Ultraman, Episode 03: “Science Patrol, Move Out”

My comments and observations from watching through this classic Japanese TV series.

A pretty straightforward episode for the show. A monster shows up, the SSSP investigates, does its best, then Ultraman arrives to finish things up.

We do see more of another character whom I haven’t mentioned yet: Isamu Hoshino, the team’s kid sidekick/mascot. I don’t know if a reason is ever given for why this young boy is allowed to hang around this super-advanced, international monster-hunting organization. In the old English dub he was, at least, Akiko’s younger brother, though even that questionable justification is lacking here. Hoshimo and Akiko find the monster, Neronga, while checking out the legends surrounding an old well. This isn’t the first time, if you include Ultra Q, that a creature from folktales manifests as an active monster. The Unbalanced Zone seems to bring inner fears and demons to life.

Neronga is an invisible creature, until it appears to feed on power stations. It makes me think of the Id Monster from Forbidden Planet. We get some nice rampaging, though one notices the fact that Ultraman was put into production faster, and with a lower budget than Ultra Q. The monsters tend to be more rubbery and more garishly painted (some of that may be due to getting used to shooting in color). Also the buildings are just hollow shells, with no interior structure. The explosions and flames still look cool though. The episode also has some decent compositing shots, putting the live actors in front of and even in the middle of the miniature sets of burning ruins.

Another SSSP member starts to get some definition here: Daisuke Arashi. He’s the tough guy, the soldier, the one who always wants to rush into the fight, brandishing his signature weapon: the Spider Shot, a two-handed beam weapon that can emit a variety of energy attacks.

Since Hayata has decided to adopt the Western Superhero troupe of having a secret identify, each episode has to give him some reason to separate from his teammates in order to become Ultraman. Last episode he was conveniently knocked aside by Baltan. This time he… well, just runs off by himself towards the monster, moments before Ultraman just happens to appear. Hayata’s going to have to try a bit harder to keep this up. Another superhero thing is that Ultraman has his weakness: that he only has energy to fight for a few minutes. The Color Timer on his chest flashes faster in warning and the narrator warns of the dire consequences of it going out. So far though, there haven’t been any consequence, nor does it affect Ultraman’s actions.

The conflict between Ultraman and Neronga is another brutal one. Neronga has already had an eye blasted by the Spider Shot, and then Ultraman snaps his horn off. He next gets lifted up above Ultraman’s head and hurled to the ground. If that alone didn’t kill him, Ultraman unleashes a beam attack that blasts the creature into tiny, smoking, rubbery bits. Ultraman continues to take his job seriously.

Everyone cheers, though Ide seems just a little bit curious about the whole Hayata leaves/Ultraman appears, Ultraman leaves/Hayata comes back situation.

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