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

Produced in black and white by Tokyo Broadcasting System/Tsuburaya Productions, this is actually the first of the long-running Ultraman Series, and was broadcast at every weekend at 19:00-19:30 (JST) on Tokyo Broadcasting System 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 a week later by the more popular Ultraman, the second entry in the Ultraman Series.

This show can be watched on Shout TV, Pluto TV, Tubi, and Prime Video.



The proposal document for UNBALANCE includes 13 sample stories collaborated on by the SFWJ. Ultimately, only three of these episodes were broadcast as part of Ultra Q.[1]

Tsuburaya Productions was founded by Eiji Tsuburaya and officially established on April 12, 1963. However, as early as 1962, the company had already begun planning the production of the sci-fi TV series WoO at the request of Fuji Television. In April 1963, the first script for WoO was submitted to Fuji Television. In June of the same year, TBS Television also proposed a plan to produce a series using special effects technology. Both Fuji Television and TBS hoped to gain an advantage in the rapidly developing television field through the use of special effects.[1][2]

The main person in charge of these two projects at Tsuburaya Productions was the Director of Planning and Literature, screenwriter Tetsuo Kinjo. He actively promoted both projects.[3] Collaborating with the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of Japan, WoO depicted the adventures of cosmic creatures, with each episode being a standalone story. The TBS-planned UNBALANCE, on the other hand, was a serialized project full of suspense, emphasizing unique screenwriting styles and drawing inspiration from American TV series such as The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits. Its premise was based on the idea of "what if the balance of nature were disrupted," portraying how people would deal with mysterious phenomena and strange events beyond human comprehension. This was portrayed using the special effects expertise of Tsuburaya Productions.[4] These initial stages of planning required more time as they were pioneering projects in Japan. WoO was originally scheduled to air in the fall of 1964, and UNBALANCE was planned to start filming in June of the same year.[5][6][2]

At that time, WoO had progressed to the planning stage for its second quarter. In August, a sports newspaper introduced the content of the show and its starring actress. Despite some delays, the final scripts for episodes 1 and 2 were completed in September. However, issues arose during contract signing, and an agreement could not be reached, leading to the cancellation of the WoO project. On the other hand, the UNBALANCE project progressed smoothly. In August 1964, TBS signed a contract for one season (13 episodes) for 13 million yen. In September, drafts for "Metamorphosis," "Mammoth Flower," and "The Devil Child" were completed, with the final drafts of "Mammoth Flower" and "Transformation" finished by mid-September. The location shooting for "Mammoth Flower" officially started on September 27, marking the official start of the production of UNBALANCE.[7][8][2]

Oxberry Optical printer

To meet the production demands of their programs, Tsuburaya Productions purchased an Oxberry Optical printer from the United States. This printer was subsequently used long-term at the TBS Laboratory within TBS Television.[9][10][11]

TBS actively supported the production of UNBALANCE, even purchasing an optical printer machine from the American company Oxberry to ensure the quality of the work.[12] Initially, Eiji Tsuburaya planned to pay for this expensive equipment using the fees from both projects, but with the cancellation of WoO, Tsuburaya Productions canceled the order through an agent. However, the machine was already on its way to Japan, and the cost at that time was 40 million yen, which Tsuburaya Productions could not afford. Fortunately, Hajime Tsuburaya, working in TBS's Film Department, used his connections to persuade TBS Programming Director Naomichi Omori to decide to purchase the machine on behalf of Tsuburaya. The printer was subsequently installed within TBS and used during the production of Ultra Q. However, at that time in Japan, purchasing an optical printer for television production capable of overlaying three images was absolutely unthinkable. Therefore, the use of such an optical printer marked the first time in the television industry. Instructions were used to operate the printer, detailing composite cutting scenes, usage lengths, composite operation dates, and other information.[13][2]

TBS's plan was to use the reputation of "Tsuburaya of the World" for overseas sales. At that time, the contract was for 13 episodes per season, with TBS paying Tsuburaya Productions an estimated production cost of 70 million yen. At that time, the average production cost for a 30-minute TV film was 1.5 million yen, but the UNBALANCE project had already determined a production cost of 5 million yen per episode from the beginning, making it the highest production cost for a TV series in Japan at the time.[14][2]


Ultra Q 1966 41

"The production team of Ultra Q on the set filming the episode "Defeat Gomess!"

