Gatchaman Episode 102: “A Reversal! Checkmate X!”
BOTP Episode: N/A
We open with an aerial view of a large city on a bright, sunny day and all looks very peaceful and serene music is playing, which of course means that imminent disaster is at hand.
Sure enough, a sky scraper (that rather resembles New York City’s Chrysler Building) is suddenly obliterated in a massive explosion.
Big chunks of it go flying and crash into nearby buildings; in fact the pointy top smashes right through some large windows in a neighboring building -much to the detriment of the people who were looking out to see what’s going on!
But now we see who caused the explosion, as a fleet of insect-like mechas comes flying in over the city.
All the mechas have multi-faceted “eyes,” like those of insects (or, like those of insects who can shoot highly destructive energy beams from their eyes, that is.) They proceed to blast more of the city’s buildings. One mecha swoops low along a city street, creating a rush of wind that overturns cars and bashing others with its “feet.” Another mecha grabs onto the side of a building, startling a roomful of people when they see its “face” suddenly looming in the window –and then it blasts them all with an energy beam.
(Jun, you are not the only one subjected to panty flashes…)
Elsewhere in the city, another insect mecha –walking, not flying- smashes clean through another building and then proceeds to smash a section of elevated highway too. And other insect mecha, also walking, whacks the top off another building (something neo-classical that maybe I ought to recognize but don’t) while yet another mecha, flying, smashes through another building.
Their havoc wreaked, the whole fleet takes to the air as flames spread through the city streets below, unleashing futher explosions. But the insects don’t leave; rather they roost on the tops and sides of buildings (one of which looks a lot like the Eiffel Tower.)
But meanwhile in Utoland, it’s raining heavily and we’re at the Snack J.
Inside, Jun is drying dishes while Jinpei listens to the radio.
“And now for a special news bulletin,” says an announcer’s voice, “At 11 this morning, a swarm of Galactor’s iron beasts appeared at the city of Arle-”
“What now from Galactor?” demands Ken –yes, Ken is here too.
So is Ryu. He stands up from a table and remarks “Arle –that’s pretty far away,” before walking over to Ken, who’s sitting at the bar.
No Joe in sight.
“-more powerful than anything seen before, the city of Arle has requested help from the Science Team and it is believed the city has been all but reduced to rubble,” the announcer is saying, “And the UN forces are engaged in…”
“That’s odd,” says Jun, looking at Ken, “We never received any word from Doc Nambu about this.”
Ken tries to contact Dr. Nambu (and Ryu is prepared to listen in, I guess) but gets no response –and Ken and Ryu exchange a look of mutual puzzlement. The radio cuts back to music –news bulletin over- and Jinpei turns it off.
“That is weird,” remarks Jinpei, “When Doc Nambu’s out, he usually takes a communicator along.”
“If Galactor has appeared,” says Ken, frowning, “We just can’t sit here and do nothing. Let’s suit up and move out.”
Ryu and Jinpei make for the door, but Ken pauses briefly to say, “Jun, get Joe on the horn and tell him what’s happening.”
“Roger,” replies Jun, and Ken heads out into the rain, just behind Ryu. I guess she has to turn off the lights and lock up the place anyway before she can leave, so that’s why she’s getting the job of contacting Joe.
Meanwhile, in Arle, UN tanks are shelling the roosting Galactor insect mechas while fighter jets shoot missiles at them. They cause a lot of explosions (and destroy the “Eiffel Tower”) but it doesn’t look like they’re doing much if any damage to the mechas (typical for UN forces though.)
But now one mecha fights back, blasting a bunch of fighter jets with energy beams from its eyes and then more of the mechas start walking around, blasting the UN tanks too.
But the God Phoenix is en route (sans Joe’s car).
On the bridge, Ken is standing there as the door opens and Jun and Jinpei (presumably just recently picked up) come running in.
“Ken, I couldn’t reach Joe!” says Jun worriedly.
“Man, he’s off again?” demands a scowling Ryu.
Ken tries contacting Joe himself, via his bracelet and gets no response either.
We cut to Joe’s trailer, but it’s pretty clear Joe’s not there (no car). Still raining hard in Utoland!
Inside, we get a look at Joe’s bed (empty) and hear Ken’s voice barking “Joe, come in!”
