Of the vast menagerie of monsters and aliens that populate the Ultraman series’, the one that stands as one of the most iconic is the Alien Baltan, Ultraman’s famous arch-rival. Appearing in episode 2 of the original Ultraman show from 1966, Baltan has had incredible staying power for 55 years.

A species known as the “Space Ninjas” from Planet Baltan, an experiment by a scientist on that world caused the entire planet to be destroyed in a great cataclysm. Now a race of refugees, the remaining Baltan aliens wander the cosmos, searching for a new place to call their home. This driving need occasionally puts them into conflict with the human race and Ultraman, forcing the two aliens to do battle.

The Baltan aliens stand out in Ultraman’s rogues gallery of Kaiju thanks to their eerie laughter, as well as their tremendous, lobster-like claws. These claws allow the Baltans to utilize a wide variety of abilities such as powerful light bullets, red beams to freeze their opponents. Additionally, true to their space ninja-monikers, the Baltan aliens are incredibly crafty and intelligent opponents in battle and are quite fond of using illusionary tactics to create an army of copies to confuse and disorient their foes. The Baltan aliens are a challenging rival to Ultraman thanks to their cleverness and special abilities. However, Ultraman’s Spacium Beam proves to be a dangerous weakness for the Baltan aliens, making the hero from M78 and the space-ninjas evenly matched in combat.

While Ultraman and Alien Baltan have butted heads in Ultraman, Return of Ultraman, The Ultraman and Ultraman 80, occasionally, it is shown that Baltans, humanity, and Ultraman could work together and coexist. We see this in series such as Ultraman Cosmos and Ultraman Max. While conflict has occurred between Ultraman and the Baltan aliens, not all of them want to use violence to work out their problems. This makes them different from the vast majority of aliens that Ultraman and his comrades have battled through the franchise’s history.

While Ultraman celebrates his 55th birthday, it is only fitting that his greatest arch-rival gets some of that recognition as well. While there have been many alien and monster opponents for Ultraman and his brethren to battle, not many are as beloved, or as iconic as Alien Baltan himself. And as the Ultraman series marches into the future, Alien Baltan will be alongside the hero from the Land of Light, acting as a rival or a sympathetic figure. In fact, he has most recently appeared to warn Ultra fans of the upcoming Ultraman Connection Live: Ultraman Day online event. What exactly is the connection, we wonder…?