Gatchaman Episode: The Indestructible Machine Mechanika
BOTP Episode: Microfilm Mystery
“The International Science Organization,” the narrator tells us, “has finally completed their state-of-the-art factory” to build high-tech machines that can perform construction work in underground or underwater locations –all with the aim of protecting the ISO’s workers from dangerous construction sites.
The thing is though, we’re being shown scenes of this enormous factory complex, and there don’t seem to be any people of any kind in it either. Has it also been deemed too dangerous a location? That would make some sense, considering that it’s 99.9 % likely that Galactor’s going to attack the place any moment now.
The narrator goes on about how these machines being built here can withstand 10 million tons of pressure and temperatures of 100,000 degrees –guess that rules out any construction projects inside the sun, but anywhere else should be no problem at all! Now the narrator confirms what I suspected –there are no people at this factory. All the assembly work is being done by machines “with performance capabilities a thousand times greater than man.” The narrator tells us that people could not endure the heat, radiation and chemicals inside the factory either, and we are shown a robot worker instead. Did 7-Zark-7 write this episode? I’m sure feeling pretty damned incompetent now. I’m starting to think this factory is part of an ISO plan to avoid having to deal with workers’ unions and occupational safety laws.
Not so surprisingly, we now cut to Berg Katse, who is informing Leader X that “all our preparations are complete.” Leader X gloats that the “fools” at the ISO have no idea that Galactor is about to steal their “precious creations, and turn them into our own brilliant conception, Mechanika!” He then orders Katse to begin “Operation Mechanika” and Katse does the sweeping-bow-and-“Sire” thing.
Next we see… um, an evil horned parrot wearing a trench coat.
Okay, it is in fact the “Captain of the Week,” though he does squawk like a parrot when he sees Berg Katse appear on a screen in front of him. Instructed to begin Operation Mechanika, the Parrot-Captain walks out to the main room of whatever base he’s in, and orders the goons there to “activate the gadget’s control system” and “raise the power level to maximum!” The goons comply, moving various levers as the music takes a turn for the dramatic. Now we see some kind of large device flashing light, and then the robot workers inside the new ISO factory begin to function erratically, as the needles of various dials are shown going haywire too.
Hey, guess what? It turns out the factory has a main control room, staffed by humans despite their dismal performance capabilities. “The meters are all over the place” cries one of the control room staff, as they all rush to a window to look across at a factory building that’s flashing as if electricity is arcing inside it. So, some of the control room staff decide that they should go running over to that factory building. Sigh, that’s not a wise move, guys.
As they run towards the factory building, its main doors open and one of the factory robots emerges, as flashing light blares behind it. The robot wastes no time zapping them with a laser beam and going back inside the factory.
“The robots! They’re rebelling against us!” yells one man. Somehow he makes it back to the control room, where he watches from the window and realizes that the factory is running again. “But it looks like the robots are creating something of their own,” observes another guy, worried.
As well he should be. Soon, the whole factory complex, including the control room, begins to shake and tremor, as electricity shoots from the roof of the rebellious robots’ building. Finally, the entire building collapses into rubble and from its ruins emerges, a giant mecha shaped like a dinsosaur. At the control room window, people look on in horror. Suddenly an aircraft shaped like a flying saucer comes whizzing up, and from beneath it comes Berg Katse, standing on his own little flying disk. Cackling with evil laughter, Katse flies his disk towards the mecha and hovers near its head.
“Behold, Galactor’s triumph, this fearsome shape-shifting weapon called Mechanika!” he calls out dramatically. With introductions finished, he mocks the ISO and laughs evilly some more.
But now we cut to Ken, flying his plane in civilian mode, as Dr. Nambu contacts him and tells him that his destination is the ISO’s new factory. Ken transmutes and heads on his way.
Meanwhile, Joe and Jun have already transmuted, and are separately speeding along the ground in their vehicles. They both stop when Mechanika comes into view. Jinpei is there too, and the God Phoenix flies by.
Katse is still standing on his flying disk, hovering near Mechanika’s head, when Ken’s jet comes flying by. This is unusual –normally they all link up in the God Phoenix before they approach a mecha.
“You’ve made it, Science Ninja Team,” says Katse, “Bet you’re wetting your pants out of fear,” he laughs.
“How dare you mock me!” yells Ken, “Just you wait,” he says, lip curled in outrage.
