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Trivia / Ultra Series

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General Trivia:

  • The Ultramen's appearance is based on The Grays and Mayan Ancient Astronauts. The red-and-silver colors are inspired by the legendary canals of Mars and a sleek space rocket respectively (Space Age idealism heavily influenced designer Tohl Narita), while their facial expression was based on Noh masks and the placid faces of meditating Zen Buddhists to emphasize their benevolence.
  • Despite being one of the most well-known traits of the Ultras, the Color Timer and three-minute rule was actually a last-minute addition when the writers for Ultraman realized the hero had no weakness, thus no way of creating tension or suspense in the fights.
  • The physical fighting style of the Ultras is inspired by Judo and Greco-Roman Wrestling, while the Christian Cross served as the basis for the position they hold their arms in when firing their beam attacks.
  • Of the four major Tokusatsu TV series,note  the Ultra series is the only one that has not had Jason David Frank audition to play a role in an American Adaptationnote  - aside from Power Rangers, Frank originally auditioned to play the lead in VR Troopers, and almost got the part of Len in Kamen Rider Dragon Knight; however, both cases were unsuccessful due to his involvement with Power Rangersnote .

Trope-related Trivia:

  • Cash-Cow Franchise: Is this from Tsuburaya Productions and one of those from Bandai Namco Entertainment.
  • Channel Hop: The shows originally aired on Tokyo Broadcasting System, but in 2009 the franchise moved to TV Tokyo.
  • Cowboy BeBop at His Computer: Common in English-language media due to the lack of non-Japanese information out there. The most frequent is that any and all series and their title heroes will just be called Ultraman under the assumption that they are all the same show and character as the original, which would be like saying Superman and Superboy are the same character or referring to Captain Picard as Captain Kirk. Even This Very Wiki does it.
  • Descended Creator: From Director/Producer Hajime Tsuburaya wrote the lyrics to the main themes to Ultraman, Ultraseven, Return of Ultraman, and Ultraman Ace (the TAC them, too) as well as a song used in Ultra Q under the pen name Kyoichi Azuma.
  • Follow the Leader / Fountain of Expies: The Ultra Series' huge popularity and success in the 70s spawned a whole slew of giant superheroes, like Zone Fighter, Spectreman, Jet Jaguar, eventually transforming into the "Kyodai Hero" genre.
  • Hey, It's That Sound!: Godzilla movie fans may be able to recognize many Ultra kaiju roars as directly recycled or modified from Toho's monsters.
  • I Am Not Spock: Nearly every actor who has played the Ultras' human alter egos becomes more or less permanently associated with that character. A good chunk of them have pretty much embraced their roles though, notably Kohji Moritsugu (Dan Moroboshi from Ultraseven).
  • Newbie Boom: Thanks to the ease of streaming on sites such as Crunchyroll and YouTube, many of the New Generation shows attracted international audiences than Tsuburaya ever did in comparison to earlier attempts.
  • No Export for You: Of the 4 major Tokusatsu TV series, Ultraman is doing its best to avert this stone-hard with exports of series all over the franchise's timespan, despite the insanity that was the Chaiyo copyright fiasco.note 
    • The big one is that after the clearing of the Chaiyo fiasco, Tsuburaya signed a deal with Mill Creek Entertainment for North American Blu-Rays and streaming of the entire franchise, starting with Ultra Q and Ultraman in October 2019.
    • Before the Mill Creek deal, Ultra Q, Ultraman and Ultraseven were available on home video courtesy of Shout! Factory via a Chaiyo license. Ultraman Tiga was also available subtitled on DVD from Funimation, but is now out of print. Also, all of them except Ultra Q have received English dubs prior to the rise of online streaming.
    • Ultraman Leo, Ultraman 80, Ultraman Max and Ultraman Mebius are legally available to watch on Crunchyroll (Only available in the US and Canada, too bad for other countries). And Ultraman X is the first tokusatsu series to be simulcast on the site!
    • The Ultraman X and Ultraman Ginga movies were given limited English releases in the United States in early 2017 — the first of their kind since 4Kids' infamous Tiga dub.
    • In 2017, the Toku Network became the first English language television channel in years to air Ultra Series, including some of the above-mentioned series, as well as Ultra Galaxy Mega Monster Battle, Neo Ultra Q, Ultraman Neos, and Ultraseven X. Ultraman Max also received a (very faithful) dub on the channel from William Winckler Productions, the same team that did the Ultraman Ginga S and Ultraman X movies.
    • Sadly played straight with Ultraman R/B, as Tsuburaya Productions only allowed the series to be streamed in Asia through its YouTube channel, but not in the West, as they are now finding a way to stream it outside of Asia without Crunchyroll's involvement. Later averted as the series and its movie gets a home video release in Spring 2020.
  • Outlived Its Creator: Eiji Tsuburaya was only involved in the production of Ultra Q, Ultraman, and Ultraseven, having died while Return of Ultraman was still in the early stages. Nevertheless, Tsuburaya Productions continues to produce the franchise under the guidance of his sons and grandsons (and Bandai Namco Entertainment as of 2007).
  • Promoted Fanboy: The franchise is so popular and so old that many of the later actors were fans of the Ultra series as kids. Tatsuomi Hamada (Riku Asakura from Ultraman Geed), for example, once said that as a kid, he had always wanted to be an Ultraman, and playing the human form of Geed is a dream come true; not to mention that he has said that his favorite Ultra is Ultraman Justice.