During the production of UNBALANCE, the first episode was directed by Koji Kajita, who served as Ishiro Honda's chief assistant director at Toho, with Keiji Kawakami as the special effects director. Initially, to reduce the production budget, a separate special effects team was not established. However, due to the demands of the filming schedule, a dedicated special effects team was eventually formed. To ensure the quality of the special effects, Eiji Tsuburaya insisted on using 35mm film for the entire production, which was the same film format used for theatrical movies, despite TV movies typically using 16mm film. This also included the intention to improve the precision of composites using an optical printer. Subsequently, Eiji Tsuburaya and Keiji Kawakami collaborated on the production of "Phantom Car" and "Open Up!." However, the planned fourth episode, "Phantom Car," was postponed in October due to concerns about its content within TBS. "Open Up!" and "The Gift From Space" were filmed between late October and early December 1964.[2]

During this period, Kaichi Iwasaki[15] from the TBS programming department suggested changing the title of "UNBALANCE." At that time, "Ultra C, a high-level gymnastics technique popular during the 1964 Summer Olympics, inspired the new title "Ultra Q." This title not only reflected the direction of the work and piqued the audience's curiosity with the question, "What is this?" but also emphasized the advanced special effects used in the show. The renaming to Ultra Q was officially announced in early January 1965.[16][17][2]

In December 1964, after TBS producer Takashi Kakoi, who replaced Hitoshi Shibusawa[18], watched the completed first three episodes and the samples of "Open Up!" and "The Gift From Space," he advocated for a shift towards a "kaiju-oriented" direction since Eiji Tsuburaya was supervising the production. Tsuburaya Productions accepted this suggestion, halted "Phantom Car," and adjusted the scripts for "I Saw a Bird" and "The 1/8 Project" in UNBALANCE to better fit the style of Ultra Q. They also incorporated a monster appearance scene into the sci-fi drama "The Disappearance of Flight 206," completing the final script for Ultra Q. From then on, the focus of the scripts shifted primarily towards monsters.[19][20]

Because Eiji Tsuburaya had a high standing with Toho, he was able to use various suits and props from Toho's kaiju films for this series. The Manda prop was used for the Dragon, with the head also serving as the front portion of a Viking ship seen in episode 12. The giant octopus prop from "King Kong vs. Godzilla" was used to portray Sudar, while the Maguma suit from "Gorath" was used to portray Todora. Additionally, various 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 Rodan prop for the giant birds Larugeus and Litra.

In January 1965, the number of episodes for the first quarter increased from the originally planned 13 to 15, and the scheduled broadcast in April of the same year was postponed. TBS decided more preparation time was needed, and in February, it was decided to produce an additional 13 episodes for the second quarter. At this time, there was a consensus within TBS that Sunday evenings at 7 PM was the most suitable time slot for airing "Ultra Q," and the network viewed it as their strongest program content. During this period, an English version intended for export was also started to supplement production funds, and promotional activities targeting the main audience—youth—were launched. The first promotional activity was an illustrated story of "Mammoth Flower" published in the April issue of the Kodansha monthly magazine Bokura, followed by serializations in both Ultra Q and Weekly Shonen Magazine.[21]

As production gradually got on track, the second quarter's episodes began production in March, with Toho's Samaji Nonagase and TBS's Toshihiro Iijima participating as directors. From the episode 14 onward, creators such as Tohl Narita, Ryosaku Takayama, Samaji Nonagase, and Toru Matoba also joined the production team.[22]

Ultra Q 1965 12

Ultra Q promotional cover in Weekly Shōnen Magazine, published on December 26, 1965.[23]

