Gatchaman Episode 22: The Firebird versus the Fire-breathing Dragon by lborgia88, saturn
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Thank you, Saturn, for the screencaps!

This is a Gatchamania Episode review. Opinions expressed are those of the author.  This episode review is image intensive.


The Firebird Versus the Fire-breathing Dragon

(BOTP episode “The Sea Dragon”)


We open with a scene of an underwater ISO uranium mining facility, the largest of its kind in the world. However, what we’re seeing isn’t underwater –it’s the part that’s on the sea’s surface, where numerous ships are docked, or coming and going. “Wary of a Galactor attack,” the narrator tells us, “The scientists have employed the Mammoth Tigers to guard the facility.”


We can now see a few large flying aircraft carriers (with tigers painted on their sides) hovering near the mining facility.


There’s also a fleet of jets hovering in the sky above them. “They are a threatening security force,” the narrator continues, “Far stronger than even the God Phoenix.”

What, how can this be? How are they stronger than the God Phoenix?

Well, no explanation of any kind is forthcoming. Maybe it’s just the fact that there are three of them but only one God Phoenix. However, dark clouds have moved in over the mining facility, lightning is flashing and wind is churning up the sea below.


“What’s going on?” asks a crewman on board one of the ships, failing to understand the standard indications of imminent doom, as his ship pitches in the waves and sends some of his fellow crewmen tumbling across the deck.


Now, some kind of mecha is rising from the sea. On board the ships, crewmen are panicking and running around, as waves wash over the ships’ decks. Suddenly, one ship is smashed by what appears to be a massive claw, and it capsizes.


Now, we get a good look at the mecha, as it takes fully to the sky –it’s shaped like a dragon, with a long, narrow body, and it’s clutching an orb with one of its front feet.
Quickly, more jets take off from the hovering Mammoth Tiger aircraft carriers and they all confront this dragon mecha, firing missiles.


Their missiles don’t damage this dragon mecha at all, and it begins to smash them out of the sky with its tail, and shoot them with laser beams fired from its claws.


On board one of the hovering aircraft carriers, men look on in horror as the jets are destroyed, and one man says “I can’t believe this, the Mammoth Tigers are the strongest in the world and our attacks aren’t fazing them!” Still more jets get obliterated, before one man yells “Fire the Tiger missiles!” Now, all the hovering aircraft carriers simultaneously fire large missiles at the dragon mecha’s underbelly, but when the smoke clears, the mecha is undamaged. “It can’t be, it was hit by six Tiger missiles and it’s still going strong!” the man says, despairingly.

So now the dragon mecha begins firing large energy beams from its eyes, at the Tiger Mammoth aircraft carriers, and they are all destroyed, and their burning debris rains down on the mining facility and ships below. With all the mining facility’s defenses utterly vanquished, the dragon mecha now plunges back into the sea and wraps its long body around the underwater portion of the mining facility, gripping with its clawed feet.


Now we cut to Berg Katse, inside the dragon mecha. “Send out the bulldozer crabs and bring back all of their uranium ore!” he orders. “Kill any workers you find –don’t leave anyone alive. This uranium mine is now the property of Galacator!” Sure enough, a horde of little crab tanks leave the mecha and infiltrate the mining factility. Up on the sea’s surface, the ships that had been docked or coming and going are all on fire, sending long trails of black smoke into the sky.

We cut to the ISO’s headquarters, where twelve men are sitting at a round table.


One of the men is Director Anderson. He is appalled at what happened to the underwater uranium mining facility and he asks Dr. Nambu to send out the Science Ninja Team.


But, Dr. Nambu says “I’m sorry, I can’t do that,” setting off a flurry of shocked comments around him. Director Anderson is most put out that he’s refusing, but Dr. Nambu says “I’m afraid the chance of the God Phoenix winning is less than one in a hundred.” “But the Science Ninja Team has always defeated Galactor’s creations,” protests another man.

“Have you all forgotten?” replies Dr. Nambu, “The three Mammoth Tigers that were guarding the mine were large aircraft carriers that are much stronger than the God Phoenix. All three were defeated instantly. I know that if I ordered Gatchaman and the Science Ninja Team to fight, I’d be ordering them to their deaths.” No one at the table is satisfied with his answer, but as an anxious conversation ensues around the table, Dr. Nambu can only fold his arms and closes his eyes.

Okay, we now cut to the uranium mining facility again. Someone –definitely not Dr. Nambu- has ordered in a fleet of UN jets, and they begin firing missiles into the water, aimed at the dragon mecha that is still wrapped around the mining facility, underwater.


None of the missiles that strike the mecha do any damage to it at all. What did they expect? However, Berg Katse is annoyed enough to order the mecha to “Burn them to ashes –destroy them!” So, the dragon mecha now fires the large energy beams from its eyes, straight through the water and up into the sky, destroying the UN jets.

Now, we’re at the Crescent Coral Base, and Dr. Nambu is staring broodingly out an undersea window as Ken (in civvies) comes up behind him and demands “Doctor, why haven’t you ordered the Science Ninja Team to attack yet?”


Dr. Nambu tells him that the ISO has already asked him to, and that he’s turned them down. Ken can’t believe it, and Dr. Nambu goes on that “the Mammoth Tigers that were instantaneously destroyed were much stronger than the God Phoenix. The King Dragon is a fierce enemy.”

No one seems to want to explain just exactly what these Mammoth Tigers had that made them stronger, or why the reputedly-state-of-the-art God Phoenix hasn’t then also been equipped with these same mysterious strengths.

