Ultraman Review Part 7: Episodes 16-18

ultraman_japanese_tv_series_title_cardWhoa I haven’t reviewed any Ultraman episodes all year! Time to fix that with a trio of titanic tales! If you’re new here or just need a refresher, be sure to hit up the six previous installments in my review series: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.

Real talk: it’s a little disquieting to see that it’s been over a year since I started reviewing the original Ultraman series and I’m barely halfway done. A lot of that is because I take plenty of breaks–I don’t want MONSTERS CONQUER THE WORLD to become an all-Ultraman all the time blog–but still, damn.  Does it bug anybody, or are we all cool with my meandering pace? (For real, let me know in the comments) was cool with it until I started crunching the numbers… maybe I’m just impatient? There’s a lot of giant monster/kaiju content out there, and I wanna review as much of it as I can!

I might change how often I review Ultraman episodes, but I do NOT plan on lessening the depth I go into for each episode: this show is too influential and too iconic for a quick skim.

Speaking of episodes, we got three winners on the docket for this month! They’re all kinda spooky-creepy too! It’s an exciting change of pace considering the last two I reviewed skewed a little lighter and goofier.  The show in general feels like it’s getting more confident, telling bolder and stranger stories as it goes on.  This month we get a gaslighting asshole from outer space, mind-melting fourth dimensional fuckery, and the return of Ultraman’s most sinister villains! Strap in Science Patrollers, shit’s gettin’ EERIE!

Episode 16
Science Patrol Into Space

This episode is also known as “The Science Patrol to Outer Space” or the comically curt “Science Patrol to Space.”

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Take a wild fuckin’ guess what this episode is about.

The episode opens with a realistic, Cape Canaveral-looking space launch.

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At the very least, it’s more grounded in reality than the rocket launch we saw in an earlier episode:

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Hmmm, I wonder which one of these could have possibly been inspired by the real-life Saturn rockets?

Realistic-looking as it is, there are rumors flying that there’s something fucky with the second stage of the Ohtori, so the Science Patrol are ready for a daring mid-launch rescue if anything goes tits-up.  The launch goes off without a hitch, so Hayata just gives the Ohtori the coolest airborne escort ever:

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We also get this bitchin’ new Sub VTOL launch sequence! Who says there’s no such thing as a free launch?

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The Ohtori is piloted by its inventor, Dr. Mori, who looks bored as balls to be driving an actual fucking spaceship.

Most of the Science Patrollers are geeked that the Ohtori was such a success, but Hoshino is genuinely bummed.  Not because he’s an astronaut-hating lunatic, but because he’s sad Dr. Mori beat the SP’s friend Dr. Iwamaoto to the punch.  They were both vying to build the first Venus-rocket, but Iwamoto’s Phoenix rocket wasn’t ready as quickly as the Ohtori.

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“Don’t be glum Hoshino, this is some rock solid set-up for a later payoff!”

The SP’s watch the live telecast of Mori’s Venus voyage:

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And since this is 1966, of course Mori has a complete Don Draper suit on under his spacesuit.

Ito mimics eating while he watches Mori eat a three-course meal (in space???), which has gotta be the food equivalent to watching porn and jerking it, right? But Ito’s vicarious meal is interrupted by a blast of incomprehensible static.  The SPs sort out the scrambled signal, only to reveal the inhuman visage of a foe they thought was long gone:

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Fucking crab people Baltan!

Hayata looks on in disbelief and helpfully recaps their last encounter. Specifically, Ultraman killed off (what he thought was) their entire species when they came to take over the Earth and enslave humanity.  Baltan (in a disappointingly nerdy kind of voice) explains that a segment of the Baltan population survived and resettled on the nearby Planet R where presumably they all drink malk.  After suffering a bout of genocide, it’s not a huge shock that they’re making a beeline for Earth to come and revenge our monkey asses off.

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Don’t let their reverb-addled nerd voices fool you, they are super pissed. The laugh is still creepy as hell too.

Phase 1 of Baltan’s Bal-plan: send this glowing space orb to frick up the Ohtori:

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Dr. Mori is having a great time observing space and just generally looking like a Japanese, space-faring Walt Disney.

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Aw shit, orb galore-b!

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“Oh me oh my it looks like I am about to get fricked what good!”

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COMMENCE FRICKING

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The actor playing Mori gets some serious mileage out of this (wonderful) “OH NO” face!

Mori calls in his emergency to the Science Patrol, who turn to Dr. Iwamoto for help.  The Phoenix is ready to go (PAYOFF!), but it doesn’t have any weapons to fight off the Baltans.  So instead of having the SPs fly the Phoenix itself, he’ll attach a VTOL to the Phoenix rockets. He’s the guy for the job too, because he designed the frickin’ VTOL in the first place!

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“In addition to aerospace engineering, I also do a little worldbuilding on the side.  Eh? EHHH??

We cut back to the Ohtori, where things are going not so awesome:

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Artificial gravity clocked out early, (cute space boots tho)

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Some creepazoid’s materializing in the cockpit,

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Aw crap is that Baltan?

