Gatchaman Episode 13 - The Mysterious Red Sand
The ISO designed an artificial lake to create farms in desert areas of Africa. But the lake has suddenly disappeared!
"All hell broke loose last night when the lake disappeared, you know!" reports a local scientist.
Gotta love these great lab coat designs of the future!
The lake is then reported to have appeared one hundred kilometers to the southeast. But the scientists doubt this information. They think the heat must have made the observer crazy.
But the ISO scientists decide to go take a look anyway. Guess there's not much to do at their research station!
Still wearing their cool lab coats, they drive out to the new reported location of the lake, astounded to see it there.
"I guess the lake really did move!" one of them exclaims.
But the lake suddenly begins bubbling, and then swirls around in a vortex, eventually draining into the sand. A strange pair of metallic mandibles are visible in the sand for a moment. A metallic arm appears, and then disappears beneath the sand, much to the scientists' horror.
Another whirling vortex, this one of sand, spins around, and suddenly a bug-like mecha rises up from it!
The scientists barely have time to wonder what this creature is, before it shoots them with its laser eye beams. At least they died wearing their spiffy lab coats!
Of course, the incident is immediately reported to Dr. Nambu, although how, I'm not sure, since the ISO scientists were killed. Did their ghosts rise and inform Nambu of the crisis? You never know, at the ISO...
Nambu orders the Science Ninja Team to Africa to investigate. They split up in their individual vehicles to search for the mysterious lake.
One question... if the G-5 is moving forward
, why are its rockets firing down
? I thought the rockets on the bottom of the ship would make the God Phoenix ascend? I'm so confused!
Ken ponders where the moving lake went.
Nambu calls Ken, asking if they have found the lake yet. Ken replies that no one has called in yet. Nambu instructs Ken to spend the night at the 'oldest village in the desert'. Wow, those are some great directions! You'd think a scientist like Nambu could at least give some co-ordinates or latitude and longitude or something. Maybe he could email Ken a link to Google Maps?
Nambu tells Ken that the best way to learn about the desert is to ask the natives. Ken agrees, and by nightfall all five G-machines are parked on the sand next to what is presumably the oldest village in the desert.
Inside one of the village huts, the Team is gathered around a large table with a village elder.
Joe is annoyed that they have found no sign of the lake, or the ISO investigative team.
"A moving lake, huh? What are you smoking over there, Gramps?" Jinpei asks. Clearly this kid needs a few lessons in diplomacy.
"Jinpei!" Ken exclaims. "You need to mouth off less and study more!" At least, as leader, Ken is taking responsibility for the behavior of his team.
Ken goes on to explain that Swedish scientists found a moving lake in China. But Jun counters that the lake in question took hundreds of years to move.
"Man, is this Africa place mysterious, or what?" Ryu's input to the discussion is somewhat unhelpful.
Or perhaps not.
"You are right, you know." says the village elder, as he smokes on his pipe.
Everyone is utterly shocked that Ryu is actually right.
The elder goes on to explain that the desert sands hold many secrets, and he is the only one who knows them.
"Could you please tell us?" Ken asks eagerly.
Apparently this request is compelling enough to convince the elder to reveal information that he has been withholding his entire life. The Eagle's charisma knows no bounds!
The elder goes on to tell the Science Ninja Team that long ago, the area was inhabited by an advanced civilization. It was advanced because of 'the Red Sand'. The Red Sand would 'burn forever', helping the people forge iron and copper.
But one day the 'mysterious Red Sand' started to move.
Villagers get swallowed up by the Red Sand.
The sand multiplied, and when it reached the forge, it exploded, destroying the entire temple. The Sand left the area as the city burned for three hundred days. Eventually the Red Sand disappeared.
Even now, the Red Sand is still moving somewhere, underneath the vast desert.
Ken demands that the elder tell them the secret of the Red Sand. Wait a minute, isn't that what the guy just did?
Apparently not. The elder plays coy, implying that he has the secret, but can't tell them. Guess Ken's charisma isn't as high as I thought.
But then he spills the beans anyway: the Red Sand is the servant of a 'terrible demon'. Co-incidentally, Ken notices the skull necklace the man is wearing.
Later that night, the man is outside, praying to his God to calm the Red Sand and bring peace to the land. Too bad he didn't pray for peace for himself. Two goons approach him from behind, pressing their guns into his forehead.
The man is kidnapped by the goons. But as they are forcing the elder into their dune buggy, Jinpei notices what's going on.
"They're Galactor's guys!" exclaims Jinpei. Nothing gets past this Swallow!
I swear, this dune buggy looks like it came right out of a Scooby Doo episode!
The buggy races off, leaving Jinpei to swear at their departure. Does he tell the others?
No, of course not. This is Jinpei
we're talking about! He just jumps into the G-4 and chases off after the dune buggy on his own.
Meanwhile, the elder is clueless.
"Who are you, Sir, and where are you taking me?" he asks the goon driving the buggy.
Jinpei is still chasing the buggy and swearing, but suddenly sees something shocking!
The buggy has stopped, and a giant insect mecha appears from out of the desert sand.
