Episode One: THE INVISIBLE CHALLENGER **1/2
Dubbed title: ENTER DAN MOROBOSHI
This has to be the work of aliens. What else can it be?
Aliens from the planet Kuuru have kidnapped a number of humans for experimental purposes leading to an impending invasion of the planet Earth. The Terrestial Defense Force is sent to investigate and meets a mysterious wanderer named Dan Moroboshi who helps destroy the invading alien forces. No one knows his true identity, but Moroboshi transforms into Ultraseven, a silver and red dressed superhero from another galaxy committed to protecting the Earth from monsters and alien threats.
This first episode of ULTRASEVEN is standard monster fare, but is integral to the series in that it introduces the core of the Ultra Garrison and also some of their assorted technologically advanced war craft. It's an average, if tightly directed intro that sets up the episodes to follow. Granted, many of the episodes are interchangeable to this one, but generally most kids (and grown up kids) watch these things for the monsters; anything else is a bonus.
For this premiere show, it's a bit of a shock that the title spaceman doesn't battle a monster in his giant form. Ultraseven does confront an alien, but he quickly dispatches it using his "Eye Slugger", a crest aligning the back of his helmet that is used as a laser slicer to cut the monsters into pieces. He does go Big to destroy the Kuurian spaceship. The episode also benefits from a good amount of special effects such as the destruction of a refinery.
The scenario, characters and science fiction elements are familiar from ULTRAMAN, but there's notable differences to make it stand out. These would become more apparent as the series progressed. One of the most notable differences is in the Ultraseven character, an alien being who walks among mankind as Dan Moroboshi. Among the differences that sets Seven apart are his telepathic abilities and the use of an "Ultra Eye" to transform into the alien superhero. It looks like a pair of sunglasses he places over his eyes enabling him to change into Ultraseven.
One of the most intriguing differences is the use of Moroboshi's monster capsules. These are small pills that look like Tylenol. Dan throws them into the air when he can't transform. and lets one of a few different monsters have a turn at some action (see image above). Curiously, there's no reason Dan can't change into Ultraseven during this sequence, it just seems like an excuse to introduce the monster capsules.
Tokusatsu fans will surely recognize Sandayu Dokumamushi from the first ULTRAMAN series as Arashi. He's the only main player from the previous Tsuburaya show to take a lead role on this second series in a Science Patrol type capacity. Bin Furuya, who previously acted inside the Ultraman suit, is Garrison member, Amagi.
GODZILLA fans will also recognize Akihiko Hirata in this episode. Hirata was Dr. Serizawa in the 1954 GODZILLA. He also played another despondent, borderline insane scientist in TERROR OF MECHAGODZILLA from 1975. Other Japanese Kaiju films he appeared in include RODAN (1956), MOTHRA (1961), GHIDORAH, THE THREE HEADED MONSTER (1964), GODZILLA VS. THE SEA MONSTER (1966) and LATITUDE ZERO (1969).
It's worth noting that there are multiple translations of the monsters (see below) and episode titles, so I have included as many of them as I can find throughout this guide. The subtitles on this set aren't the best, but they get the point across even if they don't feel wholly accurate. These are not, after all, licensed from Tsuburaya, but from the Thai company Chaiyo; so these will not be definitive presentations. It's good to have this set, but the downside is, we will likely never receive a presentation representative of the company that made ULTRAMAN, ULTRASEVEN and the others that followed.
MONSTERS: Kuuru; Coul (tentacled, crustacean-like, floating beings from the planet Kuuru), Windham (one of Moroboshi's capsule monsters)
WEAPONS: The Pointer (Ultra Garrison weapons laden vehicle), Ultra Hawk 1(An enormous fighter plane that can split into three separate planes -- Alpha, Beta and Gamma)
To be continued in Episode Two: THE GREEN TERROR!!!