With the emergence of monsters, a diverse array of works continued to flourish. Ultra Q officially decided to start broadcasting at the end of September 1965, as reported first by the "Naigai Times" on September 30, 1965. After the marketing director of Takeda Pharmaceutical Company evaluated the pilot screening, they decided to cancel the then-unpopular The New Samurai and scheduled Ultra Q to follow in the "Takeda Time" lineup starting January 2, 1966. Subsequently, TBS established the "Super Liaison Committee" (abbreviated as ULC), jointly launching a large-scale promotional campaign since October involving TBS, its affiliated stations, Tsuburaya Productions, Takeda Pharmaceuticals, and the advertising agency Senkosha. Additionally, on October 22 of the same year, in response to sponsorship-related measures, "Goro and Goroh" underwent reshoots.[21]

Following a preview screening for broadcasting personnel held in Osaka, an introductory program titled The Mystery of Ultra Q: The World of Monsters was aired on December 25, 1965. Subsequently, on the 26th, regular preview screenings of "The Gift From Space" and "Goro and Goroh" were held at the TBS Hall. By the end of the year, program production had concluded, with mixing work continuing until mid-January.[24][25][26]


Ultra Q 1966 42

The main actors of Ultra Q participated in the production press conference.

After airing in 1966, Ultra Q became immensely popular for featuring kaiju that had previously only been seen in movies, paving the way for the first Monster Boom. Most episodes achieved over 30% viewership ratings, making it a widely beloved program. Records were set as the first batch of records released by multiple companies sold out within a short period of 30,000 copies, eventually becoming a million-selling hit. Related merchandise also sold well, and the favorable terms for commercializing these products extended into the contract for the next series, Ultraman, where soft vinyl monster figures became iconic best-sellers. The revenue from these merchandise sales helped offset production costs.[27][21]

Initially targeted at children and families, its popularity expanded the audience to include upper elementary to middle school students. Moreover, serialized manga appeared in Shogaku Gonensei, and special features were covered in magazines for middle school students, further broadening its popularity.

TBS invited Tsuburaya to develop the next program, adding a new focus on combating monsters and introducing giant heroes, which eventually led to the even more popular series Ultraman, forming a long-running franchise. The initial concept of the program, UNBALANCE, was revisited by Tsuburaya in 1973, resulting in the production of a 13-episode horror anthology series titled Horror Theater Unbalance.


As supernatural events and monster attacks rock Japan, the military and government look to be overwhelmed. Three intrepid young investigators—two pilots and a reporter—take it upon themselves to study these unexplained phenomena in order to inform and protect the public.

With allies and science aiding them on their journey, the trio must separate myth from history as they explore the greater mysteries of these occurrences: are they unrelated, or is this barrage somehow a portent of even worse things to come?[28]




English Dub[]

Page from United Artist Television's Press Kit

Page from United Artists Television's press kit

In 1967, Ultra Q was licensed from Tsuburaya Productions and TBS by CBS Films, producers of The Twilight Zone. It was a package deal that not only included Ultra Q, but also Ultraman. For the task of dubbing, CBS hired Film House in Toronto, Canada, which 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 licencing the series, and it was picked up, along with Ultraman, by United Artists Television, producers of The Outer Limits. With dubbing of Ultra Q complete, United Artists 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 series were switching to color. After Ultraman finished its run in syndication, audio and film masters and other materials of both series were stored in the MGM vaults. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, all materials reverted back to, and were collected by, Tsuburaya.[5][29]

It is commonly believed that only one episode, specifically episode 3, was dubbed as a pilot. This has proven not to be true, as other episodes have been found either in audio prints, like episode 3, or film or video prints. From here it can be concluded that this was not the only episode produced.


