Thursday, April 21, 2011

U l t r a m a n

HE STORY: I had to change the format around for this one a bit…because this isn’t a movie, but a tape with the first four episodes of the Japanese TV show UltraMan! I had the fortune of finding this tape years ago when I was at the Pentagon City Mall at lunch with my squad. As soon as I saw it I had to buy it. One of my soldiers asked “What the hell is UltraMan, Sarge?” Well, the soldier was one of those guys that liked Japanese monster movies, but he was a young guy so I can understand that he had never heard of the mighty UltraMan.
Lets be honest…if you don’t like Japanese monster movies you’re not going to like UltraMan…for that matter if you’re not an old fart like me and didn’t grow up watching UltraMan after school you probably will think its a pretty silly show. Hell, you’d be right, too, but its a helluva lot of fun, and for a show made about thirty or so years ago its pretty good. But then, I’m a big fan.
There were a lot of these giant monster fighting shows on TV when I was kid….there was a show called Space Giants, Specter Man and Johnny Sokko and his Flying Robot. But my favorite was always UltraMan! UltraMan was the ultimate in giant Japanese heroes. Every day as a kid I used to rush home at top speed to watch UltraMan defeat horrible monsters and aliens with the help of the Science Patrol. The Science Patrol was one of those super duper organizations you usually see in shows of these types. They always had cool ray guns and ships and existed solely to protect the Earth from the threat of aliens and monsters. They also seemed quite helpless against them most of the time requiring the Science Patrolman, Hayata to become UltraMan and save the day. UltraMan was an alien from the Nebula M78. Being an alien he had unlimited powers and being on a Japanese monster show he was a giant. When UltraMan first came to Earth chasing a monster through space he accidentally killed Hayata. Feeling remorse the giant silver and red UltraMan merged his life-force with Hayata and gave him “the Beta Capsule”. Now in times of need, Hayata can use the Beta Capsule (it looks like a big fat pen) and become UltraMan.
The other members of the Science Patrol seemed oblivious to the fact that Hayata was UltraMan. (kind of the way that Lois Lane and Perry White never figured out that Clark Kent was Superman) They were Hiroshi, the tough guy, Edo, the goofy but kind of smart guy, Captain Mora, the leader and Fuji, the only female member. Fuji also had a little brother Hoshino that was in a lot of episodes. The shows usually had the Science Patrol investigating some kind of weird happening and finding aliens or monsters (giant ones of course) They’d try to defeat them, but ultimately Hayata would sneak off and turn into UltraMan and then save the day. Although UltraMan had seemingly peerless powers he had a weakness. On his chest he had a warning light. After a few minutes of fighting it would begin to blink and the narrator would inform us that the tremendous energy UltraMan gets from the sun diminishes rapidly in Earth’s atmosphere…the warning light’s blinking indicates that UltraMan is running low on power. If it should stop “UltraMan will never rise again”. UltraMan of course would manage to beat his enemies before this happened. Except for the final episode of the first series that is….but when UltraMan did run out of energy the Science Patrol used a new weapon to kill the monster he was fighting. Then another one of Ultraman’s people came to earth to take him home to heal. Apparently he wasn’t dead and was to return after his convalescence.
As I said earlier, UltraMan was one of my favorites as a kid, but if you’re not as old as I am you may not have even heard of it. Some of the sequels to the original show may be aired on local TV stations even today, Like UltraSeven. I got this tape at Suncoast video in Washington, DC. you might also find tapes of Ultraman: Towards the future there. Its not as good as the original. Fort another view on another old Japanese giant monster show visit Opposable Thumbs Movies…Joe has a most excellent site with a review of Johnny Sokko and his Giant Flying Robot!
