Ultra Q Episodes 5 and 6
Pegila Has Come! and Grow! Turtle
Episode 5 Pegila Has Come! directed by Samaji Nonagase
Episode 6 Grow! Turtle directed by Harunosuke Nakagawa
Once again we dip into the world of Ultra Q, the Japanese TV series. A precursor to the Ultraman series, Ultra Q features many giant monsters that our plucky heroes have to deal with. Previously we have gone over Episodes 1 and 2, and then Episodes 3 and 4. Now we tackle the next two episodes! In addition to the 28 episodes of Ultra Q, a movie was produced in 1990 titledUltra Q: Star of Legend. A follow up series aired in 2004 entitled Ultra Q: Dark Fantasy as well as a radio drama called Ultra Q club (episode guide here.)
Tsuburaya Productions Co. created the TV series, which started to air in 1966. Before it became Ultra Q, however, it was known as Unbalance. As it became less Twilight Zone and more monsters, the name turned out to be a problem, but luckily a sports move called the Ultra C was gaining popularity, and thus Ultra Q was coined. Several artifacts of the original concept remain, including the very Twilight Zone-ish main title theme, as well as a narrator (but one used less frequently.) Several episodes would be somewhat independent stories that barely featured the main characters, and still other episodes would have ambiguous endings.
Thanks to recent Region 2 DVD release, these shows are now available to a whole new generation. However, they aren’t available to me in their entirety, as there are no English subtitles! But that’s where making up what we don’t understand comes in. Plot synopses and visual clues help us get the gist of the episodes, but the subtle parts we are just winging. That actually makes the show a bit better, as if we found out something was lamer than we though we might not like it as much. We don’t need no stinking subtitles!
Episode 5 Pegila Has Come!
Episode 5 will change things up a bit, because only one of our main characters will be in it! That’s actually an improvement over episode 6, which will be the first of several where the main characters play only a cameo role. Here, the lone main character, Jun Manjome, is still the main character of the episode. So that is a relief, as we have someone familiar to latch onto before we go off into unexplored territory. Speaking of unexplored territory, Jun is traveling by boat to the Antarctic base, and a smoky missile flies over his ship. I guess the base has something to do with missile testing, as they use another missile later in the show. As the ship is buzzed by the missile, the turbulence causes the boat to start rocking like a trailer park on Saturday night. Jun falls and hurts his arm, then falls into the quarters of Yoko Kuhara, who is clutching a bag full of mysterious goodness. She grabs a first aid kit, but more rocking knocks the bag by Jun, where it opens and he find it full of what I thought was dirt at first. In fact, what exactly it is is still a mystery. In the show, they call it “coke” which means it is either cocaine (which is mind-blowingly insane!), powdered cola (as in coca-cola), or chocolate (coke is pronounced similar to cocoa). We’ll get back to that when the plot needs it at the end of the show, but for now we are going with chocolate powder. Yoko tells us it is for her boyfriend Nomura, who has been missing for three years. Sure, as soon as you bring some chocolate he’ll come right back from his frozen tomb.
The ship crashes through ice as the opening credits roll (begun by a shot of a painting of a boat deck by the ice.) The narrator explains some stuff, but once again we have no idea what he is saying. Afterwards, we are at the Antarctic base. Several of the crew members are disagreeing, and some of their names are Senjo and Taijo, but don’t expect me to know everyone. Captain Amada gives a diary of Nomura to Jun, who has come to investigate his disappearance. Why Jun, a pilot, is searching for missing Antarctic researchers may actually be addressed and I don’t understand it, but I’d wager it isn’t. It is also weird that Jun knew nothing about Nomura’s fiancée Yoko until meeting her on the boat. Way to do any research prior to setting out, buddy! The last entry of the diary has a cryptic sentence mentioning “Pegila.” We don’t know who that is because he hasn’t been introduced yet.
Yoko enters the meeting dressed like a sports referee (Japanese female fashion of the late ’60s/early ’70s is the best!) Outside, the storm is picking up and everyone watches a heavy driving vehicle be lifted away by the wind like it was make of paper. Jun goes out to investigate (yeah, like you won’t get blown away, fool!) but Captain Amada warns him the temperature is dropping rapidly. And it does, going from 50 degrees Celsius to below zero in a few seconds. Keep in mind 50 degrees Celsius is 122 degrees Fahrenheit, hardly a temperature you’d find at a base at the South Pole (unless Global Warming really kicked it up a notch!) Later, another meeting (all these people do is have meetings! No wonder Nomura wandered off) and a guy with a beard talks about Nomura’s disappearance, while Yoko listens from outside in the hallway (is she not part of the group, or are no women allowed in these meetings?) Spooky music plays during this meeting. Because meetings are really scary. Boo.