It’s one thing for Joe to ignore a summons, but now we see that –wherever he is- he’s not wearing his bracelet at all. He’s left it behind on his bed.
“Joe!” bellows Ken’s voice –clearly getting very frustrated.
But, back on the bridge of the God Phoenix, Ken sags his head resignedly. “I got nothing,” he says quietly.
“That’s strange,” says Jun, “Dr. Nambu and Joe…” as Ken sits in his chair, eyes closed.
But Ken’s made a decision –he tells Ryu to contact Director Anderson. This entails Ryu pushing one button on his console, and suddenly he’s there on a view screen.
Wow, at least somebody is easy to reach today.
“Ah, the Science Ninja Team, we get to speak with you at last,” says Director Anderson. Hmm, I guess he doesn’t have a direct line to them, but rather has to go through Dr. Nambu.
“At last,” says Ken, wasting no time asking “Where are Joe and Dr. Nambu?”
“The Doctor’s not shown up at the ISO all month –we’re extremely concerned,” replies Director Anderson. (If they’re so concerned, why haven’t they done anything about it?)
“I wonder where he could have gone off to,” says Jun, still standing right behind Ken’s chair.
“I realize you can’t take action without orders from Nambu,” says Director Anderson (not troubling himself about Joe’s whereabouts, it seems), “But this is an emergency!”
“Right, we’ll head for Arle now,” says Ken, “And worry about Dr. Nambu’s authorization later.”
He tells Ryu to close up the God Phoenix’s nose, and then looks depressed.
“But what about Joe?” asks Jun, staring at Ken.
“The guy’s not around,” says Ryu crossly, “We can’t just sit here forever!”
Clearly Ryu is assuming that Joe’s just being irresponsible for some frivolous reason, though Ken and Jun are both more worried.
And he closes up the nose.
The God Phoenix zooms off into a sky of ominously grey clouds.
And now we see some city buildings but it’s raining so we’re likely still in Utoland, not Arle.
Inside one building, Joe is pulling his t-shirt back on over his head.
(And he does it fast –hooray for the “pause” button!)
It’s interesting that here he’s actually got nipples -something normally not seen on the guys when they’re shirtless. (No way to know how Tatsunoko artists would have drawn a shirtless Jun!)
Joe turns to the man sitting at the desk and demands “So, what’s your prognosis, Doc? What’s wrong?”
“Would you mind giving me a few days?” says the doctor, “This is a most perplexing case.”
Joe looks like he definitely minds. “Come on,” he snaps, “Are you a doctor or what?”
“Well, if you’re such a hurry,” says the doctor huffily, “Then go to a real hospital –save yourself the trouble of dealing with unlicensed practitioners.”
Joe looks at him, his expression indicating that this “doctor” has just called his bluff –he can’t go to a real hospital. He turns to stare out the window at the rain, muttering “Damn it.”
“I have no idea what you do,” continues the doctor, “But I don’t see many people who won’t even wear a watch to avoid detection.”
Joe turns away from the window, looking startled. “Huh?”
“Or maybe some kind of bracelet on your wrist,” continues the doctor, gesturing to his own left wrist, “I happened to notice there’s no tan there.”
Joe stares at him, momentarily appalled, and then looks down at his own wrist and the tell-tale band of pale skin that says “I’m hiding something.”
“I guess underground guys like you are used to tricks, huh?” he acknowledges.
But outside this doctor’s office, there's a set of elevator doors and also a set of stairs leading down. Joe comes walking out of the office and goes over to the elevator.
The stairs seem to end on this floor and the elevator has six lights over the door so I’m going to assume Joe is on the top (sixth) floor. But the lights are blinking rapidly in descending order, indicating that the elevator is on its way down to the first floor. Seeing this, Joe apparently decides he’d rather take the stairs than wait for the elevator to come back up (I probably would too –six floors isn’t far to walk, especially when you’re going down.)
However, Joe’s unwillingness to wait means that he doesn’t see who emerges from the elevator when it comes back up to the top floor.
It’s the Galactor Female Commander, whom we haven’t seen since episode 88 “Iron Beast Snake 828” when the Team learned about a former schoolgirl, possibly Katse, who seemed to change schools –and genders- every year but failed to uncover the whole story as this woman, one step ahead of them, killed the last person who might have been able to confirm anything.
