Ultraman, Episodes 17, 18, & 19

Some quick thoughts as I watch through this classic Japanese Special Effects TV series.

Passport to Infinity

The plot of this episode is fairly straightforward: a pair of meteorites are found which cause a series of mysterious phenomena. When they are brought together they merge and grow into a giant monster. The military tries to fight it, but are helpless. Ultraman shows up and, after a challenging battle, destroys the menace.

Captain Atom
Captain Atom from Grant Morrison’s graphic novel, Multiversity.

It is just that the specific details of all those things are very weird. The meteorite monster possesses abilities to warp and twist space, with the suggestion that what we are perceiving is from a higher dimensional space. It is able to make people disappear, open portals to other realms, reverse gravity, swap the locations of one object for another…

Bullton

This monster is named “Bullton” or, in Japanese syllables Bu-ru-to-n. The thing you see in articles about Ultraman is that this kaiju is intended to be named after the French Surrealist Andre Breton. That would seem ridiculous if it weren’t for some many similar references and influences in this show. For instance there is a monster named Dada coming up soon. What I was most reminded of, during the sequences when the SSSP are in the distorted version of their headquarters, was Robert Heinlein’s 1941 short story “He Built a Crooked House,” where an architect builds a house based on a tesseract and gets trapped when it collapses into a 4-dimensional maze.

Hoshino in uniform

It is in this episode that Hoshino gets his promotion to full Science Patrol  member, complete with orange outfit and helmet. I wonder what the HR department at the SSSP feels about this.


Brother from Another Planet

Yikes! This episode starts with a Tokyo being struck by a chocking, radioactive fog that leaves the steets filled with gasping and unconscious people. It’s only hopeful optimism that would keep you from believing hundreds or thousands of people had just been killed. As the SSSP investigates they come across a weird alien who has come to make friends with his “brothers” on Earth. Oh and he has rescued some astronauts who got in trouble of their way to Saturn. Oh and he knows how to get rid of the deadly fog too.

Alien Zarab

Not only do they end up trusting Zarab, they even give him a room to stay in. Of course he’s actually a baddie, with the usual set of evil space alien powers such as teleportation, shape changing, and mind control. Hayata, after a bit of space walking (something that would have been in the news thanks to the Gemini program around the time this show was on), discovers the truth, that Zarab is galactic criminal who has made a career of conquering planets by turning their inhabitants against each other— but Zarab knows some things too, such as that Hayata is Ultraman!

Evil Twin Battle

After taking Hayata prisoner, Zarab masquerades as Ultraman to turn Earth against him. But I guess in all his galactic conquering, he never had to face a plucky young kid such as Hoshino, who manages to rescue Hayata. Ultraman goes up against his evil twin. Zarab in giant form puts up a decent fight, but shares the fate of most monsters, being pummeled, blasted, and incinerated by Earth’s defender.


Demons Rise Again

Digging up artifact

Failing marks in archeology and workplace safety for everybody in this episode. A 300,000,000 year old buried artifact is found at a construction site. So dig it up, cart it off on a truck and… everybody back to work! That’s not just bad practice for a discovery in the real world, but is bad here too, since, another artifact is indeed immediately dug up, though unnoticed this time, and taken to a land fill.

Ide and Hayata ponder

Back at HQ Ide corrects Arashi that 300,000,000 ago (or, being oddly specify, 300,005,000 years ago) predates dinosaurs and early hominids. Fuji interrupts the mansplaining, with a book stating that an advanced human civilization existed back then. The information content in this shows swings from being vaguely accurate to totally off-the-wall nuts faster than one can follow.

Monsters fight

All the mad science is interrupted when monsters break out of the two artifacts. Their rampage only halts when they encounter each other and start fighting. After deciding they can’t count on Aboras and Banila destroying each other, the SSSP try to do what they can, but only succeed in wounding Banila, allowing Aboras to finish him off. Ultraman then mops up, taking out the remaining kaiju. Not a bad strategy.

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