Gatchaman Episode 104: “The Evil Grand Black Hole Operation”
BOTP Episode: N/A
This episode picks up immediately where episode 103 left off. The God Phoenix is still struggling in the clutches of the Catfisherra mecha, gripped by its tentacle-like whiskers as the mecha attempts to blast it with laser beams.
Fortunately, the laser beams are missing, but the surrounding explosions from the beams hitting the seafloor are enough to rattle the God Phoenix and its four occupants.
Ken, not looking at all happy about their current predicament, orders Ryu to get them free (as if Ryu isn’t trying to do just that?)
Ryu, endeavoring to no avail to yank the throttle, tells Ken the mecha’s “damned whiskers” are making escape impossible. Indeed, the whiskers are gripping the nose of the God Phoenix and one of its wings so tightly that cracks are forming in the God Phoenix’s exterior. However, we are given a visual reminder that Joe’s G-2 car is in the nose (as Joe had instructed Ken to take it on board with them in episode 103) though cracks are seen spreading across the interior walls around it.
On the bridge, Jun and Jinpei are hanging onto each other as the God Phoenix shakes and pitches.
“No Joe, so no bird missiles,” says Jinpei unhappily, “We’re in trouble!”
But Ken cuts in to remind them that they have the G-2 car with them and therefore can fire missiles. “But we can’t fire until we break free,” he adds, presumably because they’re too close to the mecha and would also be destroyed in the resulting explosion.
However, this reminder that missiles are an option gives Ryu encouragement.
“Then it’s sink or swim –I’m going to go for it,” he declares, gritting his teeth with a growl.
Catfisherra is readying its laser beam for another blast, but Ryu pushes a button on his console and then is able to swing the God Phoenix around, even as it’s in the grip of the whiskers, such that it smashes into and shatters a section of one of the whiskers.
And then in an added stroke of luck, the laser beam fires and hits the whisker that’s gripping onto the God Phoenix’s wing.
“Ryu the Owl, the greatest stick jockey in the world,” says Ryu in grim triumph as the God Phoenix is now free. Ken tells him to do a 180 turn.
Ryu turns the God Phoenix so sharply and fast, Jinpei tumbles out of his chair (and also looks like his stomach isn’t appreciating the sudden movement).
“Ryu forgets he has passengers sometimes, Sis,” says a somewhat ill-looking Jinpei aggrievedly.
So now the God Phoenix is heading for Catfisherra as Ryu (belatedly) tells everyone to “hang on tight!”
Ken tells him to “maintain course and heading” and gets ready to fire a super bird missile.
However, even as they’re closing in on the mecha, it suddenly fires a whole bunch of spike-shaped purple missiles at the God Phoenix. But Ryu is able to evade them and he yells “Distance 500, Ken!”
“Now!” yells Ken, and he slams his fist down on the shiny red button.
As goons go flying left and right, the super bird missile smashes right through Catfisherra and into a large room inside it, where it embeds in the floor.
Meanwhile, the God Phoenix speeds away, smashing through the mecha’s tail fin for good measure, and then breaks the surface of the sea to fly into the air.
And then the missile explodes. More goons go flying amidst the flames and water comes pouring into Catfisherra.
The entire mecha blows apart in a cascade of explosions, sending a massive burst of water and flames into the air above the sea’s surface.
The God Phoenix, however, is high in the air now. On the bridge, Dr. Nambu suddenly appears on-screen.
“Are you all right?” he asks, “Galactor had us completely fooled with its decoy operation.”
“Decoy operation?” says Ken, confused.
“You mean that mecha wasn’t causing the earthquakes?” asks an equally confused Ryu.
Dr. Nambu explains that the earthquakes are still occurring, “So that’s the conclusion I’ve come to.”
Jun wonders if this means there are other mechas out there still.
Everyone listens as Dr. Nambu explains:
“We believe that this was probably just subterfuge, to serve as cover. They’ve caused earthquakes many times before. We [who is ‘we’? Him and Director Anderson? The ISO?] believe this must be leading to something new.”
“Something new?” says Ken quietly.
Dr. Nambu closes his eyes, adding that he feels Galactor has something “more extreme in mind.”
“Find Joe,” he concludes, “I’ll update you as soon as I have more to report.”
And then we cut to Joe. First we see his face, eyes closed, as he lies on a floor.
“His strength exhausted, Joe has been taken to Galactor headquarters,” explains the narrator as the “camera” pans outward.
“Where his condition grows steadily worse,” continues the narrator, “The Condor is truly at death’s door.”
His gun has been taken from him and it and his damaged bracelet (complete with the little components that had fallen out of it) are lying on a nearby table.
And then we cut to a big, red missile poised over a tunnel leading deep into the Earth…
“Meanwhile,” says the narrator, “Galactor’s final and ultimate plan, the Black Hole Operation is steadily progressing.”
