Gatchaman episode 24: The Neon Giant that Smiles in the Dark
BOTP episode “The Musical Mummy”
The episode opens with a gleaming tall building in the middle of a large city, at night.
In any other show, it would be filled with lawyers and investment bankers; but here, its occupants are ISO scientists, “hard at work so that the people of the world can sleep soundly.” It’s not clear what they’re doing or how it’s supposed to promote global serenity, but they are scientists (with lab coats!) and not, say, history majors, so I guess it could be important…
One somewhat less dedicated scientist, however, is leaving. He says goodnight to the doorman/security guard and steps into a car. Soon, the car is moving down a city street, and the scientist is sitting in the back seat, reading.
He asks his driver to turn on the radio. Yes, this scientist has a driver –clearly, working hard to help the people of the world sleep soundly comes with some perks. The driver tries to do so, but is puzzled to find that the radio can’t find any station. The scientist concludes that it must be broken, but suddenly he asks “What’s that strange sound?” as weird flute music begins playing.
The driver replies that he doesn’t know what it is or where it’s coming from, but then goes “Aughh!” as bright light suddenly flood the car.
The car screeches to a halt before a giant glowing foot –and we quickly see that the foot belongs to a bizarre giant robot-mecha.
For no apparent reason, the giant smashes the side of a building, and stamps one foot. But then, using laser beams from its eyes, it incinerates the car containing the scientist and the driver.
Next, we are somewhere else –a street with houses.
A different man, who doesn’t merit a driver, is pulling into his driveway. Leaving the headlights on and engine running, he gets out of his car to go and open his garage door, as apparently scientists are too busy helping the people of the world sleep soundly to invent garage door openers you can activate from inside your car. Now, the eerie flute music is playing again, as light floods the man’s yard and the glowing giant steps over tall trees and smashes the house with one foot. As the man cries out in fear and runs into his garage, the giant shoots its laser beams at the garage and it explodes into flames.
Now, we cut to the God Phoenix flying in daylight through a blue sky. On the bridge, everyone is present but for some reason Joe is in the chair usually occupied by Ken (not that this show is too consistent about who sits where) and Ken is standing directly behind Ryu, looking over him. Doesn’t anyone want to sit beside Jun today?
Ken, sounding pleased, announces that they’ve just been summoned to the ISO Headquarters in Amerisama. Jinpei is so exited at this news that he leaps to his feet, and declares they’ll show them “just how cool the Science Ninja Team really is!”
He then preens, certain that they’ll impress everyone with their “dashing birdstyles.” Ken shoots Jinpei down by informing him that they’ll be visiting Amerisama in civilian mode. As Jinpei expresses dismay, Ken reminds him that ninjas are supposed to be stealthy. “Man, it’s tough being a ninja,” sighs Jinpei.
Now we see a city of many tall and tightly packed skyscrapers –I’m guessing it’s meant to look rather like New York. The God Phoenix just cruises on in, flying low over the buildings (Um, how is that ‘stealing close to your prey, by staying in the shadows,” Ken?)
Now, Joe informs Ken that they’re almost there, and now Ken remembers the whole stealth thing and instructs Joe to look for a bay they can hide the God Phoenix in.
Next, the whole team is in their civvies and riding either in a cab or in a car with a driver (and as we’ve seen, the ISO does employ drivers). Jun and Jinpei are in the front seat, and Jinpei’s all excited to see a large amusement park.
Jun’s not so excited, but as the car goes by the amusement park’s entrance, we see giant feet…
But these feet belong to a giant statue of a Native American (or Amerisaman?) Indian, though as we see the entire statue, the music sounds dramatically to make sure we all get the hint.
Jinpei is quite awed at the statue’s size, though Joe, in the back seat with Ryu and Ken, looks less impressed.
Ken comments that it must be a new amusement park, as he doesn’t remember seeing it “the last time we were out this way.” Jinpei is all keen to pay it a visit, but gets shushed by Jun, who reminds him “We’re not here to play.” Poor kid, everyone’s ruining his fun today. “I know –you won’t let me forget,” groans Jinpei as the three guys in the back seat all laugh.
Hey look, Joe is laughing! This is a great pic of the three of them all looking happy together.
“Look, there’s headquarters,” says Ken, and sure enough, they are now approaching the same tall ISO building shown at the episode’s beginning. They all step out of the car and head inside, but Jinpei immediately encounters yet another person out to thwart him today. The security guard declares “No children allowed!”
