Ultra Q

Ultra Q (ウルトラQ, Urutora Kyū) is a tokusatsu science fiction/kaiju series made in the tradition of Toho's many tokusatsu sci-fi/horror films.

Ultra Q
UltraQ-title.jpg
Original Japanese title card
GenreTokusatsu
Sci-Fi
Fantasy
Kaiju
Created byTsuburaya Productions
Developed byToshihiro Iijima
Directed byHajime Tsuburaya
StarringKenji Sahara, Yasuhiko Saijou, Hiroko Sakurai
Country of originJapan
No. of episodes28
Production
Running time24 minutes
Production companyTsuburaya Productions
Distributor
Release
Original networkTokyo Broadcasting System Television
Original releaseJanuary 2 (1966-01-02) –
July 3, 1966 (1966-07-03)
Chronology
Followed byUltraman

Produced in black and white by Tsuburaya Productions, this is actually the first of the long-running Ultra Series, and was broadcast on Tokyo Broadcasting System (TBS) 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 two weeks later by the more popular Ultraman (1966), the second Ultra Series.

Ultra Q can be described as a half-hour Toho kaiju series. Executive Producer Eiji Tsuburaya intended this series to be more like the American television series The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits, featuring a variety of strange and unusual stories. After a survey, the TBS network convinced Tsuburaya Productions to add more giant monsters, as children were intensely interested in them, since Godzilla (Gojira) and Gamera were all the rage at the time (the first "Kaiju Boom" took off after Ultra Q became an enormous hit).[1] Much like The X-Files, the series features continuing characters who investigate strange supernatural phenomena, including giant monsters, aliens, ghosts, and various other threats.

The original planned title of this project was Unbalance, and was subsequently renamed Ultra Q mostly due to the word "Ultra" gaining popularity due to the Japanese gymnast Gold Medal recipient in the 1964 Summer Olympics using a technique named "Ultra C". The series began production in 1964, with the premiere set for January 1966. At the time, this was the most expensive television series ever produced in Japan. The "Q" stands for "Question" and also tied with another hit TBS series, Obake no Q-tarō, an animated series based on the manga by Fujiko Fujio.[1]

CharactersEdit

  • Jun Manjome (万城目 淳, Manjōme Jun, played by Kenji Sahara): Aviator at Hoshikawa Air Service and amateur SF writer.
  • Yuriko Edogawa (江戸川 由利子, Edogawa Yuriko, played by Hiroko Sakurai): Reporter for the Daily News.
  • Ippei Togawa (戸川 一平, Togawa Ippei, played by Yasuhiko Saijou): Jun's aviation partner at Hoshikawa.
  • Professor Ichinotani (一ノ谷博士, Ichinotani-hakase, played by Ureo Egawa): world-renowned scientist, and occasional assistance to Jun, Yuriko and Ippei in times of crisis.
  • News Desk Editor, Seki (関デスク, Seki Desuku, played by Yoshifumi Tajima): Yuriko's boss and editor at the Daily News.

MonstersEdit

 
The monster Gomess from episode 1. The monster was brought to life with a modified Godzilla suit from the films Mothra vs. Godzilla and Ghidorah, the Three-Headed Monster.

Because of his stature as a filmmaker, and with his close relationship with Toho (they were investors in, and on the Board of Directors at, Tsuburaya Productions),[1] Eiji Tsuburaya was ordered by his crew to take what they needed from the prop warehouse, where the various props from his films were stored, for use on the series. The large Manda prop was used for the dragon Kairyu (while the head was used as the front portion of a Viking ship seen in episode 12), as well as the giant octopus prop from Frankenstein vs. Baragon became Sudar, while the Maguma suit from Gorath was repurposed as Todora. Other suits and props were refurbished to play some of the monsters, such as Godzilla for Gomess, King Kong for Goroh, Baragon for Pagos, and a small, mechanical Rodan prop was stripped down and rebuilt as the bird monsters Litra and Largeus, respectively.