We see a drill still tunneling deep underground.
And then we cut to an image of what appears to be the remnants of a destroyed planet, gradually fading away.
“In the vastness of space,” says the narrator, “A single celestial body’s light gradually faded into oblivion. Planet Selectol, once larger than the Earth, suddenly ceased to exist. It simply vanished.”
But we cut to a large telescope and a bunch of scientist-astronomers.
“But no one truly understood the significance of this phenomenon,” concludes the narrator.
Well, apparently Leader X understands. We cut to him now.
“Selectol has unexpectedly disappeared,” he’s saying.
“Oh Leader,” says Katse dismissively, standing before him in his usual audience chamber, “So what if a planet or two vanishes? One less to worry about!” He’s making lots of grand arm gestures as he says all this.
“Nothing was more important to me than that planet, Katse,” retorts Leader X ominously as we see his “face” close up.
Katse still tries to assure him that “It’s nothing to be concerned about, is it?”
“If the Black Hole Operation is successful,” Katse continues, clenching his fists before him in anticipated triumph, “The Earth shall be yours instead, Leader.”
“If Selectol has vanished,” replies Leader X, “Then along with it have my great aspirations.”
We get a close up of Leader X again. “Nevertheless, I will see this command through.”
His “face” briefly flashes with haywire patterns of jagged lines.
“To the very end!”
“Leader,” says Katse, still not comprehending why Selectol matters or too fixated on the Black Hole Operation’s goals to care, “We’re getting so close to victory. The drilling machine will soon reach the Earth’s mantle. [more grand arm gestures] Just give me your orders, Sire.”
“Destroy the Earth,” declares Leader X, “It too shall perish just as Selectol did!”
Katse snaps his head back up in dismay.
“But that’s not what our plan was!” he cries.
“I’m aware of that,” says Leader X, back-pedaling some, “If this mission succeeds, then Earth will surely submit to us, after which you shall be its ruler. Now set the destructive mechanism within the Earth’s mantle.”
Katse, seemingly relieved that Leader X isn’t serious about destroying the planet on which Katse himself resides and is still on board with the whole conquest thing, bows again and says “Yes Sire, right away!”
With that, Katse turns and leaves.
But with Katse out of earshot, Leader X begins to laugh a very sinister laugh.
“Fool,” he says, “The Earth belongs to no one. I shall personally wipe it from the universe, forever.”
His eyes turn an evil-looking red.
Seems that Katse is being deceived…
Meanwhile, in the control room for the Black Hole Operation, four goons are sitting at a long row of consoles, informing Katse that everything is ready.
“Good,” says Katse, who gets a special chair –larger and more cushy than the goons’ and accompanied by a little table holding a bottle of champagne chilling in an ice bucket. He takes a sip from a glass, but it looks like he’s not sharing with the goons.
He snaps his fingers and then a little glass-domed pedestal rises up from the floor in front of his chair. The dome retracts to reveal a large yellow button with the red Galactor symbol on it. Katse cracks his knuckles in preparation for initiating the Black Hole Operation.
“Now at long last, the Earth shall be completely mine,” he says, relishing the full significance of what’s about to happen. “Oh, how eagerly I’ve waited for this very moment!” he cries, leaning over the button, trembling and rather overcome with emotion.
Tears well up in his eyes and splash onto the pedestal.
He smashes his fist down on the button. “Galactor!”
(Rather similar to how Ken fires missiles.)
And with that, lights and buttons begin blinking all over the goons’ panels and consoles, and we see a countdown meter, one that reads 4321F. A missile is conveyed along an elevated track and into a slot on a rotating launch platform that spins until the missile is in place over the deep, deep tunnel to the Earth’s mantle that is now complete and is even lined with guiderails to convey the missiles to their destination.
And the missile is released and sent on its way, as Katse and the goons watch its progress as a glowing dot on a sort of radar screen.
And then we cut to Director Anderson, who is in his office, smoking a cigar and speaking to someone on a telephone.
“Director of the Information Bureau and you still can’t find the Red Impulse Squad?” he’s saying angrily into the receiver, while stubbing out his cigar in an ash tray.
“Over a week and no word!” he adds crossly, “I’m convinced something’s wrong; I want search teams scrambled.”
Then he sighs in weary exasperation and hangs up the phone.
Now we see one of Galactor’s drills deep underground and it has just broken through the Earth’s crust to reach the glowing, molten magma of the mantle.
It is immediately followed by the first of the missiles. The missile, now fully in the mantle, detonates in a massive nuclear explosion.
We see a mountainous region of the Earth’s surface, presumably Karakoram, and the ground shakes and magma suddenly bursts forth from the ground and sprays into the air.
Next we see a seismograph, inside the Karakoram base, registering an earthquake as alarmed goons cringe while the whole place shakes and bits of debris fall from the ceiling.
