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Friday, January 9, 2015

From Beyond Television: Ultraseven Episode #25




Directed by Mitsuda Kazuo

"In about 5 minutes from now, Ultraseven, you will lose all your solar energy. The Earth is about to be your grave site. This is where you die!"

A monumentally deadly snowstorm engulfs the Earth. The Ultra Garrison headquarters is frozen after a mysterious monster drills underground and breaches the walls of the base. Meanwhile, Dan Moroboshi is stranded in increasingly freezing temperatures. He loses his Ultra Eye in the blizzard and is attacked by the giant alien monster, Gandar. Unable to transform into Ultraseven, he sends one of his monster helpers to do battle. Meanwhile, Commander Kiriyama and the Ultra Force try to restore power to the base. During the monster battle, Moroboshi finds the Ultra Eye, but with a depleted solar power, he can't fight the monster. Ultraseven must then fly into the sun to replenish his energy leaving Miclas and the Ultra Hawks to fight Gandar alone.

Written by Kinjo Tetsuo (his 11th of 15 U7 scripts), episode 25 is among the best thus far in this series. It moves at a rapid clip with the slim, yet efficient plot. It packs a good amount of Disaster Movie cliches into its short running time, too; and manages to create a taut, compelling situation out of what tension Kinjo's script is able to amass.

The snowy landscape of the previous episode returns, but in an even bigger, more perilous way. The Pointer breaks down in the storm, and Moroboshi, adrift in the blizzard, discovers he's lost the Ultra Eye! The Ultra Squad are in serious trouble this time -- nearly freezing to death from the encroaching ice; and for the first time in this series, U7 is discovered to have a weakness. It's revealed the M-78 savior gets his power from the sun. When the Pole aliens incur a new ice age (the third they've wrought), the solar energy required to sustain U7 for an extended period of time is vanquished. This is exemplified by the flashing of his beam lamp located at the center of his forehead. 

The flying monster Gandar is right at home in the subzero temperatures. He emits a quick freeze ray akin to Barugon's in GAMERA VS. BARUGON (1966). Miclas goes 'monster a monster' with him while Seven makes a mad dash for the sun to replenish his power. Miclas has his own attack this time out -- he fires a colored ray of flame which he didn't have in his previous appearance.

Inside the Miclas suit was Suzuki Kunio. He'd been a monster performer since episode 19 of ULTRAMAN. His first such role in U7 was as the monster Eleking in episode three. In that episode, Suzuki battled Miclas (played by Saiko Toshihiko), and here, he's playing Miclas.

Playing the Freezing Monster Gandar is Yamamura Tetsuo. He played both human and monster/alien roles throughout his career at Tsuburaya. Yamamura was Daigoro in the 1972 monster fantasy DAIGORO VS. GOLIATH -- a film that originally began as a Godzilla production titled GODZILLA VS. REDMOON; an unrealized project also written by Kinjo.

This episode is filled with enough cliffhangers to fill out an Irwin Allen production, and the action never lets up. The Pole aliens with their Chipmunks voices somewhat deaden the seriousness of this one; this is offset by one of the more spectacularly gruesome monster deaths up to this point. It took Toho till the 1970s to embrace LONE WOLF style bloodshed against their monsters, but Tsuburaya and Daiei with the GAMERA series had the jump on them with numerous gory rubber monster splatter scenes.

Packed with action and mounting peril, episode 25 takes full advantage of its limited running time. This was the eighth episode of fourteen helmed by Mitsuda Kazuo. Even with its mid-series revelations, 'Showdown at 140 Degrees Below Zero' is a nice starting point for fans curious about the ULTRASEVEN series.

MONSTERS: Pole aliens (Paul); Gandar; Miclas
WEAPONS: Ultra Pointer

To be continued in Episode 26: SUPER WEAPON R-1!!!

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