Gatchaman Episode 74: “Secret of the Birdstyles”
BOTP Episode: “Museum of Mystery”
Interestingly, this episode begins where we left off with episode 73 –the Himalayan Mountains, or “the roof of the world.” Yes, we are getting a lot of hints now that this region is significant…
“Lord Katse,” the narrator tells us, “facing defeat by the Science Ninja Team, fled desperately for his life. Gatchaman pursued, ready and eager to fight.”
Yup, that sounds like the previous episode alright. What we see now is episode 73’s mecha, Mammothoon, bursting forth from all the ice that had buried it at the end of that episode, when “Mammothoon was no match for the God Phoenix and its Super Bird Missile, and down the beast plunged, buried beneath a glacier.”
But, it’s back again now, and Katse is standing in its control room. He is not pleased.
“The Science Ninja Team dares to hunt me down like a moth for their miserable collection!” he rants, “Just you wait, you’ll pay for this insult with your life.”
But now we cut to a seaside amusement park, far from the Himalayas, where serene music is playing and happy children are enjoying the rides –as the excited shrieks of ones riding a roller coaster attest. Jun and Jinpei are on a very tall ferris wheel, enjoying the view.
“Look, you can see the Oceanography Lab from up here,” remarks Jun, as we see the structure she is referring to, but Jinpei prefers to sniff the fresh ocean breeze.
One might think, by this late in the series, that people would feel that scientific installations are prime Galactor targets and that therefore sites adjacent to them are not the safest places in the world for children, but the amusement park is nevertheless crowded.
Jun is enjoying the sound of the ocean waves and sighs “Isn’t peace wonderful?”
Of course now, because she has said that, something decidedly un-peaceful occurs!
There is a disturbance on the ocean’s surface, and a spout of water shoots suddenly into the air.
“Something’s coming up!” cries Jun as she and Jinpei stare in alarm.
What comes up is Mammothoon.
Some other children on the ferris wheel also see it, and are afraid.
Now Mammothoon rises even more from the water, and all sorts of people in the amusement park see it now and react with horror.
“That’s Mammothoon, Sis!” cries Jinpei.
“So Katse’s alive!” gasps Jun. Yes, I guess they did have hopes at the end of the previous episode that he might have been finished off at last.
“Damn it,” yells Jinpei, “He must have somehow managed to get out from under that glacier!”
Jun immediately contacts Ken and tells him that Mammothoon has reappeared at the amusement park at “Point N.”
Ken’s flying his plane.
“What? But I thought we’d finished it off with that Super Bird Missile!” replies Ken, scowling.
“He is one stubborn bastard,” says Joe’s voice, coming through on Ken’s bracelet.
“Tell me about it! He’s a monster!” says Ryu’s voice next.
It’s a conference call!
Ken instructs Joe and Ryu to head to Point N and Jun to keep an eye on Mammothoon until they’re all there.
Jun implores Ken to hurry.
Mammothoon is now fully out of the water and it strides towards the amusement park, smashing its fence with one giant foot. Inside its control room, Katse (pointing dramatically) informs the goons that their target is the Oceanography Lab –no surprise there. He orders them to arm the missile bays and “Fire!”
Two large missiles now shoot from Mammothoon and hit the Oceanography Lab, obliterating it. Katse chuckles smugly, sure that he’ll rattle the Science Ninjas and frustrate them with his apparent immortality.
‘Let them witness my wrath!” he continues (with more dramatic pointing), “Wipe those snots from the face of the Earth!”
Still on the ferris wheel with Jun, Jinpei notes that Mammothoon is now heading straight for the amusement park. Jun declares that saving the children is their first priority and she leaps from the ferris wheel to the ground. Jinpei follows her example (though his landing is far less graceful). Mammothoon is now smashing stuff up as hordes of panicking people are fleeing past Jun, depriving her of the privacy she needs to change into birdstyle.
One of the running children, a little girl, trips and falls, crying in fear. Too far away to do anything, the little girl’s mother gasps in horror as Mammothoon’s enormous foot looms over her daughter, about to crush her…
But Jun, running extremely fast, is able to reach the little girl and whisk her away just before Mammothoon’s foot comes down. But, one of Jun’s shoes is visible, caught between two of Mammothoon’s toes.
A short distance away, Jun is crouched beside the sobbing little girl, shielding her protectively.
Jinpei is highly impressed and alarmed by Jun’s nick-of-time rescue of the girl but Jun, her bare foot prominently in the foreground of the shot (just in case you didn’t notice her shoe stuck between Mammothoon’s toes, I guess) tells him she’s fine and orders him to “go help the others!”
