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Sunday, July 3, 2016

From Beyond Television: Ultraman Ace Episode #6


Directed by Tadashi Mabune

Completing his week-long moon mission, Akira Koyama is headed back to Earth when his ship comes under attack by a Yapoolian force. In trouble, TAC is dispatched to rescue him. Unaware that Koyama has been possessed by the Yapool, TAC brings him safely back home for a reunion with his son, Atsushi. Having suddenly grown facial hair, and refusing to remove his gloves, it isn't long before Atsushi notices something is wrong with his father. That night as Koyama slept, Atsushi pulls one of his gloves off and finds a single eye and a fang-filled mouth on his palm! Terrified, Atsushi tells his schoolmates his father is a monster but none believe him. Hokuto Seiji visits him and decides to snoop around to find out if the boy is telling the truth. Now aware Koyama is under control of the Yapool, the Super-Beast Brocken takes over and attacks the city....

Shigemitsu Haguchi's screenplay about a little boy trying to convince everybody his dad is a monster is a good one--sufficiently characterized for the brief time allotted. These types of stories dealing with aliens appropriating the bodies of human beings have been constants in the previous Ultra Hero series', and it's done well here in ACE--a series built around alien possession. Another area where U-ACE has a strong foundation is action; and this episode has plenty of it. 

The general consensus with these programs is that they're basically the same thing from one show to the next. While that is true, the sliver of substance that occasionally creeps in makes those episodes stand out. Episode 6 is another of the same-old-same-old, but manages to hit the right buttons with its minuscule (and repetitive) plot to warrant notice. Ace's sixth soiree is aided immensely by this episodes guest star....

Shoji Kobayashi, ULTRAMAN's Science Patrol Commander, was a regular face in Japanese SciFi. He's the victim of some otherworldy body-snatching--highlighted by the sudden appearance of facial hair; and made obvious by the cyclopean, alien eyeball and teeth that have taken up residence on his palm. Instead of attacking the monsters like in ULTRAMAN (1966), Kobayashi's Akira Koyama gets to become one of them--transforming into the crocodilian threat, Brocken, the byproduct of Yapoolian engineering.

Post-ULTRAMAN (1966), the actor appeared in an episode of ULTRASEVEN and a two-parter in RETURN OF ULTRAMAN. After his appearance on U-ACE, Kobayashi moved over to a regular role on Toei's wildly popular MASKED RIDER television series. Predominantly a TV actor, Kobayashi did a lot of movies, too. Among his last works were GAMERA 2: ADVENT OF LEGION (1996) and ULTRAMAN ZEARTH (1996) and ULTRAMAN ZEARTH 2: SUPERHUMAN BIG BATTLE (1997). Kobayashi died on August 27th, 1996 from lung cancer at 65 years of age.

Akihiko Iguchi designs another bizarre monster, designs that reflect the alien technology used to create them. For the first time we see the Yapool's laboratory where their hellish Super-Beasts are made. Brocken is part crocodile, part alien glop. One of the larger monsters seen thus far, it's a two-man suit. Brocken has three attack maneuvers--flame spits from his nostrils; laser bolts fire from his twin whips; and laser beams stream from the mini-brocken heads he has for hands. The ears of Godzilla fans will instantly perk up once they hear Brocken's roar... it's the same one later used for Titanosaurus in Ishiro Honda's excellent TERROR OF MECHAGODZILLA (1975).

The end battle is tightly edited. The moment Ace transforms his gator-esque opponent loses an arm (he has it back again during a brief editing mistake). Both combatants throttle each other till Ace is overcome and close to total energy depletion. An Ultra Sign appears with Zoffy, Ultraman, Seven and Jack giving instruction to essentially turn Brocken into a pair of boots. The brief pep talk was just what Ace needed. He hops up and immediately blurts out, "Ultra Guillotine!" You can probably guess what happens next.

Lots of new things are on view in this episode--TAC Arrows have built in fire extinguishers and magnetic cables to aid in bringing Koyama's spaceship to safety.... and watch for people who cast no shadow--it means they're not of this world! 

Another episode that's a lot of fun, and it closes out with Koyama and Atsushi playing that old game of shadow chasing/stomping; apparently a popular Japanese game, I remember playing it as a kid. The object is to chase another player (or players), and if you stand on their shadow they must then chase you; or they must freeze for ten seconds before playing again. You can "hide" in another shadow, but only for a short time. Therein lies the appeal of these shows to genre fans--they allow us to be kids again.... even if it's just to reminisce.

MONSTERS: Brocken; Yapool (Alien lab)
WEAPONS: TAC Arrow #1,#2; TAC Space; TAC Gun (with laser adapter)

To be continued in Episode 7 (two-parts): MONSTER VS. SUPER-BEAST VS. ALIEN METRON, JR.!!!


Dr. Theda said...

We are enjoying these "Ultraman" posts, good Sir...
First saw a Godzilla film around age 6... Been a fan of giant Monsters ever since.. (think that "Them" was the First Giant monster film that we viewed as a child one Saturday as a kid)...

venoms5 said...

Thank you. The last two ACE's I'm posting this run are especially good. Of the others I'm doing guides for, there will be one or two each of them.

That was around the age I first saw those myself; and been a fan ever since as well. Good times.

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