  • Jun Manjome (万城目 淳, Manjōme Jun): Kenji Sahara (佐原 健二, Sahara Kenji)
  • Ippei Togawa (戸川 一平, Togawa Ippei): Yasuhiko Saijo (西條 康彦, Saijo Yasuhiko)
  • Yuriko Edogawa (江戸川 由利子, Edogawa Yuriko): Hiroko Sakurai (桜井 浩子, Sakurai Hiroko)
  • Dr. Ichinotani (一の谷博士, Ichinotani Hakase): Ureo Egawa (江川 宇礼雄, Egawa Ureo)
  • Deskworker Seki (関デスク, Seki Desuku): Yoshifumi Tajima (田島 義文, Tajima Yoshifumi)
  • Assistant Honda (本多助手, Honda Joshu): Tadashi Okabe (岡部 正, Okabe Tadashi)
  • Reporter Soma (相馬記者, Soma Kisha): Haruya Kato (加藤 春哉, Kato Haruya)
  • Photographer Sugimoto (杉本カメラマン, Sugimoto Kameraman): Koji Uno (宇野 晃司, Uno Kōji)
  • Narration (ナレーション, Narration): Koji Ishizaka (石坂 浩二, Ishizaka Kōji)

Suit Actors[]

  • Gomess, Pagos: Haruo Nakajima (中島 春雄, Nakajima Haruo)
  • Goro, Gameron, Mongula, Todola: Yukio Fukutome (福留 幸夫, Fukutome Yukio)
  • Peguila: Yukihiro Seino (清野 幸弘, Seino Yukihiro)
  • Gorgos, M1, Kanegon, Peter: Haruyoshi Nakamura (中村 晴吉, Nakamura Harayoshi)
  • Garamon: Minoru Takahashi (高橋 実, Takahashi Minoru)
  • Kemur, Ragon: Bin Furuya (古谷 敏, Furuya Bin)



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. A radio program featuring the voices of the three original stars of the show (playing their classic characters) called The Ultra Q Club aired on Japanese radio from 2003-2004. Also in 2004, a new TV series called Ultra Q: Dark Fantasy was produced, while another TV series called Neo Ultra Q began airing in early 2013.

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.

Various Ultra Q monsters were reused or redressed for various monsters in Ultraman. Kemur and Ragon (both now giant-sized) returned, while the Garamon suit was reused and the monster was reduced in size and renamed Pigmon. Other suits were altered into other monsters, such as Peguila being altered into Chandlar, Kemur being altered into Alien Zetton, Pagos being altered into Neronga, Magular, and Gabora, the Cicada Human being altered into Alien Baltan, and Peter being altered into Guesra.

Home Media[]

Shout! Factory released the complete series of Ultra Q on DVD on August 13, 2013.[30]

Total Natural Color Ultra Q Box I features episodes 1-14, and Box II features episodes 15-28. Both of these box sets were released during the 45th anniversary of the show. Ultra Q Deluxe Edition features all 28 episodes. In 2019, Mill Creek Entertainment released Ultra Q as standard and SteelBook Blu-ray releases in the United States.


External Links[]


  1. 1.0 1.1 https://weekly.ascii.jp/elem/000/001/273/1273700/
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 Ultra Tokusatsu PERFECT MOOK vol. 06: Ultra Q, pg 4
  3. https://www.tamagawa.jp/introduction/tamagawa_trivia/tamagawa_trivia-32.html
  4. https://news.mynavi.jp/article/20181110-721889/
  5. 5.0 5.1 Eiji Tsuburaya: Master of Monsters: Defending the Earth with Ultraman and Godzilla by August Ragone. Chronicle Books (2007). ISBN 978-0-8118-6078-9.
  6. https://news.line.me/detail/oa-penonline/osj4b9v7p8z7?mediadetail=1
  7. http://ultraq.web.fc2.com/process.html
  8. https://cocreco.kodansha.co.jp/telemaga/news/YZSAr
  9. https://www.jstage.jst.go.jp/article/itej1954/18/9/18_9_542/_pdf/-char/ja
  10. https://ure.pia.co.jp/articles/-/43771?page=2
  11. https://qqquuu7.web.fc2.com/sfx02.html
  12. https://ascii.jp/elem/000/001/271/1271733/
  13. https://weekly.ascii.jp/elem/000/001/400/1400519/
  14. http://ultraq.web.fc2.com/unbalance.html
  15. https://www.iwasakiyoshikazu.info/ホーム/岩崎嘉一-足跡
  16. https://achami-network.under.jp/ultra-event/ultraq/ultra-q
  17. https://www.asahi.com/articles/ASN1N3V8MN1HULZU007.html
  18. https://ameblo.jp/onishi2/entry-10014531972.html
  19. https://magmix.jp/post/58708
  20. https://kaigo-postseven.com/103280
  21. 21.0 21.1 21.2 Ultra Tokusatsu PERFECT MOOK vol. 06: Ultra Q, pg 5
  22. https://www.eonet.ne.jp/~negiboze/uqcastaff.html
  23. https://nakanojapan.com/postname-28/
  24. https://ascii.jp/elem/000/001/274/1274569/
  25. https://ameblo.jp/takagi-mania/entry-12833860033.html
  26. https://x.com/pagos_ke/status/945064255103016960
  27. https://toyokeizai.net/articles/-/423036
  28. https://tsuburaya-prod.com/business/titlelist/3352
  29. http://www.grnrngr.com/documents/ultraq.txt
  30. http://www.tvshowsondvd.com/news/Urutora-Q-The-Complete-Series/18445