So, while Mammothoon walks along, smashing up some more amusement park rides, Jinpei leads away a herd of more fleeing children, carrying one small boy himself, piggy-back style.
Now, something swoops down from the sky towards Mammothoon –it’s Ken in his G-1 jet.
“He just doesn’t know when to die. Let’s teach him,” thinks Ken, a grim expression on his face.
With that, he blasts Mammothoon’s head with his jet’s laser cannon. Inside the tremoring control room, Katse is outraged and orders more missiles to be fired on Ken. But, a goon then informs him that Ken’s attack has just wiped out Mammothoon’s missile launching system.
“Then we have no other choice but to withdraw,” realizes Katse in frustrated dismay.
Meanwhile, on the bridge of the God Phoenix, Joe declares “Your stomping days are over!” and reaches for the shiny red button.
Unfortunately, his moment of glory comes to an abrupt halt when Ryu points out that their five vehicles aren’t all combined so he can’t fire missiles.
Joe slams both fists on the console, yelling “Katse, you filth!” Hey, at least he’s not blaming Ken for ruining his fun. (Actually, Jun’s and Jinpei’s vehicles probably aren’t on board either.)
Now Ken instructs Ryu and Joe not to chase Mammothoon too far, and to rendez vous at the Crescent Coral Base. I’m not sure why Ken’s saying this, unless it’s because Mammothoon is going back underwater now and Ken realizes that there’s no point in the God Phoenix going after it if Joe can’t fire missiles at it.
So, Mammothoon disappears below the ocean’s surface, a trail of smoke streaming from its head where Ken’s attack damaged it. (Isn’t a lot of water going to leak in there? There must be water-tight interior doors to seal off the damaged section.)
So, next we see an exterior view of the Crescent Base and all the usual accompanying fish activity.
“Don’t despair, Team,” Dr. Nambu tells the assembled Ninjas, “Thanks to Jun and Jinpei’s early warnings, although the lab was destroyed, there were no fatalities. That in itself is to be commended.”
Hooray, no one died! And this isn’t even Battle of the Planets! Oddly, the Ninjas don’t look particularly happy or relieved at this news though. Jun looks downright depressed…
Now, Dr. Nambu tells them all to “go and relax a while” or, in the subs, “All of you go relax in the standby room.” Is a “standby room” like a “ready room”? Will there be ping pong and musical instruments there?
Everyone heads for the door, except Jun. Dr. Nambu, noticing this, mildly asks her what’s wrong.
And now Jun, looking miserable, tells him that she’s lost one of her shoes.
“What?” cries Dr. Nambu, turning to glare at her.
The other Ninjas, forming a conga line of consternation, all turn and stare at her too.
“No!” continues Dr. Nambu, “Did you lose it during combat?”
“Yeah,” she says quietly as he keeps talking.
“Search everywhere for it, no matter what it takes you must get that shoe back!”
In the dub, Dr. Nambu actually sounds a little gentler here than he does in the original Japanese. But either way, Dr. Nambu has never yelled at Jun like this! She was clearly expecting and steeling herself to be reprimanded but now she jerks her head up, eyes wide, in unhappy surprise.
“Find it, all of you!” yells Dr. Nambu in conclusion.
And now we cut to Mammothoon, back inside a Galactor base somewhere.
Jun’s shoe is still stuck between the toes on one of its feet so, as the narrator informs us, there was no way that the Ninjas could find it.
A crew of mecha maintenance goons are busy at work. One is welding (probably the area damaged by Ken’s laser cannon) while others appear to be cleaning and polishing and still other are inspecting Mammothoon’s feet.
One of the foot-inspectors finds Jun’s shoe.
He is amused by this (perhaps thinking that the rest of her got stomped flat) so he goes and shows his find to another goon (who must be his superior as he’s lounging idly in a chair, his feet on his desk.)
“Why would I care about it? Don’t bring it to me, you twit!” snaps the boss-goon (who seems to have modeled his management style after Berg Katse) and he snatches the shoe from the hapless goon and whacks him in the head with it. “Back to work! Go on!” he adds before hurling the shoe through a small chute that leads to an incinerator.
The shoe lands on a pile of… well, stuff that Galactor doesn’t want, and then flames come blasting from all sides.
Now we cut back to Dr. Nambu, who’s even angrier than he was before.
“You still haven’t found it?” he yells, banging his fists on his desk, “Don’t you understand?”
At least this time he’s yelling at all five of them and not just Jun, though she (followed by Jinpei) appears to be taking it the worst. Actually, Ken’s looking rather upset too.
“If her shoe falls into Galactor’s hands,” barks Dr. Nambu, “they’ll use it to discover the secret of the Science Ninja Team’s transformation!”