“Lord Katse, we’ve recorded a magnitude 5 earthquake!” cries one of the frightened goons.
“Keep your shirt on!” orders Katse, “This headquarters can withstand a magnitude 9 and a mecha is working ahead of the drill to absorb the quake vibrations!” He swings a fist and snarls “Shut up and carry on!”
And we cut to a scientist of some sort talking on a telephone.
He’s saying nervously “Seismographs and magmameters around the world are now detecting what appears to be the initial stage of a neutron reaction.”
We see a device that’s detecting this.
“A neutron reaction?” gasps a horrified Director Anderson –presumably on the other end of the line with the scientist.
As Director Anderson anxiously clutches some papers on his desk with one hand, the scientist tells him that they believe someone has detonated a nuclear device deep beneath the Earth’s surface.
“I’m on my way! Damn…” says Director Anderson and he hastily hangs up and departs his office. Through the large window of his office though, we see the God Phoenix fly past the sky scrapers of what is probably Amegapolis, where the ISO headquarters are.
On the bridge of the God Phoenix, everyone looks worried and depressed.
“Something must have happened to him if we still haven’t heard from him yet,” Ken is saying, like one whose hope is giving way to resignation.
Jun emits an anxious sob, clutching her helmet with her hands. “Joe, please answer us! Where are you?” she cries into her bracelet.
Jinpei looks up to stare sadly at Joe’s empty chair over by the radar screens.
So does Ryu, who then sighs and rubs his nose.
“He can be a real hot tamale,” he says, “But I do kind of miss him, now he’s MIA.”
Now Jinpei rallies and declares they ought to give the search one more try. “We’ll use our G-machines!”
Jun stands up, adding “That’s it! That’ll expand the area we can cover!”
Ken concurs. He too stands up and with a look of grim determination says “We’re going to hunt down Joe the Condor even to the ends of the Earth!” (He sort of makes Joe sound like a villain here!)
But before they can begin this plan, Dr. Nambu appears on-screen and orders them to return to base and report to him immediately.
“What? Yes, Sir,” says Ken, a bit confused, adding “But we still haven’t found Joe.”
“Forget about Joe for now, Ken,” says Dr. Nambu, causing Ken’s eyes to widen in dismayed surprise. Everyone is similarly unhappy to hear this.
“Something more important has come up,” says Dr. Nambu by way of explanation, “We have a serious issue developing.”
Not a very good explanation though. Ken stands up, one fist clenched and he declares hotly “For us, finding Joe is a serious issue!”
“Damn straight!” adds Ryu.
“This is not just about one man,” replies Dr. Nambu, “But the survival of humanity!”
Oh, well, when you put it that way…
Ken stares, indignation giving way to alarm. “Fill us in, Doc. What’s happening down there? What’s so urgent?”
“I can’t explain now, but even though Joe is faced with his own crisis, I believe he knows how to find his way out of it. Trust in his abilities and return at once!”
With that, Dr. Nambu is gone.
Ken sits back down in his chair, not looking at anyone, and tells Ryu to set course, “Northwest. We’re going back,” he says, his voice sounding curt and flat.
“But then Joe will be alone!” protests Ryu. “Ken!” chimes in Jun.
“Just follow my orders, okay?” says Ken, sounding less stiff now as he looks towards them, “Wherever Joe may be, he’ll be all right.” He stares ahead again. “All we can do is pray for him.”
And now we cut to Joe, but he doesn’t seem to be “all right” at all! In fact, his head is being hoisted up by Katse, who’s grasped hold of his hair.
“Come on now,” jeers Katse, smacking Joe’s face repeatedly with his free hand, “What’s the matter, you sniveling maggot? Come on, Condor Joe, or whatever your piddley friends call you.”
Joe’s being propped up by two goons who are holding the barrels of their machine guns under his armpits, and now Katse is using his grasp on Joe’s hair to shake his head up and down.
“Oh why the long face?” he mocks, “Where’s that defiance we all know and love?”
Then he lets go of Joe and stalks away in disgust –clearly he’d been hoping for more sport from his victim.
“You really put us through the wringer, and now you’re almost a corpse,” he complains, “Of course it wouldn’t be much fun if we take your miserable life too quickly.”
He glares at Joe now. “You’re going to suffer for it! Take him to the lab!” Katse points dramatically, and immediately the goons who are propping up Joe convey him towards the exit as the rest of the goons jeer and shout insults.
As soon as Joe has been taken away, two of the goons rush up to Katse. One has a small beard and he does the talking, telling Katse “Me and the guys were wondering if we could have his weapon.” The goon glances at his companion, who nods in concurrence.
“And what do you plan to do with this piece of trash?” asks Katse.
