Tuesday, January 21, 2014

From Beyond Television: Ultraseven Episode #21



A cargo ship has gone missing at sea and the Ultra Guard are sent to investigate this newest disappearance. They report to General Yamaoka (Kenji Sahara) that witnesses saw what looked like the famous WW2 Battleship Yamato rising from the sea. Furuhashi and Amagi set off underwater in the Hydrangers and find some sort of flying saucer shaped like a starfish. Meanwhile, the weapons-laden Yamato-like warship surfaces once more and engages the Ultra Guard in a massive fire fight. Learning that the alien Yamato clone will self-destruct, Ultraseven flies into action.

This is possibly the single most plotless episode yet. There's mostly action and little else -- which will be fine for most viewers. The plot point that the cause of the attacks at sea are from a metallic weapon in the shape of the Battleship Yamato is an intriguing one. Once this ships origin is revealed, it's just one explosion after another. It's still a good deal of fun, though.

The monster Iron Rocks is possibly the most bizarre creature thus far. Essentially an alien robot that built itself out of spare parts of scrap metal from sunken vessels, the battle sequence in a harbor between Iron Rocks and the big guns of the Ultra Garrison is exciting and filled with lots of explosions and those unmistakable Japanese sound effects.

There's some new Ultra Guard weapons seen here, too. The Hydranger's are the scientific organizations own submarines. They don't seem to function much differently than regular subs, but they have a sleeker, more futuristic look to them. They're also painted a much darker shade than the silver colored subs of ULTRAMAN (1966-1967). The Pointer is also shown to have rockets hidden within that are fired against Iron Rocks during the finale.

The starfish shaped UFO that resides beneath the waves is never explained, nor much at all about the aliens themselves, save for Iron Rocks. Presumably the Mimy Seijin has a beef with Earthlings much like every other Japanese Seijin from other galaxies. The UFO itself emits some sort of sleep-inducing bubbles followed by a seemingly impenetrable force field. This alien spacecraft is just there, serving only as a means to cram as many mecha and miniatures as possible in the 25 minutes allotted.

Seven even shows off some new abilities. He does this windmill maneuver where he leaps into the air and spins around rapidly. He then unleashes a sort of cyclonic energy beam followed by the Emerium Beam -- a stream of lasers fired from the center of his helmet.

It doesn't make a lick of sense, but it's the sort of action oriented episode you hoped to see when you were a kid. Some might be disappointed Seven doesn't fight a bonafide monster, but the slew of explosions, flying sparks, and the sight of Seven in chains before unloading a light show on Iron Rocks is delightful compensation. The next episode goes back into darker territory with a storyline about alien spores impregnating women as hosts for an alien race!

MONSTERS: Iron Rocks; Mimy (Mimi) alien
WEAPONS: The Hydranger #1 and #2; Ultra Hawk #1 and #3; The Pointer

To be continued in Episode 22: THE HUMAN RANCH!!!

From Beyond Television: Ultraseven Episode #20



Dubbed title: THE QUAKEMAKER

The Ultra Guard have reports of earthquakes in the area, but there's something strange about them. Meanwhile, two female racers on their way to a rally find an unusual rock just as another tremor shakes the ground near Aosawa Mountains. Moroboshi and the others seek out Dr. Iwamura to help investigate the peculiar quakes in the area. They also find the two girls. The strange rock cluster they found turns out to be Ultonium -- an element found at the Earth's core. The Ultra Guard then board the Magmalizer to burrow below the Earth's surface in the hopes of finding the answers behind the surge of earthquakes.

This alien invasion plot (aren't they all?) is actually a pretty good show thanks to the cranky Dr. Iwamura character and some cool cliffhanger moments. Between the elder doctor and his younger assistant, Dr. Sagaki, you know at least one of them is not of this Earth. This new intergalactic threat apparently wants to cripple the planet by removing all the Ultonium rock found at the center of the Earth to cause it to collapse on itself.

Pretty much all the main Ultra Garrison members get equal screen time for this one; and that cool mecha, The Magmalizer, makes its second appearance here after debuting in episode 17. The crew inside the burrowing machine are put in more peril than they were last time when they're threatened with being covered up by flowing magma.

The final fight between Ultraseven and Giladoras is well staged on an impressively dark set beset by harsh winds and inexplicable snow that pours down suddenly. The fight ends with the same sort of graphic monster violence that capped episode three. One neat aspect of this fight is in the ostentatious way in which Seven uses his Eye Slugger. The Shaplay Seijin dies rather brutally, too. The monster deaths will get more spectacularly gruesome as the series continues. You'll see more limbs and heads severed, and even a throat slitting(!!!) whose arterial spray bathes Seven's upper torso.

Unfortunately, the Giladoras monster is one of the more clumsily designed kaiju of ULTRASEVEN. The creature has these bulky horns around its head that intermittently glow red for reasons that aren't explained -- possibly to do with the magma under the crust from where the beast emerges. The costume itself is extremely baggy; and somebody had the bright idea to not give the beast any front legs -- it scurries around on its knees ramming Seven with its head!

Overall this is an average show enlivened by a few points of interest. The inclusion of two women race car drivers is unnecessary, and adds nothing to the storyline. This is one of the few episodes I remember vividly when the series aired in my neck of the woods back in the early 1990s.

MONSTERS: Shaplay Seijin, Giladoras (Giladorus)
WEAPONS: Ultra Hawk #s 1, 3; Magmalizer

To be continued in Episode 21: PURSUE THE UNDERSEA BASE!!!

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