EpisodesEdit

Title Original air date
1"Defeat Gomess!"
Transcription: "Gomesu o Taose!" (Japanese: ゴメスを倒せ!)
January 2, 1966 (1966-01-02)
2"Goro and Goro"
Transcription: "Gorō to Gorō" (Japanese: 五郎とゴロー)
January 9, 1966 (1966-01-09)
3"The Gift from Space"
Transcription: "Uchū kara no Okurimono" (Japanese: 宇宙からの贈りもの)
January 16, 1966 (1966-01-16)
4"Mammoth Flower"
Transcription: "Manmosu Furawā" (Japanese: マンモスフラワー)
January 23, 1966 (1966-01-23)
5"Peguila Is Here!"
Transcription: "Pegira ga Kita!" (Japanese: ペギラが来た!)
January 30, 1966 (1966-01-30)
6"Grow Up! Little Turtle"
Transcription: "Sodateyo! Kame" (Japanese: 育てよ! カメ)
February 6, 1966 (1966-02-06)
7"S.O.S. Mount Fuji"
Transcription: "Esu Ō Esu Fujisan" (Japanese: SOS富士山)
February 13, 1966 (1966-02-13)
8"Terror of the Sweet Honey"
Transcription: "Amai Mitsu no Kyōfu" (Japanese: 甘い蜜の恐怖)
February 20, 1966 (1966-02-20)
9"Baron Spider"
Transcription: "Kumo Danshaku" (Japanese: クモ男爵)
February 27, 1966 (1966-02-27)
10"The Underground Super Express Goes West"
Transcription: "Chitei Chōtokkyū Nishi e" (Japanese: 地底超特急西へ)
March 6, 1966 (1966-03-06)
11"Balloonga"
Transcription: "Barunga" (Japanese: バルンガ)
March 13, 1966 (1966-03-13)
12"I Saw a Bird"
Transcription: "Tori o Mita" (Japanese: 鳥を見た)
March 20, 1966 (1966-03-20)
13"Garadama"
(Japanese: ガラダマ)
March 27, 1966 (1966-03-27)
14"Tokyo Ice Age"
Transcription: "Tōkyō Hyōgaki" (Japanese: 東京氷河期)
April 3, 1966 (1966-04-03)
15"Kanegon's Cocoon"
Transcription: "Kanegon no Mayu" (Japanese: カネゴンの繭)
April 10, 1966 (1966-04-10)
16"Garamon Strikes Back"
Transcription: "Garamon no Gyakushū" (Japanese: ガラモンの逆襲)
April 17, 1966 (1966-04-17)
17"The 1/8 Project"
Transcription: "Hachibun-no-Ichi Keikaku" (Japanese: 1/8計画)
April 24, 1966 (1966-04-24)
18"The Rainbow's Egg"
Transcription: "Niji no Tamago" (Japanese: 虹の卵)
May 1, 1966 (1966-05-01)
19"Challenge from the Year 2020"
Transcription: "Nisen-nijū-nen no Chōsen" (Japanese: 2020年の挑戦)
May 8, 1966 (1966-05-08)
20"The Primordial Amphibian Ragon"
Transcription: "Kaitei Genjin Ragon" (Japanese: 海底原人ラゴン)
May 15, 1966 (1966-05-15)
21"Space Directive M774"
Transcription: "Uchū Shirei Emu Nana Nana Yon" (Japanese: 宇宙指令M774)
May 22, 1966 (1966-05-22)
22"Metamorphosis"
Transcription: "Henshin" (Japanese: 変身)
May 29, 1966 (1966-05-29)
23"Fury of the South Sea"
Transcription: "Nankai no Ikari" (Japanese: 南海の怒り)
June 5, 1966 (1966-06-05)
24"The Statue of Goga"
Transcription: "Gōga no Zō" (Japanese: ゴーガの像)
June 12, 1966 (1966-06-12)
25"The Devil Child"
Transcription: "Akumakko" (Japanese: 悪魔ッ子)
June 19, 1966 (1966-06-19)
26"Blazing Glory"
Transcription: "Moero Eikō" (Japanese: 燃えろ栄光)
June 26, 1966 (1966-06-26)
27"The Disappearance of Flight 206"
Transcription: "Ni Maru Roku Bin Shōmetsu-su" (Japanese: 206便消滅す)
July 3, 1966 (1966-07-03)
28"Open Up!"
Transcription: "Aketekure!" (Japanese: あけてくれ!)
December 17, 1967 (1967-12-17)

English dubEdit

 
Page from United Artists Television's Press Kit

In 1967, Ultra Q was licensed from Tsuburaya and TBS by CBS Films, producers of The Twilight Zone. For the task of dubbing, CBS hired Film House in Toronto, Canada, what is now DeLuxe Toronto. Tsuburaya provided translated scripts, plus English language opening and closing credits, and a custom, swirling title-card. The series itself was dubbed in its 28-episode entirety. At some point, CBS Films backed out of licensing the series, and it was picked up, along with Ultraman, by United Artists Television, producers of The Outer Limits. Subsequently, United Artists Television hired Titra Studios to dub Ultraman. Ultraman was syndicated, however, Ultra Q was not, due to being in black-and-white at a time when most television was switching to color. After Ultraman finished its run in syndication, audio and film masters, and other materials, for both series went into storage, eventually finding their way into the MGM vaults, after MGM acquired United Artists in 1980.[1]

Initially it was commonly believed, even by Tsuburaya Productions, that only one episode, Episode 3 ("Gift From Outer Space"), was dubbed into English as a pilot.[1] Over the last decade, other episodes have been discovered in the hands of U.S. private collectors on the 16mm film format.

