Gatchaman Episode 26: "The God Phoenix Reborn"
BOTP Episode: “The Bat Ray Bombers”
The episode begins with Ryu’s bracelet sitting on a console. Ken is trying to contact Ryu, but he’s having no success because although Ryu is right there, he’s sleeping soundly in his chair on the bridge of the God Phoenix, hearing nothing.
Ryu is in birdstyle, which gives me pause for thought; shouldn’t removing his bracelet have de-transmuted him? In episode 103, that’s what happens to Joe when his bracelet gets shot off his wrist. But then, his bracelet got damaged, and here, Ryu’s is just fine, and its clasp is closed too (if that matters). I guess there are no clear rules on how they, or their vehicles, de-transmute. I’m having trouble remembering any time anyone’s been shown doing it (voluntarily).
But I digress –on with the recap.
Ken is still calling urgently for Ryu, saying “We can’t combine without G-5!” Now we can see that the God Phoenix is parked on the sea floor in a sort of underwater carport, and minus Joe’s car to form its nose. This is very interesting. Is this underwater at the marina where Ryu works? Is this underwater at Dr. Nambu’s house?
I must say, as he’s already in birdstyle and on board the God Phoenix, that it’s pretty slack of Ryu to have fallen asleep. Unless he’s been sitting there waiting for a very long time while the others investigate some vague report of possible trouble, and has legitimate reason to think that nothing exciting is going to happen today.
But something exciting has happened. Ken’s in the air in his jet, as is Jinpei in his helico buggy.
Joe’s zooming along the ground in his car, and Jun’s speeding over the water’s surface on her vehicle.
It isn’t clear what they know or have seen that’s making them want to combine immediately in the God Phoenix, but next we are shown a ship sailing peacefully through calm waters. Something tells me it won’t be peaceful or calm for long…
Sure enough, a man on board the ship, wearing what looks like some kind of naval officer’s uniform, spots a strange craft in the air, flying towards the ship. As it nears, it becomes apparent that it’s shaped like a flying stingray. More members of the crew are gathered at the ship’s railing now, exhibiting curiosity and alarm.
Their concern is warranted; suddenly the flying stingray emits an intense beam of some kind of energy from its “mouth” and blasts the ship with it.
Immediately, the ship is destroyed and its flaming, crumpled remains explode and quickly sink into the sea as the stingray flies away. Now, the narrator informs us that “the ISO’s ships were attacked by a sinister craft shaped like a ray, but the God Phoenix never came to help.” Uh oh…
Now we, once again, see a bracelet resting on some surface, even as the image of the smoke and flames from the sinking ship are fading away.
Ryu is standing there, looking incredibly sad and ashamed.
He’s facing Dr. Nambu, who’s sitting behind a desk, and it’s immediately apparent that Ryu’s put his bracelet on the desk because he’s resigning from the Team.
Looking on are Jinpei, Jun and Joe, looking shocked, distressed and pissed off, respectively.
Dr. Nambu wants to know what Ryu’s going to do, and he points out that he does have, “unlike everyone else,” parents and a younger brother to go back to.
I guess this is the first time we learn something about Ryu’s background.
Now Ken is trying to stop Ryu from leaving, telling him that “one or two mistakes” aren’t so terrible, and that he just needs to “try to be more careful.”
Jinpei chimes in here too, agreeing with Ken. But Ryu responds with “I’m sick of being on the Science Ninja Team.” Everyone is shocked!
“Just what do you mean by that?” demands Dr. Nambu rather sharply. Ryu claims he’s tired of being the one who gets left behind to sit around on the God Phoenix during missions, and that he’s felt this way for awhile.
This explanation doesn’t go down well at all with the others.
Ken flat out says he doesn’t believe him, but Ryu, looking down at his feet, says he wants a normal life, one where he can eat whatever he wants and take naps whenever he wants. He concludes with a “Please don’t take this personally,” but the way Joe is glowering at him now definitely indicates that he is taking it very personally.
Joe lashes out, calling Ryu a “spineless wimp” and turning his head away contemptuously. Dr. Nambu now says that if Ryu leaves the Team, he won’t ever be able to rejoin it. Ryu accepts that calmly, and now even Dr. Nambu is upset enough to stand up, slam his hands on his desk and say “Fine! Then go ahead and quit! We will sever any connection with you from this point on!”