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AHH FUCK IT’S BALTAN

The new Baltan suit is a little different from the previous one.  The most obvious, immediate difference is the cool color-changing/light-up forehead, but the face is proportioned a little differently.  Here’s the original Baltan suit for reference:

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Higher cheekbones or whatever be damned, he’s still a total space skeeze.

I kind of like the original look better, but the light-up head is undeniably cool. What’s not cool? BALTAN POSSESSING MORI.

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What’s also not cool (because it’s awkward and funny) is Mori’s response: “You’re going to invade my consciousness! No, no, don’t do that!” It almost sounds sarcastic. In general the dub and some of the edits are little weak this episode.

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The trippy brain-invasion (brainvasion?) effects are rad though.

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Back on the Earth, the SPs are gearing up to kick some serious space ass.  The VTOL gets outfitted with that cool half-circle booster rocket assembly:

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The Science Patrol, like plenty of kids I went to high school with, are clearly going through a phase where they just have to put a spoiler on everything.

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JUST KIDDING THIS RUUUUUULES

And Ito just calmly and coolly pulls out and starts assembling a bad-ass looking new laser gun.

Little do our intrepid (and now totally strapped) SPers know, Dr. Mori and the Ohtori are a distraction! While Hayata, Captain Mura, and Arashi are putzing around in outer space, a big nasty orb full of Baltans are screaming toward Earth ready to fuck shit up!

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Possessed Mori and a cute little mini-Baltan have it all figured out! It’s a really simple effect (a Baltan figurine balanced with hidden wire), but it looks great and gives us insight into Mori’s compromised mind.

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Mori is truly lost, functioning as the de facto leader of the Baltans. His space boots are still super cute though.

Luckily Ito’s stayed behind and jury rigged a mount for his new gun in the Sub VTOL! He’s able to chase the Baltan orb and pick off some of the invaders as they’re pooped out:

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Gross.

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Of course, Ito is still Ito, so he has to do some Cowardly Lioning before he can get his shit together enough to start zapping baddies:

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“EW EW HE GOT CURLED-UP GENIE FEET”

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I honestly don’t blame him. That shit is crazy, especially since the Baltans are constantly making creepy little giggle noises.

Fuji radios Hayata, Mura, and Arashi to tell them about Baltan’s bamboozlery, but they’ve gone too far, and they can’t just leave Mori stranded in space.  Speaking of Mori, Hayata and pals safely bring him aboard the VTOL, and surprise, he’s being a fucking weirdo!

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Mori is full-blown Looney Tunes: he cackles like a maniac so hard that Hayata loses control of the VTOL and it crash-lands on Planet R! When they name-dropped PR earlier I didn’t expect to actually see it, but hey, that’s still set-up and payoff, baby!

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I can see why the Baltans aren’t like in love with the place.

When our crew comes to, Mori’s dicking around outside just having a ball!

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Yeah this seems fine.

Arashi wakes up and tries to run Mori down, but Mori works some psychic juju on Arashi, dropping him like a sack of potatoes!

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The show communicates the psychic juju with some fun, Evil Dead-ish close-ups on Arashi’s pained face. I wasn’t able to get any good screengrabs of that specifically, but I wanted to give it a quick shout-out.

After this Mori just says “fuck it” and goes Balltans to the wall:

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Baltan shoots gale force winds out of his claws (“I am Baltan, and I have lots and lots of powers”), flipping the VTOL over. Hayata’s had enough, it’s ULTRA time, baby!

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Yay!

Ultraman wastes no time and sends a volley of hand laser screaming towards Baltan! We know these guys are super-susceptible to UM’s beams, so that’s it, game over, right? NOPE!

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R E F L E C T O – T I D D I E S

All credit for the phrase “reflecto-tiddies” goes to (former?) Tumblr user mekagojira3k.  But yeah, as the beam-bouncing breasts (or plasma-parrying pecs!) demonstrate, the Baltans have adapted! That’s probably why they have lots and lots of powers now! Baltan tries to blow Ultraman away with his wind wakers, and that does throw our silver savior off balance for a bit… but check this out!

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HOLY SHIT EAT YOUR HEART OUT, XENA!

According to the Ultraman Wiki It’s called the Ultra-Slash or the MOTHERFUCKING DISMEMBERING HALO. In my Godzilla: Planet of the Monsters review I called the “that’d be a great name for a band” joke old and busted (and I mostly stand by that), but it totally, absolutely, 100% non-jokingly applies here.  Please, someone, name your heavy-ass thrashing metal band DISMEMBERING HALO.

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Here look I just designed your first album cover.

Ultraman may have murdered the shit out of the Mori-Baltan, but the other Baltans are still on Earth torching an oil refinery (achieved with re-used footage from the episode Oil S.O.S.?) and they’ve coalesced into one big Baltan! But Ultraman’s way the hell out on Planet R! Well guess what babies?!

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The Baltans ain’t…

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… the only ones with…

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… lots and lots of powers!