Then, Ken proceeds to circle Katse once with his jet before flying off with a smirk on his face. Okay, I don’t really see just what you accomplished there, Ken, but nevertheless Katse gets nervous and takes his flying disk inside Mechanika. Once inside Mechanika’s control room, Katse pulls a lever and Mechanika begins walking, stomping with massive, heavy feet. Jun, Joe and Jinpei, on the ground, all back their vehicles away. We get a shot of the control room guys, outside and running away fast, but Mechanika is now smashing up the whole complex with its feet and tail, creating explosions and flames as Katse laughs inside its control room.
We see Ken’s jet docking with the God Phoenix, then the God Phoenix cruises through the sky, as we cut to the bridge, where all are present.
Back on Mechanika, it’s now approaching an elevated highway. Katse whips out a large cassette tape from beneath his cape and sticks it into a slot on his console.
This causes Mechanika to change from a dinosaur into a caterpillar-like train, which then proceeds to zoom along the elevated highway, smashing cars as it goes.
But, we can see the God Phoenix in the sky, in the distance. As the God Phoenix searches for Mechanika, it continues to zoom along, smashing more cars, and making Katse laugh “It’s just so amusing!” With the dramatic introductions, mockery and laughter, he is certainly in classic evil villain mode in this episode.
Katse gasps as he realizes that Mechanika is now speeding towards a tunnel in the side of a hill. No problem though! He just pulls that handy cassette tape from beneath his cape again, and sticks it into the slot. A tall piece on Mechanika’s head retracts inward, and its eyes begin shining light, and then it enters the tunnel. Gee, somehow I just know that cassette tape is going to turn out to be a key plot device…
Meanwhile the God Phoenix is still flying around, unable to find Mechanika. Jun wonders where it could have gone, as Joe replies that he’s sure “it was travelling down this highway.” Jinpei calls everyone’s attention to the nearby tunnel, saying that Mechanika must have gone into it. So now, we get one of those moments where, in order to let a child character shine, the older characters all suddenly become stupid.
“Come on, Junior, there’s no way that big piece of metal could fit inside that little tunnel,” says Ryu.
“But Mechanika can change its shape, can’t it?” says Jinpei.
“I don’t think it can change that much,” replies Joe, condescendingly, as he turns to Ken, “So what now, Ken?”
“Mechanika just can’t disappear from the radars. We’re going to have to search for it,” replies Ken, and instructs everyone to search separately in their vehicles and regroup at Dr. Nambu’s place at nightfall.
Jinpei, of course, goes straight for the tunnel. He must have parked his vehicle somewhere, as he approaches the entrance on foot.
“The guys still don’t believe what I said,” he says to himself indignantly, “I guess they just don’t have any imagination.” He looks all around carefully, and then he goes into the tunnel.
Now, it's nightfall and we have an exterior shot of Dr. Nambu’s house.
Dr. Nambu is staring at a bunch of mechanical wreckage on a table, and he says grimly, “Galactor got us good.”
Now we can see that what he’s looking at is the remains of one of the factory robots. “I don’t understand. We’re the International Science Organization, and they completely outsmarted us.” Everyone is there, in their civvies, except Jinpei. Dr. Nambu bangs his fist on the table and mutters “Damn you, Galactor,” as his fist trembles. Wow, he’s showing some intense emotion here –not so typical of him.
But calmer now, he explains that Galactor took control of the robots’ brains remotely, and caused them to create Mechanika. Ken asks how it is that Mechanika can transform, and Dr. Nambu says that he believes Galactor must have found a way to create a “self-modifying machine.”
“You mean that thing transforms just like we do?” asks Ryu. No, Dr. Nambu explains that Mechanika is capable of rebuilding itself according to whatever microfilmed blueprint it is given.
“We can still bring them down with a bird missile,” says Joe belligerently. No, he’s not right either. Dr. Nambu explains that Mechanika is made of metal that bird missiles can’t damage.
Ken’s figured out he’d better not suggest anything, and merely says “Well then, just let us know what we can do to help, Doctor.” Now, a bit oddly, we’re shown a quick shot of Jun’s, Ryu’s, and Joe’s faces all reacting (reacting to what?) and then Dr. Nambu stares up and says, “The microfilm! We have a chance of winning if we can get the microfilm inside the cassette that Galactor is using.”
Joe is ready to go find and invade Galactor’s base, and Dr. Nambu wants them to bring the microfilm to him. The scene ends, and no one has even mentioned a word about Jinpei’s absence.