Gatchaman Episode 12: “The Gluttonous Monster Ibukron”
BOTP Episode: “Beast with a Sweet Tooth”
The episode begins with a scenic view of a field of sugar cane, with some mountains in the distance. A man driving a large threshing machine comes into view. Chop, chop, chop goes the sugar cane, then tossed into the machine's hold as its driver sweats from the hard labour of sitting there and driving (okay, it could be really hot and humid). He pauses to wipe his face with a handkerchief, but then goes "aughh!" as he sees an insect-shaped mecha looming just over the next hill.
This poor guy is so doomed...
"It's a monster!" he gasps, as the mecha begins heading rapidly towards him. One giant foot comes down nearly on top of his threshing machine, as he sees what's happening and cries "It's sucking up all the sugar cane!"
He leaps from the threshing machine -probably a wise move but somehow I don't think it's going to do him much good.
Having sucked the cane from the threshing machine, the mecha completely crushes it with one of its feet and then proceeds to "vacuum" up sugar cane straight from the field into its mouth. Next, it descends upon a collection of farm buildings, smashes a barn and a silo with its foot, and sucks up the sugar cane inside (and also an entire truck too -I love these bizarre little touches!)
Having seemingly glutted itself, or run out of sugar cane to inhale, the mecha stalks off. We are left with an image of one of its large and deep footprints left in the field.
Hey, the guy driving the threshing machine might have actually survived! -unless he was inside the barn or the silo (or that truck)...
Now we're shown still images of the same mecha (a cockroach, I believe) wreaking more damage to buildings in other locations.
Numerous men, Director Anderson and Dr. Nambu among them, are sitting around a circular table, looking at images on a screen in the center of the table, as the narrator informs us that "a giant mechanical monster shaped like a cockroach attacked all the world's sugar cane and sugar beet sources, one after the other.
The sugar stock harvested with the toil of the farmers disappeared before ever reaching the people." To illustrate the gravity and dire nature of this crisis, we are shown the proprietor of a candy shop sadly shrugging as he faces a horde of children who, presumably, have just been informed that they won't be getting any candy today.
The image, we now see, is part of a television news show detailing the crisis.
Ryu, relaxing in a hammock as he watches TV, sits up in dismay.
"No more pixie sticks?" he cries plaintively, before his hammock flips and pitches him headfirst onto the floor (I hope he gets extra pay for all the abuse he takes as "comic relief").
"I won't be able to eat any of the things I love? This is horrible!" he says as he runs out his door.
We now cut to Jinpei and Jun, and I can only identify them by their respective blue and red striped pants because each is carrying so many boxes, the rest of them cannot be seen.
Ryu solves this problem by running down the sidewalk and crashing into both of them, such that all the boxes tumble to the ground.
So, they all recognize each other now. Jun frowns, hands on her hips, as Jinpei waves a fist over his head and yells "Clumsy! We stood in line for eight hours to buy this! How are you going to make it up?"
Now we (and Ryu) see that Jun and Jinpei had been carrying pastries and other sweets, as the boxes have broken open on the ground.
I can't believe they'd stand in line for eight hours just to buy sweets, but upon reflection, if Galactor ever caused a global coffee shortage, I'd stand in line for that long to secure a stash for myself.
"I'm surprised at you!" huffs Jun, and Jinpei groans "Sis, he's eating everything!" Sure enough, Ryu is holding up a large, gooey piece of cake to his mouth with a look of near maniacal glee in his eyes.
Unfortunately, Dr. Nambu has chosen that very moment to contact Ryu -"Come in, G5!" Poor Ryu is obligated to respond, as Jinpei snatches away the piece of cake.
Dr. Nambu informs Ryu that the giant cockroach mecha has made another appearance, and orders him to launch the God Phoenix. "Right now?" asks Ryu; "Of course, right now! Hurry up!" barks Nambu exasperatedly. Hee!
So, Ryu, Jun and Jinpei all immediately dash down the street (though Jinpei does take a second to reach down and grab an armful of sweets first).
In their wake, a horde of excited children descend upon the rest. It's good that nothing will be wasted, but I hope that sidewalk is clean!
We're shown Ken's G1 jet docking with the God Phoenix (why is he so often the last to arrive?) and we cut to the bridge.
"Cockroach monster, huh?" says Ken, as if hearing of it for the first time -he must not watch much TV or have a big sweet tooth. Dr. Nambu comes on screen to explain the global theft of sugar sources. Ken is outraged, sure that Galactor must be behind it, but fuzzy on why they'd want sugar. "It appears they're changing their strategy," says Dr. Nambu, "They're trying to make the children suffer by nabbing the world's sugar."
"That's incorrigible!" says Ken, literally trembling in outrage now. "What does Galactor hope to gain by such cruelty?"
Some perspective here, please! Two episodes ago, ants were tearing Utoland into flaming rubble -this is just sugar!
However, Dr. Nambu himself believes this crisis is going to throw people into despair and "the human race into confusion," so what do I know?
Each member of the team (except Joe -oddly low key here) echoes the outrage.
Ryu is especially great, snarling "I can't stand for someone to snatch food! Rrrrrr!" -with fists swinging.
At any rate, their instructions from Dr. Nambu are to find the cockroach mecha.
About two seconds later (okay, I'll assume more time has actually passed), Ryu sees the cockroach mecha on a viewscreen.