TELEPORTATION! I’ve been goofing on this episode for doling out a slew of exciting new powers, but I really like that they actually address how huge a deal interplanetary teleportation is. The narrator straight up says that using this awesome ability is a major drain on Ultraman, so it’s not something he’ll be busting out on a whim.   Baltans teleport like it’s their job though, so it’s no shocker that Big Baltan bamfs the second he sees Ultraman phase into existence.  Ultraman then adorably does the 100 ft. tall superhero version of the John Travolta/Pulp Fiction meme:

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Baltan eventually pops back into reality, and Ultraman’s ready with another DISMEMBERMENT HALO.  BUT GUESS WHAT!

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Like every butthole kid at recess, he has a forcefield all of the sudden!

Ultraman zaps the forcefield away with his eye-lasers, than conspicuously repeats the kick-ass bisection-by-frisbee from earlier:

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As far as I’m concerned the animated gif is a work of art that should be hanging in the Lourve, but let’s really marinate in the gleefully gruesome mayhem, shall we?

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Here’s a thought Baltan, maybe don’t leap at Ultraman fontanelle-first?

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Not even TUMS will fix that.

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Full. Vertical. Bisection. You know, for kids!

It’s totally fucking metal and they absolutely earned the right to double dip.  Except this time Ultraman put some additional stank on it!

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Nuking each Balt-half before they even hit the ground…

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… is the charred, gore-streaked cherry on top.

Fucking bra-vo, Ultraman!  With outrageous villain-kills like this, Ultraman is basically  space-themed “Ash vs. Evil Dead” for kids.  Which is honestly some of the highest praise I can possibly dole out.

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I highly recommend both of these shows. There’s a surprising amount of overlap on their Venn Diagram.

With the Baltans satisfyingly and hilariously murdered, Hayata un-Ultras, and we return to our heroes stranded on Planet R.  Interestingly, Hayata’s body has been present but unconscious during today’s Ultra-action. The exact mechanics of Hayata’s transformation to and from Ultraman are muddied by this: previous episodes have shown or at least implied that Hayata’s body is gone while he’s Ultraman.

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I think I like this idea better, if only because it bakes in an alibi for Hayata.  Maybe the mechanics of the transformation can change depending on the situation?

The nuts and bolts of Hayata turning into a giant alien superhero aren’t the point of the show though, so I won’t press this too much.  It is interesting to think about though, and I’ll be keeping an eye out for any more little hints in the future!  Anyway Dr. Iwamoto’s goof-tastic space contraption lands on Planet R to rescue our marooned heroes!
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The rescue party includes Hoshino, looking great decked out in Science Patrol orange!

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Though his official promotion doesn’t happen until the next episode.  SPOILERS SORRY

The episode ends abruptly, so that’s it! It’s great to see the Baltans return.  Like plenty of Ultra-villains they are menacing and dangerous, but they’re also conniving in a way that makes them scary on an immediate and intimate level. As a whole, this episode isn’t quite as strong as the Baltans’ debut (Shoot the Invaders!). The fantastical space travel is exciting, entertaining, and quaint, but it also takes the edge off the episode’s horror, even in a story that includes the mental possession and annihilation of a decent, innocent man. Science Patrol Into Space loses the creepy mood and tension about halfway through, but it more than makes up for it with petal-to-the-metal, balls-to-the-wall combat action. Works for me!

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Episode 17
Passport to Infinity

Passport to Infinity opens with a rare token white guy examining a little blue meteorite. His name is Sir Yesterday, which is an adorably weird name for a human.

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It really sounds like he should be a Muppet teaching us about past tense, present tense, and future tense.

Sir Yesterday is a weird name, but according to IMDB he is played by an actor named Hans Holiness.  That is a name only fit for a porn director that specializes in naughty nun movies and/or a clergy-themed supervillain.  Also this is the dude’s only role.

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Anyway Yesterday taps the strange blue space rock, and suddenly it does this!

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Yeah, maybe you’re all genre savvy about magic green rocks, but this one’s blue mother fucker!

That’s pretty freaky right?  BUT THEN IT DOES THIS!

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Blue space rocks. Not even once.

It’s a trippy, simple, and great looking effect!  We’ll get a bunch more rad sequences like this before the end of the episode, too! After being missing for a week, the Science Patrol is called in to investigate.  Arashi and Ito question Yesterday’s secretary Yoko. Things take a turn for the strange when their investigation is interrupted by brief, freak (briefreak?) earthquake!

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Yesterday’s here, today!

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Oh and the blue rock is back!…

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…OR IS IT?!?!?!

DON’T. TRUST. BLUE. SPACE ROCKS. Yesterday’s pretty shook up, but he has it together enough to tell Ito and Arashi that his friend Ichiro Fukui is in trouble… not knowing the danger of colorful space rocks, Yesterday recently gave a red one to Fukui!

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“And he knows I’ve been wanting an X-box!”

Arashi confiscates the red space rock and assigns a security detail to keep an eye on the understandably paranoid Fukui.  But that blue rock is still out there!