It seems that this thought hadn’t occurred to any of the Ninjas.
Ken gasps. Jun gasps “Oh dear!” Ryu adds an anxious “That’s right.” Joe merely emits a low “hmm,” holding his chin thoughtfully and Jinpei, eyes wide, groans “I didn’t even think about that,” while clutching a hand to his head.
Somewhat more calmly now, having made his point, Dr. Nambu proceeds to explain his fear that Galactor, with its “vast scientific resources,” will discover the shoe’s secret.
Jun closes her eyes, contemplating this scenario’s dire ramifications.
Dr. Nambu stands up and turns to gaze pensively out the undersea window, saying that all they can do is “pray that the shoe doesn’t fall into their hands.” He closes his eyes, lowering his head as one readying himself for the worst.
But now we cut to Berg Katse, who’s also yelling –this really is the “yell at your subordinates” episode! At least in Katse’s case, everyone around him is probably used to it.
“What? There’s a shoe that the Great Automatic Incinerator won’t burn?”
The goon he’s yelling at is the same one who whacked the foot-inspecting goon on the head with the shoe. What goes around, comes around… However, this goon seems to have learned that “they can’t hit you if you’re not actually present,” as he is merely a face on a screen.
The goon stiffly affirms that this is the case.
“That’s ridiculous! Have you guys moved happy hour back to noon?” rants Katse. Heh, we did see in episode 71 that some goons have no qualms about drinking on duty. But this goon, all propriety, continues to assert that Katse needs to come see the remarkable shoe for himself.
With an ungracious “all right, all right!” Katse tells the goon to take the shoe to the lab and begin tests on it, and that he himself will be there shortly. The goon off screen now, he pauses to rant one more time, fists clenched, “I have a dinner to plan and they’re bothering me with women’s footwear!” (Lest anyone think he’s organizing a gala dinner party, in the subs he complains “Now I won’t have time to relax and enjoy my meal!”
Yes, it’s a hard and trying existence, being Lord of Galactor.
So now we see Jun’s shoe, fixed in place by a complex vice-grip apparatus. It’s inside a small chamber with a glass window, through which Katse and a goon (not the one he spoke to before) are observing it. The goon, at a control panel, activates a mechanical arm with a drill attachment and tries to pierce the shoe.
At first, it looks like the drill is successful and Katse, gloating that it’s “an ordinary shoe after all,” turns to leave (and go relax and enjoy his meal, no doubt). But the goon hastily asks him to wait, and then tells him “The shoe’s not breaking apart or anything!”
“Huh?” snarls Katse, but as he turns and the drill bit is retracted, it is clear that the shoe is undamaged.
“How can this be?” yells Katse, raising clenched fists, “Use all of Galactor’s scientific resources to analyze it!”
Yes, Dr. Nambu’s worst fears have become reality.
So next they subject the shoe to extreme cold, such that it becomes coated in ice, and then hit it with a mechanical sledge hammer. But the shoe remains unscathed while the hammer shatters.
As Katse and the goon continue to observe from behind the safety of the glass window, the shoe is blasted with some kind of energy, but the device doing the blasting apparently overloads and explodes while doing the shoe no harm at all.
I’ve always figured that the Ninjas’ birdstyles protected them from a lot of damage, but the way this shoe is enduring such abuse, I’m almost surprised the Ninjas have to worry about coming to any harm at all (expect maybe through their faces, or in Jun’s case, her upper arms and thighs as well)!
But now, some kind of very high pitched sound frequency is being directed at the shoe, and it seems it might actually be having an effect. “More!” says Katse, and the sound becomes even more high pitched as the bombardment continues. The device is releasing smoke now…
The goon and Katse are both sweating nervously and the goon cries “We can’t push it!” but Katse yells “Continue!”
And then, to Katse’s amazement, the shoe begins to change…
And it transforms into a tall, white boot.
“It belongs to the Science Ninja Team…” says an awed Berg Katse, as we’re shown an image of the Swan –certainly suggesting that Katse knows just which member of the Team this shoe matches.
But now we’re at the Snack J, where somewhat sad music is playing as light glitters off the disco ball on the ceiling. Jun is alone, sitting at the bar, and clearly depressed.
I’m surprised that everyone’s ditched her –even Jinpei. You’d think they might, realizing she’s sad, hang around and try to cheer her up. But maybe they’re still frantically trying to find her shoe and are out there still searching.
She’s remembering Dr. Nambu’s earlier words about how Galactor will surely use their “vast scientific resources” to learn her shoe’s secret, and we can see that she’s wearing now a pair of ordinary, non-transforming shoes.
“If they find that shoe,” thinks Jun despairingly, “They’ll know who I am.”