Ultra Operation
Hayata, a member of the science Patrol is on a routine mission, flying his rocketship over the planet on the lookout for danger. He finds it. A giant blue ball passes in front of him, and then a giant red ball follows it. Unfortunately the red ball collides with Hayata’s ship over the forest and they both crash. Some campers witness this and see the blue object submerge in a nearby lake. The Science Patrol is alerted, more because of Hayata’s crashed ship. Before the rest of the Science Patrol arrives the campers see Hayata’s body rise into the air and be surrounded by a red glow. Inside the glowing orb, UltraMan, an alien from the Nebula M78 explains to Hayata that he was chasing the monster Bemlar. He accidentally hit Hayata’s ship and killed him. In order to make amends UltraMan gives Hayata his life force, becoming one with him. UltraMan gives Hayata a “Beta Capsule”. When Hayata is in danger he can use it to become UltraMan. The glowing orb then explodes which temporarily knocks the onlookers out. When the Science Patrol arrives they don’t believe the story, but at Science Patrol HQ Fuji receives a message from Hayata. He orders her to bring the “S16″ minisub to the lake. When Captain Mora sees Fuji flying a ship with the sub attached to the lake she explains that Hayata is still alive and has contacted her. Then Hayata on a boat boards the sub as Fuji leaves it in the lake. Hayata via radio informs the captain that the monster Bemlar is on the bottom of the lake and must be destroyed. The plan is for Hayata to attack it in the sub and for the others in Fuji’s airship to attack it when it emerges from the water. This plan doesn’t go smoothly, however. Bemlar seizes the sub and casts in onto the shore. The beast plans to smash it but before he does Hayata uses the Beta Capsule and for the first time becomes UltraMan. UltraMan makes short work of the monster and flies off before his energy is exhausted. As the rest of the Science Patrol is reunited with Hayata he tells them that the man from space saved him from the crash and that he’s still around somewhere. Only Edo sounds suspicious that Hayata knows more than he’s letting on.
Best Lines: “Having been given the life of the spaceman from Nebula M78, Hayata uses the beta Capsule and becomes that super-being, UltraMan!”- The narrator.
“It sounds Ultra-Good!”-Edo’s reply to the suggestion that they call the giant silver spaceman, UltraMan!
1.) Exactly how does the science patrol work? Hayata is missing and presumed dead, but when Fuji gets a radio call from him to deliver the S16 (a submarine) to the lake she does so…no clarification, no others orders she just does it. Is the Science Patrol autonomous to government agencies?
2.) Edo and the rest of the Science Patrol are overjoyed when UltraMan first appears! Why? They’ve never seen UltraMan before and they don’t know who or what he is! For all they know he might be fighting Bemlar over who gets to smash Tokyo first!
3.) When the Science Patrol lands their ship after UltraMan destroys Bemlar they say “strange! He’s gone!”. How could they have possibly missed a 100 foot silver and red guy flying away!
HUH?: Hoshino, Fuji’s little brother is left at science Patrol HQ to “run the place” while she’s gone. Well, this should be an answer to long time UltraMan fans. Its been wondered if there were more members than the five principal characters…there would have to be…in real life. But I guess not or else someone else would have been left in charge rather than this kid!
Captain Mora orders Hayata to cut the sub’s engine and hold course and one nanosecond later Hayata is firing missiles at Bemlar! Gee, where I come from that called disobeying a direct order!
Okay, I know its just to explain this to the audience, but its remarkable how the science Patrol figures out that Ultraman’s warning light means he’s running out of energy!
When the science Patrol gets ready for action there’s a scene of them strip[ping out of their blue “dress uniforms” into the orange ones. it seems as if a few zippers are pulled and “bam” they’re ready. but that would mean they have the orange uniforms under the blue ones…isn’t that kinda hot, cumbersome and stupid? I always wondered about that as a kid. I also wondered why they wore ORANGE! Geez….a Science Patrol guy will never get hit by a car at night!
Shoot the Invader
A UFO is spotted over the city but vanishes near the Scientific Technical Center. Hiroshi is sent to investigate but when he arrives he finds the men that work there a frozen by a strange green glow. It doesn’t take too long for Hiroshi to discover the cause. The Boltons, Lobster-like aliens have taken over the Center. The freeze Hiroshi too. Hayata then goes to find out what happened to Hiroshi. He is almost caught by the aliens but escapes. The military wants to use brute force (and NUKES!) but Captain Mora suggests finding out what the aliens want first. To this end Edo and Hayata return to the STC to talk to them. On the roof of the building, the Boltons communicate through Hiroshi’s body. They are only microscopic in size, and only one of them at a time can be “Normal” sized. The Boltons were on a trip through space when their home planet was destroyed. They landed at the STC to repair their ship, but now have decided to conquer the earth. When Hayata asks why they don’t live on Mars, the Bolton’s hesitate. Captain Mora, who was listening to the conversation via radio with Fuji deduces that “specium” a substance found only on Marts must be harmful to the Boltons. Before Hayata or Edo can react the Bolton releases Hiroshi’s body and becomes Godzilla Sized. Hayata pulls out his Beta Capsule but is knocked down. The Capsule falls to a window ledge below. The Giant Bolton then goes on a rampage, destroying the city. Hayata comes to, and seeing the destruction does a stupid thing. He jumps off of the building! Grabbing the capsule on the way down he becomes UltraMan! UltraMan is more than a match for the Boltons. He easily destroys the giant Bolton and then commits genocide by flying the Bolton’s invisible ship (invisible to all, but UltraMan) into space and blows it up.