Jinpei protests, to no avail, but now Dr. Nambu is in the lobby, flanked by a few other men in suits, and he does the “It’s okay, he’s with me” thing. Clearly Dr. Nambu is a VIP around here, as the security guard apologizes and even salutes! And Jinpei, the little brat, smugly says “Hmph, he showed you!” to the guard. Dr. Nambu shushes him with a “That’s enough,” but Jinpei still struts past the guard, smirking.
Okay, kid, I was feeling a bit sorry for you, but you just lost my sympathy.
The security guard just stands there, stunned, as Ken, Joe, Jun and Ryu all file past him –no strutting but a slight hint of smugness here.
They all end up sitting on a couch in a spacious office.
Dr. Nambu actually tells them that he wants them to “have some great food and take in the sights” during their visit, and Jinpei is enthused, but then the Doctor immediately continues “But unfortunately, we don’t have time for that.” Thwarted again, Jinpei…
Now, in a somewhat disturbingly blase manner, Dr. Nambu says, “As you know, our scientists have been killed one after another lately.” He hands Ken a bunch of papers, answers Jinpei’s question –Yes, they were all killed near the ISO headquarters- and declares there can only be one suspect.
“Galactor!” says Ken.
Now Dr. Nambu shows some human emotion, sweeping one arm out theatrically to declaim “The evil hand of Galactor has even reached Amerisama!” before banging his fist on his desk and continuing “Your mission is to find these Galactor murderers!”
You know, you’d think that on a city street, or in a neighborhood of houses, that some witness would have seen and reported a glowing giant tall enough to step over trees!
Ken stands and confidently declares “We’ll do it!” Dr. Nambu adds the gruesome detail that the scientists were all burned to death by an electric current, and goes on that “These scientists are working for world peace –please do your best to protect them!” With that, the rest of the team all jump to their feet smartly and shout “Sir!”
As the narrator informs us that the Team has split up to guard each scientist “with their very lives,” we see Ken driving a red convertible along a city street, escorting a scientist’s car.
The scientist’s car goes through a security gate, but Ken stops his car before reaching the gate, and jumps over the wall. Inside a building, the scientist that Ken is protecting is showing some blueprints to another man, whose orange and white jumpsuit probably indicates he’s some kind of scientific worker.
Both men are quite startled when three masked and caped men swoop down from outside and smash through the room’s large window.
“Who are you?” demands the ISO worker guy, clutching the blueprints protectively.
“We are Galactor’s Ninjas, the Blackbirds! Now hand over those plans!” is the answer he receives. All three Blackbirds leap at the ISO worker, and snatch the plans, knocking down the other scientist even as he tries to pull out his handgun to shoot them, and all the Blackbirds take off. But now Ken comes into the room just in time to see the scientist fire his gun once as the Blackbirds smash through the windows yet again on their way out of the building. Ken runs after them, but first pauses to transmute into his “dashing” birdstyle. Not to be outdone, Ken too smashes through the window, and gives chase. Now they’re outside, and Ken’s looking for the Blackbirds in what appears to be a factory complex of some kind. Suddenly a Blackbird driving the fastest forklift I’ve ever seen tries to run Ken down, but he leaps and flips out of its way, managing to come down over the forklift, kick the Blackbird driver in the head and send him and the forklift crashing into a steel girder. Three more Blackbirds swoop in to attack Ken, but he evades them by turning back handsprings. He finds himself backed up to a stack of barrels, squared off against about half a dozen Blackbirds.
A bit oddly, they introduce themselves as Galactor’s Blackbirds and demand that he identify himself. If they were expecting “Hi, I’m Ken Washio from Utoland,” they’re disappointed as Ken declares he’s “a hardworking agent of justice, I’m the Science Ninja Team’s Gatchaman!”
It seems they’ve heard of him, even if they couldn’t recognize him. Their method of attack is… unusual. All the Blackbirds run a circle around Ken, extremely quickly –I guess this forms a barrier- while another of their number (who must have somehow known exactly where Ken would end up standing and previously hidden himself in the ground just at that location) reaches up through the ground beneath Ken’s feet and tries to grab his legs. However, Ken pushes over a couple barrels onto his arms, and then demonstrates how silly the run-around-fast-in-a-circle-barrier is by leaping high up into the air.
