My comments and observations from watching through this classic Japanese TV series.
One type of story Ultra Q featured was the children’s adventure — by which I mean rambunctious children having an adventure of some sort. Ultraman continues that tradition. This episode is the classic trope of youngsters uncovering a gang of criminals up to no good. They are left to investigate on their own, since the grown-ups won’t believe or listen.
It begins with Hoshino and his pals playing and watching ships unload at the bay. The youngest, Chiro, claims he’s spotted a monster, but Hoshino is distracted when he spots a couple of wanted criminals. As a responsible kid, he calls his friends in the SSSP to report it — but smugglers are not their jurisdiction. And Hoshino is able to pick up on the fact that Arashi didn’t take him seriously anyway.
While the kids are wondering what to do, the monster of the week does shows up. Guesra is another suit that probably looked better on paper than it does on screen. While it has some nice details, with all its fins and spines and bulbous protrusions, it’s also a little… familiar looking, being constructed out of bits of other monsters, including Ragon from just a couple episodes ago. The monster vanishes after sinking a ship, but the kids are excited about this new adventure and run off to investigate where cacao beans are stored — those being Guesra’s food source. It’s pretty common theme that the kaiju of Ultraman are not malicious, just animals after their next meal.
In a wacky twist, the criminals spotted earlier have been hiding their smuggled diamonds in the cacao shipments, so the kids end up running afoul of them after all. Kidnappings, escapes, chases, and other hijinks ensue. If Guesra was actually some sort of hoax, a boat fixed up with fake monster parts to act as a distraction from the smuggling, this would be an episode of Scooby-Doo.
But it’s a real monster out there. The SSSP arrive. They’ve requested information on Guesra from the Brazilian branch of the Science Police — a reminder that there is a large, international organization out there dealing with Unbalance. Guesras are known animals that feed on cacao, but this one has been mutated by… “stuff.” Miscellaneous pollution in Tokyo Bay is enough explanation for giant monsters in these times. Even your normal everyday Guesra is dangerous, and able to take on a Jaguar, according to, not the Brazilian Science Police, but the pipe-smoking sailor who has been hanging around. They will die though if they loose what the subtitles calls their “antennae” but is actually the big fin on their neck. Why this is such a weakness is not explained, or why the translation calls them antennae — unless somebody is sneaking in a reference to the giant ant movie THEM, where those mutant insects also had that weakness. “Shoot the antennae!” is a catch phrase most atomic monster movie fans would recognize.
Is it too much of a coincidence that the smugglers have their hideout just where Guesra smells the largest collection of cacao beans? I don’t know. Hiding diamonds in beanbags was their main scheme, so it isn’t too unreasonable that they be operating out of that warehouse. The situation brings monster, beans, kids, the smugglers, and the SSSP all to one place. The crooks make the unwise decision of shooting the monster, which enrages it into attacking and destroying the building. The SSSP get the kids out in time, but Hayata, once again has the bad luck of being caught in the middle of the destruction — though of course it’s good luck for Ultraman’s secret. Unfortunately, Ultraman has a second weakness besides his limited power supply: Hayata must hold the Beta Capsule to trigger the transformation. Frequently the very misadventure which separates him from his comrades, so he can become Ultraman in secret, knocks the Beta Capsule out of his hands — as happens here. The others, typically thinking Hayata has been killed, turn their weapons on Guesra (they don’t lower their blast visors this time I note).
This distraction gives time for the struggling Hayata to grab the capsule, become Ultraman, and in the nick of time save the team from being stepped on. There’s a nice shot of Ultraman holding the car, with the switches between miniature and live vehicle being very effectively. The only drawback of the sequence is seeing Ultraman very close up and noticing that the Ultraman suit, particularly the helmet, is roughly made, uneven, wrinkled, and with very prominent eye holes for the actor. It looks cheap, which it was, since this show did not have Ultra Q’s big budget.
When Ultraman grapples with Guesra the Color Timer, as usual, is used as an device to increase tension — but it also once again seems extraneous. Guesra is a powerful foe and Ultraman has trouble with its poisonous spines. He eventually gets the better of it and rips off its fin/antenna (the continuing the trend of Ultraman maiming his opponents). Guesra dies in apparent agony — another characteristic of many battles. Despite the ever increasing blink of his timer, Ultraman strikes a pose for his cheering fans and then flies off.
The others are saddened by the death of Hayata — of course not only is Hayata not dead, he has somehow had time to subdue the two smugglers and drag them to justice.