Ultraman Taro

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vlcsnap-2018-01-31-17h34m00s767Like the Sun, Mother of Ultra – A decent start to the series that firmly establishes the insane, over-the-top tone of the show. It was somehow possible to portray Kotaro as even more arrogant and cocky than both Goh and Hokuto were in their debuts. Ultraman Taro’s merging with Kotaro is somewhat confusing, as the Mother of Ultra and Ultra Brothers putting their powers together would seem to imply that Taro was being created, but later episodes would show Taro living on M-78 prior to the show like the others (The ambiguously-canon Ultraman Story and Ultraman Ginga show him as a child). It can be theorized that the Brothers were simply giving him a “boost”, however. The monster Oil Drinker is said to be the last Choju, and is easily devoured by the monster Astromons, showcasing the strength of the newo monsters, similar to Doragory’s slaughtering of Muruchi. ZAT seems to be already established, meaning some time (Or at least enough for TAC to switch over for reasons unknown) has passed between this and Ace’s final episode. A good start, but almost a little too hyper. 3.5/5

vlcsnap-2018-01-31-18h01m52s746This Time, It’s the Ultra Mother/Mother of Ultra Forever – The first two-parter of the show, and while it probably could have been told in one, a lot of fun with the right balance of serious and silly. Begins mostly straightforward with a monster able to evade capture by turning itself into liquid, but gets out of hand when Kotaro falls into a hole, in actuality the stomach of a monster that cannot stop laughing. A method used to get Kotaro out of the monster is a giant pepper shaker, in attempt to make it sneeze him out, a pretty good representation of what this show is like. The only real downside if ZAT’s captain Asahina and what little involvement he has with the actual group, often leaving all the fieldwork to Deputy Captain Aragaki. It isn’t hard to see why he will be written out of the show within a few episodes, making only occasional appearances. As the title suggests, the Mother of Ultra makes he first full appearance in, coming to assist her son in the second part. A goofy, but very fun pair of episodes. 4/5

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King Tortoise about to engage in “the talk” with his son.

Big Sea Turtle Monsters Attack Tokyo!/Parent Star, Child Star, First Star – An alright pair of episodes with an anti-poaching message, but really should have been one part. Apart from the anti-poaching message, there’s also the similar one of letting animals live in their natural habitat, one further explored in part two. The giant prehistoric tortoises not only have the ability to fly (Sound familiar?) but the mother can also fire organic bombs in the form of eggs, leading to several close-up shots of the eggs coming out of her…private area. ZAT clearly has a lot more sympathy for monsters than previous attack teams, with them scolding the poachers and lobbying hard to return the tortoises to their home. Ultra Seven appears towards the end of the second part, once again displaying his love for animals. Fun, but kind of drags. 3.5/5

Jewels are the Monster’s Fodder – A decent episode with lots of action and a cool monster, also featuring the first death of a major character in the show – Pochi. After being attacked by Astromons and swallowed by Live King, the poor dog is finally put out of its miserably, and rather unceremoniously, with Kenichi hardly making a big deal out of it. Somewhat bringing the episode down is the stupidity displayed by Saori and her refusal to even let ZAT examine her pendant given to her by Kotaro. There is a reason for it revealed towards the end, but her handling was poorly executed (Though may perhaps fit with her naive character). 3/5

vlcsnap-2018-01-31-17h46m54s530Heaven and Hell Have Moved! – A fun episode with very little Kotaro (Who has the flu here), instead focusing mostly on Aragaki, Nambara and Kitajima. While their interaction is a lot of fun, it does kind of showcase the incompetence of ZAT. Worth noting is the ending, which at first seems heartwarming, but then takes a hilariously morbid turn. Probably not recommended for vegetarians. This episode marks the final regular appearance of Kiyotaka Mitsugi as Nishida. We hardly knew ‘ya. 3.5/5

vlcsnap-2018-01-31-17h43m01s512Dead Spirits of the Man-Eating Marsh – Another entertaining episode that once again features ZAT slacking off (By not taking a phone call seriously, instead opting to fool around at base), though this time with consequences. The boy’s quest to save his captured father is certainly heartwarming, though what we see of the father paints a really unpleasant picture of him, forcing his kid to sleep outside for wetting the bed. New member Ueno is introduced here, taking Nishida’s place, who was transferred to Space Station V9. Despite being his introduction, he does next to nothing in this episode. Moriyama finally gets to go on the field, though. 3.5/5

