Tuesday, December 18, 2012

From Beyond Television: Ultraseven Episode #5



Directed by Hajime Tsuburaya

A supersonic jet leaves the Ultra Guard Science Center in Antarctica with renowned scientist, Dr. Yushima. aboard. Heading for Japan to the Ultra Garrison command center, the jet inexplicably freezes in the air; momentarily caught in some bizarre beam. Upon his arrival, agent Furuhashi is assigned as Dr. Yushima's bodyguard. What's unknown to the Ultra crew is that Dr. Yushima is being used as a vassal for the Biran Seijin, a race of beings with the intent of conquering the entire universe.

Virtually a remake of episode one, the script for this show explores some engaging themes for the time allowed in this 25 minute format. This prize plot device being the mind controlled Dr. Yushima attempting to get Dan Moroboshi out of the way. He does this by accusing him of sabotaging his electronic gizmo that will greatly enhance the Ultra Garrison's radar capabilities. 

Of course, otherworldly, and sneaky alien threats can't have humans learning of their plans ahead of time. The script here gets a bit more time to play around with this play on the well worn "body snatcher" motif. The placing of blame for the radar sabotage on Moroboshi is a bit far-fetched, but it succeeds in providing a brief bit of cliffhanger candy till the big monster fight at the end.

There's a great moment where Dan is imprisoned for this alleged treachery while an invading fleet of Birian war ships (a cluster of saucers akin to the Kuuru ships in episode 1) attack the Earth.

The main monster, a stingray-like creature with tendrils and arachnid style appendages recalls the similar floating beast of episode one as well. Unlike that premiere show, Ultraseven actually engages the monster in giant form, and amidst a set with miniature homes as opposed to the traditional mountainous, or countryside regions that save on miniature building construction.

Ultraseven shows off some different abilities during the concluding moments of this episode. One is some sort of energy shield that repels an enemies attack. The other is where his hand is pointed towards the monster with the index and middle finger extended. A rapid fire stream of laser bullets are shot from his fingers.

Vastly similar to the first episode, this version is much better. A little less action, but a nice balance of slight story and effects. 

MONSTERS: Bira; Villa
WEAPONS: Ultra Hawk #1 and #3

To be continued in Episode Six: THE DARK ZONE!!!

From Beyond Television: Ultraseven Episode #4

Episode Four: THE STOLEN EYE; also RESPOND MAX  **1/2


Three members of the Ultra Garrison are sent to a secret meeting with Commander Takenaka aboard the Max, one of the elite vessels in the Ultra Guard. This secret mission is to learn of the origin of several oceanic disappearances. Meanwhile, Moroboshi's Ultra Eye is stolen after he stops to help a woman on the side of an empty highway. Meanwhile at sea, the Max is lifted out of the ocean and carried into space by a red cloud. Dan and Capt. Kiriyama search miles of ocean while Furuhashi heads for space in the Ultra Hawk #2 for any signs of The Max. He finds the enormous vessel floating in space as well as evil aliens known as the Godorians who plan to take over the Earth.

This is a pretty much standard episode as far as Tokusatsu shows are concerned. Plenty of action, but slim on story. It has a great and colorful monster in Godora. Godora is a typical old school villain -- he laughs after virtually every sentence proclaiming whatever harm his species intends to bring.

One of the episodes highlights is Godora taking on the form of Moroboshi while the real one is trapped inside a capsule as a timer ticks down to destroy The Max. An evil duplicate of the main character presents numerous possibilities, yet 25 minutes isn't a whole lot of time to tinker around with this idea. However, the plot device of aliens taking over, or cloning the form of a prominent human figure is a regularly recurring one in this series.

It's not a total waste, though. There's a great photographic shot of 'Evil Moroboshi' as blue light reflects off of his face. 


Seven goes Giant, but does more action as a man-sized superhero. When he makes it into space and aboard The Max, he clobbers a number of Godorians and even uses some sort of laser throwing blade to take one out. Sadly, the final fight when he goes Giant is sort of anti-climactic with an abrupt, cop-out finish. Still, Eiji Tsuburaya's effects on these television budgets continue to impress. 

The Max is a nice miniature sea vessel that, when out of the water, slightly resembles the Space Battleship Yamato from the STARBLAZERS anime.

Also, the title of this episode from the subtitles ('Respond Max' is listed as the translated title from other sources) is redundant considering Moroboshi's Ultra Eye was stolen in the previous episode by female insects from outer space. This is a plot device that crops up a few more times.

MONSTERS: Godora; Gorora; Godollas

WEAPONS: The Max (Ultra Guard sea vessel), Ultra Hawk #1 and #2

To be continued in Episode Five: THE LOST HOURS!!!

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