Best Lines: “Hoshino…contact Science Headquarters and say that something strange has happened.”- Hiroshi, the master of understatement.
“You gave the reason yourself…they got in our way!”-The Boltons answer Hayata’s question of why they froze the men in the Science Center that got in their way.
1.) Um….these guys sleep in their uniforms? YUCK!
2.) Hiroshi is sent to investigate the UFO sighting at the Scientific Technical Center. When he first walks in the place is quiet but the desk guard is frozen…and tinted in an eerie green glow. Yet he wants to look around. Uh, NO! I don’t give a shit how dedicated you are if you see a frozen guy that’s green in a place that a UFO may have landed you’d probably do the smart thing….go call for a lot of help instead of going the fuck in.
3.) Hayata drops the Beta Capsule and it lands on a window sill about one or two floors beneath him. He then jumps off of the roof of the building and grabs it on the way down, turning into UltraMan. I remember watching this episode as a kid at a friends house. My friend’s older brother then commented…”Why didn’t he just go inside the building and open the window to get the Beta Capsule?” He was right too.
HUH?: UltraMan doesn’t take prisoners. After defeating the Boltons he takes their ship way out into space and destroys it! YOW! Talk about ruthless! There were a few million Boltons on that ship! Yeah, they were dangerous but still….a few million beings? UltraMan basically executed an entire civilization! (The Boltons did return in another episode, though)
Go Science Patrol!
While investigating sounds coming from a well Fuji and Hoshino discover underground caves beneath a new power station. The caves are the home of Neronga, a giant monster that feeds on electricity. Neronga is invisible except for when he feeds on power. The new power station has awakened the beast from his slumber and predictably he goes on a rampage. The Science Patrol seems helpless to stop him. Young Hoshino is determined to end the monster’s reign of terror though. He steals the “big gun” that Hiroshi usually carries and goes after Neronga. The Science Patrol and the army watch helplessly as the monster appears at another power station. Neronga is injured however when Hoshino shows up and blasts it with the gun. Unfortunately its little more than a bee sting to the giant creature. The blast took all of the gun’s power too. Hoshino injures himself trying to escape Neronga. Seeing no other option (duh) Hayata runs into the burning power station and becomes UltraMan.
Now, Neronga is definitely no threat to UltraMan. The monster blasts the hero in the chest and UltraMan doesn’t even flinch. But in order to pad the show out UltraMan beats up on Neronga for a few minutes and then kills him. Victorious, and probably a little sadistic, UltraMan flies off. Suprisingly NO ONE accuses Hayata of being UltraMan but Edo even though the clues are obvious!
Best Lines: “He doesn’t stand a chance.”-Hiroshi’s comment to Fuji about Hoshino’s plan to stop Neronga himself. Way to make her feel better about her missing little brother, Hiroshi
“UltraMan…he’s the only one that can save us!”-Hoshino prays for UltraMan to come.
1.) Hoshino looks old to have better sense than to climb down a well. But he does. I think the only reason that he doesn’t get a really good old fashioned asswhooping is that there really was a monster down there!
2.) Hiroshi attacks Neronga when it appears at the transmission station. This guy has a death wish. This monster as I said is “Godzilla sized” and its RIGHT there! But Hiroshi attacks with a little itty-bitty ray gun. Look, unless his gun was a miniature Wave Motion Gun* there was no way he was going to do anything but annoy the beast.
3.) If Japan had all of these really neat ray guns for real we’d need giant monsters just to stop them! It amazes me in these monster shows how the Japanese soldiers show up with a thousand tanks and ray gun cannons! These guys could fight off the death star!
4.) This episode cinches it….UltraMan is a hero, but he’s a sadist. He destroys Neronga by blasting it with his specium beam, but he spends a few minutes beating the shit out of the monster first. He could have just blasted Neronga and been done with it….but no, he’s got to gorilla stomp him first! He even breaks of Neronga’s horn, more for spite than anything else! For that Matter the destruction and damage to the power station would be less if UltraMan just finished Neronga instead of wrestling with him for a few minutes!
