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Wednesday, July 8, 2015

From Beyond Television: Ultraseven Episode #26



Dubbed title: THE 8,000 MEGATON MISTAKE

Directed by Suzuki Toshitsugu

"General Takenaka... I can't bring myself to hate the creature. We turned this peaceful living thing into a horrible monster with our experiment, and destroyed his beautiful home of Gieron."

Two Ultra Guard scientists, Doctors Segawa and Maeno create a new devastating weapon -- the anti-planet device they christen the R-1. Even in its infancy, the R-1 is said to have the power of 8,000 Hydrogen bombs. With plans to build an even more deadly R-2 device, it is decided a test of the weapons capabilities will be done on the supposedly uninhabited Gieron star, a minor planet in some faraway galaxy. The test proves successful, but a giant flying creature doesn't take too kindly to its home being destroyed. Making its way to Earth, the monster attacks cities and emits radioactive ash. Ultraseven engages the beast in battle.

There's a slight nod to Hiroshima and Nagasaki here in this action oriented episode. Moroboshi is deeply disturbed at the creation of the new R-1 rocket; and considering his symbiotic relationship with U7, his concerns are well founded since we're in the realm of Japanese SciFi-Fantasy, after all. Designed to protect Earth from alien threats, it could be used against the Earth if it fell into the wrong hands. It's interesting to note that he's the only member of the Garrison questioning this new weapon -- everybody else is excited about it noting how it will prevent those pesky aliens from implementing their plans for world domination. 

Unfortunately, little else is discussed beyond Dan's worried expressions and concerns. This is a monster show after all, and the scriptwriters provide a balance; or as much as you can muster for a 25 minute running time. Ironically, the scientists and the Ultra Garrison are the real bad guys here -- mistakenly annihilating an inhabited world resulting in the creatures retaliation. After the big fight takes place, there's a posthumous, half-hearted attempt to draw sympathy for the strange, bird-like Gieron creature that attacks the Earth.

The Gieron resembles Gyaos from Daiei's Gamera series. It looks more like a bird, but it has a metallic shell that deflects weapons; and its wings have a reflective surface that temporarily blinds Seven. In the odd category, the alien bird appears to be stuffed with feathers!

This compelling story about nuclear armaments is disabled, and understandably so, halfway through when the focus shifts to the creatures. The tonal change doesn't alleviate the seriousness all that much, though. ULTRASEVEN was unique among the Tokusatsu genre in that the subject matter was often questionable for younger audiences--such as the banning of episode 12 in Japan after its initial airing in December of 1967. Arguably the most stunning attribute of the U7 series is its willingness to cater to adults in its storytelling while keeping the kids happy with battling monsters. 

On that note, the monster battle at the end is extremely shocking in its violence. The U7 series has already showcased a few examples where the aliens meet unusually gory demises. But the one seen here is easily the most disturbing thus far. Concluding the fight, Ultraseven rips one of the monsters arms off (the feathers really fly here); and while it flails on the ground, he removes his crest (Eye Slugger) and cuts the beasts throat with it! The scene is not only complemented by a geyser of blood spewing all over Seven from the creatures neck wound, but this happens with happy music playing in the background. 

According to sources, this scene raised more than a few eyebrows among viewers at that time. Director Toshitsugu helmed 15 episodes of this series; not all of them of great interest, unfortunately (such as episode seven). Some are quite good, and surprisingly somber such as the psychedelia of episode 10 and the grim episode 22.

'The Created Monster' is an apt, if ambiguous title for this one, what with the KONG level of pitiable quality afforded the alien monster. It could also apply to the scientists who created the devastating planet destroying bomb, or even the bomb itself. Like several other U7 programs, the script has a mature message stuffed in it -- the likes of which would seemingly vanish with later tokusatsu shows. The brutality of the finale is most definitely an eye-opener (and Eye-Slugger).

MONSTERS: Gieron beast
WEAPONS: Ultra Hawks #1,2,3; R-1

To be continued in Episode 27: OPERATION: CYBORG!!!


Dr. Theda said...

Grew up watching the original Ultraman afternoons just after school...
Was always one of the "highlights" of my day...
(sorry but we care little for the Wrestling films...)
But "Giant Monster" have been something that we have enjoyed since early childhood...
An enjoyable post, good Sir...
... we even went to some of your past Ultraman posts... all well written reviews... Great work...!!!

Valjean said...

Shin Hayata and Ultraman had a symbiotic relationship; that is, Ultraman lived inside Hayata, keeping the man alive and allowing the alien to stay on Earth indefinitely (actually, he could come out in his true form three minutes at a time every 24 hours). It's two beings sharing a body.
Ultra Seven and Dan Moroboshi are the same guy; Seven cloned a human to hide in plain sight and to honor the man he cloned, not for survival. Even in human form, he's still Seven. He's a shapeshifter, hence the depiction of Jiro Satsuma and Dan Moroboshi as two separate beings who for the most part don't cross paths (except the two times Seven saved Jiro). A chameleon is still a chameleon whether it turns brown or green.

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