  • The Q-Files: Complete Ultra Q Episode Guide by Jim Cirronella and Kevin Grays. Originally published in KAIJU-FAN #4 (November 1996).
  • Ultraman Monster Ultra Large Collection (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.
Showa Series Ultra Q | Ultraman | Ultraseven | Return of Ultraman | Ultraman Ace | Ultraman Taro | Ultraman Leo | Ultraman 80
Heisei Series Ultraman Tiga | Ultraman Dyna | Ultraman Gaia | Ultraman Cosmos | Ultra Q: Dark Fantasy | Ultraman Nexus | Ultraman Max | Ultraman Mebius | Ultraseven X | Ultra Galaxy Mega Monster Battle | Ultra Galaxy Mega Monster Battle: Never Ending Odyssey | Neo Ultra Q | Ultraman Ginga | Ultraman Ginga S | Ultraman X | Ultraman Orb | Ultraman Geed | Ultraman R/B
Reiwa Series Ultraman Taiga | Ultraman Z | Ultraman Trigger: New Generation Tiga | Ultraman Decker | Ultraman Blazar | Ultraman Arc
Outside of Japan Ultraman: The Adventure Begins | Ultraman: Towards the Future | Ultraman: The Ultimate Hero | Ultraman: Rising
Original Video and TV Special Ultra Fight | Ultraman vs. Kamen Rider | Ultra Super Fight | Ultraman Nice | Heisei Ultraseven | Ultraman Neos | Ultraman: Super Fighter Legend | Ultra Idemitsujin | Ultra Zone
Showa Movies Ultraman: Monster Movie Feature | Ultraman, Ultraseven: Great Violent Monster Fight | Return of Ultraman | The 6 Ultra Brothers vs. The Monster Army | Ultraman (1979) | Ultraman: Great Monster Decisive Battle | Return of Ultraman: MAT Arrow 1 Takeoff Order | Ultraman ZOFFY: Ultra Warriors vs. the Giant Monster Army | Ultraman Story
Heisei Movies Ultra Q The Movie | Revive! Ultraman | Ultraman Zearth | Ultraman Zearth 2 | Ultraman Tiga & Ultraman Dyna | Ultraman Tiga, Ultraman Dyna, & Ultraman Gaia | Ultraman Tiga: The Final Odyssey | Ultraman Cosmos: The First Contact | Ultraman Cosmos 2 | New Century Ultraman Legend | Ultraman Cosmos vs. Ultraman Justice | New Century 2003 Ultraman Legend | ULTRAMAN (2004) | Ultraman Mebius & the Ultra Brothers | Super 8 Ultra Brothers | Mega Monster Battle Ultra Galaxy: The Movie | Ultraman Zero: The Revenge of Belial | Ultraman Saga | Ultraman Ginga Theater Special | Ultraman Ginga Theater Special: Battle Royale | Ultraman Ginga S The Movie | Ultraman X The Movie | Ultraman Orb The Movie | Ultraman Geed The Movie | Ultraman R/B The Movie
Reiwa Movies Ultraman Taiga The Movie | Ultraman Trigger: Episode Z | Shin Ultraman | Ultraman Decker Finale | Ultraman Blazar The Movie
