Gatchaman Episode 90: Matangar, the Armored Iron Beast by lborgia88, saturn
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Now we’re back at Micron Island, and Matangar is once again extending its neck and head.

“All right, begin attack on the second district!” orders Dr. Finger to his crew, and we see a goon fiddling at the little panel of switches and outlets. Matangar’s head turns now, presumably to face the unfortunate district that is next in line for attack.


 


Back at the Crescent Coral base, a phone on Dr. Nambu’s desk starts ringing.

“Nambu speaking,” he says, answering it. Apparently it’s Joe’s turn to brood and stare out the window now, as he turns from contemplating fish to look at Dr. Nambu. Everyone else clusters near his desk. Ken is presumably still in the dark room.

“Yes, I understand. Thank you,” says Dr. Nambu calmly, hanging up.

“What is it?” asks Jun.

“Iron Beast Matangar attacked the second district,” replies Dr. Nambu gravely.

“Damn it!” yells Joe, and he instantly goes dashing out the door, ignoring Jun’s cry of “Joe!”

Next we see the door of the dark room get shoved open abruptly, and there stands Joe, looking belligerent.


 


Hands on his hips and glaring, he informs Ken that “Matangar has just begun its second attack.”

“I see… Is it that time already,” says Ken quietly, not even turning around to look at Joe.

This is not the sort of response Joe wants to hear. He raises a fist, demands “Is that all you have to say about it?” and lunges for Ken.

But Jun is there now, and she grabs him. “Come on, Joe!” she says, trying to reason with him, or at least keep him from trying to deck Ken.


 


“Let me go, Jun,” says Joe, pausing, as her influence apparently is enough to keep him from just yanking his arm away from her grip, “I understand how you feel about it [By “it,” does Joe mean dissension within the Team, or Ken getting punched?] but the people on Micron Island are in danger.” Well, Jun lets go of his arm.

And we abruptly cut to Micron Island, where the second of the seven districts is being blasted with Matangar’s laser beam, and explosions and flames are everywhere. And this time, we see an explosion erupt beneath the feet of two people in a street, who cry out in terror as flames burst out around them. In what looks like a train tunnel, flames come rushing along and engulf three more townspeople.

Okay, I can understand why the first district might have been caught off guard, but really, I can’t help but wonder why the ISO hasn’t, by now, airlifted or ferried the rest of the population off the island or at least told them not to go strolling about while Matangar is perched on their volcano, ready to blast them.

(They could almost use a Zark here. Almost.)

Now we’re back to the dark room again, and this time everyone’s here (and it seems that Joe has not yet attempted to pummel Ken.)


 


Now it’s Jinpei who wants to know “What’s really going on? What’s making you wimp out all of a sudden?”

Ken is still staring at the wall –or the photos- and not saying anything.

“He’s chickened out,” says Joe disgustedly, “I can’t believe we’ve been calling him our leader!” Aaand the fist is raised once again, but Jun is still right there to try to prevent him from using it.


 


“Wait!” implores Jun, even as Ryu steps in front of Joe and tells him to cool out –and gets a dirty look in return.

“You don’t know how to talk to people,” continues Ryu, “See, you have to be more relaxed about it.” He walks up behind Ken now, who is sitting in a chair, still facing the wall and staring at the photos, and still not saying anything.

“Come on now, Ken,” he says in a kindly tone, “Just let us know what’s bothering you, okay? You ought to be running out the door right now, so how come this time you’re being so… prudent or –I mean-“ And now he too is glaring at Ken.


 


“Are you too good to talk to us now?” he demands, getting heated, “I’ll kick your ass!-”

But now Jun come rushing up to stop Ryu from hitting Ken. Sheesh, I hope that, on some level, Ken is appreciative of her efforts to keep his teammates from trying to clobber him!


 


“Take a look at these pictures!” snaps Ken suddenly, finally speaking and turning to look at Ryu and the others.

From his vantage by the door, Joe frowns and looks expectantly at Ken.