The bearded goon explains they want to keep it around as a trophy. Katse is agreeable to this, telling the goon to take Joe’s gun away. “It pains me to even look at it,” he declares, tossing it contemptuously onto the table as he walks away.
The bearded goon thanks Katse as he and his friend both bow.
Then, they quickly pick up both the gun and Joe’s bracelet (along with the little loose components that had fallen out).
The bearded goon twirls the gun in his hand happily, and he and the other goon (who has Joe’s bracelet) exchange a significant look.
Now we see the 4321F countdown meter for the Black Hole Operation, and the time has gone past the 4 and is inching towards the 3…
Katse is back in his fancy chair in the Operation’s control room. “I trust the Black Hole Operation is progressing smoothly?” he asks the four goons at their consoles.
“Yes,” one goon tells him, saying they’re about to perform the third detonation. He turns on a view screen, revealing a city with a smoking volcano looming beyond it.
Then we see the volcano close up and it’s erupting violently now. Lava is spraying into the air and pouring down its sides and a great flood of it is heading directly for the city. In the streets of the city, terrified people are running about in a panic and hot ash and flaming rocks are falling from the air around them.
Then we see a massive flood of water rushing through the streets (not sure if this is the same city with the volcano or a different city) sweeping away cars and people, and causing buildings and elevated roads to collapse.
“This just in,” says a news broadcaster, “From the AP Newswire. Even in the country of
Imalia, a volcano has violently erupted without giving any advance warning. There appear to be a large number of casualties. Up to now, that makes-”
We cut suddenly to an office where Dr. Nambu has just turned off the TV on which he and the Ninjas were watching the broadcast.
Dr. Nambu is explaining that this is proof that someone is setting off nuclear explosions within the Earth’s mantle.
“Still, I can’t believe ordinary nuclear explosions could cause something like this,” Jun is saying as Dr. Nambu walks towards them and a screen showing the Earth with a section cut away is lowered down on the wall for them all to watch.
“We believe the cause is a neutron reaction,” says Dr. Nambu gravely.
“Neutron reaction?” says Jinpei –clearly confused- and he looks over at Ryu as if to see if he is confused too.
“Do you know what that is?” asks Ryu in mock contempt (as I don’t think he does either).
“Well, I know who ‘Newton’ is…” begins Jinpei apprehensively.
“Dork!” declares Ryu.
“The Earth’s mantle,” continues Dr. Nambu, launching into his exposition now that this bit of comic relief is done, “And parts of its interior are primarily composed of iron and nickel.” He gestures towards the image of the Earth on the screen.
Then we see a close up of what is presumably the Earth’s core or mantle at the atomic level. “There are neutral particles called neutrinos within these elements,” continues Dr. Nambu as we see a neutrino moving through the other atomic particles and then exploding.
“And if explosives trigger them to react, then they could detonate within the mantle, thus magnifying those explosions.”
And we see multiple, cascading explosions of neutrinos happening…
“If the process is repeated in rapid succession, the subterranean motion would lead to disaster.”
He bows his head gravely, eyes closed.
“What would happen, Doc?” asks Ken.
“The Earth would be obliterated,” is the grim reply he receives. Everyone is horrified.
With that dramatic pronouncement, we cut suddenly to an image of Earth in space beginning to disintegrate…
“The pressure on the Earth’s interior would increase so much,” explains Dr. Nambu, holding his hands before him in an “Earth” shape to emphasize his meaning, “That the planet would ultimately collapse in on itself.” He clenches his hands together.
We see a cloud of dust in space.
“Only an area of high gravity would remain, a so-called black hole, a vacuumless void, a pit in space.”
“That doesn’t make any sense!” laughs Jinpei, suddenly breaking the serious mood, “Now the Doc’s talking nutty!” He looks to Ryu (who’s not laughing) saying “How can you have a big pit in the middle of outer space?”
“This ain’t nothing to laugh at, monkey face!” retorts Ryu, not playing along with the comic relief this time and giving Jinpei’s head a shove. (Well, okay –akin to slapstick. He’s sort of playing along.)
“I thought you’d find it incredible,” concedes Dr. Nambu, eyes closed. Then he holds up one finger and looks at them all. “Understand, when I say pit, I actually mean an area where only tremendous gravitational pull remains.”
We see a black region of space now, pulling a passing meteor or comet towards it.
“Meteors and objects which come within its proximity are swallowed up. Dr. Einstein believes in their existence.”
Ken looks stricken. “Then the planet Selectol, which recently vanished…”
“If there is a connection,” replies Dr. Nambu, “This could be the greatest crisis Earth has ever faced!”
With that, he goes over to the couch and sits, slumped forward and holding his head in his hands.
“Only Galactor could carry out such a sinister scheme,” he concludes.
Ken’s eyes quiver in rage now as we see his face close up. “Damn Galactor, how dare you do this to Mother Earth!”