The Day Tokyo Crumbles – An enjoyable Hardy Boys-style mystery involving ants eating through buildings. ZAT once again prove their laziness, by complaining about having to investigate the abundance of collapsing buildings, claiming not to be architects. The way in which a swarm of ants (Presumably Earth-based) are able to combine into one giant one is odd, but welcome to Taro. Fun, but not a whole lot to it. 3/5

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*Bill Conti theme*

The Fang Cross is a Monster’s Grave! – A title spoiling the episode’s ending. Despite that, yet another entertaining fare with the right mixture of silly and serious. The monster goes from very goofy (Such as attack and slurping up a ketchup factory) to rather horrifying (Becoming a zombie). The episode showcases Kotaro’s commitment to not only boxing (By not eating for several days), but also ZAT, willing to quit his match to join them. The scene in which Kotaro and Kenichi appear nude together in a bathhouse (Nothing’s shown, don’t worry) may be off-putting to American viewers. The last regular appearance of Akira Nagoya as Captain Asahina, though he’ll return several times throughout. 4/5

The Blood-Sucking Flower is a Young Girl’s Spirit – A decent, if insignificant episode with a rather concept for a creepy monster, that’s been done similarly in the past, but is given an extra dose of creepiness by the monster itself (Its baby-like cries especially add to it). Saori is absent for most of the episode, with Moriyama filling in her role, apparently helping Kotaro and Kenichi around the house since she lives nearby. Moriyama mentions ZAT having a Christmas party, which doesn’t add up with the later-established timeline, but it can be assumed that by ZAT, she meant TAC, which she could have been working for at the time. 3/5

Monster’s Solo Journey – A mostly forgettable episode with a fairly generic “greedy businessman” plot mixed in with a stowaway boy trying to reach his dad, though far from awful. The final battle is somewhat fun, and ends with Taro throwing the monster into space while Henshin sound effects from Kamen Rider are heard. Not terrible, and has a somewhat unique setting in the form of Kyushu, but not really special. 2.5/5

vlcsnap-2018-01-31-17h49m46s785The Monster’s Cavity Hurts! – A lighthearted episode focused mainly on Nambara and his relationship with his mother. Their relationship seems to be nice and the scenes of them together are fun, but not enough time is spent to get really emotionally attached. In an excellent touch, Nishida returns, seen aboard the space station assisting ZAT with their rocket launch and later helping track the monster, whom the rocket is attached to. Though Taro is usually pretty generous towards misguided or rudely-awakened monsters, the monster here is killed and probably could have been spared, as it was only made because it had a rocket stuck in its mouth. ZAT’s mission takes place in Kyushu, presumably picking up where the last episode left off. 3/5

vlcsnap-2018-01-31-17h54m26s357Taro’s Head Got Chopped Off! – Another pretty typical “greedy businessman/land developer” story teaching not to destroy sacred land, though a little better than the last, with a very cool monster. As stated in the title, Taro does indeed lose his head, during the fight but its resolved rather quickly. Though gods and other upper-deities have been alluded to before, this episode outright confirms the existence of one, it being the guardian of the site hosting Enmargo. Takes a while to really get going, but not too bad. 3/5

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“You will go to the Dagobah system.”

