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Monday, December 17, 2012

From Beyond Television: Ultraseven Episode #3

Episode Three: SECRET FROM THE LAKE ***

"Men on this planet can't resist pretty girls like us!"

An unidentified object has landed somewhere near the Kiso Mountains. Dan and Furuhashi are sent to find any wreckage, or signs of life. They find a young girl swimming in Lake Azuma as well as a spaceship nearby. Both men go aboard the craft where they find a girl that looks exactly like the one they saw swimming in the lake. The two men are temporarily knocked unconscious by gas emitting from the walls of the ship. When Dan comes to, he realizes the Ultra Eye is missing. Without it, he can't turn into Ultraseven. 

Not long after, a giant monster named Eleking emerges from Lake Azuma. Till he can locate the Ultra Eye, Dan uses one of his space capsules to send Monster Mikuras to battle the amphibious Eleking, a beast under the control of two insectoid twin creatures posing as little girls with plans to wipe out all of mankind.

Again the script isn't fleshed out to a great degree, but for this sort of thing, it's not totally necessary. There are hints that the two insect-like fem-aliens disguised as little girls are on some twisted environmental mission to wipe out mankind to have the planet all to themselves, but details aren't elaborated on. 

Environmentalist propaganda was commonplace in 70s cinema and TV both here and abroad. Japan often commented on the results of atomic testing particularly in Ishiro Honda's Toho Sci-Fi films; it was a subject that was devastatingly personable for them after the effects of the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

What's of minor interest on an apocalyptic note is the resemblance of the two alien twins to insects (see above). It's said that if man were to destroy himself, insects such as cockroaches could possibly survive a nuclear holocaust. It's also curious that in so many Japanese science fiction movies and television programs from the late 60s onward, women are almost always the antagonistic leaders, or sole representation of an alien race.

With its threadbare storyline, 'Secret From the Lake' has a ton of action and special effects. It's heaviest on the monsters of the three episodes up to this point. Eleking is onscreen for about half the running time. The battle in and around the lake with Mikuras is a lot of fun as is the skirmish with Ultraseven. The last moment of the fight with Seven contains a graphic moment of gruesome violence that was often seen in the fights in the 'Showa' Gamera series of films and totally unexpected.

This is also the first time we see the Ultra Hawk 3 air ship as well as the second appearance of Ultra Hawk 2, a spacecraft used primarily for outer space exploration.

Overall, this is a superb action episode, and a highlight of the series in terms of the fun factor that Tokusatsu shows bring to the table; enabling older fans to remember what it's like to be a kid all over again.

MONSTERS: Eleking (amphibious monster of alien origin), Mikuras; Miclas (One of Ultraseven's monster helpers)

WEAPONS: Ultra Hawk #1, #2 and #3

To be continued in Episode Four: THE STOLEN EYE!!!

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