraman predecessors in order to transform, fusing their forms together using his Orb Ring.
Yet as Gai defeats the King Demon Beasts and collects the powers of the Ultramen who first defeated them, he is fated to clash against an old adversary named Jugglus Juggler, who is spurring the resurrection of the Beasts for his own sinister agenda.
Thanks to the efforts of director Kiyotaka Taguchi and writer Takao Nakano, Orb was plotted as a ten-part "saga" covering a number of multimedia productions, with the television series as Chapter 6. They include:
- Chapter 1: Ultraman Orb: The Origin Saga, an Amazon Prime Japan exclusive spinoff, premiered on December 26th, 2016 after the main series concludes. It focuses on Gai's first mission as Ultraman Orb and Juggler's final push into his Demon Form.
- Chapter 2: Separates into four smaller chapters as Gai embarked on a journey to collect all four elements of Orbcalibur. Juggler on the other hand becomes a mercenary for hire and participate wars in various planets. The encounter between Mulnau and Sadeath, characters from Ultraman Orb movie (Chapter 7, see below) were also revealed.
- Chapter 3: As a result of the previous actions, Juggler was imprisoned and met the Fallen Princess Biranki who falls in love with him after a Rescue Romance. The plot goes on with his Face–Heel Turn and a battle against Gai that climaxed, eventually leading to his madness and obtaining the Dark Ring. Gai on the other hand obtains the Orb Ring and a mission to go to Earth and stop the resurrection of the King Demon Beasts.
- Chapter 4: Gai and Juggler first arrive on the TV series' Earth in the 1800 BC as the setting took place in Ishtal Civilization the soon would be Mohenjo-daro. Gai's battle with Maga-Tanothor is also explained.
- Chapter 5: Divided into 2 smaller chapters, the first one took place in 1908 as Gai first met Natasha and finally fought against Maga-Zetton, resulting in the loss of his original form Orb Origin. The second part is told in the 1950's, providing how Gai received his trademark leather jacket and features the return of Biranki.
- Chapter 7: Ultraman Orb The Movie: Lend Me the Power of Bonds!, a sequel movie, premiere on March 11th, 2017 as a part of the 50th anniversary of Ultraseven.
- Chapter 8: Takes place after both Ultraman X and the Ultraman Orb movie as the two and Ultraman Zero fought against Desastro.
- Chapter 9: Ultra Fight Orb, aired from April 15th to June 3rd, 2017 during the timeslot of Ultraman Zero: The Chronicle, as a 8-episode 3 minute long mini-series, which also serves as a prelude to Crisis Impact.
- Chapter 10: An upcoming story that featured Gai's adventures as he conducts the mission given by Orbcalibur once more. Juggler and Biranki returns as well with the chapter ends that the story will definitely continue.
A Clip Show series titled Ultraman Orb: The Chronicle,note aired between January and June 2018. In a similar format to Ultraman Retsuden and Ultraman Zero: The Chronicle before it, it is a series that tells the story of Ultraman Orb's adventures from the TV series to Ultra Fight Orb, with Gai himself as the navigator.
Ultraman Orb provides examples of the following tropes:
- Action Bomb: Ultraman Orb Burnmite's "Stobium Dynamite" attack.
- Adaptational Heroism: Not quite heroism, but the version of Commander Black shown in episode 22 is outright kindly when he isn't trying to help Nova conquer Earth, even being convinced to keep his shop up by Gai.
- All Your Powers Combined: Orb's main ability is to combine the powers of two separate Ultramen into new forms for him to transform into.
- Baritone of Strength: Gai's voice is far deeper than most Ultra hosts...which is given because he's not a human host in the first place, but an Ultra in human form.
- Batman Gambit: Jugglus Juggler's plan with the King Demon Beasts is this, since each of their defeats allows him to unlock a key to the Great King Demon Beast, Maga-Orochi. Since Ultraman Orb will defeat them in order to prevent them from wrecking havoc on the world and obtain Ultra Fusion Cards for his own transformations, Juggler can continue to gather their Kaiju Cards.
- The Berserker: Orb's Thunder Breaster form.
- Big Bad: Jugglus Juggler. As of Episode 6 he is merely a part of...
- Big Bad Duumvirate: The Planetary Invasion Syndicate, an organization of past and present Ultra villains led by Don Nostra, an Alien Mefilas in a cloak, as well as an Alien Metron and Alien Nackle. Juggler seems to be The Dragon and The Starscream for them.
- Bookends: Gai's adventures on Earth begins and ends with him playing a melody from his Orbnica.