“In order to blow through solid iron,” continues Ken, looking now to Jun, “What size warhead do we need in a super bird missile? Tell me!”

“Let me see… I’m sure it would have to be at least one megaton,” is the assessment of the Team’s demolitions expert.

“Good job!” sneers Ken, looking towards Joe now, gesturing with one arm for emphasis, “That’d blow up the entire island!”

“Ah…” says Jun, clearly not sure what to say to that.

“So then we should use a smaller charge,” counters Joe, “You said we can do that with a super bird missile.”

“If we did that,” says Ken, with restrained vehemence, “Super bird missiles would bounce off its shell and land in the town.”

“But isn’t there some kind of way to blow up just Matangar then?” asks Jinpei hopefully.

Ken leans his forehead towards the wall, seething in frustration.

“Hey,” says Ryu, “What if we tried it from inside? You know –infiltrate.”

Ken turns his head just enough to glare over his shoulder. “But from where?” he demands, “The head withdraws into its shell –where is there an opening for us?”

Ryu doesn’t have an answer to this one.

“Dr. Finger has thoroughly analyzed Katse’s failures,” continues Ken, still glaring over his shoulder, “And knows exactly how we play our cards.”

Joe looks like he's thinking “Shit, he’s right,” fists clenched but at his sides now.

“What are we supposed to do now, Big Bro?” asks a distressed Jinpei, “What do we do?”

“I don’t know!” yells Ken, slamming a hand against one of the photos.

But suddenly Ken grabs the photo beneath his hand, pointing and muttering “What are these white things?”


 


Ken tosses the photo aside and grabs one of the strips of negatives. “Jun, help me blow this up,” he says impatiently, “Come on, quit standing around!”

Well I guess bossy Ken is better than staring-at-the-wall-not-speaking Ken.


 


Next we see Jun’s enlargements, as she says “Okay, I can’t make it any bigger than this. The white things you saw in the picture are light leaking out from inside the iron beast, I think.”


 


“They’re air vents that supply the mecha’s interior,” says Ken, in an “Ah, I get it now” tone.

“I don’t think we can fit in there,” remarks Ryu, deadpan, as they all look.


 


Jinpei notes that it depends how big the gaps are. “Only big enough for a bullet,” says Ken. This grabs Joe’s attention and he stares at Ken.

Ken then addressed Dr. Nambu, “I need a special bullet.”

“Mmm?” says Dr. Nambu, clearly not sure what Ken has in mind.

“What’s up?” asks Joe, walking closer to Ken –yes, Ken had him as soon as he started talking about bullets…

Ken explains that they have to get Matangar to move, and that if they can lure it into the ocean, “we can destroy it.”

But in the meantime, it’s Matangar that’s doing the destroying.


 


“The iron beast Matangar,” says the narrator, “Destroyed every twelve hours, without fail. When the townspeople learned that Galactor’s objective was to challenge the Science Ninja Team, their anger shifted towards the Science Ninja Team who seemed reluctant to come to their rescue no matter how long they waited.”

At the Crescent Coral base, a door opens and in comes Dr. Nambu. He approaches Ken, who’s standing in front of an aerial image of Micron Island and hands him a box, informing Ken that “It’s completed.”


 


“But, there’s only one,” he adds as Ken takes the box from him and opens it to look at the “special” bullet inside.


 


“A single shot,” says Ken, then he looks at Joe, “Joe, this is your job –do you think you can shoot this bullet into the iron beast through one of its air vents?”

Joe has been over by the window, contemplating the fish, but now he turns to Ken.

“Just one shot?”

“Don’t think of it as an air vent –think of it as Katse’s black heart,” says Ken, clearly thinking of Joe’s target practice the episode’s beginning.

Meanwhile, on Matangar, Dr. Finger is gloating “What’s the big deal about this Science Ninja Team? They haven’t had the courage to even come back.”

Some goons are listening, and one says “We never could have imagined things would go so smoothly either.” Heh –a dig at Katse, I suppose.

So, Dr. Finger brags that “strategizing is the key,” and claims that Katse “runs around haphazardly.”