Young Girl of the Blue Will-o-the-Wisp – A very strange episode based off the nine-tailed fox legend. Similar to The Phantom of Snow Mountain and The Monster User and the Boy in that a child, who in this case is said to have had a nine-tailed fox for a mother, is viewed as a symbol of bad luck and is abused by people. Also like those episodes, the bullies don’t get what they deserve, though the ending here is admittedly a lot more optimistic. The episode isn’t able to pull off the same level of tragedy as those two, and the young actress playing the child Kaori isn’t stellar, but fairly interesting nonetheless. The scene early on in which Kenichi struggles to write about his mother (Never having had one) and is told to write about Saori by Kotaro is nice. Guest stars Keiko Nishi. 3/5

The Monster’s Flute Sounds – A weak affair with little in the way of plot. Also featured is quite possibly the ugliest-designed monster in any Ultraman show, looking like a cross between a Choju and Jar Jar Binks. If more backstory were given about the flute’s containment of the monster (Such as an ancient spell), it may have made the episode a bit more interesting. Might be enjoyable if you like flutes, but a mediocre episode. The final appearance of Mayumi Asuka as Saori, though not the final appearance of Saori; she’ll return in a few episodes played by a different actress. Mika Katsuragi cameos as the music teacher. 2/5

vlcsnap-2018-02-02-16h52m09s415Two Big Monsters Close in on Taro/Zoffy Died! Taro Died Too!/The Ultra Mother’s Miracle of Love – The first and only three-parter of the original series, and a rip-roaring one at that. Not the most plot-heavy set of episodes, with the premise mostly being the fact that both Taro and later Zoffy have been killed by the monster Birdon and ZAT has to fend her off on their own as she grows hungrier and hungrier for meat, but done in an epic and tense manner. ZAT is easily the most incompetent attack team up to this point, often choosing to slack off and let Taro do the work, but with them on their own, they up their game. A few weird things here and there (Such as ZAT ordering tuns of gum to spill on Birdon, though this IS Taro…) and minor hiccups in logic (Like ZAT not realizing to check the volcano Birdon hatched from and destroyed an airliner by until after Kotaro suggests it), but a great trio of episodes and easily the best story in Taro up to this point. 4.5/5

vlcsnap-2018-02-02-16h56m58s026Surprise! A Monster Has Fallen – A surprisingly atmospheric episode that contains a nice theme of motherhood. The fights in the rain are well-done and the resolution is touching. The episode introduces Keiko Ono as Saori, who slips into the role rather nicely, though her portrayal tends to be more naggy than Asuka’s. Masks of Kamen Rider V3 and Thunder Mask can be seen on display at the festival early on. 4/5

vlcsnap-2018-02-02-16h57m53s650Tokyo Newtown Sinking – A very enjoyable, lighthearted affair, speaking against land development on natural habitats. ZAT’s attempts at letting the monster (A giant cicada) live only for citizens to start a riot calling for its execution is an amusing and interesting twist, though ZAT’s insistence that it will only live for a week being a cicada is slightly dumb (As who’s to say giant, mutated cicadas don’t live longer?). Some nice cinematography and environmental message make this a good one. 4/5

The Wrath of a Child-Carrying Monster! – An episode that speaks out against trophy-hunting (Similar to the Tortoise family two-parter), and does so reasonably well, with sympathetic monsters, though sort of has a “been there, done that” feel to it. The costume used to represent the baby monster is one of the most hideous suits in the show, though thankfully it’s seldom seen (Not that the little puppet is a whole lot better). The ending in which ZAT blocks out the cave that the monsters live in so they won’t disturb humanity is a little questionable, as they are seen to need to eat plants, but it is stated that they will go live underground, so who knows. 3/5

vlcsnap-2018-02-02-17h02m13s005Gentle Daddy Monster! – Yet another parent-themed episode, though not with the monster itself. A mostly fun episode, though not really stellar. The mother’s plan of using the car-eating monster (Whom is one of the show’s ugliest-looking beasts, looking like a cross between Gigan and a garden pail) to devour abandoned/illegally parked cars and gain money from it could have been funny, but doesn’t really go anywhere. Kenichi and Saori’s involvement with the family is mostly pointless, other than their knowing to call ZAT. Guest stars Akinori Umezu (Despite his sudden departure from Ace), making this a meeting between Dan and Kenichi in a sense. 3/5

