Original Run: January 2nd – July 3rd, 1966 (Japan)
Created by: Tsuburaya Productions
Directed by: various
Written by: various
Music by: Kunio Miyauchi
Cast: Kenji Sahara, Yasuhiko Saijô, Hiroko Sakurai
Tsuburaya Productions, 28 Episodes, 24 Minutes (per episode)
For those fans of kaiju on the small screen, we would have never had the vast Ultraman franchise without Ultra Q. The series was created by Eiji Tsuburaya after his success as the special effects director on several Godzilla films and other sci-fi and war pictures for Toho. Tsuburaya, using that experience, went on to establish his own production studio, Tsuburaya Productions. Tapping into his knowledge of making kaiju epics on the big screen, he turned his attention to the small screen and gave us the still unique and highly unusual Ultra Q.
Unlike the Ultraman series that would follow this, it did not feature a giant space warrior protecting Earth from the destruction of massive monsters. Instead, it featured massive monsters but it was up to regular humans to figure out how to defeat them. It plays more like the original Gojira, as opposed to its slew of big monster versus big monster sequels. In fact, Ultra Q plays more like The X-Files than an Ultraman series, due to its investigative and scientific formula, as well as supernatural elements.
The series is also the only Ultra series to be made in black and white, as Ultraman, released later in 1966, was shot in color.
One of the high points of the series, other than kaiju, is the fact that it employs a great soundtrack and theme. To this day, Ultra Q has one of my favorite television themes of all-time.
Ultra Q feels grittier than its successors and the threats feel more real and natural. There isn’t a big hero there to save the day, just the wits and intelligence of human beings faced with overcoming one super-sized monster problem after another. One could say that this is the most intelligently written series in the Ultraman franchise, because there wasn’t an easy out in the twenty-eight perilous situations that this series presented.
Ultra Q is a fantastic series and it still plays well today, as I have found myself watching it almost annually, since I discovered it several years back. It also features some of the most iconic kaiju in the Ultraman mythos, who are still popular today.