Jinpei gets out of the G-4 to investigate, only to be met with goon bullets.
Jinpei leaps away from the unexpected bullets at his feet.
In the commotion, the elder pulls off his skull necklace, letting it drop to the ground.
The goons take the elder onboard the insect mecha, which disappears beneath the sand. Jinpei walks over to pick up the skull necklace, then brings it back to the others, who are still back in a hut in the village.
Ken asks Jinpei if the elder was trying to give the necklace to him.
Jinpei thinks so, but Jun wonders why he would do such a thing.
Ken ponders this for a moment, then crushes the skull in his fist. When he opens his hand, Red Sand is revealed in his palm. Everyone oohs and ahhs.
Yes, literally. They are all gasping in awe at Ken's magnificent feat!
Back at Crescent Coral Base, Director Anderson is holding a meeting. He has analyzed Gatchaman's report of the Red Sand and the moving lake, and asks Dr. Nambu for more information. Nambu reveals that the Red Sand is... not sand at all!
The other men at the meeting gasp in shock.
Nambu goes on to explain that the Red Sand is actually a completely new bacterium, previously undetected on Earth. These bacteria harbor a new element inside them, which harbors one thousand times more energy than uranium.
One man asks Nambu what this bacterium has to do with the moving lake. The Doctor's response is to show some images he took under a microscope of the Red Sand. In this image, Nambu gives the Red Sand water and... it multiplies! Shades of Gizmo the Gremlin, don't get the Red Sand wet!
Nambu astounds the ISO bigwigs with his talk.
Of course, I don't think this actually explains why the lake is moving, but these men seem to feel it does. Next Nambu shows them that if the Red Sand burns, it causes explosions. Of course, if Galactor got their hands on this energy source, the results could be disastrous!
"Just thinking about it gives me the willies!" exclaims Anderson.
And then, a random delegate (with a bad French accent) finally pieces it all together. Galactor is using the lake to lure
the Red Sand! Finally, I get it! Whoo hoo!
Nambu declares that they must do what they can to keep the Red Sand from Galactor's grasp.
Next, we cut to a scene that was likely the reason this episode never made it to BOTP. The village elder is being whipped and tortured by a strange Galactor Captain. I can't even begin to describe his costume, so I'll just post a picture.
Um... limp-eared black bunny with earrings?
Goons stand idly by, watching the man's flogging. The Earring-Bunny Captain wants to know where the Red Sand is, but the elder isn't telling.
A transmission from Katse spontaneously appears on the wall behind the Captain.
"Whip him until he talks! Show him no mercy!" Katse orders.
"If you don't tell me, I'll keel you!" the Earring-Bunny Captain threatens the old man. I think he means 'kill him', but it sure sounds to me like he's threatening to make the elder into a boat.
The elder is one tough guy. He states that Galactor will never know where the Red Sand is if they kill him. This doesn't impress Earring-Bunny Captain, who continues to whip the elder.
After a commercial break, we come back to a shot of a smirking Joe.
"How are you
doing?" asks Joe.
Despite the way his voice sounds, it turns out he's not trying to pick up girls. Or maybe he is, as he's talking to Jun. She tells him that she thinks there's something suspicious in the area.
Of course, Joe tries to claim Jun's idea. They're next to a tower, and the Condor declares that it seems 'suspicious'. They are in the remains of an old oilfield, but all of the oil has been depleted, so it's not running anymore.
Joe and Jun move to investigate the tower.
"Galactor has a taste for hiding its bases in places like this, don"t they?" Joe comments.
The two leap onto the tower, climbing up to the top.
Once they get there, they leap down to the bottom. There is a long tunnel, and Jun remarks that it looks like it was once filled with crude oil. Not surprising, since this is an old oilfield, after all!
But before our heroes can process this, a flood of water comes rushing at them from down the tunnel! Joe and Jun barely leap out of the way, clinging to the edge of the tower as the water rushes by. Jun remarks that it sure is a lot of water. Where could it come from?
Joe notices something even more interesting... there is a massive mecha insect in the middle of the water!
Jun calls the insect mecha a 'giant ant lion'. So that's
what it is! I never would have guessed!
Faster than you can blink, the Science Ninja Team is all back together in the God Phoenix, flying over the desert.
They spot the ant lion coming out of the sand at the bottom of a large hole.
It dives back down into the sand, then sticks its butt out again, before spewing water into the hole. The mystery of the moving lake is solved!
Ken immediately understands everything that's going on.
But just in case you
don't get it, the narrator explains. The monster ant lion siphoned all of the lake water from beneath. Then, in order to find the Red Sand, the ant lion sent the water to a new place in the desert, to create a new lake.
Ken immediately reports to Dr. Nambu.
Ken tells Dr. Nambu that they need to infiltrate Galactor's base and rescue the old man, because he's the only one who knows the secret of the Red Sand. Ken asks Nambu for 'special forces', and in an especially ballsy move, asks for permission in advance
to use Bird Missiles in case of an emergency.
Perhaps trusting in Ken a little too much, Nambu gives his permission. Is this the permission the Science Ninja Team is acting under for the rest of the series?