vlcsnap-2018-02-02-17h04m07s187This is the Land of Ultra!/Burn on! The Six Ultra Brothers – The two parter that gives us our first proper look at the Ultras’ homeworld (Ignoring the possible look at it in Setsubun Ghost Story! The Shining Bean) and also giving the race some backstory. The episode contains another warning against nuclear weapons, with an unnamed European country firing a missile at an approaching planet, awakening the space moths that engulf the Earth in darkness. In other words, a pretty dire situation with ZAT having little options other than destroying the monster with another nuke. The land of light itself looks a little unimpressive, but the history of the Ultras given is fascinating, and will be expanded upon in future shows, particularly Ultraman Mebius and the Ultra Galaxy movie, including the mysterious “Alien Empera”. A few minor faults here and there (Perhaps a little too much focus is given on the Ultra Brothers family when there is a lot of drama to be had with ZAT), but a great two-parter. 4.5/5

vlcsnap-2018-02-02-17h25m56s203I Can Conquer Monsters Too! – An enjoyable enough episode with a monster that’s a lot of fun hampered by a somewhat confusing moral. Initially, it seems the kid unable to fight bullies back is told by his Kamishibai artist father that fighting is not necessary as long as one stands up for his or her self and/or friends. However, the ending features said child fighting a bully to the ground, with the father and Kotaro both voicing their approval. In a rather infamous blooper, the zipper on the back of the monster Mukadender is left open, exposing the back of the suit actor. 3/5

vlcsnap-2018-02-02-17h26m46s651He’s Here! It’s Alien Mephilas! – An incredibly poor return for Mephilas (Who also has a terrible redesign), though it should be noted that the one seen here is a different individual than the one seen in Ultraman (The original will return in Ultraman Mebius). Regardless, his inclusion feels very tacked-on, with the Mandarin Flower sufficing enough as the main adversary (Originally, the monster Mushra, who will appear later on was written for this episode, before being replaced by Mephilas). His method of infecting children with the flower through a single soda machine is also stupid, further suggesting his inclusion was a last minute idea. Some of the drama involving the baseball-playing kid infected by the plant is alright, and we briefly see ZAT members of other countries, but the pointless inclusion of Mephilas ruins what could have been an average episode. 2/5

Monster Eleking Barks at the Full Moon! – A terrible episode featuring another tacked-on return of a monster from a previous show, this time Eleking, who is said to be the original killed by Seven revived by the moon. His suit not only looks poor (And for some reason, is given fire-based abilities rather than electric ones), but the reason for his resurrection is never given. Present are a trio of boys based off of historical figures who try turning the sleeping Eleking’s ear into dentures for their grandfather. It’s as dumb as it sounds. Originally, a new mammoth-themed monster called Gokiba (Which could possibly explain the whole ordeal with the grandfather’s teeth) was written for the episode, but was replaced by Eleking for sheer fan service, much like Mephilas. And boy does it show. 1.5/5

vlcsnap-2018-02-02-17h19m06s215Bemstar Resurrected! Taro Definitely Dead!/Counterattack! Monster Army – A two-parter featuring the return of Yapool (And don’t worry, that isn’t a spoiler. His involvement is revealed right at the beginning of part one) that’s pretty weak for the most part. The first part is essentially an inferior version of Ultra Seven Arrives! (Bemstar is one of the monsters resurrected by Yapool despite it not being a Choju), with ZAT even observing footage from the episode, including Seven giving Jack the bracelet (Just how did they get footage of that?), while part two is mostly just wanton destruction. The episodes introduce for the first and last time Unno, Kenichi’s gym teacher who has a lot in common with Kotaro including his willingness to fight ZAT members and jump in the mouths of monsters. He feels very arbitrary and unlikable (Including a scene where he pushes two kids who wished not to get their clothes dirty into mud). Yapool’s plan is pretty nonexistent and small-scale, coming across as a basic revenge plot with just three monsters (And Bemstar doing most of the work), though it can be assumed he’s still in a weak state having been killed little over a year ago. ZAT are able to take out the resurrected Velokron II all by themselves, implying their firepower has gotten even stronger than it was in their TAC days. An underwhelming return. 2.5/5