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Dr. Kawaguchi (who is apparently such a baller scientist he has a chauffeur) stumbles onto the diabolical rock and takes it back to his dope-ass geodesic dome laboratory for further, laser-y study. It didn’t like getting tapped by a tiny hammer, but maybe it’ll be chill about getting zapped with heat beams?

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GUESS NOT

The space rock warps Kawaguchi’s reality, but not the same way it did for Yesterday.

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Yesterday literally got zapped into next week, but Kawaguchi is trapped between a bunch of invisible walls like a labcoat-clad mime. But it’s a big facility, surely someone will hear him screaming and stumbling around and come check on him, right?

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Right!

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Oh.  Ohhhhhhh.

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“I’ll just come back later, okay?”

Hayata and Captain Mura go to check out Kawaguchi’s lab while Ito and Arashi lock down the red meteorite.  With the SP’s all busy (Fuji’s holding down the fort at HQ and keeping communications open), Hoshino goes out snoopin’! When Hayata and Cap get to the lab, there’s a great gag where the scientist that saw the fourth dimensional clusterfuck earlier opens the door, expects reality warping weirdness, but instead gets a boring, empty lab.  Shit gets crazy immediately after that though!

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And you can see the blur of that scientist hauling ass out of the room!

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He gets teleported outside in a hilarious long-shot/smash cut for his cowardice!

Hayata gives zero fucks and just grabs onto the telekinetic, sentient(?!) space rock.  They can’t use their communicators, so Hayata starts to think that maybe they’re trapped in some kind of energy field or alternate dimension.  That’s a bit of a leap based on bad cell phone signal, but he’s right! Hayata figures if they can get the rock away from them, they can get out of its sphere of influence.  Hayata: “fuck it, I’ll chuck it!”

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“All right Hayata, time for the ol’ fastball special!”

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“Batter up!”

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“… Um.”

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“…. Okay.”

Time and space are thoroughly dorked in their immediate vicinity, so Hayata can’t just toss the rock away from them. In a surprising character moment, Cap starts to freak a little.  It’s interesting becuase he’s normally the cool, calm, level-headed voice of reason, but that was all before he ever had to exist outside the laws of physics. He snaps out of it pretty quick, but it’s a neat moment.  They find Dr. Kawaguchi, still goochin’ it up in a glass case of emotion confusion.

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They’re able to get out of there with Kawaguchi just as Ito and Arashi show up… with a little extra something they found on the way!

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Now they have both of the dangerous meteorites in their possession, so they figure they might as well lock ’em up together!  Why not!

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Cool cool cool cool cool.  Hey, so what’s Hoshino been up to this whole time?

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Getting the inside scoop from Yesterday, good work Hoshino! Yesterday tells Hoshino that the two meteorites should never, under any circumstance be kept together.  Kawaguchi’s studies have also found that the rocks are actually living things! Left in close proximity, they could combine into a monster.

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Shit.

Hoshino rushes back to HQ with his findings, but Fuji leads him away thinking that he’s just goofin’ around. It’s too late anyway though, because those space rocks are already gettin’ bizzay!

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I knew it, I knew blue meteorite was a power bottom!

The silver lining is that Hoshino and Fuji are clear of the building (and meet up with Hayata) when the rocks turn into Bullton and the fabric of reality within HQ gives itself a wedgie.  Everybody else has their work all the way cut out for them.

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“Sir, suddenly I really really want to listen to Phish!”

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This partial glimpse of Bullton (not to be confused with last episode’s Baltan!) lets us know right away that it’s a little different, even for this show.

Ito is tasked with escorting Fukui and Yoko to safety while Arashi and Mura set off to destroy the two meteorites.  Both of these tasks are mundane and easy… right up until they’re not:

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Luckily, they’re all huge Lionel Ritchie fans.

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Ito’s kind of a goober, so of course Arashi and Mura are making progress faster!

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Oh shit, wait, what?! Uh, maybe Ito’s doing better now?

Ito, Yoko and Fukui give up on the stairway to heaven pretty quickly, and Ito determines that they’ll need to jump off the nearby cliff into the lake below.

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Unsurprisingly Yoko and Fukui are not into this plan and try to stop Ito.  This idea is nonsense, but they’re in a nonsense world, so at this point it’s as good as anything else they could come up with! They really take the time to milk a little bit of tension out of this sequence, right up until….

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They end it with a non-sequitur, goof-tastic physical comedy gag!

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Also Ito accidentally invents Buckethead!?

Meanwhile on the outside, Fuji’s called in the JSDF to deal with Bullton (not to be confused with Bolton)! We also get our first really clear look at this episode’s freaked-out monster.

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After 15 episodes Ultraman’s still dishing out wildly creative and bizarre critters.

Bullton is simply unlike anything we’ve seen before.  Not just in Ultraman, but in the whole giant monster/kaiju genre.  It’s kind of a funky, glittery, red-white-‘n’-blue meteorite with exaggerated, protruding “craters”.  I fucking love this thing.  It’s a gigantic, evil Bumble Ball from outer space:

Or a malevolaent Katamari:

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Considering that the Katamari games feature spoofs of Ultraman-style heroes and monsters, I’m not super astonished.