Ryu remains aloof, as Jun and Jinpei both go “Ohh!” in dismay.
Ken has his hand on Ryu’s shoulder, saying “Come on,” and trying to reason with him, but Ryu is seemingly unmoved.
Or is he? Next we see Ryu, he’s riding alone on a train at night. We hear his thoughts, in which he asks all the others for forgiveness for leaving. But he can’t let his mistake go, and he can’t forgive himself. He promises he’ll never forget them, as a tear runs down his face.
He arrives on foot at the outskirts of a little coastal fishing village, and it’s daytime now.
He’s still wearing his numbered civvies. I would have thought that he’d have to turn those in along with his bracelet, but it seems that wasn’t required. He is wearing a brown jacket though –one we’ve never seen before.
In the village itself, an excited crowd has gathered together and everyone’s speaking at the same time. One man, who seems to be a figure of authority, is telling the others “Settle down! Now that we’re positive that we’ve been contaminated, we need to start disposing of all sturgeons and spiny lobsters immediately.” Some other men in the crowd want to know if he, as “Union Leader,” is going to take responsibility for all their financial losses incurred by the contamination.
A small boy then pipes up indignantly that “It’s not my Dad’s fault!” and he stands at the Union Leader’s side scowling. But, suddenly he’s all smiles as he says “Hey look! It’s my big brother!” At this, the Union Leader turns to look too. There’s Ryu, looking a bit sheepish, but the Union Leader –his father- is pleased to see him.
Ryu wants to know what all the excitement is about, and his father tells him that all the fish have been contaminated, and he doesn’t know how it happened, as there aren’t any factories nearby. Ryu says he knows a scientist at the ISO, named Dr. Nambu, and he suggests that his father contact him. Two other men in the crowd say they’ve heard of Dr. Nambu (Wow, who knew he was that high profile?) and agree it’s a good idea to ask for his assistance. Meanwhile, Ryu’s father says he heard Ryu was working at a yacht harbor, and wants to know what’s brought him back home. Ryu stammers nervously at this question, and blurts out that he’s on vacation.
Now, we’re seeing Dr. Nambu in a lab, staring into a microscope and then distilling some liquid as the narrator informs us that Dr. Nambu has analyzed the pollutant that contaminated the fish near Ryu’s home, and has determined it’s a by-product of the manufacture of “an entirely new metal.” “No one but Galactor is capable of creating something like this,” says Dr. Nambu, holding up a beaker of the sinister contaminant.
“This mission could be dangerous. I’d better go with you,” he continues, as the camera pans sideways and we see that Ken, Joe, Jun and Jinpei are all standing there, in birdstyle.
Ken is a bit surprised, but Dr. Nambu explains that the affected fishing village had adopted an ISO policy of “creating and not taking,” and so he wants to save the village that accepted the ISO’s ideology. It would seem that this is not a convincing explanation, as Jun turns and whispers to the others “I thought so. Dr. Nambu is worried about Ryu too.” So, despite the rejection they seem to have received from Ryu, they’re still concerned about him. I guess this also means they don’t have any leads to pursue with regard to the ship-incinerating flying stingray.
Next, we’re treated to a scenic underwater view of happy fish and then lobsters (these ones must have escaped contamination) as beams of sunlight, and two scuba divers, descend from the surface. It’s Ryu and his little brother.
As they swim along, they spot the same flying stingray that attacked the ship at the episode’s beginning, moving through much deeper, darker water below.
They stay hidden behind some rocks, though, just watching.
Soon, they surface and Ryu’s brother wants to know what they saw. Ryu doesn’t know what it was, but he says they’ll need different scuba equipment to follow it down as deep as the continental shelf. (He also addresses his little brother by his name, Seiji.) Seiji thinks it was some kind of scary, monster ray.
Ryu’s father, and some other men, are standing around in the village, but someone is approaching. Ryu’s father turns and greets Dr. Nambu, and now we see that the Doctor has also brought the four remaining members of the Science Ninja Team with him (all smiling weirdly).
He’s also carrying a case, that he announces is an antidote that, when fed to the contaminated fish, will cleanse them of pollutants. Mr. Nakanishi (I’m getting tired of calling him “Ryu’s father”) is happy, but points out that if more pollutant keeps leaking into the sea, they’ll soon run out of antidote.
Dr. Nambu responds that he will have the Science Ninja Team investigate the source of the pollution.
“Roger that!” says Ken.