She steps out of the elevator and pauses for a moment (to make sure us viewers all recognize her –I mean, it’s been 14 episodes…)
Inside the office where Joe had been, the doctor pushes aside a curtain when he hears a knock and says “The door’s open.”
So in she comes, saying “What’s up, doc?”
“Oh,” says the doctor, perhaps not expecting her but clearly pleased to see her, “Welcome back.” He adds “Here, right this way,” as she approaches him and gestures for her to go into the room behind the curtain.
Once they’re both inside, he pulls the curtain back across the doorway and then presses a button which causes a barrier to descend down and close off the door.
Clearly there’s something in this room that’s highly secret.
“I rented this building,” he tells her, “And brought all the equipment over just as you commanded. The thing is, I get actual patients now and then.”
“You can give them glucose injections for all I care,” she replies, unimpressed, “This will all be settled today anyway.”
And we get a look at the “equipment” -some kind of very large telescope.
The Galactor female commander takes a seat in front of it.
“I see,” she says, “We have a very good view from here.”
In fact, she has a view all the way to Dr. Nambu’s villa (where, it so happens, it’s not raining).
“So that is Nambu’s estate?” she asks.
“Nambu hasn’t left his estate much at all this month,” replies the doctor, “But has kept himself shut up in his study surrounded by those those thick, heavy books. Must be hard work, being a scientist.”
“The Science Ninja Team has been lured out to Arle,” she explains, “So carry on according to plan.” She stands up from the telescope and he accedes to her orders.
Smiling to herself, she thinks “Unfortunately, Dr. Nambu, there is something Galactor requires of you –your life and the lives of the Science Ninja Team!”
And we cut to Joe’s trailer, where it is still raining heavily. He pulls up in his car.
He gets out, but stands there and just lets the rain soak him, looking too worried and miserable to care.
“Joe was filled with anxiety and impatience over his physical condition,” explains the narrator, “Which was deteriorating day by day.”
But he does go inside his trailer, and sits on his bed, head slumped forward and eyes closed.
“However, he believed if he were to be examined at a legitimate hospital, Ken and the others would discover his problem and he would be taken off the Team, so he sought out an unlicensed doctor, still worried that no matter who examined him, he wouldn’t be able to keep his secret for long.”
He was doing okay in episode 101, when he destroyed the Heavy Cobra mecha. Either the “deteriorating day by day” has come since then, or he just had one very lucky day then. But for that matter, he seems okay in this episode too, so far –in the sense that he’s not suffering dizziness, double vision or blind spells. Clearly his problems are recurring ones, but sporadic.
Joe lifts his head again and opens his eyes.
And we cut to Dr. Nambu in his study with his thick, heavy books.
“Meanwhile,” says the narrator, “Dr. Nambu had cut off all outside contact and continued deciphering the Galactor female commander’s records, who seemed likely to be Berg Katse.”
We get a look at the badly damaged book of school records that Dr. Nambu had shown to the Team back in episode 88.
“At last he had discovered the truth about a certain student with a genius IQ who transferred to a new school every year, sometimes appearing as a male and sometimes female.”
Dr. Nambu is turning the pages of the book, engrossed in his reading. But he can’t help but notice when a large mecha appears right outside his study’s window, and he jumps to his feet.
The mecha is just like the ones attacking Arle. He starts to run from the window but it shatters and strong wind and bright yellow light pour into his study as he cries out in alarm.
Our last look is of the book lying on his desk, the wind fluttering its pages
We cut to Joe, who opens his trailer door and looks out into the rain, holding his bracelet in one hand.
“Guess I’ll cancel that exam after all,” he says, “At this point it doesn’t really matter what kind of illness I have.”
So it seems he’s decided he’ll get pulled from the Team regardless of what’s behind his problems, and possibly he’s also afraid to find out what’s really wrong.
He runs through the rain to his car. Once inside it, he puts his bracelet in the glove compartment (a strangely empty glove compartment –maybe it disappears when his car transmutes, so he has to keep it empty of the usual collection of maps, manuals, insurance and registration cards and what-not that most glove compartments contain!)