The Ultra Wiki says Bullton gets its name from French surrealist poet André Breton, who died a few weeks before the episode aired.  It wouldn’t shock me, especially considering upcoming Ultra baddie Dada is named for and inspired by the absurdist Dadaist art movement.  Ultraman writers are fine art nerds and the show is better for it. Bullton’s vocalizations are reused sound effects from Dogora, and apparently suit actor Teruo Aragaki is in there at least some of the time!

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I repeat, sometimes there is a dude inside this thing. This show is amazing.

So first comes the tank battalion! Bullton’s a big stationary blobbery kinda orb, this should be a short fight, right?

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Vividly surreal and incredible to look at, but short, sure.

Hahaha, fuck no! The tanks lay into Bullton, but it responds by sticking a weird little feeler out of one of its protrusions and firing off a beam of pure chaos magic!

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You can’t see it so much here, but the feelers look like dainty little egg beaters. Which is somehow both adorable and deeply unsettling.

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Bye Felecia!

After the tanks get spanked, the JSDF sends in a screamin’ squad of fighter jets.  Surely this will work, right?

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Here we go! Maverick, Goose, go fuck shit up!

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Oh shit!  Guys!  GUYS!!

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Oh, it’s fine.

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Wait, nope.  Not fine.

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Oh!  Oh? Well, better there than gone from our plane (heh) of existence!

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This is fucking bonkers.

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They just keep on truckin’ along! I guess it’s not safe to stop so they–

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–HOLY SHIT!

Bullton is a straight-up brain-melter.  This is crazy, but I’m sure JSDF can dig those tank dudes out of the ground and–

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Maybe they’ll… safely continue flying through the air, or?…

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No, yeah, I should’ve seen this coming.

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These low angle shots look amazing, provide a very convincing sense of scale, and put us uncomfortably close to Bullton while it’s at its most vicious.  I love this episode.

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Iconic, bat-shit crazy visuals.

A lot of Ultraman episodes will have a spooky, Twilight Zone-y first half that switches to more traditional kaiju action-fantasy for the second half, but Passport to Infinity makes the giant monster showdown just as trippy and eerie as the first half, and I am bananas about that.  This is already a classic episode in my book, and it’s not even over yet!

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Oh yeah, almost forgot this dude’s in the show too!

Seeing that the JSDF are hopelessly outmatched, Hayata Ultras out and does his best to end the madness! But Bullton just freezes him in mid-air!

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Fourth dimensional reality warping beats rad high kicks I guess!

Bullton extends a second little doo-dad that starts spinning Ultraman faster and faster in place:

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It’s a good thing Ultraman’s mouth isn’t fully functional: I never need to see Ultra puke.

Then another little dinger pops out that sends him plummeting through the surface of the Earth and into some kind of ghostly nether-realm:

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At least when your dog gets a red rocket it’s just funny or embarrassing.

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Through sheer force of will (awesome) Ultraman overcomes Bullton’s dimension-shredding fuckery, blasts back into our plane of consciousness and starts like… Tasmanian Deviling in place?

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Whatever this move is, it burns out one of Bullton’s deedlers, so who the fuck am I to judge?! Good work, Ultraman! I don’t know how or why you knew to do that, but you did!

With some of Bullton’s accoutrement cooked, Ultraman busts out his trusty hand laser and just blows the ever-loving piss out of Bullton.  It’s a really spectacular multi-stage explosion with individual pyrotechnics satisfyingly blowing out of each crater exactly how I hoped it would:

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This deeply pleases my rotten, carnage-craving little brain.  Bless you Tsuburaya.

Bullton understandably tries to bail, and of course Ultraman ain’t havin’ it.

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BA-BOOOOOM! HAHAHA EAT A SPACE-TURD BULLTON!

Bullton’s weirdness isn’t done just yet though! After it goes up in a ball of fire, a little mini-Bullton materializes on Earth.  Maybe the Science Patrol will take it in for study to see if–

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Oh!  Right.  Nevermind.

With Bullton Bull-done, the SPs all regroup at the (hopefully returned to normal) HQ.  Hayata thanks Hoshino for his sleuthing and asks “What kind of reward would you like?” We’re answered with a heartwarming crossfade:

We already saw Hoshino in full Science Patrol gear in the previous episode, but it’s exciting to see his official promotion, especially in a show like this where major, permanent character developments are so rare. After facing one of their strangest, deadliest, and most powerful threats, the Science Patrol is now a little smarter, a little stronger, and a little braver.  Great episode.

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Episode 18
Brother from Another Mother Planet

Not to be confused with 1984’s charmingly low-key and wonderfully offbeat The Brother From Another Planet.

Great flick though!

Continuing this month’s theme of creepy episodes, Brother from Another Planet starts with a mysterious smog rolling in over the city–smog that contains lethal amounts of radiation!

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Hedorah could not be reached for comment.

