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Monday, February 4, 2013

From Beyond Television: Ultraseven Episode #10



Dubbed title: THE MAN NEXT DOOR

"Beware of your neighbors, everybody. Remember, our Earth is always in danger of being invaded. And if you should ever find some suspicious character, call the Ultra Guard. You never know what he's up to!"

Akira, a young boy with a broken leg, spies peculiar goings on at his neighbors house. He tries to tell his mother, but she doesn't believe him. With recurring strange phenomena, the Ultra Guard get involved. Upon visiting the little boy, Dan vanishes; seemingly sucked into another dimension. In this otherworldly place, Dan meets Icarus, an alien with plans of planetary conquest. Occupying the Fourth Dimension, Dan is powerless -- he cannot change into Ultraseven, nor use his monster capsules. Meanwhile, the Icarus seijin attacks the Earth in their enormous saucer.

Monster fans will rejoice with this tenth episode as it has a great deal of miniature destruction and lots of action. The rollicking 'Sons of Hercules' style Ultra theme song returns here, too, as does some choice jingoistic cues heard often throughout the series.

This episode starts off like it's going to be another horror themed program, but it quickly dives back into traditional kaiju conventions with a touch of THE TWILIGHT ZONE style science fiction elements. It's still fairly engaging since Moroboshi is trapped in the Fourth Dimension, helpless to aid the Ultra Garrison as the Icarus seijin attacks. His Ultra Eye does not work, yet when he comes to the realization the aliens machine is what connects this alternate reality with our own, his laser gun seems to function. 

That Moroboshi is trapped and unable to change into Ultraseven is a great cliffhanger, but the lazy method by which he re-enters our universe is simplistic in execution. Still, this is a kids show, after all.

The Icarus beast in its true form is a humanoid bat creature with an epidermal outer layer. It's a bizarre creation, which is saying a lot when it comes to Japanese monster suit designs for Tokusatsu TV shows. The monster does this rapid shaking of its arms, almost like it's having a fit of some kind. This creature, that can't seem to sit still for a second, has its own widespread energy beam that burns whatever it hits.

The battle is a decent one, although it's shot in a curious fashion. The camera placement is unusual and sometimes it deliriously fluctuates from upside down to right side up. The battle also features the aliens UFO in action. It likewise sprays a wide reaching beam of energy needles that fry everything in its path. The Ultra Hawks enters the fray and helps out during the fight. Seven's 'Eye Slugger' weapon doesn't have the same effect on this beast as it does all the others, strangely enough. The battle briefly continues in space as the Ultra Hawks chase the fleeing alien spacecraft as it leaves the Earth's orbit.

This is a really exciting show, and among the best the series has to offer up to this point. There's much to recommend here, even if most of it is of a quirky variety. The early scenes with the creepy neighbor are impressive and viewed from odd camera angles giving off an aura of the macabre. The photography, like in a lot of these episodes, is equally effective.

The set design for the Fourth Dimension is also creative even if it's basically a bunch of yellow balloons strewn around thick tendrils and bizarre tubular constructs. It definitely evokes an otherworldy quality that serves its purpose within the wacky world of Japanese Tokusatsu. So far, ULTRASEVEN impresses with a good deal of lively, and engaging science fiction stories.

Of minor interest, there's approximately two seconds of dialog missing at 00:07:36.


WEAPONS: Ultra Hawk #1 and #2

To be continued in Episode Eleven: FLY TO DEVIL'S MOUNTAIN!!!

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