Now we see Katse, still at his Mediterranean villa-like place. He’s pacing around the room.

“Damn it, what the hell are those Ninja birds doing anyway? They always attack whenever I’m in charge –why aren’t they going after Finger?”

“Um, Lord Katse,” says his aide-de-camp nervously, “Exactly what side are you on anyway?” Hee –I love this part.

“You be quiet!” snarls Katse, “What side are you on? Dr. Finger’s?”

The goon says nothing, and Katse mutters “Damn it,” again and resumes his pacing…

Back to Dr. Finger, he is announcing that it’s time to attack the fifth district. (I guess in the time it took for Dr. Nambu to make the bullet, districts three and four got hit.)

However, this time the crew gets a visitor.


“Dr. Finger! The God Phoenix approaches!” cries a goon.


 


The God Phoenix’s nose cover retracts to reveal Joe’s G-2 car as, on the bridge, Ken murmurs “We’re counting on you, Joe,” as Jun looks on worriedly, “We’ve only got one shot.”

But wind is whipping around, causing the God Phoenix –and more importantly, the G-2- to bob up and down slightly.


 

 

“Come on, man! Would you hold her steady, for crying out loud,” Joe is saying into his bracelet. Ryu insists he’s trying, but points out that there’s high wind.

Ken asks Jun for a weather briefing and she tells him there’s southeast winds at 25 knots.

Ken notes that this isn’t good for what Joe’s trying to do. Ryu suggests changing the firing angle.

“This is the only vantage point that’ll give him a shot at the air vents,” says a Ken, now glowering apprehensively.

We get a close-up look at the air vents in question, and then Joe begins targeting.


 


Ken is telling him now to delay the shot, as the weather conditions are “too volatile.”

“No, Ken, if we can’t nail anything under any conditions, we’ll never defeat Katse. Just let me do it!”

All is silent on the bridge, but then Ken says “All right, let’s do it.”

On Matangar, they’re staring at the God Phoenix, and one goon nervously says “It looks like they’re aiming at the vent shafts.”


 


Dr. Finger insists his opponents are crazy, with the wind so strong and that target only one centimeter wide. “Even if they manage to blast the ventilation, there’d be no effect on us whatsoever,” he says, seating himself again with a confident laugh.

Now we hear a beat that sounds rather like a human heart, as Joe concentrates and waits for the right moment to shoot. On the bridge, Ken looks tense and grim. Joe continues to target, and to wait…


 


And then he shoots.


 


The bullet strikes… something.


 


As the “camera” pulls back, we see that Joe has succeeded and that that bullet has indeed struck inside the air vents. But as everyone on the bridge sits frozen, waiting to see what’s happened, at first it doesn’t look like anything is happening.

Joe’s head droops and his eyes close, though it’s not clear if this is relief or if he thinks he’s missed.

But suddenly, smoke and fire come pouring out of the bullet hole and flames begin spreading inside the air vents.


 


Anxious goons come running up to Dr. Finger now, telling him that flames are spreading from the vent shafts and heading towards the engine room.

“Impossible!” cries Dr. Finger, “What in the hell did they shoot at us with?”

“It seems to be some sort of chemical that ignites the hydrogen in the air,” replies a goon, even as flames come pouring into the very room they’re all in.

“Why didn’t I think of that?” says Dr. Finger.

And we cut to the God Phoenix, where Joe is back on the bridge and Ken is explaining the special bullet and congratulating Joe.

Ryu now alerts Ken to the fact that Matangar has started moving.

Matangar has extended its head and feet and risen into the air, but on board, terrified goons are running down a corridor that’s being engulfed in flames, screaming and dying.

In the control room, a cluster of other goons have surrounded Dr. Finger, all insisting they can’t put out the fire and that they all need to evacuate.

“Stop that whining!” barks Dr. Finger, “Imagine what would happen if we report back to Leader X right now –we’re not giving up until the last second!”