The Science Patrol are on the case right away. According to their intel, this isn’t the result of a nuclear weapons test or launch… or at least, not a test or launch from our world.  Arashi and Ito are dispatched to patrol the streets, and apparently putting their visors down is enough to protect them from lethal amounts of radiation?!

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Obviously this is the only visor that comes close to being that powerful.

Visor goofs aside, Arashi and Ito patrolling the smoky city streets is deliciously moody and atmospheric.  All the lights have a fuzzy, blown-out quality to them, the streets are foggy and sinister… it’s like an accidental sneak preview of Blade Runner‘s grimy, rain-soaked future noir.

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Complete with our protagonist hunting a replicant?!?!

Ito and Arashi spot this incredibly suspicious-looking weirdo and try to question him.

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Cousin Itt?

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IT’S A GADDAM ALIEM

BTW “GADDAM ALIEM” is exactly how I took it down in my notes.  Brother From Another Planet is off to a wild start! Ito is (fully understandably) startled by this development, and needs Arashi’s help to re-capture the actual fucking spaceman.

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Arashi and Ito corner the cloaked creeper….

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But somehow only grab hold of empty clothing….

For a second it looks like the culprit has mysteriously given our heroes the slip, but they happen to glance up and spot some legitimately unsettling and surreal horseshit:

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Wuh huh?

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OH MY GOD EW NO

This freaky-ass thing is like jigglin’ up the side of a sheer building, accompanied by some absolutely perfect “wee-woo” sci-fi creature feature music! Arashi’s had enough and does his Arashi thing:

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Arashi’s thing being: shoot the monster right in the penis.

The creature writhes around in agony (still halfway up the building!) and then fades away.  Arashi thinks they’ve wrapped up the whole “random extraterrestrial roaming the city streets threateningly”, so he starts to call it in:

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“LOOK AT MY PUCKERED BUTTHOLE MOUTH!”

The alien stuns them both with a piercing sound and just plows right past them like it’s no big thing.  His name is Zarab, and like Baltan that’s also the name of his species and home planet.  He’s got a really cool, strange look.  His big, dome-like, metallic head merges seamlessly with his organic looking body–this is a truly alien being.  And he’s made out of a heavily modified, repurposed Ragon suit!

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Ragon’s the goofy fish-man from Five Seconds Before The Explosion!

Zarab hijacks the SP’s radio frequency and starts talking to them! Series stalwart Teruo Aragaki is the actor in the Zarab suit, and in the original Japanese he’s voiced by Takeshi Aono. Video game fans might know Aono as the Japanese voice of Col. Campbell in the Metal Gear Solid games or as Roy in Super Smash Bros. Brawl, while anime fans might know him from his work on various Dragon Ball Zes or Vampire Hunter D: Bloodlust.  But I’m a dub fan, so instead of Aono’s dulcet tones I heard unintelligible, reverb-blasted fat guy voice.

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Seriously, in the dub he sounds like Mr. Plinkett or Teddy from Bob’s Burgers drunkenly shouting into a coffee can with a mouthful of flapjacks.  It’s funny as hell but also impossible to follow.

Oh and guess who instantaneously drops in to chat?!

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Zarab’s face is totally weird, but still has plenty of recognizable, humanoid features.  In addition to his sphincter-mouth, you can make out his concave diamond-shaped eyes, his protruding and sensitive-looking red “ears”, and my favorite, his blue light-up “cheeks.”

I was barely able to glean that Zarab claims he wants to be a helpful big brother to humanity.  Zarab’s name even comes from jumbling up the word “brother”, publications have listed his English name as Therrob, making the brother connection clearer. Cap  wisely tells Zarab to prove it by cleaning up the irradiated mist swirling around downtown.  Zarab’s like “sure,” and then they all carpool out in the Corvair.

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Ultraman is so charming, so endearing, and so kitschy that it just can’t stay creepy through an entire episode.  Wes Anderson is my number one choice to direct an Ultraman ’66 movie.

Zarab Moses-es the smog away!

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Zarab’s true to his word! The toxic fog clears, so the SPers give him a place to stay the night as thanks.  I mean, it’s the least they can do for their helpful new friend!

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Aaaaand he mentally enslaves Ito the second they’re alone together.

The next morning the SPers attend a classified government debriefing regarding their encounter with Zarab.  Arashi’s holding down the fort at HQ, and is very surprised to see Fuji stayed behind.  She brought him tea though, so that’s nice!

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She’s weirdly intense (and a little sexy???) about delivering the tea though…

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AW SHIT OF COURSE

At the debriefing Ito looks and acts biggity-baked.

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Baked or just tired as shit.  Does Ito stay up till all hours writing a kaiju blog?

Hayata notices pretty quickly.  Or at least, he notices Ito’s comm badge antenna is up and transmitting the top secret meeting.  This little sequence is fascinating to me: it’s simultaneously a dry physical comedy bit and a legitimately unnerving WTF moment for Hayata.

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Ito drowsily re-raises his antenna just a moment after Hayata called him out for it…

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… So Hayata grabs it!

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And Ito instantly snaps out of his weird fugue state!