vlcsnap-2018-02-02-19h41m13s025Danger! The Poisonous Mushroom of Lies! – A weird episode that almost comes across as a low-rent Matango, but pretty fun. The translating technology given to young Daisuke by Kotaro is similar to the translation device used on Pigmon way back in The Littlest Hero, indicating it’s become very commonly used among attack teams, given Kotaro just gives it a way to cheer the kid up. The episode contains some of the most laughable “bullies”, who force Daisuke to let them stay in his apartment to dance to the devil’s rock and roll music (Specifically, “Funky · Monkey · Baby” by CAROL). A figure of Baragon cam be spotted in the background throughout the episode. 3.5/5

A Nipping Wind Monster! – An episode that certainly takes advantage of the show’s fairy tale theme with the character of Don-chan, a bizarre transfer student in Kenichi’s school who seems to be connected with the monster somehow. Turns out, he isn’t making him pointless and very head-scratching. The monster, while goofily designed, has a pretty cool weather-manipulating ability and the final fight between it and Taro is fun, but not a particularly strong episode. 2.5/5

vlcsnap-2018-02-02-19h43m33s0975 Seconds Before the Great Explosion on the Land of Ultra!/The Last Day of the Six Ultra Brothers! – The final of the show’s many two-parters and without a doubt the best. For the first time, all five human hosts are seen together, and their chemistry is great, with Hokuto sticking out the most, with Ace being Taro’s adopted brother. One minute he’s terrified for his life and the next he’s about to punch him. Both parts feature a somewhat different message, with part one stating one should not have to rely solely on others (With the Ultra Brothers having Taro fight off Temperor on his own), and part two stating teamwork is the best recipe for success (With the Ultra Brothers helping, though not before scolding Kotaro for bragging). Though different, both go together very well, indicating a balance is needed. The Ultra Brothers still keep a close eye on Kotaro/Taro the whole time, possessing the bodies of ZAT’s members, along with Professor Otani, who Zoffy assumes. The character of Otani (An alien expert apparently studying Temperor) and his son are pretty pointless to the plot (Could they just not have an Ultra posses Moriyama? Half of Ace was in Minami), but that isn’t nearly enough to bring down this perfect pair of episodes. The final appearance of Akihiko Nishima as Ueno. Perhaps Ace’s possession of him had repercussions? 5/5

vlcsnap-2018-02-02-19h48m11s567Certain Kill! Taro’s One Blow of Rage – A surprisingly dark episode that almost feels like an earlier Ace or possibly even Ultra Seven episode. The idea of using Kotaro’s sympathy towards anyone who loves Ultraman is somewhat clever (And a continuation of his slight ego from last episode), as are the repeated assassination attempts on his life. Captain Asahina is back, with Aragaki absent, though it’s never mentioned where he has been. Asahina seems puzzled by the notion of a girl liking Ultraman dolls as opposed to more traditional girly ones, apparently not having ever heard of tomboys. 4/5

vlcsnap-2018-02-03-14h56m23s122Coward! The Bride Cried – A pretty enjoyable episode with little in the way of ZAT, thanks in part to the likable brother and big sister duo, with brother Kiyohiko being played by prolific child actor Tomonori Yazaki (Seen previously in Dead Spirits of the Man-Eating Marsh and best known for his roles in All Monsters Attack and Kamen Rider). An amusingly odd scene takes place when Kiyohiko catches several construction workers under the alien’s control, with a slow-motion chase scene featuring strange synth music (Unusual, rock music is also played during Kiyohiko’s assault on the workers later on) ensuing and lasting a lot longer than it should. The episode strangely begins with a recap of the last and is said to open on the night of Taro’s battle with Katan, despite none of that being relevant to the plot. That combined with the slow-motion chase makes it seem the episode was running a few minutes short. Weird, but enjoyable. 3.5/5