(Actually, Dr. Finger, Leader X is probably quite used to getting such reports –but then, you are trying not to be like Katse… The goons should take heart at least somewhat here, as Dr. Finger hasn’t ditched them to leave in an escape pod.)

So, Matangar now overtakes the God Phoenix and proceeds to clutch hold of it with its four legs, and then it goes into a dive. It’s the classic “If I’m going down, I’m taking you with me” tactic!


 


So tightly is Matangar gripping the God Phoenix to its belly, we see that the dome on top of the God Phoenix has been crushed flat against it.

On the bridge, Ken and Ryu are staring up at Matangar’s head, which is looming in the view screen. “It’s got us in a flying death grip!” cries Ken.


Well, not flying now –Matangar plunges into the sea, taking the God Phoenix along with it.

“So, they’re going to take us on a suicide plunge,” realizes Ken, “They’re trying to crush us with water pressure!”


 


And now the narrator explains that water pressure increases by one atmosphere, every ten meters below the surface and that the God Phoenix’s limit is 200 atmospheres –or a depth of 2000 meters.

“Ryu, open the top dome!” instructs Ken.

Ryu points out that water will come rushing in if they do that but Ken insists that Matangar is pressing tightly enough against them that that won’t happen. Ryu nervously complies.

And Ken proves to be correct.


 


“Jun,” orders Ken next, “Go over and get the Jun rocket from G-3.”

Jun wants to what the plan is, so Ken explains that Matangar appears to be less armored on its belly. “We can blast it!”

“Maybe it only appears that way,” says Joe, peering skeptically up at the exposed bit of Matangar that’s over the dome, “If it’s made from the same material used for its back, the rocket could bounce off.”

“Either Matangar gets destroyed or the God Phoenix gets crushed into pieces,” says Ken, looking side to side at everyone, “Fifty-fifty.”

Not the best odds.


They’re still plunging deeper, and Ryu notes that they’re at 1200 meters now. Ken says “Jun, hurry!” and she runs to get her rocket.

In Matangar’s control room, flames are burning as Dr. Finger continues to sit in his chair. We get a view of goons strewn about the room’s floor, either dead or overcome by the heat and lack of air.

Dr. Finger, like Ken, is telling himself that the odds are even –either Matangar will burn up or the God Phoenix will be crushed. However, Matangar is doomed in either of these cases so Dr. Finger has clearly resigned himself to “going down with his ship.”

“Damn it’s hot in here,” mutters Dr. Finger, as he waits for the God Phoenix to get crushed, and as we see the Ninjas hastily positioning Jun’s rocket beneath the dome.


 


And then, the heat becomes too much for Dr. Finger, and he suddenly snaps and cries out “Son of a-”

And, he undergoes some exaggerated contortions in the brief instant he’s doing this –which make for some amusing screen caps!


 

 


“Open fire,” says Ken quietly, and we see the Jun rocket firing…


 


And then we’re suddenly above the sea’s surface, and there’s a pretty sunset going on. All is quiet and still. Did the God Phoenix survive?

A massive explosion now break’s the sea’s surface.


 


It continues to burn, and waves toss against the sunset background,

But then the God Phoenix comes bursting forth from the sea! Needless to say, Matangar does not.


 


I can’t help but wonder how they got the dome shut after blowing away Matangar with the rocket quickly enough to prevent a massive influx of sea water –especially with the pressure that high! I guess that’s why we viewers got taken to the surface to wait in suspense and didn’t get to see exactly what happened down there.

So, the God Phoenix flies victoriously into the sunset and, hey, there are still three out of seven surviving districts on Micron Island.

On the bridge, Ken looks very relieved. “We won the gamble,” he says quietly. It seems that he’s dealing with the despair that he was feeling earlier about whether peace can ever be possible and about the “blood” on his hands, and is okay again –at least for now.


 


“It was indeed a life or death moment,” says the narrator, “Ken called it a gamble but the Science Ninja Team managed to survive their greatest crisis, because of the level-headed judgement of their leader, Gatchaman, who is quick to see their chance and seize it!”

And don’t forget Joe’s excellent aim, narrator!

The End.

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