A 'special forces' helicopter drops a massive strong of bombs into the old oilfield tower.
Jun explains to Jinpei that when they bombs blow up, they will make the entrance bigger for the God Phoenix. So... why not just use the bombs to destroy Galactor's base? Oh yeah, rescue the old man... got it.
The Earring-Bunny Captain is still whipping the elder. He is finally realizing that the old man won't talk, no matter what happens to him. The elder invites the Earring-Bunny Captain to kill him, as he will never reveal the secret of the Red Sand.
The Captain retorts that killing an old man isn't much fun. Instead, he's going to kill everyone in the village. He kicks the elder in the face to prove it.
"I'm quite cunning, if I do say so myself." the Earring-Bunny Captain says modestly.
The Captain wraps his whip around the elder's throat, threatening to send the ant lion to the village. The elder wants to know how the Earring-Bunny Captain can threaten the people of the village when they know nothing.
Finally, the elder talks. He says that the Red Sand is buried deep in underground tunnels. The Captain demands to know where.
"Where the Mountain of God casts its shadow on the night of the full moon!" the elder cries, as he is choked by the whip.
This makes no sense to me, but apparently it means something to Earring-Bunny Captain. He's excited.
But just as the Earring-Bunny Captain is preparing to move out, he is shocked to see the ceiling falling in on him!
"What's that?" he cries.
Why, it's the Science Ninja Team, of course! The bombs that were dropped inside of the oilfield tower are exploding!
The hole in the ground is now big enough for the God Phoenix to go directly down inside.
Once in the tunnels, the God Phoenix makes its way to a set of large metal doors at the end of the corridor. Ryu doesn't stop to knock, but simply plows the nose of the God Phoenix through the wall.
"It's Gatchaman!" announced Earring-Bunny Captain. "Where's the ant lion?"
The Team exclaims as they see the village elder on the floor.
The goons run off to the ant lion, while Ken and Joe exit the God Phoenix to rescue the village elder.
But before they can do so, the Earring-Bunny Captain shoots the old man, and he falls into Ken.
Suddenly, Jun and Jinpei are there too, as Ken asks the old man to hold on. Instead, the elder tells Ken about the Mountain of God.
Ken is clearly working hard to understand this cryptic message, as the man dies in his arms.
The God Phoenix gets out the same way it got in.
It seems that the full moon is tonight! We see the shadow of the Mountain of God reaching a specific spot on the desert sands. Underneath the ground, the Red Sand moves. The narrator tells us that in this subterranean cell, there is no escape for the Red Sand.
But there is now! The ant lion burrows up from underneath the Red Sand, and immediately begins pouring water on it, and then sucking up the resulting liquid.
"We've done it! We've got the Red Sand!" the Earring-Bunny Captain exclaims.
But even as the ant lion emerges from the sand (at the peak of the shadow of God’s Mountain) the God Phoenix appears on the scene.
The Science Ninja Team is ready for action!
Until they see the massive eruption of Red Sand caused by the ant lion mecha. Then they're scared. Or in Joe's case, miffed.
The Red Sand begins to spread across the desert.
"There's more red water than ever!" Ryu exclaims.
The goon at the controls of the ant lion spots the God Phoenix.
The Earring-Bunny Captain is really mad now!
He has the ant lion shoot laser beams at the God Phoenix. He's only forgotten one thing.
His mecha is sitting in the middle of a pile of explosive Red Sand.
"Bird Missile away!" Ken orders.
Unfortunately, Joe shoots the mecha, not the Red Sand. The mecha is undamaged.
"Good grief! That's one tough bug!" Ken exclaims.
"Here I come, damn monster scum!" Joe curses.
The God Phoenix comes around for another pass.
And still, the Bird Missile does nothing.
"At this rate, they'll take us down!" Jinpei whines. With what? The laser beams it's shooting at you that you've easily been avoiding?
"Last resort time!" Ken announces. He orders everyone to do the Science Ninja Technique: Firebird. Um... why aren't they just shooting the explosive Red Sand
? Does it seem like this is the obvious solution?
They follow Ken's plan and go Firebird.
Clearly this is one stressful maneuver.
The Firebird passes just over the Red Sand lake. And as I thought, the lake/Red Sand catches on fire and starts to explode, engulfing the ant lion!
Sometime during this Firebird maneuver, Jinpei and Jun switched seats.
Joe looks like the Firebird made him nauseous.
The Team surveys the area.
Jinpei is excited that the Red Sand is all burned up.
But Jun thinks it's too bad, because it could have been useful to mankind. Joe just rants that if Galactor had their hands on that power, no matter how hard the Science Ninja Team tried to stop them, the Earth would belong to Galactor.
Ryu points out that in the end, it was the Red Sand that took out Galactor for them. They should be grateful to the sand.
Ken agrees. And oh yeah, they should be grateful to the 'old man who gave his life for the cause' too. If only he had actually had a name!
But since he doesn't, the Science Ninja Team flies home across the moonlit desert.
The End... or is it? Didn't Nambu have a sample of that Red Sand? He could make it multiply as much as he wants...
This episode was not used in BOTP.