Monster, Return to Your Homeland! – An interesting episode in how much ZAT wants to get the monster back to its home, despite it possibly killing a young woman’s grandfather. Much of the episode has the debating just what to do with it, and its certainly a far cry from MAT just a few years ago, when they would find monsters and immediately determine they need to be killed. The alien plot is a little bland (Though Moriyama under possession is sort of fun) and gets confusing when established the monster can’t fly back on its own (The alien drove it out of its home in order to conquer the land), but a decent episode. Kaori Okano, who will have a major role next series (Previously seen in A Choju Dances on an Open Rainbow) guest stars. 3.5/5

vlcsnap-2018-02-03-14h59m00s860The Ultra Christmas Tree – The third and final Christmas episode of the classic series and probably the weakest, not being a quarter as emotionally gripping as Return of Ultraman‘s (If that two-parter could be considered a Christmas special that is) or insane as Ace‘s, falling somewhere in the middle. But there are some interesting ideas present, mainly in the alien Miracle’s backstory of coming to Earth to study it and taking care of a young girl while there, which is somewhat reminiscent of Mates. It’s too bad not a whole lot of time is spent with him on Earth, and perhaps more could have been seen had they done away with some of the obligatory Christmas stuff. In an interesting bit of continuity, the girl’s parents are shown to have been killed during Taro’s fight with the Tortoise family, with the flashback making it seem as though Taro is just as responsible for it as the tortoises. Both Saori and Morikawa (In a sudden revelation for the character) fantasize about marrying Kotaro, Kotaro his mother, Kenichi sparring with Taro and the other ZAT members all riding a big bike together in an incredibly weird scene. 3/5

vlcsnap-2018-02-03-15h02m30s724The Father of Ultra and Son Big Mochi-Making Strategy – A decidedly Japanese episode involving mochi-making, as the title suggests. Not only does the Father of Ultra make his first in-person appearance, but an old friend from the moon also returns to help handle the mochi-eating monster Mochiron who also hails from there. Incredibly goofy with one of the craziest climaxes in all the show. A blast from beginning to end. Throughout the episode, black and white still images are cut to, with one of them being Hiroshima after the bombing to represent bombs being unleashed by Mochiron. Surely that’s about as offensive as From a Planet With Love. 4.5/5

vlcsnap-2018-02-03-15h10m39s052Go Beyond the Ultra Brothers! – An episode without much of a plot other than the Ultra Brothers being unable to defeat a monster. The monster Tyrant is said to be comprised of the spirits of monsters killed by Ultras in the past, and retains some of their body parts, including Icarus’ ears, Seagorath’s head (Despite Seagorath surviving), Bemstar’s body, Red King’s legs, Barabas’ arms, Hanzagiran’s back and King Crab’s tail. Montages of the Ultra Brother’s best/most memorable episodes are played before their fights with Tyrant are shown, making the episode more of a “best of” special, which seemed to be the case since it was the first episode of the new year. Though the Brothers all struggle to beat Tyrant, Taro does so with relative ease, which would either suggest Tyrant was tired out or that Taro is way more powerful than the other Brothers combined. An enjoyable, “sit back and relax” episode. 3.5/5

Mother’s Wish – A Mid-Winter Cherry Blossom Blizzard – A cutesy episode similar in concept to Space Ray of Terror. Doesn’t retain the satire or cinematography of that episode, but still an enjoyable romp with some funny and touching scenes. Marks the third gas-passing monster seen in the franchise thus far. 3.5/5