However, it sees the God Phoenix too, and soon they're being sucked towards the mecha by, to quote Ryu, "a powerful magnetic force!"
Ryu is most concerned that they're about to end up as "one big lump of roach chow" but Ken's got a plan.
He wants Ryu to make it seem like they're going to be sucked into the mecha, but then Ryu, Joe and he will jump inside the mecha, and Jun will take the helm of the God Phoenix. My, my -Ryu gets to go on the infiltration, and Jun's going to pilot the God Phoenix. This is a switch, for sure. Ready for their "men's adventure," Ken, Joe and Ryu leap from the dome of the God Phoenix towards the mecha's mouth as Jun fires the thrusters and pulls the God Phoenix clear of the mecha's magnetic force.
The fun begins as the three guys see that the mecha's mouth is filled with a rotating metal grinder. Ken goes "aughh!" but he is able to throw his birdrang and jam the grinder just before he, Joe and Ryu collide with it.
Ken and Joe manage to land on their feet -Ryu proves less agile.
"That was close!" says Ken. "Real impressive, Ken," says Joe (with only a bit of sarcasm) and he even puts his hand on Ken's shoulder. Ken glances briefly at Joe and says "yeah," rather flatly -these two understand each other so well.
Meanwhile, Ryu's found a lever that opens up the grinder, so they're able to go inside. Ken is surprised to see that the mecha is actually a self-contained sugar refinery. He and Joe leap easily over a large pipe, but then have to turn and help Ryu over it -except they're both startled as the mecha begins to shake and they drop Ryu on his head.
Hasn't Ryu been subjected to enough slapstick already? The joke's wearing a bit thin and we're only eight minutes into the episode. We cut to a exterior view of the mecha, and we see it firing thrusters from its belly and taking off from the ground into the sky, then unfolding its wings and switching to rear thrusters.
However, on the God Phoenix, Jinpei sees that the mecha's "getting away!"
But, no worries, Jun is in charge and all is well. She orders Jinpei to "jam their radar," and says "This roach is mine!" Go Jun!
On board the mecha, a goon informs his commander that their radar isn't working. This commander is sporting a relatively subdued and tasteful ensemble -for this show that is. Following in the wake of "Plungerhead" and Katse-the-Renaissance-ant, it's really kind of boring. It's not even cockroach themed! He does have a bit of a gladiator skirt thing going, though -that's something.
Katse now appears on screen, and somehow he knows that "Gatchaman is on board" even if the commander doesn't.
However, the commander brings up a map of the mecha's interior on screen, and he's able to locate the intruders, as a glowing red dot.
Sure enough, Ken, Joe and Ryu are crouched on a conveyor belt that's taking them up, up and up...
But only at the last second does Ken see that the ride's about to end, and it's too late for the three of them to do anything except go "aughh!" and fall a long way down to the bottom of what seems to be a large cylinder. Ken and Joe land on their feet, but Ryu... -well, you can guess.
The cylinder shakes, and Ken goes "aughh!" again, as a large, circular crushing disk, the same diameter as the the cylinder they're in, descends upon them. Ryu does his best to hold it back from crushing them, as Ken and Joe try to find a way out. Joe finds a removable panel in the wall, near the floor -and the three of them escape just in the nick of time, though Ken has to shove Ryu to get him through the small opening (and I think Ken actually says "zoinks!" here. Isn't that what Scooby Doo's Shaggy always said? A Casey Kasem insider joke, courtesy of ADV!)
Meanwhile, on board the God Phoenix, Jun is clearly relishing her authority. It would be fun to see Ken and Joe taking orders from her, but currently she has only Jinpei so she tells him to continue to jam the mecha's radar. Jinpei is worried, though, that they haven't heard anything from the three guys. At least Jun doesn't have to wonder if they're at a bar, ignoring their cellphones, but she concludes that they might well be in trouble, and that Ken wanted her to remain on the God Phoenix so that she'd be able to rescue them in such an event. Jinpei teases her that it's natural that Jun would fall for such a wise leader.
But Jun shushes him and puts her mind to thinking how they're going to help the guys out.
The guys have now found their way down a narrow, circular tunnel, and when they reach its end, they see that it opens into a large circular room that contains nothing but hot, steaming red liquid, many feet below.
"Fall in there, and you're chicken soup, pal," notes Joe, but just then they see that a great rush of red liquid is now sweeping down the tunnel behind them, from whence they came. There's nowhere they can go except out of the tunnel. Ken and Joe somehow are able to find handholds on the wall near the tunnel exit, as the rush of liquid pours in to join the great steaming lake below.
But Ryu has not been so lucky, so Ken and Joe are each hanging on to the wall with one hand and gripping Ryu's hands with another to keep him from falling. That can't be easy!
Ken and Joe are visibly straining, as the commander watches them on a screen elsewhere in the mecha, and tells Katse (also on a screen) that their demise is imminent.
Yet now we see Leader X warning Katse not to underestimate Gatchaman, and to stay on guard...
On the God Phoenix, a brisk and efficient Jun sees the mecha descending into a deep, narrow chasm in the ground.
She surmises that there's a base down there -possibly even Galactor's headquarters- and that they need to help Ken, Joe and Ryu.
So she guides the God Phoenix near the mecha, using one of the mecha's wings for concealment, and they descend with the mecha.