Spin-Offs Andro Melos | Ultraman Zearth: Parody Chapter | Revival of the Ancient Giant | The Return of Hanejiro | Gaia Again | Ultra Q Kaiju Legend | Ultraman Kaiju Legend | Hikari Saga | Armored Darkness | Ghost Rebirth | Ultraman Zero vs. Darklops Zero | Q - Door to Another Dimension | Killer the Beatstar | Ultra Zero Fight | Ultra Fight Victory | Ultraman Orb THE ORIGIN SAGA | Ultra Fight Orb | New Generation Heroes | The Absolute Conspiracy | Sevenger Fight | The Struggle of Special Section 3 | The Destined Crossroad | Continued Ultra Fight | Shin Ultra Fight | Return of Special Section 3 | Ultraman Regulos | Ultraman Regulos: First Mission | Ultraseven IF Story | SKaRD Break Room
Rebroadcast Shows Ultraman Retsuden | New Ultraman Retsuden | Ultraman Zero: The Chronicle | Ultraman Orb: The Chronicle | Ultraman New Generation Chronicle | Ultraman Chronicle: ZERO & GEED | Ultraman Chronicle Z: Heroes' Odyssey | Ultraman Chronicle D | Ultraman New Generation Stars
Informational Ultraman The Prime | ULTRAMAN ARCHIVES | Ultra Science Fantasy Hour | Ultra Fight Club | UlSummer Information Station | Ultra Information Center | Professor Teruaki's "Blazar Kaiju Academy" | Super Power! Ultra Encyclopedia! | Ultra Construction Tour | THE ORIGIN OF ULTRAMAN | Ultraman 4K Discovery
Docudramas Fly in the Sea Breeze! Ultraman | The Men Who Made Ultraman | My Beloved Ultraseven | The Man Who Wanted to be Ultraman | The Kaiju Club | The Two Ultramen
Other Series and Movies Kaiju Booska | Captain Ultra | Mighty Jack | Fight! Mighty Jack | Operation: Mystery | Chibira-kun | Mirrorman | Redman | Triple Fighter | Emergency Directive 10-4·10-10 | Iron King | Horror Theater Unbalance | Fireman | Jumborg Ace | Mirror Fight | Jumborg Ace & Giant | Mars Men | Army of the Apes | Pro-Wres no Hoshi Azteckaiser | The Last Dinosaur | Dinosaur Expedition Born Free | Dinosaur Great War Izenborg | Star Wolf | Dinosaur Squadron Koseidon | Anime-chan | Gridman the Hyper Agent | Superhuman Samurai Syber-Squad | Moon Spiral | Cyber Beauties Telomere | Booska! Booska!! | Otasuke Girl | Mysterious Incident Special Investigation Team SRI | Mirrorman REFLEX | Bio Planet WoO | Operation: Mystery - Second File | Mirror Fight 2012 | Operation: Mystery - Mystery File | Gridknight Fight
Anime The☆Ultraman | Ultraman Kids | Ultraman Graffiti: Wild! Ultra Country | Ultraman: Super Fighter Legend | Ultra Nyan | Ultra Nyan 2: The Great Happy Operation | Ultraman M78 Theater Love & Peace | Gridman the Hyper Agent: boys invent great hero | The・Ultraman: Jackal vs. Ultraman | Kaiju Sakaba Kanpai! | Kaiju Girls | SSSS.GRIDMAN | ULTRAMAN (2019) | Kaiju Step Wandabada | SSSS.DYNAZENON | KAIJU DECODE | GRIDMAN UNIVERSE
Outlaw Content Space Warriors 2000 | Project Ultraman | Ultraman The Animation | Ultraman: A Little Journey on Earth | Fun... English with Ultraman | Young Ultraman | Ultraman Big Transformation | Sinic Q | Red Jade | Dragon Force: So Long Ultraman | Dragon Force: Rise of Ultraman