The Phantom Mother is a Monster User! – An alright episode that almost feels like a loose remake of Terror of Route 87 (With a car-hating bird monster out to avenge the victim of a car accident) hampered by the downright bizarre plot of a man constructing an android of his dead wife. I can but the technology of androids existing (Perhaps this was done to cash in on Kikaida?), but the fact it isn’t revealed how he did it (other than an instructional book) or where he got the materials makes it weird. Kotaro’s old sailing buddy is revealed to be the son of the man building the android, adding a bit more depth to the story. 3/5

vlcsnap-2018-02-03-15h16m49s129Pickle the Monster with Salt! – Incredible title aside, a fun, “monster in my closet” episode teaching you to eat your vegetables…or maybe not, as the high amount of them is what brings the monster to Earth. The moral (If there is one) is slightly confusing, but that doesn’t stop the episode from being a lot of fun. Though ZAT tends to be sympathetic towards monsters, they don’t seem to be that way towards invading aliens (Perhaps the bad taste of Yapool is still in their mouths), immediately destroying a space ship that appeared to be taking the Earth’s nutrients without hesitation. Yet another farting monster is present, though given the large amount of vegetables he eats, it’s understandable. Tomonori Yazaki guest stars for the third and final time. 4/5

Oh! Taro is Being Eaten! – Another episode based heavily in Japanese folklore, though this time it makes the revelation that the demons featured are from space, which I guess is a given. The episode features quite possibly the strangest scenario with Kotaro being trapped inside a bean and shrunken. The relationship between the brothers (One of whom is played by Tsunehiro Arai, who will go on to have a big role next season) is somewhat nice, and teaches the audience to always help and tolerate siblings even if they can be a burden at times. Alright, but not great. 3/5

vlcsnap-2018-02-03-15h17m49s768She Was Wearing Red Shoes… – A Kitajima-focused episode with the somewhat clever plot of an alien earning his trust using a childhood friend of his to infiltrate ZAT (Who appear to be very cautious of who they let into their control room). While clever, the plot brings up one pretty big plot hole – Mari, Kitajima’s friend, was shown to have been kidnapped by the aliens as a little girl and returns years later to infiltrate ZAT. This would either mean they somehow knew Kitajima would grow up and be a ZAT member or their choosing of her was just a great coincidence. There’s a nice scene where Kotaro and the other ZAT members stand up for Kitajima to let Mari (Whom he has garnered feelings for) in the control room. Weird organ music is heard throughout the episode, almost making it feel like a soap opera. 3.5/5

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“I’m not a puppet, I’m a real boy!”

The White Rabbit is a Bad Guy! – A just plain weird affair about a Pinocchio-like alien boy vacationing on Earth, becoming fixated with a rabbit and going berserk when he sees a human harming the critter. Hooray for an anti-animal abuse message? Kotaro’s identity is actually exposed in front of people. The landlord responsible for the rabbit’s harm doesn’t really get he deserves in the end, instead simply realizing that animals are good. Odd, but sort of fun. 3/5

The Monster Master – Opens promisingly, but sort of devolves into a standard fare. The first few minutes feature Mirrorman monster Gorgosaurus (Said to come from a distant universe, possibly the one Mirrorman is set in) and Taro clearly exhausted from all of the fights he’s been in recently, with him even contemplating going to M-78 to recharge. Sadly, the concept of Taro in a weakened state is mostly ditched, apart from Kotaro wearing a cast. The main focus is on a loner kid named Ryuichi trying to prove himself to other kids after being caught crying, which certainly tries to be engaging, but isn’t really (An established character like Kenichi probably could have assumed his role). The message of it being alright for a man to cry at times is a somewhat nice change of pace from the usually overtly-macho ones, but not too special. The monster is somewhat interesting, with its body being trapped underground for much of the episode. 3/5

o0640048013583184098Monster Girl’s Festival – A truly remarkable episode involving an alcoholic monster that likes to boogie to pop music (Songs featured include Linda Yamamoto’s “Neraiuchi” and Finger 5’s “Koi No Dial 6700”). Might feature the first openly gay character in the series with a boy named (Ironically enough) Taro, who seems keen on dressing girly on Hinamatsuri, despite being teased for it. Needs to be seen to be believed. Is best when drunk like monster Veron. 4.5/5

vlcsnap-2018-02-03-15h19m37s552Sing! Monster Big Match – Yet another anti-hunting episode that again shows ZAT’s dedication to protecting monsters that mean no harm. Also doubles as another “greedy businessman” story, though with a bit of a twist. The monster’s (Who is another music lover) naval is among the weirdest and grossest things in the show, as it apparently houses a giant music sheet and also serves as a reasonable cockpit for an alien to control him. 3/5