- Breather Episode: Episode 13, as it shows the SSP cleaning up their base of operations. It also functions as a Recap Episode, chronicling Gai's journey so far, showing his previous fights and his acquisition of the Ultra Fusion Cards.
- Episode 18 came after the super heavy episodes involving Orb's complications with Thunder Breaster form and learning the truth about his past. The episode revolves around the SSP's attempts to help fix the strained relationship between Ittetsu and his daughter. By comparison to the episodes preceding it is only semi-heavy, gives Ittetsu time to shine, and it ends on a light note. Then after the villain of the week escapes, Juggler makes his return and kills the guy with his katana. We're not out of the woods yet!
- Catchphrase Interruptus: In episode 24, Orb's pre-battle catchphrase is interrupted by the kaiju he was fighting suddenly dropping dead.
- By the Power of Grayskull!: In order to transform into Ultraman Orb, Gai calls out the names of the Ultramen on the Ultra Fusion Cards he scans into his Orb Ring, then calls out a catch phrase relating to the form he's transforming into.Spacium Zeperion: Let me borrow the power of your lights!
Burnmite: Help me bring the heat!
Hurricane Slash: Give me something with an edge!
Thunder Breaster: Let me borrow the power of light and darkness!
Lightning Attacker: Let me borrow the power to electrify my enemies!
Emerium Slugger: Let me borrow the power of father and son!
Orb Trinity: Let me borrow the power of your three lights! Orb Trinity!
- Cards of Power: The Ultra Fusion Cards, which possess enough of the Ultra's power to help Ultraman Orb to transform, and the Kaiju Cards, which can summon their respective monsters.
- Cerebus Syndrome: The series started as a comedic, lighthearted Tokusatsu, along the lines of the previous series installment, Ultraman X. Then Episode 12 happened and things only escalated in episode 15.
- Central Theme: Do not let the mistakes of your past determine your future. Confronting your inner demons and coming to terms with failures and regrets is an essential process as you move forward, no matter how many times you stumble and fall.
- Dark and Troubled Past: Gai Kurenai, if his vivid flashbacks of his lady friend being killed by Zetton is any indication.
- Early-Installment Weirdness: The earliest episodes were far lighter in tone and less serialized than later episodes. Also, the Myth Arc of having Orb unlock powers of previous Ultras who fought against the Demon Beasts by defeating them was abruptly brought to a close later through the defeat of Maga-Orochi. Until episode 24, where Maga-Orochi returns, with that abrupt arc ending having been deliberate to bring forth its true form.
- Elemental Powers: Each of the King Demon Beasts embody one of the elements.
- Blow You Away: Maga-Basser, who creates massive tornadoes when it appears. Ultraman Orb Hurricane Slash also mainly uses wind-based attacks.
- Dishing Out Dirt: Maga-Grand King, who causes earthquakes that can sink entire buildings.
- Making a Splash: Maga-Jappa, who poisons the waters with its stench.
- Playing with Fire: Maga-Pandon, whose first appearance is a massive fireball that causes extreme heat waves. Ultraman Orb Burnmite also mainly uses fire-based attacks.
- Evil Is Petty: Jugglus Juggler throws a tantrum in episode 12 because Gai "never lets him win".
- Enemy Mine: Used as a Wounded Gazelle Gambit in episode 20, Juggler knew Gai would save him from the vengeful Metron attempting to kill him, and used this to regain his sword.
- "Eureka!" Moment: In episode 4, when the SSP mention 'blowing the heat away' (metaphorically), Gai realizes that he can use a powerful explosion to blow away Mega-Pandon's flames and force it to expose itself.
- Face–Heel Turn: Episode 5 reveals Juggler went through one of these.
- Fatal Flaw: Juggler's tendency to showboat and go on bouts of Evil Gloating causes his defeat in Episode 23 after he fails to realize a vengeful Orb is behind him as he is taunting SSP.
- Faux Affably Evil: Jugulus Juggler. The few times he tries to act charming or friendly, it is overshadowed by his pettiness and creepy, preening nature.
- Finishing Move: Ultraman Orb has a few per form.
- Spacium Zepellion's Spellion Ray.
- Burnmite's Stobium Dynamite and Stobium Burst.
- Hurricane Slash's Orb Lancer Shoot, Big Bang Thrust, and Trident Slash.
- Thunder Breaster's Zedcium Ray.
- Foreshadowing: In episode 22, a notable amount of aliens are leaving Earth. In episode 24, we find out the reawakening of Maga-Orochi as Magata no Orochi is why. Other aliens who hadn't bailed yet head off to space and the Ragons from episode 8 head out to sea right before Tokyo is evacuated.
