Mill Creek’s Ultra Q Box Set — The Review

Mill Creek’s Ultra Q Box Set — The Review

With the return of Mill Creek Entertainment’s Ultraman Series box sets, starting with Ultraman Taiga, we at UC have decided to go back and review the entire collection! And where’s a better place to start than the beginning?

The Mill Creek Ultra Q4-disc box set is the number one way to watch the beloved series. Complete with all 28 original Japanese broadcast edits, fully remastered and restored in HD, and featuring Lossless DTS-HD Master Audio, and featuring a 28-page collectible booklet guide, this package deal is Ultra Q like you’ve never seen it before!

Ultra Q was the first-ever installment of the Ultraman franchise, airing in January of 1966. Despite the series name and the fact that it preceded the classic Ultraman, Ultra Q actually doesn’t feature Ultraman at all. The 28-episode series helped to define the tokusatsu genre, focusing on alien and kaiju threats without depending on an intergalactic hero to swoop in and save the day.

While it seems unconventional for the first series of a show to not yet contain its own namesake, there’s something charming about being thrown into a world where it is solely the responsibility of humanity to fend off massive threats such as Kaiju like Gomess, Peguila, Gorgos, Garamon, Pagos, and many more.


We are thrown into action alongside protagonists Yuriko Edogawa, Jun Manjome, and Ippei Togawa, as they investigate supernatural disruptions in a world eerily similar to the earth we occupy- One without a guardian of light that is always prepared to protect us. The lack of faith in a greater, more capable protector gives the series a grittier, high-stakes aura.


Ultra Qhas a slightly darker energy than many of the series that have followed it. Though it has since been remastered in color, the original series was filmed in black and white making for a literally darker show, complete with dark, rich, consumptive shadows, a grainy down-to-earth quality, and a muted color palette.


This, paired with the slightly more adult language, naturalistic dialogue, and reliance on intricate practical effects create a textured, tactile world whose stories you end up believing regardless of their impossible nature. In a world of whimsical, zany disturbances, we’re grounded by the perspective of working-class people in daily environments experiencing life under the threat of chaos.


Some of Ultra Q’sepisodes reflect classic Tokusatsu conventions, such as a mythological prophecy. In the first episode of the series, ‘Defeat Gomess!’ ancient legend destinies that the retrieval of Litra’s egg will invoke a battle between Gomess and Litra ending in Gomess’s death-by-acid-ray. Fate, monster battles, prophecy, it’s all classic.


Other episodes subvert the norm, like episode 15 ‘Kanegon’s Cocoon,’ which follows a money-hungry little boy named Kaneo, who is, fittingly, engulfed by a cocoon that sounds like coins being shaken and then transformed into Kanegon, a monster that can only eat coins. With no other hope for the restoration of his humanity in sight, he must force Daddy Walrus to do a handstand in order to turn back… I mean… This one is pretty zany.


Ultra Q, as one of the earliest entries in the entire tokusatsu genre, breaks convention often — the biggest deviation probably being the fact that many of the episode premises rely on entities and creatures that are paranormal, but not quite Kaiju.

Episode 19 ‘Challenge from the Year 2020’ features an threat that’s not even a solid! When a UFO comes to earth and destroys two J.S.D.F jets, a glittery goo begins to spread around Tokyo, making whoever it touches disappear. The trio of heroes discover that the Kemur Man, and its… secretions are responsible for kidnapping these people for food, and must use a X-channel light ray invented by Dr. Kanda to face it. It seems that with no Ultraman, humanity must take the fight into their own hands.


While there are plenty of Kaiju appearances, Ultra Q isn’t really a superhero-monster-fighting show as much as it is an episodic investigation of phenomena beyond scientific explanation. Even the dynamic between Yuriko, Jun, and Ippei is more reflective of a buddy-cop, procedural, noir than the typical, friendly earth defense forces we see in other series.

The balance of whimsy and grit attracted adults and children alike, making it one of the most popular series of its time. The show was so loved that they were able to get away with the final entry not involving a kaiju or alien at all.

Episode 28, ‘Open Up!’ was originally postponed from airing for its lack of an antagonist, but ended up being officially broadcast a year later. The story is surreal, following Jun and Yuriko as they try to help a man who was once a passenger on an interdimensional ghost train from an alternate reality where no one is shackled by mundanities or legalities or societal norms.


The story is abstract and earnest, forcing its viewers to question their contentment with their own realities. It begs the question, ‘If you got a taste of unadulterated freedom, might you become obsessed with it to the point of leaving all of your worldly loves behind?’ The theme speaks to the pressures of Japanese cultural expectations and the monotony of routine in the modern age. It speaks to the shared dissatisfaction of working class people and artists alike, implying that the dream of a science fiction writer and the dreams of an office worker are, at their core, the same dreams.

There doesn’t need to be a kaiju or alien in the finale of Ultra Q,because the biggest obstacles any of us have to face on a daily basis are our own lives. Ultra Qcan explore topics like this and give us incredible Kaiju like Garamon in the same breath.


Ultimately, Ultra Q takes its hat off to human potential. I like to think of the series as a glimpse into what Ultraman has been seeing through the years of watching over humanity predating his intervention. This show exemplifies the human urge to understand, to survive, and to protect one another, all of which fuel Ultraman’s desire to help us.

Even though we would all love to see our silver giant in action, there is something intimate about learning the world of Ultraman before we get to meet him. Ultra Qis the perfect series to wet your feet before diving in.


The whole series is currently available on Blu-Ray via Mill Creek Entertainment with a package unlike any other Ultraman box set, paying homage to the classic series with a monochromatic collage frame around the black and white title. This set is essential to any collection and belongs in every fan’s home.