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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

From Beyond Television: Return of Ultraman Episode #8


Episode 8: MONSTER TIME BOMB ***

Directed By Kakei Tadashi-nori

A new monster surfaces in Hell Valley, and despite being a seemingly harmless creature, MAT must kill it anyways. Using Kishida's new X Bomb, Goh is sent to do the job. Narrowly missing the monsters ray attack, Goh fires, but the bomb doesn't go off. Upon reviewing the Arrow's on board flight recorder, Goh set the bomb as a 10 hour timed blast instead of on-target detonation. Worried the creature may surface in a densely populated area before the bomb explodes, MAT must find the burrowing beast before the ten hours is up. Tensions are alleviated when it appears the creature is leaving the Tokyo area. But when it is learned the monster is heading towards a chemical dynamite factory in the Aoki Highlands, MAT rushes there to avert another potential disaster.

After the merciless assault perpetrated on the benevolent monster of episode 7, captain Tsukamoto seems slightly less bloodthirsty than his team when he acknowledges this new monster is non-threatening, but issues orders to "settle the monster" anyways. Because that's what MAT (Monster Attack Team) does. They settle monsters. The rest chime in jokingly stating they could use this harmless daijaiju to wrangle bulls. Then Kishida seriously proclaims the monster must die immediately. Things get even more unsettling as Kishida brags about his new X-Bomb that could wipe out multiple monsters with one shot. Well, you could never say they don't take pride in their work.

Taguchi Shigemitsu takes over for main screenwriter Shozo Uehara for this episode. Despite some minor similarities with the previous entry, Taguchi keeps the tension very high, with lots of mini cliffhangers coming one after the other. This tension is tightly woven with the action (there's not that much action, but it's not noticeable) culminating in a well handled finish. The only drawback is the typical last scene where the title spaceman's human guise emerges from what seemed like a fatal accident, and everybody is ecstatic to see he survived after all. This sort of capper was a staple of the Ultra hero shows, so it would feel kinda naked without it.


The monster Ghostron (odd name) is more playful than destructive; child-like to an extent. He hops around with this 'dippity do da' type sway, and shows little interest in trampling buildings. 

Primary monster-alien suit actor for U-JACK Toya Takanobu gets this across succinctly. Like Gorbagos in episode seven, Ghostron only attacks when he feels threatened. The script makes this reptilian beast myopic, which is an unusual scripting addition. Since he can't see but so far in front of him, Ghostron senses his surroundings via sound. The monster also has a flame attack. 

During the brief battle with U-Jack, Takanobu's movements further enhance the monsters impish nature. You get the feeling this creature is a young one. Apparently Ultraman senses this, as he forgoes using his lethal Specium attack, opting instead for the Ultra Hurricane maneuver to do his own burrowing whereby he ascends directly underneath Ghostron, lifting him far above the Earth where the bomb, implanted in his tail, will detonate without causing both collateral and human damage.

Those who remember Ichiro, the latchkey kid from GODZILLA'S REVENGE (1970) will recognize Tomonori Yazaki (see above). He plays Jiro's school chum Takashi. His line delivery consists of telling Jiro that MAT sucks because they can't take down this monster. This acts as a lead-in to some minor exposition on how little Jiro feels about Goh, and the disappointment he feels when he doesn't come through. Jiro treats Goh like a big brother, and the scriptwriters are successful in getting this across over the course of the show. 

Going back to Yazaki, he had a brief career in the industry appearing in the Toho-Tsuburaya co-pro, DAIGORO VS. GOLIATH (1972), and several tokusatsu shows on television in the early 1970s.

'Monster Time Bomb' was the fourth lowest rated show of the entire 51 episode run of RETURN OF ULTRAMAN (ULTRAMAN JACK). For its storyline and editing it gets a good grade from this reviewer. It's not a typical monster episode, and one that's more in line with episode 35 of ULTRAMAN, 'The Monster Graveyard', but minus the melancholic atmosphere. It's a mini-disaster movie with monster machinations wrapped around it. Things would return to standard daikaiju conventions in the next episode, but with some flair; and also the return of Ishiro Honda to the directors chair for this predominantly fantastic series.

MONSTERS: Ghostron (Toya Takanobu)
WEAPONS: MAT Arrow #2; MAT Gyro; MAT Bazooka

To be continued in episode 9: MONSTER ISLAND SOS!!!

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