- In episode 24, Naomi mentions having awful dreams that mirrored the ones she had about Orb earlier in the series. These were an omen about her apparent later death later in the episode.
- Gadgeteer Genius: Shin Matsudo has a ton of gadgets at his disposal, even occasionally inventing suits or a device on the fly to help the SSP document the Monster of the Week.
- Godzilla Threshold:
- Thunder Breaster is this, as while extremely powerful, it also turns Orb into an amoral berserker singlemindedly obsessed with murdering his target. As such, Gai decidedly doesn't want to use it unless he has to. Subverted once he gains control over it, at which point he uses it freely.
- After learning from Juggler that Maga-Orochi is not only still alive, but will soon emerge in it's final, much stronger form, the VTL choose to fire the strongest non-nuclear warhead they have available, which will level a massive area of the city with only two hours to evacuate everyone. Justified as Maga-Orochi's larval form was one of the most destructive and deadly monsters faced up until now and Magata-no-Orochi was already causing serious destruction and damage while incubating. Unfortunately for them, Juggler was playing them and Magata-no-Orochi just gobbles up the missile's explosion to finish its evolution.
- Great Big Book of Everything: The Pacific Records, ancient texts that the SSP use to find information on the King Demon Beasts. They have information on other monsters as well, but the only time one was looked up (Kamaitadon, a kamaitachi-like kaiju) it was just Juggler practicing his new ultimate attack. Magata-no-Orochi's information was kept in a separate piece found elsewhere.
- Green-Eyed Monster: Jugglus Juggler's motive for hating Gai, since he was more skilled than him when they were in the same galactic garrison and the Light chose Gai over him.
- Gratuitous English: The "Something Search People". Naomi's mother calls out the incorrect English in episode 11 and states that the correct term would be "the Searchers of Something".
- Grievous Harm with a Body: Orb tends to do this when he's in Thunder Breaster form. He ripped off Galactron's appendages and uses it to whack the mechanical monster down, and also sliced off Orochi's tail and use it to slap the kaiju.
- Heel–Face Turn: Juggler turns in the final episode to aid Gai in battle after remembering his repressed memories of saving Natasha from death.
- Heroic Second Wind: Happens in episode 23 after Juggler attempts to finish off SSP attempting to rescue Shin from a pile of wreckage, causing the seemingly defeated Orb to reawaken.
- Henshin Hero: Par for the course for Ultraman. Unlike other Ultraman series, Orb's transformation isn't into his real form; a mysterious incident led to Gai only being able to transform into Orb by combining the powers of two previous Ultramen, which he can use for a strategic advantage. His "base form" is actually a combination of the original Ultraman and Ultraman Tiga.
- As of episode 17, he can use his true form with giant sword again.
- Kaiju: Again, par for the course for Ultraman. Like in other installments, not all kaiju that appear are malevolent in their intent. Even when a kaiju has to be destroyed to save humans, Orb takes them out without ill intent. It's when he starts doing so in Thunder Breaster mode that viewers should be concerned.
- Kamaitachi: Kamaitadon is a kaiju described in a book as a weasel creature with Razor Wind powers and carrying a giant sickle, which SSP thinks has been leaving slash marks on buildings. However, said slash marks turn out to be the work of Juggler, so whether the monster actually exists is a mystery.
- Knight of Cerebus: A rare example where the antagonist, Jugglus Juggler is not it. It's actually Ultraman Belial and Orb's Thunder Breaster form.
- Large Ham: Jugglus Juggler. Between his Evil Laugh coming across like a Joker impression, his mugging at the camera, and his tantrums at being defeated, Juggler outdoes even YAPOOOOOOOOOL!!! for the title of hammiest Ultra villain.
- Late-Arrival Spoiler: On the above trope page, the poster is clearly there since the first episode of Ultraman Orb. If one looks up, that was the image of Orb Origin, a form which didn't make its appearance until episode 17.
- Lovecraft Lite: While the earlier episodes are more comical, the King Demon Beasts have this air to them, being ancient demonic monsters sleeping beneath the Earth and each more or less being a sapient cataclysm. Of course, being Ultraman, Orb can defeat them with a fair bit of effort.
- Through Juggler's manipulation, the defeat of the King Demon Beasts lead to the emergence of Maga-Orochi, which while powerful, was still no match for Orb. In episode 24, the VTL and Japanese government awakens the true form of Maga-Orochi, Magata-no-Orochi the most destructive and Lovecraftian looking monster in the season yet
- Man Hug: Gai gives one to Juggler after a punch to the face when Juggler reveals it was him who saved Natasha's life.