That night, Jun gets an idea and is in the vehicle shed when he sees someone sneaking around. It’s Yoko, who is trying to go outside. She can’t, but soon another vehicle outside is lifted off of the ground by crazy winds. That wouldn’t happen if these guys would park their cars inside! Yoko sees Pegila! Pegila looks like Dracula meets Wilford Brimley, with wing-arms and goofy teeth. Yoko faints, and Jun goes to help her. Pegila leaves and the vehicle drops back down. Soon the doors open from the outside, and a guy stumbles in. It is one of the people from the meeting who were being jerks, Lt Captain Suzuki, and now he’s half frozen and ranting about monsters. At least we know who was in the vehicle outside. As the wounded man is now bedridden, everyone leaves him alone except Yoko (who I guess is the nurse) and Lt Captain Suzuki is suddenly right beside her. Suzuki says that he saw Nomura, but before he says where he starts to attack her. Her screams bring Jun and the Captain, who subdue him. Creepy people like this could be cool to add to the atmosphere, but it isn’t the type of atmosphere the show was going for so it is wasted, but still a neat diversion.
Yoko then drives off in a jeep, and the two men follow in an arctic vehicle. They run across the dog Sabu, who was Nomura’s dog (was the dog missing for three years? I have no idea) and also find Yoko, passed out. They see Nomura frozen in the ground. The dog barks as Pegila slowly approaches, the men unaware. Finally they notice the giant monster, then Pegila blasts his cold ray and vehicles and men go flying.
Jun wakes up some time later, and Yoko is nearby. The dog is also still alive, and Yoko and Jun notice a strange substance on his body. Soon everyone is found by search parties and they go back to the base for another meeting. Jun and Yoko burst in to say that cocoa powder was the key, as the component Peguimin H found in cocoa is the weakness of Pegila. Seriously. Peguimin H. In chocolate. Or cocaine. Or cola. Probably chocolate. Anyway, so the dog was missing for three years with chocolate powder on its coat, and neither got clean nor starved or froze to death? Eight Below, eat your heart out!
They load some Peguimin H into a missile, and ready to fire. They probably had all that Peguimin H lying around in the usually Antarctic chocolate warehouses. Pegila approaches, but they wait for a clear shot. One of the control guys freaks, and Jun punches him across the room! A little excessive there, Jun! They blast Pegila with the missile. Pegila struggles, freaks out, flaps his stumpy wings, and somehow flies away as a black smoky substance trails from him. He isn’t dead, and will soon be back in episode 14, Tokyo Ice Age.
A somber ending as Yoko buries Nomura in a pile of rocks, then sprinkles chocolate powder over his grave. I guess returning him to Japan so his family could bury him is out of the question. Both Jun and Yoko then return to Japan. Well, as you just read, this episode was rather confusing. We will stick with the chocolate theory now until proved wrong, which we probably will when someone reads this and knows the real score. Drop us a line if you know what really happened.
Rated 5/10 (Diary, background Guy, Cool Jun, Cocoa Bag, Bearded Guy)
Next up is…
Episode 6 Grow! Turtle
This episode is a different style than the previous ones, it is a retelling of a classic Japanese story called Urashima Taro, and focuses on a kid instead of our main characters, who only make a brief appearance. Yes, that means this episode is Kenny-centric! (A Kenny is an annoying kid in a giant monster film, named after the multiple Kennys found in the Gamera movies. We hate Kennys)
We start out in school, where annoying Taro is measuring a turtle, and seems to be feeding the turtle stuff that is supposed to encourage it to grow. Turtle steroids. Sensei is not very pleased, and sends Taro to the principal and takes the turtle! The turtle is on a leash/string, so the teacher hangs it by the blackboard so it spins around by its shell. I hope for his sake turtle’s don’t get motion sickness! Taro then somehow is on the roof of the school, I guess he took a detour from the principal’s office. From the vantage point, Taro can see a bank robbery take place across the street. Two men dressed up like stereotypical gangster are firing their Tommy guns. Taro runs down to go see what is going on, and we get a neat sequence where the gangsters and the cops they are shooting at are under-cranked so they look sped up while Taro is represented by still shots showing his reactions. Taro runs back to school to tell his teacher, who doesn’t believe him for he is used to Taro making up all kinds of stories. The teacher walks off, so Taro gets his turtle back!
Taro measures the turtle all through the opening credits. We also don’t have the narrator in this episode, instead Taro gets a voiceover. I miss the narrator already, even though I never have any idea what he is saying. After the credits, Taro walking near a skeleton reveals that the two gangsters are hiding in the school! The two gangsters resemble the Blues Brothers, I guess it makes them the Brues Brothers! They run, and the dumb annoying Taro chases after them, yelling all the while. I admire the restraint of these gangsters not gunning Taro down where he stands. Because I sure would.
The gangsters hide in the back of a truck, and Taro runs up to the truck screaming. Only he’s snatched and brought into the truck by the gangsters, and the truck soon drives off. Why would these gangsters want Taro closer to them? They should have just snapped his neck. I want to hear that crack, movie! Then the terrible Kenny will be silent. Stupid self-kidnapping Taro.
