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Thursday, January 16, 2014

From Beyond Television: Ultraman Leo Episode #2


When we last left Ultraman Leo, he was engaged in another struggle between the Gillas brothers as a tidal wave wiped out Tokyo. Once more, Magma Seijin descends from the sky to pummel U-Leo just as his color timer begins flashing. Unable to transform into Ultraseven, Moroboshi exhausts himself by using his extraordinary psychokinesis abilities to distract the monsters long enough for Leo to gain the upper hand. After severing the horns from the heads of the Gillas twins, they all retreat. During the flood of Tokyo, Gen's lady friend, Momoko is seriously wounded. Not knowing if she'll live or not, Dan pushes Gen to hone his skills in his human form, thereby merging with his Leo persona to become stronger than before. Meanwhile, the two Gillas kaiju and their master, Magma Seijin mount a counterattack.

This continuation of episode one is essentially the same thing -- it opens and closes in the exact same way as the premiere. There's one difference that's striking, even though it has no emotional impact behind it.

As Gen privately trains at his gym, Dan, along with MAC members, engage the Gillas in battle as they once again attack Tokyo. We get to see the MAC planes in action, but they're quickly shot down by the Gillas. Yes, we're only two episodes in and team members are being killed off already. Dan watches from the MAC-3 as both separate planes that make up the MAC-2 are destroyed.

Some slight drama is derived from Momoko's life hanging by a thread after she's seriously injured saving her sister from being crushed by a car during the chaos. This portion of the episode is handled well, and isn't treated as mere padding between monster fights.

However, the episode does get a little sloppy at times -- the darkness of the monster scenes never matches the exterior human scenes in what is supposed to be a city under siege. Episode one was better at juggling this, but here, it's tossed out the window. There's also a major editing flub during the fight at the beginning. Once Magma Seijin shows up, he suddenly has a cape where he didn't have one before. Also, in one shot, he's seen wearing his sword and hook arm, but in the next shot, they're gone; then they're back again! 

The Red and Black Gillas are a curious design. They have a reptilian appearance with spikes all over their backs. There are horns on top of their heads that act as receptors, and also fire colored electric beams. They lose these horns early on, but they've grown back when they re-appear at the end. There's also a gigantic, if cumbersome horn jutting out of their backs that bends downward. The two beasts have a special ability -- upon joining together, they spin around in cyclonic fashion creating an electrical force field around them. Moroboshi becomes Gen's instructor training him to overcome the Gillas brothers maneuver. Akin to episode four of ULTRAMAN JACK, Leo must learn to get around this force field. He does, and his method is a Tornado Kick that has gruesome results.

This episode ends on a high note; and while the action comes fast and furious with its multitude of monsters, it's far too similar to the premiere with nary a change in setting. Despite some differences here and there, it gets repetitive quick. The water-based battles are well handled and choreographed, though (there's even some slow motion thrown in), and are the bread and butter of these sorts of programmers. Two episodes in, ULTRAMAN LEO is colorful, violent, yet fun and engaging.

MONSTERS: Red Gillas, Black Gillas, Magma Seijin

To be continued in Episode 3: GOODBYE, TEARS!!!


Tom Strong said...

Are you watching these on Hawaian TV? I hear they're broadcasting this on KIKU these days.

venoms5 said...

Hello Tom. I'm aware of the Hawaiian airings, and will be seeing some of those in the near future, but these reviews are from the Japanese DVDs. I have the first five volumes thus far.

shaddoe said...

question, if you have the DVDs, then they obviously can't be with English subtitles. you must understand Japanese then. cuz I've tried watching a Japanese program without subtitles and I struggled to know just WHAT was going on.

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