“So we’re not going to do anything to help them?” asks Ken, getting angry now. Dr. Nambu turns to face him, with a somewhat worried and compassionate look on his face, saying “Ken, I’m sure they’ll come up a plan, but the Science Ninja Team is not to deploy until they’re ordered.” Ken closes his eyes for a moment, frustrated, and he insists that the Science Ninja Team will deploy. So, now Dr. Nambu is frowning, and looking a lot less compassionate, accusing Ken of disobedience. But Ken is vehement that he just wants the Team to do its job –protecting world peace and defending against Galactor. “Just let us do our job here!” he finishes. Dr. Nambu sighs sadly, and relents, but not without saying “You may be throwing your lives away.” Ken doesn’t appear to be deterred at all by that. “We don’t have a choice; the Science Ninja Team is here to protect.” With that, Ken turns and walks off, leaving us with a view of Dr. Nambu’s tense face. “God speed,” he whispers.

So, we’re one third through this episode, and it’s sure looking like this one isn’t exactly one of the more fun or light-hearted ones.

We’re shown Ken’s G-1 jet linking up with the God Phoenix in a night sky, and then Ken enters the bridge.

Apparently the others know that something’s not quite right, because Joe immediately asks, “So, did we get orders from Dr. Nambu?”

“No,” says Ken, both defiant and a tad defensive, “We’re disobeying orders because I refuse to stand by and watch!”


“He’s right!” chimes in Jinpei, “We’re the Science Ninja Team; we can’t just sit around waiting and twiddling our thumbs!”

“Listen, everyone,” says Ken, looking now very serious, “There is a chance that we could die on this mission. Dr. Nambu refused to give us orders for that reason. But if we don’t at least try to fight, who else would attack Galactor? I didn’t want to take everyone’s lives into my hands but I went ahead and ordered deployment.” I give Ken credit here for his complete candor (though Dr. Nambu knew what he was going to do and didn’t really try to stop him).

Well, Joe certainly has no qualms about “disobeying orders,” and he says “Don’t worry about it, Ken. I’ll die happy as long as I take Galactor down with me.”


Ken looks quite moved by this show of support, and then Jun adds “You know I trust you with my life, Ken.”


Jinpei and Ryu both concur, and now Ken looks very touched and enthused by this unanimous confidence in his leadership (as if, perhaps, he wasn’t completely certain he’d receive it).

“You know, that’s really far out, everyone!” says Ken, with a confident “Ha ha!”

So, the sun is rising out of the sea now, and the Science Ninja Team is on its way to battle the dragon mecha. Everyone gathers at the main view screen to watch. “It’s beautiful,” says Jun, her face happy and serene. “This may be the last time we see the sunrise…” says Joe –not exactly optimistic words, but he looks keen to fight. Ken is now all business, though, and orders everyone to their positions.

Back in his seat, Joe activates a radar screen and tells Ken he’s got a signal, to the northeast. Ken orders Ryu to take them there.

Meanwhile, the dragon mecha is still wrapped around the uranium mining facility.


Inside it, goons are watching the approaching God Phoenix on a screen.


They inform Berg Katse, who is pleased that he can “Settle things once and for all,” and he orders the King Dragon to surface. So, the mecha unwraps itself from around the mining facility, and heads for the sky.

The God Phoenix swoops in just in time to see it break the surface. Everyone is pretty startled by its size and appearance.


“I don’t get; how are they controlling it?” demands Joe (he has a point -it is a rather ungainly shape for something that can fly and operate under water). The God Phoenix flies around it, looking very small in comparison, but avoiding its tail. As they near its head, Ken orders Joe to fire bird missiles. Pausing for a brief, intense glare, Joe does just that. The missile strikes the dragon mecha, dead on target but…

“It’s no use!” says Ken, frowning, “The missiles don’t damage it!”

Now Joe really glares, thinks “Damn it!” and fires about four more, at different parts of the mecha.

Inside the mecha, Berg Katse laughs, “Imbeciles, do you really think you can harm King Dragon with your tiny missiles?” Ooh, tiny “missiles” –did you hear that, guys? For the first time in this episode, I sort of laugh.

As the God Phoenix comes around again towards the mecha, Ken immediately shoves the lever to initiate the firebird technique. From outside, we see the God Phoenix, now as the firebird, charge the King Dragon.


Katse is smugly unconcerned. “Die, Science Ninja Team!” he says, with a sweep of his arm, and orders “Now!” to a goon who presses a button. With that, the mouth of the King Dragon opens, and a massive spurt of flames flows forth, surrounding and enveloping the Team’s firebird.



We see them now, on the bridge, struggling to resist the heat and pressure of the firebird technique, but the narrator now tells us that “the Science Ninja technique firebird can withstand temperatures of up to three thousand degrees. However, the King Dragon enveloped the firebird with a much higher temperature.” In fact, the King Dragon is now swooping in circles around the firebird, surrounding it with yet more heat and flames, and we can see the surface of the God Phoenix, within the firebird, begin to sear, and its exterior plates begin to buckle and curl.

The God Phoenix now comes out of firebird mode and, trailing smoke and flames, it falls to the sea below.


Inside the mecha’s control room (inside the orb the dragon clutches with its front foot), Katse laughs triumphantly, along with the goons there.

As their laughter continues, we see the damaged, broken God Phoenix lying on the sea floor, taking in water in several damaged locations.


On the bridge, everyone is sprawled on the floor in some very awkward positions, unconscious, as Katse’s laughter continues to sound.


Commercial break!

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