After the meeting they take Ito to a doctor who confirms that he’s under some sort of spell and that he’ll have to be treated with electroshock therapy.  So that’s, you know, genuinely upsetting if you really let it sink in.

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“It will take several wakes of intensive, invasive therapy, but your friend will slip on banana peels and pretend to eat along with people on TV again.”

Some guys from Japan’s space agency (in 1966 its real-world counterpart would have been NAL) roll into Science Patrol HQ to take Zarab into custody.  Mura (still thinking Zarab’s on the up and up) says no, but Zarab forcefully says yes! Zarab blows up the SP’s translator, whips out his own translator that he built on the down-low and bails with the space agency goons!

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“No, it’s not a boombox.  Shut up.”

Hayata knows this is fishy as fuck and tails them out of the building.  When Zarab takes to the sky (despite it’s name, I don’t think Japan’s “Space Department” is actually located in outer space), Hayata follows suit!

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Zarab boards a Saturn rocket that’s been in orbit around Earth.  Hayata suits up and space-spies on him!
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Zarab’s in there doing something to these barely-conscious astronauts. This episode ping pongs between charmingly quaint and truly eerie on the reg.

Hayata scrambles back to the VTOL (which didn’t need the booster rocket ring attachment for space travel this time? Magic xylophone, I hope somebody got fired for that blunder, etc.) to get back to Earth and warn everybody that Zarab’s a space-douche.  Hayata’s fires up the jets, starts zooming home… and then the jets crap out.

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Time for a little troubleshooting! Hayata goes to re-ignite the thrusters–

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“NEED A HAND?”

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GAHHH BUTT MOUTH!

Zarab suddenly materializing inside the VTOL is scary, but the fact that he constantly has to lug around his jambox also makes it pretty funny.  It gets scary again when Zarab reveals that he knows Hayata is Ultraman!  He even knows about the beta capsule! Zarab explains that he’s a born conquerer, and he has his sights set on Earth. Holy shit! Zarab’s got plans for Hayata, and they start with Zarab teleporting the two of them off the VTOL and letting it crash in the middle of the city.Screen Shot 2018-02-19 at 1.50.55 AM

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Zarab, buddy, is this because of all my butthole-mouth comments?

Arashi’s barely been dispatched to investigate the crash when reports start streaming in that Ultraman is attacking the city.

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That fucking weasel Zarab cruises into the council room and starts talking mad shit not just about Ultraman, but about the Science Patrol.  He says they’ll refuse to fight Ultraman because they’re working together to overthrow the government.

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“Yeah, yeah, and Ultraman also said you guys all have tiny wieners!”

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The translator/boombox makes it feel like Zarab is dropping a fiery diss track.

Zarab finishes Mean Girls-ing Ultraman and the Science Patrol and goes back to check on Hayata, bound up in high-tech metal restraints in a secure location.  Zarab gets all handsy with Hayata, making one last desperate attempt to find the beta capsule:

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“What do you mean it’s in your ‘butthole’? Is that what you call the mouth you have on your lower back? Humans are so weird!”

Zarab gives up on the beta capsule and moves forward with his own mysterious backup plan, leaving Hayata behind.  Good thing Hoshino was made a full member, because guess who rappels in right after Zarab bails?!

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More like Hoshi-YES!

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Just like Nada in They Live, he’s got his own tools! Including the frickin’ beta capsule! I’m not sure why Hoshino had it instead of Hayata, but it’s lucky he did!

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While Hoshino frantically works to cut Hayata loose, we see what Zarab’s plan B looks like:

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Seeing Ultraman attack the city and fight his way through JSDF artillery is surreal… and pretty dope if I’m being completely honest! His angular, menacing face (especially the angry, amber eyes) remind me of Belial, the evil (non-imposter) Ultra we get in a later series:

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Belial answers the question: what would it look like if Fake Ultraman and Venom had a murder-baby?

Hoshino cuts Hayata loose and makes the extremely odd choice of rappelling out of the building instead of just trying the stairs.  Stairs would’ve made (way, way) more sense, but they wouldn’t have led to a crazy-thrilling action setpiece: Fake Ultraman snatching up Hoshino!

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You know Fake Ultraman is evil because he’s got gross little curled up genie feet like Baltan!

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I always find it super exciting when kaiju interact directly with us squishy little humans, and so far we haven’t seen it happen a ton on Ultraman.  Hoshino’s in for the ride of his life, because here comes the REAL Ultraman!

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Fake Ultraman looked sick when he had the spotlight to himself, but when the real deal shows up we see what a scrawny dweeb he really is!

Ultraman immediately reaches for danglin’ Hoshino, and the two Ultramen brawl each other for custody of the plucky kid!

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The real Ultraman manages to wrench Hoshino away without splattering the poor kid, gently sets him down, and continues the fight with his dastardly doppelgänger!

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After some grapplin’, Fake Ultraman tries to get the fuck out, but real Ultraman ain’t having it!

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It was Old Man Withers Zarab all along!

They tussle on the ground a little bit before they take their fight to the sky!