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Garaking vs. Rover

The Monster’s Sign is V – A fairly enjoyable episode thanks mostly due to the arrogant but kindhearted wannabe fight attendant Yuki ( Ryoko Sakaguchi) and her relationship with the elders, which is nice, though occasionally comes off as a bit weird with just how much the old folks want her to stay at their retirement home (Which is apparently just due to it being undermanned, but one could other implications). The monster is yet another sympathetic one (That loves volleyball), though it does have quite the body count, destroying a landing airliner along with numerous planes docked at an airport and sinking an apartment complex. During the match between Yuki and the monster, the theme song to the show (New) Sign is V is played, which starred Ryoko Sakaguchi as a character similar to Yuri. Coincidence? I think not. The final appearance of Eishin Tono as Aragaki, a mere three episodes away from the finale. The ADR in both this and the previous episode was apparently done by prolific voice actor Ritsuo Sawa however. 3.5/5

The Ultra Father and the Bride Have Come – A Nambara-centered episode (Featuring the return of his mother) that brings up the interesting point of ZAT members living normal, married lives when their job requires them to face danger 24/7. Captain Asahina is back, and in quite possibly the weirdest decision in the show, introduces the new Deputy Captain Nitani (With Aragaki said to have been transferred to a space station). Why they even bothered creating the character as opposed to just having Asahina fill in Aragaki’s role (Especially when Asahina is present for two of three last episodes) is unknown. Furthermore, Nitani does almost nothing at all during the episode. That weird bit aside, a pretty enjoyable episode with some emotional moments. 3.5/5

vlcsnap-2018-02-03-15h33m40s679Steal the Ultra Life! – The penultimate episode that attempts to give as much development to Deputy Captain Nitani as possible, and while they try, it feels like a lost cause (Asahina could have been written into his role with very little problems). At one point white trapped, Nitani contemplates committing suicide with the gun being empty being what stops him. The thief monster Dorobon is said to have escaped from space prison after attempting to steal a color timer in order to gain an Ultra’s powers for a war in space. It isn’t stated if Dorobon is a member of the race at war or if he’s simply a pawn in it (Perhaps in the war between the Mysterllar and Ateria?). Ultraman Jack appears as the unlucky victim of Dorobon’s, with Goh showing up as well. Jiro Dan’s scenes are pretty brief, but nice. Jack has red gloves and boots throughout the episode. Enjoyable if you can look past Nitani. 3.5/5

vlcsnap-2018-02-03-15h34m05s657Farewell Taro! The Mother of Ultra! – A surprisingly low-key finale (For such a zany show) that focuses much more on Kotaro’s decisions rather than the monster and alien present. Brought up is whether or not Kotaro wants to live the rest of his life as Taro or a normal, human one. Captain Asahina is given a somewhat pivotal role as the one who gives Kotaro life advice (Along with the fact he seemed to be friends with Captain Shiratori). It would work except we barely got to know the guy at all, coming off as some last minute character development (Though in a nice touch, Kotaro tells him to give his regards to Aragaki). The Valkie alien’s (Who’s based off an unused design for Ultraman Leo) inclusion is somewhat pointless (It can be assumed he was the one controlling the monster), though the final battle between him and Kotaro is very memorable, as is the scene in which Kotaro reveals the truth to a sobbing Kenichi. Without giving too much away, this is, as of 2017, the final appearance of Saburo Shinoda as Kotaro (Though far from Taro’s). Though not the greatest of finales, a solid conclusion. 4/5

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