To further add to the atmosphere of gloom, it’s raining heavily outside as Jun opens the Snack J’s door and stares out into the night.
“I’ll become a decoy,” she thinks, her face showing desperate determination to do something to solve the crisis she feels responsible for creating, “Galactor’s sure to come looking for me.”
With that, she goes outside, her red replacement shoes stepping along the rain slicked sidewalk, gaining speed as she breaks into a run.
Now we’re looking at Leader X, addressing Katse. Hey, he's not yelling at his subordinant. In fact, Leader X is pleased, saying “Well done, Lord Katse,” and adding “I have devised two missions based on the discovery of the shoe.”
The first, explains Leader X, is for the Galactor scientist, Dr. Misuno, to develop a device that will use what they now know about the shoe to be able to “break off” the Science Ninjas’ transformations, but he will need several days to complete this work.
We get a look at a Galactor scientist staring into a microscope-like device, presumably as part of this mission.
The second mission, declares Leader X, will be carried out by Katse himself. Katse makes a little bow, looking honored. Leader X has a name picked out this second mission too: “Operation Cinderella.” Hmm, the prince in that fairy tale wasn’t trying to track down Cinderella via her shoe in order to kill her and her friends, but otherwise, it’s an apt analogy.
We’re shown a group of diligent Galactor scientists all sitting around a table.
“Immediately afterward, top class specialists in the plastic arts,” explains the narrator, as we’re shown a detailed diagram of Jun’s shoe covered in measurements and then a montage of images of hard-working scientists, “Anthropotomists, sculptors and cosmetic medicine experts were summoned from various Galactor research institutions and a steady stream of data was passed around.”
Now we can see that they’re using all their combined data to generate an image showing the shape of the shoe’s (or the boot’s, really) probable wearer –“age, height, weight, and even the personality of the person who wore it.”
Okay, it’s a stretch to believe that all that could be construed from one boot, but I’m prepared to go along with this ‘cause it makes for a good story.
At last, an eager Katse gets a look at the final result.
“Her face and style of clothing,” are the only things they can’t determine from the shoe, explains a goon, as Katse continues to stare at the image of the Swan. “But we believe her body shape is accurate,” he adds. Really, Jun’s birdstyle doesn’t exactly do much to hide her body shape, and lots of people in Galactor (including Katse) have seen her. But then again, when they see her she’s usually moving very fast and a lot of the goons who see her don’t survive to describe her!
Katse is extremely pleased that he can now begin his mission, and he breaks into triumphant, evil laughter.
Meanwhile, Jun is walking down an empty city street in a somewhat less-than-desirable part of town.
Suddenly she gasps in fear; two men are there and one of the pulls a knife on her.
They grab her and hustle her into a narrow alley…
I think this would be a terrifying nightmare for most women, but fortunately for Jun (and unfortunately for the two men), she is a highly trained fighter.
We hear the men crying out in surprise and pain, and the sounds of blows. Then Jun emerges alone from the alley, brushing off her clothes.
She’s not shaken or traumatized in the least –no, she’s actually disappointed!
“Rats,” she says, “They’re just a couple of street thugs. And I thought they were from Galactor.”
Next, we see a large, vividly coloured blimp.
“This is every girl’s dream!” cries an announcer’s voice over speakers, “The World Beauty Center will make you into the world’s top beauty –free! This offer is limited only to 16 year old girls. Step right up!”
Hmm, if Jun was 16 when the series began, wouldn’t she be at least 17 by episode 74? I guess Galactor’s science isn’t as accurate as they think.
There are definitely a lot of 16 year old girls within earshot of this announcement, and it seems they all want to be a “top beauty.” An eager horde flocks towards the blimp and next we see a long line up of girls, chattering excitedly as they wait to enter a building.
The announcer is standing there, microphone in hand, urging them to wait patiently and explaining that a cut-out silhouette just inside the door “represents the ideal proportions for a 16 year old girl.”
He continues, “Now, only those who can pass through it have what it takes to be a world’s top beauty and receive a free makeover.”
I’d like to think that these girls would feel insulted to be told that there’s only one, precise body shape that represents “top beauty”! But, sigh, they apparently are not.
The first girl who tries to pass through the cut out is too big.
The next girl looks more likely, but she’s a bit too tall and her shoulders are too wide. As the announcer calls for the next girl to step up, we can see that all this is all being covertly observed from inside the building by a woman in a purple dress who’s peering between a window’s blinds.
“That’s so not fair!” cries a girl’s voice, and we must assume that the third girl, whoever she was, also is not Swan-shaped. The watching woman smiles. She has blond hair and a very pointy chin, rather like…