  • Prop Recycling: Many suits, sets, character costumes, and props are exchanged and/or modified from series to series. In the early shows, they would often have to borrow stuff from Toho, resulting in things like Godzilla and Baragon's suits being used to present multiple monsters.
  • Role-Ending Misdemeanor: Downplayed. Takeshi Tsuruno's outspoken support for the pro-democracy movement in Hong Kong resulted in his archival Ultraman Dyna footage being cut out of Ultra Chronicle Z: Heroes' Odyssey until its 16th episode, as Tsuburaya did not want the series Banned in China after having survived a costly legal tussle with Chaiyo. On the flip side, Tsubaraya has been uploading Dyna episodes and films fully uncut on their official YouTube channel at the same time as Heroes' Odyssey's broadcast run, because YouTube itself is banned in China.
  • Role Reprise: Many actors in the franchise return in later series as the same character in the event of a Crossover.
  • Screwed by the Lawyers: A very, very controversial case. Until 2017, the first six shows (Ultra Q, Ultraman, Ultraseven, Return of Ultraman, Ultraman Ace, and Ultraman Taro), as well as Jumborg Ace, were the subject of a serious copyright dispute between Tsuburaya Productions and the Thai company Chaiyo (who co-produced Hanuman vs. 7 Ultraman and the infamous Space Warriors 2000), as Chaiyo's president Sompote Sands attempted to steal the foreign distribution rights for them with forged documents. This legal nightmare was responsible for the lack of distribution the Ultra series had for the longest time. Full story here.
    • Because some higher ups in the studio had the bright idea of approaching Johnny's for talent in a bid to revive the Ultraman franchise with a bang (which sorta worked, but came at a hefty price and without the bang), Ultraman Tiga cannot be streamed online in a lot of countries, due to Johnny's policies. This also applies to the two-part series finale of Ultraman Dyna which is a crossover with Ultraman Tiga. Also, due to Johnny's meddling, the theme song had to be re-recorded by a cover artist named Tatsuya Maeda for the soundtrack and export version of the show, and thus countries who used Take Me Higher got said cover instead of the V6 one (in addition of having to wait a quite a bit longer for Tsuburaya to consult their lawyers for possible solutions, audition new talent and record the cover). It was also the reason Daigo does not appear in the Heroes Odyssey compilation as well as other specials that features Ultraman Tiga.
  • What Could Have Been:
    • At least two western movie attempts:
      • Ultraman: the Jupiter Effect, penned by Jeff Segal (who would go on to co-create Exosquad) in 1978: The plot has the alignment of all the planets in our Solar System cause major disasters around the world, causing monsters to invade. Ultraman (whose host would have been a NASA astronaut) appears to save the planet. Things would have gotten so tough that the other Ultramen from the franchise show up to lend a hand.
      • Ultraman: Hero From The Stars, penned by book writer Don Glut (who also wrote for The Transformers) in 1983: The plot would have involved highly evolved dinosaurs attacking the Earth after years of waiting, and a new Ultraman inhabits the body of a Earth Defense Soldier to fight back. Notably, this script featured the death of Ultra Seven during the film's climax. More details here which even includes concept art of Ultraman and the dinosaurian monsters he'd have battled.
    • The prototype to the entire franchise was WoO, a comedic series about a comical alien named Woo and a news photographer named Joji Akita, as they battled monsters and avoided the armed forces suspicious of Woo. The series was scrapped in favor of Ultra Q, but would later be revived in 2006 as Bio Planet WoO.
    • The Ultras were originally going to be a race of monstrous bird-like aliens, with the original Ultraman being named Bemlar (directly recycled from an unused Ultra Q villain in name and appearance). Due to fears that children wouldn't know which monster to cheer for, they gave Bemlar a more humanoid appearance. The name "Bemlar" was given to Ultraman's very first Monster of the Week while its design would be incorporated into the monster Hydra.
    • Chaiyo's Project Ultraman (See: Screwed by the Lawyers above). It is the single most ambitious venture in the franchise's history: A 52 episode series and feature film with en ensemble cast of Thai, Hong Kong and Chinese celebrities, on location filming across the world, a Hollywood special effects team working on CGI, international broadcasting across 10 countries and a theme park with a $25 million construction budget.
    • In the early 2010s, it was announced Tsuburaya were developing a way for the actors in the respective Ultraman series to be swapped out, so to speak, for foreign actors by distributors for easier localization ala Power Rangers. Nothing seems to have come from this however.
      • Previously, there had been considerations by William Winckler Productions of doing something similar with Ultraman 80 as far back as 1987, and it would have starred none other than Adam West! Not to mention that Oliver Stone, of all people, apparently considered something similar with Ultraman Gaia according to the show's head writer Chiaki Konaka.
    • One rumor about Tattooed Teenage Alien Fighters from Beverly Hills was that the series was originally planned to be an adaptation of the Andro Melos spin-off series instead of the 100% American production the final product is.
  • The Wiki Rule: No less than two Ultraman Wikis: and Also the, a flourishing wiki for fanfiction run by several of the admins on the first Ultra wiki.
  • You Look Familiar: As a popular and long-running franchise, this is a regular occurrence from show to show much like with other Toku series.