Episode 3: GOODBYE, TEARS (NAMIDA YO SAYONARA) ****
Toru and Kaoru, friends of Gen and the MAC Team are being raised by their dad after their mother died. Leaving the MAC training facility one night, a mysterious creature kills the man in front of his kids and leaves a metal object at the scene. Gen Otori becomes seriously concerned upon seeing the object and notices it has the face of Ultraman Leo on it. Both Gen and Goro must now figure out who will take care of the newly orphaned siblings. MAC members, Suzuki, also a family man, decides to let the kids stay with him temporarily. After leaving, the deadly creature attacks once more, killing Suzuki and quickly leaves the scene. On another night, Captain Moroboshi is ambushed by the alien till Gen arrives and forces it to flee. Later, Moroboshi informs Gen the alien is named Turuk, an outer space monster with flesh-shredding blades for hands. To defeat Turuk, Gen must learn yet another martial arts technique to apply to his growing Leo skill set.
The dark aura that permeated the first two U-LEO shows courtesy of writer Taguchi Shigemitsu is maintained for these next two shows, another two-parter -- this one featuring a deadly sword-slinging alien that enjoys slicing humans in half. In this series the giant monsters also wreck havoc in human form, and Alien Turuk wallows in it. In a shocking bit of violence barely five minutes into the show, Turuk cuts two innocent humans in half -- in front of children no less!
As a man-sized alien, Turuk has a metallic appearance about the face, and possesses swords for hands. He is also proficient in martial arts style combat; much like all tokusatsu suit monster creations from this time period.
In his giant monster form, Turuk looks totally different; more reptilian in nature. His sword arms are now extensions protruding from his forearms. He moves incredibly fast and dishes out some pain to U-Leo in the climactic fight. Tatsumi Nikamoto (underneath the Leo wetsuit) jumps, chops, and somersaults all over the miniature set when he isn't being pummeled by Turuk. He rushes to battle the monster prematurely before mastering his tri-attack maneuver to counter the giant monsters dual strike. There's a great cliffhanger where Leo's color timer runs out (he lasts for less time in Earth's atmosphere compared with other Ultra heroes), Turuk delivers a final blow sending Leo below the watery depths of the harbor.
The monster action is exciting and well choreographed; and the sight of Turuk splitting buildings and MAC ships in half gives these scenes additional punch. It moves very fast, and fans of karate/kung fu genre product get their kicks while tokusatsu fans get their suit action fix.
Furthermore, the human drama is handled well for a series that eventually wanders all over the map in terms of tonal shift. For now, things are consistently grim, and the series wholeheartedly embraces its downbeat tone later in the run with some shocking turn of events.
Dan Moroboshi gets as much, if not more screen time than Gen does. For all its action, the writer manages to squeeze in a bit of subtle exposition for its crippled Captain. Since he can no longer transform into Ultraseven, he acts as the Obi Wan Kenobi of the series -- training Gen in his human state to adapt martial arts skills that will accentuate his Leo techniques. There's one scene where Dan looks intently at his Ultra Eye -- knowing it is useless to him after his bone-shattering ordeal with the Gillas Brothers and Alien Magma in U-LEO's first episode. This brief scene, bereft of dialog, says more about his emotional state than any melodramatic monologue could.
Gen (Ryu Manatsu) is still an excitable hot-head, his eyes threatening to fall out of his skull at any given moment. The series continues its martial arts movie template by having Gen train in various techniques to battle the monsters all the while brandishing his best Sonny Chiba expression.
This episode not only marks the first appearance of the two kids Toru and Kaoru, but it's significant for its trend of killing off members of the MAC team. Suzuki barely recites his few lines before he's felled by Turuk's blades. Other affiliates of the Monster Attack Crew die, but not all given much audience connection outside of a face in the crowd, or the casual line delivery.
The impressive battle carrier, the MAC 1 (or the MAC Macky 1) returns, but is seemingly MIA after this -- remaining docked in the teams space station. Their attack jeep was seen in the series opener, and it gets some action briefly here. The MAC Attack Jeep has a mounted bazooka and some laser weapons. It's just as garishly colorful as the rest of the groups hardware and attire.
'Goodbye Tears' is just as strong a show as the opening two-parter. The action and drama finds a stable medium with which to further the story; and thus far ULTRAMAN LEO delivers quite a bit of everything that attracts fans to this genre. The series kind of loses its way later on, but for now, U-LEO is proving to be a radically different approach to familiar material.
MONSTERS: Alien Turuk (human sized and giant form)
WEAPONS: MAC 1 carrier; MAC #s 2,3; MAC Attack Jeep
To be continued in Episode 4: A VOW BETWEEN MEN!!!