- Mythology Gag
- The flashback in the first episode shows Ultraman Orb defeating the Maga-Zetton and obtaining the Ultraman card. Zetton was the final kaiju that Ultraman fought in his series.
- Ultraman Taro's is obtained after defeating Maga-Grand King. Grand King first appeared in the Ultraman Taro movie.
- Ultraman Tiga's card is implied to have been obtained from defeating Maga-Gathanothor, a King Demon Beast version of the final kaiju that Tiga fought in his series, offscreen.
- Ultraman Zero's card is obtained after defeating Maga Pandon. While Zero and Pandon has no connections, Pandon is the final kaiju featured in the series starring Zero's father, Ultra Seven.
- Orb's Walking the Earth host Gai Kurenai is reminiscent of another wandering Ultra host with a mysterious past, Dan Moroboshi. Word of God confirms that he was indeed inspired by Dan.
- Also related to the above, main writer Takano Nakano envisioned Gai's status as a sort of What If scenario if Dan had chose to remain a wanderer instead of joining the Ultra Garrison.
- An Alien Metron once again tries to use hallucinogenic cigarettes in his plan. However, the decline in smokers in Japan causes him to abandon the plan.
- The kaiju Ho once again appears reacting to Negative Energy, just like in Ultraman 80.
- When Ultraman Orb changes form to Hurricane Slash to fight Aribunta, Aribunta imitates Orb's hand movements, to no avail. A similar moment happens in Ultraman Tiga two decades ago, when Ultraman Tiga changes to Strength Type to fight Silvergon, and Silvergon tries imitating Tiga's hand movements only to fail hilariously.
- The scene when the VTL plane is knocked from the skies, glides and explodes in the mountainside in Episode 15 seems to mirror the scene when an attack force's plane is knocked down from the sky in various Showa era Ultra Series.
- Never Trust an Opening: A minor one, but the opening credits depict Ultraman Orb in Burnmite form fighting Grand King, despite it never happening on the show, since Orb only receives Ultraman Taro's card, one of two required to unlock Burnmite, after defeating said kaiju. Similarly, Orb in Hurricane Slash form is shown fighting Pandon, which never happened in the show as well since defeating Pandon is necessary to obtain Ultraman Zero's card, one of two components needed to even unlock Hurricane Slash.
- Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: In episode 24, the VTL decide to listen to Juggler's advice on how to stop a sudden dangerous underground energy spike, knowing that he's untrustworthy. They end up launching the rocket intended to stop it before the evacuation was completed. This leads to Maga-Orochi's resurrection as Magata-no-Orochi and subsequent destruction of the surrounding area, just as Juggler planned.
- Not Quite Dead:
- Juggler is seemingly killed off by Nagus, but survived using his Bemstar card.
- Maga-Orochi is seemingly killed off by Orb Thunder Brestar, but its life force went into the ground where it incubated until episode 24, where it reemerges in its adult form: Magata-no-Orochi.
- Naomi is seeminly killed off by Juggler in the preultamite epsiode, only to be revealed that she was mearly kidnapped in the finale.
- Once More, with Clarity: Naomi's dreams of the giant of light fighting Maga-Zetton. When Ultraman Orb regains his Orb Origin form, it's revealed that the giant of light was indeed Ultraman Orb. More importantly, her dreams are later extended to show Natasha being rescued by someone, allowing her to survive the explosion, and ultimately it's revealed in the final episode that it was Juggler who rescued her!
- Only the Chosen May Wield:
- Revealed to be the case with the Orb Calibur: Gai and Juggler found it on a distant planet inside an orb shaped portal ring (hovering of a stone for added symbolism). Juggler tried to pull it, but it rejected and shocked him, only for Gai to pull it out and become Ultraman Orb.
- The Dark Ring is a rare evil version of this trope: it only chooses those with the most evil hearted creature around to be its master and even rejected Juggler for Mulnau after his Heel–Face Turn. While he is able to steal it back and use it himself, he's clearly weaker than he previously was using it while Mulnau showed a greater degree of power than he ever did with it.
- Playing with Fire: Ultraman Orb Burnmite's main mode of attack.
- Reports of My Death Were Greatly Exaggerated: As revealed in ep 17, Natasha survived the Tunguska-level explosion and Naomi is her descendant.
- The Reveal: Naomi is Natasha's great-grandchild, and Natasha was alive after the explosion.
- Roaring Rampage of Revenge: Gai, after seeing Tamayura-hime's spirit getting vaporized in front of his own eyes, coupled with his Dark and Troubled Past, seemingly goes into one of this and assumes the Thunder Breaster form. Poor Maga-Orochi.