Zarab shoots off a crappy little hand blaster before Ultraman gut-checks him mid-air and they wrestle as they plummet back to Earth.

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This is the best genre in the universe.

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Ultraman nails the pin from low orbit!

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But you know this can’t end with a pin, even a crazy-sick one from the stratosphere.  Time for ye olde hand-lasers!

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That’s it for Zarab and this episode! I dig the creepy and atmospheric first half, Zarab’s plan to turn the world against Ultraman is a fresh, funky storyline, and the action in the back half is exciting and stuffed with striking, iconic visuals.  Unfortunately the hiccups in the story are noticeable too though. With a tighter script, this could have been a crown jewel of the series.  As it stands, it’s more of an unpolished gem.

Screen Shot 2018-02-19 at 2.18.54 AM That’s it for this month Ultrafans! I’m gonna take a break next month for Pacific Rim Uprising, but I definitely see more Ultraman in our near future!

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15 thoughts on “Ultraman Review Part 7: Episodes 16-18

  1. Damnit, you HAD to make this on a work night, didn’t you? I’ll be back for you. MARK MY WORDS!

  2. Wait till Hoshino discovers the reason that Iwamoto’s rocket wasn’t ready on time was because he was distracted making something that destroyed oxygen in the water…

    It surely seems like a waste of Teruo Aragaki’s talents to have him inside Bullton. Though, I guess his awesomeness was similarly wasted as Rodan in “Destroy All Monsters.”

    It’s entirely likely that the Baltan and Bullton episodes were aired in the wrong order and Hoshino’s promotion to Science Patron was meant to come first. Similarly, Japanese fans of “Ultra Q” have figured out how the episodes were supposed to be ordered going by Hiroko Sakurai’s changing hairstyles.

    Also, WHY are you watching these in English? Get over to Japanese with English subs, son! Stuff will actually, you know, make more sense. I didn’t even know Zarab was unintelligible cause I never bothered to watch them dubbed.

    Hey, isn’t the guy outraged about Zarab talking smack about his junk Yoshio Tsuchiya???

    And I do believe that is some “Mothra” stock footage shooting at Not-Ultraman.

    And honestly, it doesn’t matter to me how much or how long Ultraman you do, I just like new content, bay-bee! Though, at this rate, I do fear I may be dead by the time you get to the middle of “Return of Ultraman.”

    • Ted, my friends and I like to play a game called “Everything is Canon with Everything” so yeah, Iwamoto absolutely invented the oxygen destroyer!

      Up until Brother From Another Planet I’ve had really good luck with the dubs! They even include the Japan-only scenes stitched in. I did end up scanning through the JP version of the episode so I could get some kind context for what Zarab was blubbering about. It’s kind of fun to have an excuse to watch the episodes twice. 😈

      I figured Hoshino’s pre-promotion was an airing order goof, but that’s amazing about fans using haircuts to gauge the airing order for Ultra Q! NEVER UNDERESTIMATE DEVOTED FANS!

      Thanks for your feedback on my meandering through the series! I might be a dementia-riddled octogenarian by the time I get there, but I’ll get there, damn it!

  3. A little late to the party but about your Ultraman dilemma the current pace is fine. It will get done someday! And in between we can enjoy all sorts of different Kaiju works. No rush, work on what you want. The level of depth placed on each episode is lovely and has shown me the little things I never noticed which makes me appreciate the show even more.

    P.S. I have silently read your blog for a few years now and I must say its top notch stuff. The humor is excellent and the extra bits of trivia are much appreciated. I have a semi obscure modern monster movie for you that is worth a look if you have not yet seen it. Its called The Host and it came out in 2006 and is one of South Korea’s highest grossing films of all time. It has good old monster action mixed with political satire and family dramedy elements. It is pretty good movie and I would enjoy reading your thoughts on it. Last I knew it was on Netflix and/or Hulu or something so it shouldn’t be too hard to find.

    • Thanks for the feedback, and thanks for reading!

      I LOVE The Host! It’ll get a full review on here… someday. 100% agreed though, it expertly balances a bunch of wildly different elements and somehow brings it all together in a kick-ass finale. If you haven’t seen it, I definitely recommend Snowpiercer (by the same director). No kaiju, but a really weird, darkly funny and very engaging dystopia. I gotta watch Okja one of these days too!

  4. Stopped by the comment section specifically to say I LOVE these reviews. I just started getting into Ultraman and these make it so much more enjoyable. Just passed episode 18 so I’m desperately waiting for the next set!

    • Thanks for reading, glad you dig it! Ultraman is CRAZY fun, so I’m jazzed to dish out more reviews. It’ll be a little bit (I want to hit Pacific Rim Uprising later this month and Rampage next month), but I plan on rolling through every single Ultra-adventure!

    • HA! This took me a second, but I love a good deep cut reference to the Friday the 13th franchise! When I’m done reviewing kaiju and giant monster media (so like, 375 years form now) I’ll switch gears and review slashers.

      • Now there’s a thought! When you get down to it, they’re pretty much the same thing. Bunch of freaks in costumes murdering each other.

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