So, the Blackbirds stop running in a circle and leap after him. Ken is able to knock them away, and then avoid a pile of steel beams they try to drop on him, by leaping and grabbing onto a large hook on a rope. The hook is now being raised in the air, and waiting at the top are more Blackbirds. They, however, don’t wait for Ken to reach the top but rather they all leap down at him, grabbing on to Ken as they all fall towards the ground. In fact, they’re not falling towards the ground, but rather towards a very large spinning fan. Ken is clearly not too keen to go through those fanblades! Even though he’s upside down, falling, and has Blackbirds hanging onto him, Ken is able to throw his birdrang and sever a rope such that one end of it drops towards him, shake off the Blackbirds, and grab the rope’s end, even as the Blackbirds continue to fall. With those Blackbirds eliminated, Ken proceeds to chase after the one that’s still left. That Blackbird makes it to a purple sports car and zooms down the street beside the factory complex as Ken jumps in his red convertible to make chase.
Ken manages to avoid a collision with a large truck, but the Blackbird releases a cloud of thick, dark smoke from his car, blinding Ken. When the smoke clears, the Blackbird is long gone. Ken jumps out of his car and starts running, but stops when he realizes that he’s approaching the entrance to the very amusement park that Jinpei had noticed earlier, and the large Native American Indian statue is still there.
Now, it’s night and we’re inside the amusement park.
It’s crowded with lots of children, and a bunch of them are gathered in front of a stage where clowns are dancing and a sort of “Evil Pied Piper of Hamelin” is playing a flute.
Jinpei is in the audience, enjoying the show, and a large lollypop, when a hand pinches his ear. It’s a very stern looking Ken, demanding to know if Jinpei’s “skipping out on his job.” Jinpei laughs nervously, asking Ken “What are you doing here?” Ken explains that he was attacked by Galactor Ninjas, and that he chased one to the amusement park but then lost him. Jinpei is certain that the amusement park is just an amusement park, with nothing but kids having fun, but he’s glad to have Ken’s company and tries to get him interested in the flute player and the dancing clowns. Jinpei’s attempt to seduce Ken away from duty with the lure of the amusement park fails utterly. Ken wants the both of them to get back to work. As Jinpei reluctantly follows Ken, we see the flute player up close, and a spark of light reflects off his eye.
Now, Jun is driving her motorcycle along a mountain road, trailing a car that presumably contains a scientist. It’s still night, but now Jinpei is back to work –he’s riding as a passenger on the back of her bike.
Now here, in the dub, Jinpei says “I feel really bad, should I apologize to Big Bro?” (Presumably he’s feeling guilty for goofing off at the amusement park) and Jun replies “Don’t worry about that; just make sure you hold on.”
Jinpei does have both arms wrapped around Jun’s waist. It’s interesting that in the subbed version, they say this:
“I kind of feel like I should apologize to big brother, since I’m the one going with you, Sis.”
“Stop saying such silly things and hang on.”
Hee! So Jinpei feels guilty for preventing Ken from having the chance to be her passenger and wrap his arms around Jun?
Now Jun and Jinpei hear the eerie flute music that heralds the arrival of the neon giant. In fact, as they round a bend in the road, it’s standing right there. The scientist’s driver is alarmed and hits the brakes, stopping right in front of the giant’s foot. Also stopped, a little further back, both Jun and Jinpei note that the giant is similar (at least in size) to the statue of the Native American Indian at the amusement park. The giant raises its foot, clearly about to stomp on the car, but the driver –no fool- backs the car up rapidly and escapes the stomp. Jun and Jinpei zoom up to the giant, and Jinpei yells to the car “Get out of here you guys, we’ll handle this! Hurry!”
I would think that the scientist and driver don’t know that Jun and Jinpei are Science Ninjas (because they’re in their civvies, and that would rather blow their covers) but they seem quite happy to leave the situation to a teenage girl and a kid, and they drive away fast. The giant now turns its attention to the motorcycle, but Jun notices its eyes flashing and gets her motorcycle moving again in time to avoid the laser beam blast from the giant’s eyes (well, it’s supposed to be electricity, but it looks like laser beams). The giant fires at them again, but misses.
Now Jun takes her motorcycle through a guardrail running along the side of the mountain road, and is heading down a steep slope, but the giant’s laser beams hit her bike this time. She and Jinpei fall off and go tumbling and her motorcycle is engulfed in flames (Yup, I think you’re going to have to request a new G-machine from Dr. Nambu, Jun) while she and Jinpei lie unconscious.