- Shoo Out the Clowns: In episode 24, the Ragons from episode 8 return in a news report, fleeing out to sea before things get really serious later in the episode.
- Stupid Evil: Juggler's overconfidence and tendency to gloat and laugh at his opponents gets him defeated in episode 23.
- Silent Credits: Normally, at the end of each episode, Gai does his Ultra Hero Special Study about the Ultra and kaiju cards of the day and a preview plays for the next episode with triumphant music. Due to Naomi being stabbed by Juggler at the end of episode 24, Gai's Study is skipped. The preview for the next episode features no music and a dramatic voiceover from Naomi telling Gai not to blame himself if she dies, saying that she's glad to have met him.
- Episode 25 has no theme music or OP credits, just the show title card being displayed to explosions.
- Spiritual Successor: To Ultraman Tiga, aside from debuting in the year of its 20th anniversary. Both Orb and Tiga are Ultras who had been on Earth since the ancient times, fighting against monsters and had involved with ancient civilizations during said period. Lampshaded in-series when Tiga is the other component alongside Ultraman for Orb to access his first form, Spacium Zepellion, with the former is also the first Ultraman cars that Gai collected. In fact, Orb's true form, Orb Origin debuted when his body shrouded with glittering lights, which was an allusion to Tiga's final form, Glitter Tiga.
- Surprisingly Realistic Outcome: The three monsters who die due to Magata-no-Orochi in episode 24 don't go boom or otherwise conveniently dispose of their corpse upon death. As a result, a news report shows people having concerns over what will happen with the corpses that are still lying there, too big to easily move.
- Transformation Trinket: The Orb Ring, which is used to scan Ultra Fusion Cards to grant Ultraman Orb his forms.
- The Tunguska Event: Orb and Maga-Zetton's battle from the Cold Opening of Episode 1 is connected to this in Episode 16, judging by one of the unfortunate casualties being the very Russian-looking Natasha...or so everyone thought. She somehow survived the event and lived on to have grandchildren, including Naomi.
- Ungrateful Bastard: Referenced by Naomi's mother in episode 16. She points out that people seem to have forgotten Orb saving them time and again just because of a couple mistakes he made in his Thunder Breaster form, and that people need to learn not to forget their debts.
- Wham Episode:
- Episode 11 has Orb defeated by Maga Orochi and his henshin device stolen and Episode 12 has Maga Orochi defeated through Gai being forced to use a dark card.
- Episode 15. Gai is forced to assume Thunder Breaster form again. This time he rampages even further. First he knocked a VTL plane off the skies, seemingly just because it is in the way. Second, he gave a brutal beatdown to Galactron, tearing it piece by piece while gloating. Third, he almost managed to kill Naomi, nearly repeating Gai's Dark and Troubled Past. Fourth, when Gai appears in the hospital, he is almost lifeless and confessed in front of an unconscious Naomi that he would be leaving again due to not being able to stand seeing her in her current state, where they're not certain if she'll wake up. The episode ends with Gai picking up Belial's card and wanders off somewhere else, doubtful if he'll ever get control of Thunder Breaster. The impact of this is felt in episode 16, where the public shows its distrust in Orb. VTL is especially mistrusting of Orb after the plane was attacked and was considering future retaliation.
- The preview of 16 features Gai has left the SSP for good and the appearance of Zeppandon (A fusion of Zetton and Pandon). Note that according to magazine scans, not even THUNDER BREASTER can beat Zeppandon. The episode itself shows that the resulting fusion was Jugglus fusing into Z-Pandon, along with the power of the Mega Orochi tail Orb cut off in Thunder Breaster form. Orb managed to escape the kaiju without using Thunder Breaster, but there's good news and bad news. The good news is that Gai now has a card with his true form. The bad news is that Jugglus is in the hospital to kill Naomi!
- Episode 24: Maga-Orochi awakens as Magata-no-Orochi and beats Orb and Juggler appears to actually kill Naomi, leaving a huge cliffhanger for the finale.
- Yin-Yang Bomb: Orb's Thunder Breaster form, which utilizes both the evil Ultraman Belial and the Space Garrison/Ultra Brothers Big Good Zoffy's powers.
- You Can't Fight Fate: Haruka, a prophetess from episode 7, is a firm believer in this trope, as she's never managed to actually change the predictions she saw. Turns out to be a Self-Fulfilling Prophecy when it comes to her vision of Hoe defeating Ultraman Orb: it's a Minus Energy monster and her despair about her visions and helplessness was what was powering him up enough to overpower Orb in the first place. Her subverting this trope and believing fate can be changed not only allows her to do so, but severely weakens Hoe enough for Orb to destroy him.