Our three main characters show up finally, as Jun, Ippei, and Yuriko are investigating Taro’s disappearance. This is consistent with Jun and Ippei’s jobs as pilots, of course. Taro’s parents are at the school, and the dad goes on and on about how Taro is obsessed with his crayon drawings and turtles. In the back of the truck, the gangsters are beating on the pet turtle for reasons unknown. I think they are trying to crack it open to get some sweet treasure inside. A routine police stop up ahead alerts the gangsters that it is time to fight or die, and they pull out the Tommy gun. Taro is so impressed he grabs the gun and starts waving it around like he is shooting, making “pew-pew” sounds. The gangsters are freaking out and more so when Taro begins pulling the trigger on the gun. The gun doesn’t fire, causing Taro to look down the barrel of the gun while pulling the trigger repeatedly. Don’t tempt me like this, Ultra Q! Unfortunately, we don’t get an example of Natural Selection in action, and brains aren’t splattered across the truck. The gangsters struggle with Taro, and then the gun finally goes off in a random direction. No one is hurt, and the three then run out of the truck and toward an amusement park with the police chasing them, having been alerted by the sounds of the gunfire. Taro is holding on to the gun at this point as they run, but eventually one of the gangsters gets the gun back. The amusement park has a teacup ride, and on one of the teacups is Disney’s Pinocchio. That is ironic because by the end of the film you will find out Taro is a big liar as well.
The gangsters and Taro end up hiding in a sewer pipe. There, Taro narrates some child drawings for us, the audience. After that, he acts annoying for a bit until he finds a giant turtle in the sewer! One source says it is his turtle, but I am not sure so we will just assume it is a different turtle. I am basing this on the fact that it is at first played by a real live sea turtle, but in a few seconds later is now a guy in a turtle suit. A barely moving turtle suit. This is Gameron! The two gangsters are freaking out in a bad way, while Taro is freaking out in an excited way, because the turtle is 99 centimeters long. Gameron has 99 centimeters but a Kenny ain’t one! The gangsters run away and get arrested, while Taro sees the turtle walk through a wall. Taro tries to follow, but can’t. The turtle comes back, and Taro gets on Gameron’s back and rides through he wall, fading away by video effect. The police bring the gangsters back into the sewer to find the boy, but as Taro has vanished, the police are none too happy with the gangsters. One can imagine that several incidents of police brutality happened off screen. Taro caused them all!
Taro is riding Gameron around Tokyo! He flies (thanks to rear projection technology) by Tokyo Tower and then over the Diet Building (That is the building where they believe in Crystal Light because I believe in me!) A control panel flips up, revealing that Gameron might be a robot! The turtle then crashes into the sea, but keeps on swimming with Taro on his back. Taro rides the turtle all the way down to an undersea kingdom in the clouds. You read me right. Taro is a moron. This fantasy sucks. The cloud kingdom is populated by a single person, a young girl on a swing. She is Princess Otohime, who will spend the next few minutes teasing Taro a bit, making me like her. Taro tries to talk to her and suddenly he is on the swing, while the girl jumps up and down and claps. She then materializes an ice cream cone and eliminates the swing, causing Taro to fall on his bum. Princess Otohime is also constantly rubbing her nose. Taro does something where he gives a speech and throws something at the ground. I have no idea, but it causes a big explosion and now Taro looks like Elmer Fudd after Bugs Bunny held the barrel of his gun with his finger. Princess Otohime rides off on a rocket, and Taro chases after her while riding Gameron. The rocket suddenly turns into MANDA! Hooray for Manda! Famed monster star, Manda shoots lighting bolts and blasts Gameron, disintegrating him and causing the princess to laugh. Taro seems not that upset that his giant turtle was just destroyed.
Taro’s clothes get magically fixed, and then Princess gives him a box that she tells him never to open. By this time, the actress playing Princess Otohime is randomly looking and smiling at the director or someone off camera, which would ruin a normal show. Either this was the best take, or they didn’t have time to do any reshoots. The Princess then sends Taro back; he opens his eyes and is in school surrounded by everyone: teachers, parents, and police. He tries to tell what happened, but everyone is tired of his stories and then go and ignore him. Well, the concern for Taro sure lasted long! Taro then decides to open the box, and *POOF!* he ages 100 years, complete with beard! But he switches back a few seconds later while everyone is laughing in the background (not at him.)
Epilogue – Back at school, a quick zoom behind all the books reveals every classmate has their own turtle, which they are measuring! Every classmate but Taro, who is lost daydreaming. The End!
That episode wasn’t very good. Actually, it was horrible, as Taro sucked. We barely got our main characters, and the monsters weren’t that interesting. Gameron was a lawsuit waiting to happen, and Manda’s appearance was interesting but far too brief. We need monsters smashing things and blood on the street; not annoying kids, cartoon antics, and Japanese Blues Brothers gangsters. We’ve already have gangsters, and I’m beginning to think they will be an overused plot device. Grow! Turtle was less ultra and more Q, and in Quit with the dumb stories and get back to the pre-X-Files stuff! And they will…next time!
Rated 3/10 (Big Problem, Bad Teeth, Not A Real Boy)
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