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Wednesday, February 6, 2013

From Beyond Television: Ultraseven Episode #16


Dubbed title: THE EYES HAVE IT

"I swear on my honor as a fellow alien!"

 After going missing for three months while en route to study the planet Annon, Cherry Blossom 9 suddenly reappears and initiates contact with the Terrestrial Defense Force. Landing near Mt. Hades, Moroboshi, Anne and Amagi are sent to investigate. Upon their arrival at the landing site, they witness the craft explode. Afterward, Dan hears something, but the others hear nothing at all. A strange eye is watching him from inside the mountain wall. Meanwhile, a little boy named Hiroshi finds a stone in the shape of a creature around Mt. Hades. Some bullies try to take it away from him, but a giant eye embedded in a tree emits a sonic power to allow the boy to escape. Later that night, the boy is told by a disembodied voice to return the stone to the mountain. Promising to make the boy strong enough to beat his bullies, the kid returns the stone to the mountaintop.

The eyes definitely do not have it on this mostly pointless episode. It's one of a few 'random events' programmers when the scriptwriters were either unable, or weren't interested in covering up plot holes or telling a feasible story. However, there's some great ideas here that aren't realized even to a moderate extent.

The bullying of the little boy is possibly this episodes best attribute and it's the only one given a modicum of attention. This plot point would be better served in Ishiro Honda's superb, if divisive ALL MONSTERS ATTACK! from 1970, or, as it's also known as, GODZILLA'S REVENGE. This plot point of the bullied, lonely little boy is worked out for the best at the end, and it would seem this episode was speaking on bullying while being masked as a monster show. 

Children have long been a staple of Japanese Kaiju product, and having been used for truly horrifying purposes in episode nine (among others), it's a breath of fresh air to see them in more kid friendly surroundings.

While there's no explanation given as to why the boy has to return the rock to the mountain (since it was already there in the first place), the fact that this "eye creature" seduces the kid with promises it has no intentions of keeping has darker connotations than what the 25 minute running time will allow.

While the various shots of the eyes appearing in trees, rocks and shadow encrusted walls provide some surreal and creepy imagery, the reasoning behind "the eyes" isn't sufficiently justified.

The finale of this episode also presents yet another misunderstanding between aliens and humans. This plot device was just covered in episodes 14 and 15, and also in previous shows, so its usage here is getting a bit monotonous. Yes, monotonous could perfectly apply to any of the hundreds of Tokusatsu shows, but without superheroes and monsters, you've got nothing where these things are concerned. 

The monster design of the Annonian Rock Beast is also a disappointment and seems like it was slapped together. However, the actual form of one of the Annonian aliens is never seen outside of the surreal eyeballs that pop up here and there. Still, this episode has some nice touches, but not enough to put in the company of the best the series has to offer. Ultraseven fares much better, though.

Seven uses some different powers during the end fight with the Annonian monster. One is a shield and the other is a ring beam -- a series of circular lasers that are emitted from his arms once their outstretched and cusped together. This is also the first nighttime battle of the series. About 90 percent of this show takes place at night, as well.

MONSTERS: Annonian alien
WEAPONS: Ultra Hawk 1

To be continued in Episode Seventeen: UNDERGROUND: GO! GO! GO!!!!

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