Meanwhile, Ryu and Seiji have returned to the village, still in wetsuits and carrying their scuba equipment. Seiji spots Ken, gets really excited that Gatchaman is here, and goes running over to him.
Ryu’s reaction is less enthusiastic.
As Seiji greets Ken, Ryu tries to slip away unobtrusively but Ken sees him.
Ryu has gone into some kind of storage shed, and is zipping up the neck of a wetsuit he’s wearing, but Ken appears in the doorway.
Ken notes that Ryu’s now wearing a deep sea diving suit, and he wants to know where he’s going. Ryu tells him to mind his own business, but Ken says that the Science Ninja Team has been asked to investigate the village, and that he knows Ryu is hiding something.
Ryu angrily shoves his way past Ken but Ken grabs onto some straps on Ryu’s scuba equipment. With a “Let go of me!” Ryu wrenches himself free.
But now Seiji is there and he’s appalled that Ryu is being so rude to Gatchaman. So appalled, in fact, that he bursts into tears and begins pounding his fists angrily on Ryu. Ryu yells “Shut up!” at Seiji, pushes him down and runs out of the shed. Yikes.
Ken calls out “Hey!” and stares after Ryu as Seiji sobs, “Stupid dummy brother, that monster ray is going to get you!” “What?” says Ken, coming over to his side now, “You saw a monster ray?”
Seiji tells all to Gatchaman, and Ken wants Seiji to keep it a secret, and not tell anyone else what he and Ryu saw. Seiji is thrilled to be in on a secret with Gatchaman, and all tears gone, he wipes his hand and “shakes on it” with Ken.
Ryu is now riding something that looks like an underwater jet ski, and as he descends deep underwater.
He’s thinking that since the Science Ninja Team is here, the ray that he and Seiji saw must belong to Galactor. Ryu concludes to himself that he must defeat it alone, to restore his honor. Meanwhile, Ken has also found scuba gear, and he is following Ryu at a distance, using the same type of little underwater vehicle that Ryu is using.
Ken is thinking that Ryu can’t defeat the ray by himself, and that he should wait for Ken. When Ken passes over a ridge, he looks down, and sees Ryu’s vehicle, unoccupied, lying much further below on the sea floor. Concerned, Ken speeds over to it, wondering where Ryu has gone. As Ken looks around, he sees the “monster ray” approaching.
Quickly, he leaves his own vehicle beside Ryu’s and goes and hides behind some rocks. The ray cruises past and doesn’t notice Ken, but Ken notices the door in an underwater wall of rock, where the ray is headed. Ken realizes that Galactor’s hidden its base inside the continental shelf, and he begins to swim towards the door himself.
He follows the ray inside, to a chamber that then begins to drain of water, making Ken cling to one of the ray’s “wings” to avoid being pulled into one of the drainage holes. With the water gone from the chamber, Ken lets go of the wing and drops to the floor, removing his scuba mask and air hose from his face.
Now a large interior door opens and the entire floor of the chamber becomes a conveyor belt, moving the ray inside the base. Ken hides as best he can beside the ray. The ray is conveyed into, and parked inside a large room where there are at least four other identical rays.
A hatch opens in the recently arrived ray, and a little car comes out. Ken now does a far-too-brief striptease, removing the upper half of his wetsuit to reveal his very nice bare torso and arms, and dashes after the car.
[Saturn has made a very nice animation!]
It isn’t clear where Ken had stashed his numbered civvies, but he must have had them with him because next we see him, he’s in birdstyle and he leaps, undetected, onto the roof of the car to go wherever it’s going.
Okay, scratch the “undetected” part. The camera pulls back to show that we’re seeing Ken on a screen. So is a laughably freakish looking “Captain of the Week.” There is something vaguely amphibian-like about him, but the three little things sticking up from his collar suggest “angler fish” to me.
He is surprised, but pleased to see that Gatchaman is here, and now we see that Ryu is lying on the floor behind him, all tied up and not at all happy to hear the Captain of the Week planning to finish off Gatchaman.
“Lead the car to the gas chamber!” he orders a nearby goon. So, the car enters a chamber and a door seals behind it. As Ryu watches on the screen in helpless anger, greenish gas floods the chamber and Ken succumbs, collapsing on the car’s roof.
As the Captain laughs evilly, and Ryu glares angrily, robot arms lift Ken’s limp body and convey him away…