He drives off, fast, with a squeal of tires and spray of water.
Meanwhile, in Arle, Ken has just blown the head off one of the insect mechas with the laser cannon from his G-1 jet, and then he goes after some more of them that are flying around now instead of roosting on buildings, blowing them up too.
Jinpei, in his helico buggy, is targeting the mechas still on the ground and the buildings, dropping bombs on them.
Jun is on the ground, speeding along a street in the devastated city and she shoots a mecha with the guns mounted on the front of her motorcycle, causing the mecha to explode. And she shoots another one for good measure, blowing its head off.
Last but not least, Ryu is also destroying mechas but not by shooting them –rather he’s using the God Phoenix like a flying bludgeon and smashing into them.
But Ken is suspicious, glancing around and thinking “It’s strange, these mecha are so weak. How could they destroy the city?”
A whole bunch more of them appear in the sky before Ken and he shoots down some more of them –but this time he scrutinizes their wreckage that he can see lying on the ground…
“Rendezvous at the God Phoenix, Ninja Team,” he suddenly orders, via his bracelet.
The others are puzzled. “What’s wrong, Ken?” asks Jun, as she watches Ken’s jet approaching the God Phoenix to redock.
“This was just a set up,” he tells them as he docks and exits his jet inside the God Phoenix, “Stop what you’re doing and hook up to G-5!”
Meanwhile, back at the doctor’s office, the Galactor female commander is leaving, and being escorted downstairs by the doctor.
“Why don’t you just finish him off?” the doctor is asking her.
“No,” she says, “Now that we’ve captured Nambu, the Science Ninja Team can’t move against us and that is just the way I want it.”
She and the doctor step into the elevator, but just as the door is closing, Joe appears, coming up the stairs.
“I guess with a guy like this,” Joe is saying to himself, “It’s better to settle things with money than to try to coerce him.”
Coerce him to do what, Joe? To forget he ever saw you, I guess.
It seems that Joe, while prepared for coercion, must not have sufficient funds on him at present for financial settlement, as he turns around and starts going back down the stairs.
As he’s going down the stairs, the doctor and the Galactor female commander are still descending in the elevator but they reach the ground floor first. She walks outside towards her red sports car that’s parked right in front of the building, accompanied by the doctor.
It’s still raining heavily.
She gets inside her car but the doctor stands there in the rain, still talking to her.
“I’ll be vacating the building as early as tomorrow,” he tells her, “Please inform Lord Katse.”
Joe, having reached the ground floor and coming outside now, hears these words and gasps in surprise -and steps back to avoid being seen.
And then he gets a look at who is sitting in the car.
“That’s that freakshow Galactor commander!” he adds, looking more than a little shocked to see her with the doctor he’d let examine him earlier.
The “freakshow” drives off in her car as the doctor bows.
“That stinking quack!” says Joe, and “coercion” becomes his plan once again.
Actually, make that “seriously violent assault.” As the doctor turns to walk back to the building, pausing to flick some dirt from his jacket, Joe cries “Bastard!” and comes charging at him and sends him flying backwards in the air to crash down hard on the ground. As the doctor struggles to get up, Joe comes at him again.
Joe kicks him in the face, knocking him over onto his back again, and then lands with his feet on the doctor’s chest.
Joe immediately jumps up again and comes down hard with one foot on the doctor’s chest –probably busting up his ribs. And then Joe jumps up again and comes down hard though this time we’re not seeing the (very unfortunate!) doctor or what part of him Joe is stomping on this time. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’s his face –the expression on Joe’s face is pretty savage.
That doctor’s fatal mistake was mentioning “Lord Katse” –I really don’t think Joe would have attacked him like this unless he was sure the man was in league with Galactor!
The Galactor female commander is driving her car along a road that looks a bit more rural, as if she’s leaving the city.
And it’s still raining heavily.
However, Joe is in birdstyle now and he’s following her.
“You can run but you can’t hide,” says Joe.
Now we see something coming in for a landing beyond some trees, with two bright lights.
Joe sees it, and stops his car, concealed behind a large tree.
Then we see what was landing, and it’s one of the insect mechas (and one can assume it’s the same one that attacked Dr. Nambu’s villa) landing behind some ruined-looking buildings.