Blu-ray Review: Ultra Q (1965)/Ultraman (1966)

November 7, 2019

Written by DanXIII

Daniel XIII; the result of an arcane ritual involving a King Diamond album, a box of Count Chocula, and a copy of Swank magazine, is a screenwriter, actor, artist, and reviewer of fright flicks…Who hates ya baby?

As a kid, I was absolutely obsessed with Japanese creature features (still am, actually!) but there was only so much of that material available in my small mountain hometown. Occasionally my friends and I would trek to the nearest “big” city where there was a store that had all manner of import toys and magazines, and here is where my mania became even more intense as I wanted so badly to see some of the Far East flicks and shows mentioned in those petulant pages… and nowhere seemed to be kaiju ground zero more than the Ultra shows produced by Tsuburaya Productions, headed by man-in-suit wizard Eiji Tsuburaya!

Anyway fast forward to like last week sometime, and those sexy devils at Mill Creek Entertainment have sent yours cruelly Blu-ray sets of the first two series set in the Ultra universe; 1965’s Ultra Q and 1966’s Ultraman! Let’s get balls deep in the Q to kick things off, shall we?

Now most of you are probably savvy enough to the whole Ultra biz to expect at least some sort of silver and red giant hero to make the scene and hand monster’s their asses on the regular… and for the most part you’d be right… but in the debut series, only the monsters are present.

Ultra Q follows the adventures of a crackjack team consisting of; photojournalist Yuriko Edogawa (Hiroko Sakurai), pilot/SF writer Jun Manjome (Kenji Sahara) and his co-pilot Ippei Togawa (Yasuhiko Saijo), who manage to thwart the machinations of various monsters and aliens hellbent on causing chaos upon mankind utilizing their intellect rather than full-on confrontation.

Full of chiaroscuro black and white visuals, and a somber tone, Ultra Q plays out a bit like a proto-X-Files/ Twilight Zone jam rather than the superhero monster-beat downs that would follow; and the science over brawn approach, mixed with some socially conscious elements make this a unique series within the Ultra legacy!

The next series, Ultraman, changes the paradigm, but offers us what we are familiar with from the series…

Remaining are the erstwhile team of heroes standing up to horrors beyond human imagining giving mankind static (the Science Special Search Party)… but when things get too dicey, they can call on Ultraman; an alien cosmic enforcer given limited time to act on our big blue marble after becoming bonded to SSSP member Hayata (Susumu Kurobe) following an accident in the skies.

The long and short of each episode goes like this (with little deviation); a monster shows up, SSSP tries to stop it but fails, Ultraman then arrives and beats monster ass. It isn’t fuckin’ Shakespeare, nor does it need to be… we flock to stuff like this for the kaiju, not the intricate narrative, and in that department the series shines thanks to the killer designs of Tohl Narita!

While formulaic, Ultraman never becomes dull; it’s too wild and colorful for that, and watching these episodes it’s easy to see just why this character and his exploits captured the hearts and minds of Japanese youth… and continues to entertain in one form or another to this very day!

As for extras on these releases, things are ultra slim, with only a booklet of liner notes present for each set.

If you love kaiju, superheroes, and great sci-fi action, these sets are can’t miss releases; they look great, the price is right, and they contain countless hours of monstrous entertainment!

 

 

 

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