5.) Edo seems to be the only person with the power to put 2+2 together! He clearly suspects Hayata of being UltraMan and why not? Hayata ran off in the middle of the burning power station in front of Hiroshi! Seconds later UltraMan shows up. Hayata ain’t around!!! Get a clue science Patrol!
HUH?: No one sees Hoshino take the big gun?
Hoshino falls down running away from Neronga and knocks himself out…on perfectly flat ground. Oh, right. As a kid I’ve fallen out of trees, off of ladders and just freakin’ tripped…and I’ve conked my head on concrete and cement doing it, but I never knocked myself out. I just find it hard to believe that this kid knocked himself out that way.
For a giant monster, Neronga ain’t all that dangerous. He hits Hiroshi with his electrical blast and one would think that would have fried Hiroshi into a crispy crunch. But it only stuns him.
The Science Patrol is helpless because Neronga is invisible unless he’s feeding. Uh, BULLSHIT! Neronga is the size of a fucking Air Craft Carrier! There’s no way he could move around the countryside without being detected, invisible or not. If a mere elephant was invisible you’d still detect it walking through the woods!
Five seconds Until apocalypse
An experimental rocket malfunctions and crashlands in the ocean. The rocket contained several nuclear missiles that were to be used in terraforming Jupiter. (I guess they plan on nuking the planet into being more earth like!….How the hell does that work? Jupiter is a Gas giant!) As the science Patrol tries to figure out a way to recover the bombs before they explode Fuji and Hoshino begin a much earned vacation at a seaside resort. While there another vacationing woman asks them to watch her bratty little daughter. Soon its discovered that the radiation from the rocket has transformed a sea creature into a giant monster. (of course!) The monster also has one of the nukes lodged in its gills and it could go off at any time. Driven mad by its transformation the monster attacks….you guessed it….the resort where Fuji and Hoshino are at. Hiroshi arrives in the airship, but can’t fire on the monster. If he does the nuke may go off. Hayata has no choice but to become UltraMan. UltraMan must fight the creature but not set off the nuke. At one point the nuke falls to the ground and UltraMan catches it. The monster then beats UltraMan up while the hero only has one free hand to use. UltraMan drops the nuke and it falls off of a small cliff near the beach,. The timer begins to go off and UltraMan’s warning light begins to blink. Having had enough of this UltraMan uses his powerful ray and kills the monster. With only seconds lefts UltraMan grabs the nuke and flies off into space where it explodes. Although Fuji and Hiroshi believe UltraMan was destroyed Hayata appears and tells Hoshino that UltraMan couldn’t be killed by a mere nuclear explosion because he’s invincible!
Best Lines: “I used salt…not sugar!”- Edo realizes he made a mistake brewing the captain’s coffee.
“The children…I’ve got to help the children get away!”-Hiroshi as he tries to distract the monster.
1.) That is the gaudiest rocket I have ever seen in anything….you’ll have to actually see the rocket to know what I mean. The only person I know of that will understand that is Joe at Opposable thumbs Movies….’cuz he told me he’s seen this video.
2.) How the hell does Captain Mora expect Hayata to get the bomb from the giant monster? It seems rather pointless to order him or Hiroshi to do so. There’s no way a single man or even two men can do it.
3.) The Science Patrol tries to lure the monster away from the mainland with music…under the assumption that music calms the savage beast…even as a kid I never bought that! Why would a giant monster like music? Maybe they played the wrong kind of music. A couple of tunes from the Smiths and the beast might have gotten depressed enough to kill itself!
HUH?: Fuji plays badminton in heels!!!!??
Wow…in Japan you can go on vacation and leave your children with perfect strangers!
Okay, I know its just to explain this to the audience, but its remarkable how the science Patrol figures out that Ultraman’s warning light means he’s running out of energy!
What are they running from? UltraMan just took the bomb into space.
THE TALLY: UltraMan and movies and shows like it are actually great fun for the bad movie watching public…because we know they’re goofy….we know they’re kind of silly and the tanks and planes are models. that the monster is really a Japanese dude in a rubber suit. But that doesn’t diminish the fun. If you’re a giant monster movie lover, or if you can have a tongue in cheek attitude about these kinds of things I’d go get a copy of this. Its certainly more entertaining than some of the utterly horrible garbage on TV for kids nowadays!
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