Radio dramaEdit

In 2003, a weekly radio drama series was produced called The Ultra Q Club. It featured voice acting from the original Ultra Q cast.[2]

LegacyEdit

In the years following the show's original run, a live action film called Ultra Q The Movie: Legend of the Stars was released in 1990. In 2004, a new series called Ultra Q: Dark Fantasy was produced, while another series called Neo Ultra Q began airing in early 2013.

ProductionEdit

The original concept of the show (when it was going to be called Unbalance) was ultimately used for a 13-episode horror anthology series entitled Horror Theater Unbalance that was produced by Tsuburaya Productions in 1973.[1]

Various Ultra Q monsters were reused or redressed for various monsters in Ultraman. Kemur and Ragon (both of them now giant-sized) returned, while the Garamon suit was reused and repaired to serve as Pigmon. Other suits were altered to play other monsters, such as Peguila being altered into Chandorah, Kemur being altered into Alien Zetton, Pagos being altered into Neronga (and later Magular and Gabora), while the head of the Cicada Man was modified to become the head of Alien Baltan. Finally, Peter's suit was modified to become that of Gesura.

Home videoEdit

JapanEdit

In 2013, Tsuburaya Productions and Bandai Visual released the series on Blu-ray, in monochrome and colorized editions.[3] In 2018, Tsuburaya released four episodes in individual Blu-ray and DVD sets with newly produced special features, as part of their Ultraman Archives project.[4] In November 2019, Tsuburaya released a 4K restoration of the series on Ultra HD Blu-ray.[5]

North AmericaEdit

In August 2013, Shout! Factory released the series on DVD.[6] In July 2019, Mill Creek Entertainment announced that it had acquired most of the Ultra series library from Tsuburaya Productions through Indigo Entertainment, including 1,100 TV episodes and 20 films.[7] Mill Creek released the series on Blu-ray and digital on October 15, 2020 in standard and steelbook sets.[8]

In July 2020, Shout! Factory announced to have struck a multi-year deal with Alliance Entertainment and Mill Creek, with the blessings of Tsuburaya and Indigo, that granted them the exclusive SVOD and AVOD digital rights to the Ultra series and films (1,100 TV episodes and 20 films) acquired by Mill Creek the previous year. Ultra Q, amongst other titles, will stream in the United States and Canada through Shout! Factory TV and Tokushoutsu.[9]

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c d e f Ragone, August (2007, 2014) Eiji Tsuburaya: Master of Monsters San Francisco, CA: Chronicle Books. ISBN 978-0-8118-6078-9
  2. ^ "The Ultra Q Club Episode Guide". Archived from the original on April 20, 2004. Retrieved December 20, 2017.
  3. ^ "『総天然色ウルトラQ』単巻Blu-ray 6月21日(金)よりリリース開始!". m-78.jp. June 21, 2013. Archived from the original on December 14, 2020. Retrieved December 14, 2020.
  4. ^ "Ultraman Archives: New Details From Tsuburaya Productions". SciFi Japan. October 15, 2018. Archived from the original on December 14, 2020. Retrieved December 14, 2020.
  5. ^ "Ultraman Archives Ultra Q UHD & MovieNEX Japanese Box Set Info and Photos From Tsuburaya Pro". SciFi Japan. September 12, 2019. Archived from the original on December 14, 2020. Retrieved December 14, 2020.
  6. ^ Stuart Galbraith IV (October 6, 2020). "Ultra Q - The Complete Series". DVD Talk. Archived from the original on December 14, 2020. Retrieved December 14, 2020.
  7. ^ "Exclusive – Mill Creek Entertainment Acquires the Ultraman Library For Physical and Digital Home Entertainment Distribution Across North America". SciFi Japan. July 10, 2019. Archived from the original on July 12, 2019. Retrieved July 11, 2019.
  8. ^ "Ultraman Draft". SciFi Japan. July 10, 2019. Archived from the original on December 14, 2020. Retrieved December 14, 2020.
  9. ^ Patrick Frater (July 10, 2020). "Shout! Factory Strikes 'Ultraman' Digital Distribution Deal With Mill Creek". Variety. Archived from the original on December 13, 2020. Retrieved December 13, 2020.

BibliographyEdit

  • The Q-Files, Complete Ultra Q Episode Guide by Jim Cirronella & Kevin Grays, Originally published in Kaiju-Fan #4 (November 1996) [1].
  • Great Encyclopedia of Ultra Monsters (orig.: ウルトラ怪獣大全集), Domdom (1995), ISBN 978-4-09-101411-5
  • So Crazy Japanese Toys!, by Jimbo Matison, Chronicle Books (2003), ISBN 978-0-8118-3529-9
  • The Ultra Bizarre World of Ultra Q (Parts 1–3) by Mike Bianco. Originally published in G-Fan #62-64, May 2003-December 2003.

External linksEdit