Investigating a series of strange signals around the city, the Science Patrol finds the cause to be from a race of aliens known as Baltan Seijin who are looking to overtake the Earth and relies on Ultraman to save the day when he finally appears.
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Overall this has a nice, fun storyline for this type of show. The simple setup of a strange incident getting the attention of the Science Patrol forces them to investigate, stumbling upon an alien invasion and when their true intentions are revealed, Ultraman is needed to fend off the aliens’ impending threat. This is brought along with a fast-moving pace that moves things along as it offers plenty of small beats throughout that bring up the Baltan’s plans, from their initial appearance at the institute and the initial investigations, the frozen guards, the takeover of their body and how they finally reveal the true purpose of their visitation to Earth.
For the majority of the episode, the only real effects to see here concern the freezing ray Baltan emits from its claws, with the majority of this taking place inside the museum trying to determine what’s going on. The Baltan costume is a bit of a mixed bag, being obviously impressive in the upper portion of its design where the insectoid appearance and a rather humanoid stance creates as much of an impression as that iconic bellowing laughter that they emit. However, the bottom part of the costume is absolutely atrocious and really looks as if they either never finished the creature or didn’t have time to and just patched a few pieces of fabric together to constitute the legs. They’re quite obviously just the human legs of Takeshi Sato sticking out of this insect-like creature. It’s a distracting feature and doesn’t really sell this as being a real creature.
What really wins this one over is the rather impressive ending fight between Ultraman and Baltan. The entire concept of the fight, where Baltan flies over the burning city, causing Ultraman to give chase flying after it engaging in a tumbling duel in mid-air over the city at night, is one of the most enjoyable and creative in the franchise, even though the overall brevity, since its a few tumbling maneuvers and Ultraman then blasts it once he lands on the ground which might not be all that intriguing since we barely get any kind of Ultraman in the episode. Still, Baltan gets a brief scene as a kaiju-sized being which is responsible for a solid rampage with the creatures’ claw missiles exploding into the city creating a few fine explosions. This is a minor letdown from the ingenuity of episode 1, but it works nicely enough here.
Frankly, though, this episode is all about Ito, as we get definitive proof that his character’s the comic relief of the show. This is his episode and everything that we get out of here is designed to further him being a lovable goofball, from the idea of him looking at the camera delivering a joke right at the audience, to the clumsy way he manages to work his weaponry. Finally, there’s the running storyline involving him telling the story about his impaired physical condition throughout the episode. Though brief and somewhat hit-or-miss involving Ito’s overall appeal, the fact that this time we finally get something about the characters is a nice sign, because it’s more than what we got before in the pilot. Beyond Ito, however, we don’t get much else which manages to be a little disappointing, although we get confirmation about Hayata’s determination to stop the Baltan’s by the suicide dive to grab the Beta Capsule on the ledge below in the final fight.
As a whole, the episode offers a lot to like but it suffers from the inability to tell its story coherently, leaving this one with some problems in that area as well as being quite unnecessary as everything here is about the genesis of the black-eye which doesn’t feature at all. Being a comedy point which doesn’t even figure into the main story of the group undergoing the investigation strikes as an obvious filler for that point which doesn’t even need to be there. With the investigation really going for the Ultra Q style of setup where it’s based on the discovery of the being and learning about it to form a plan of action, this is an overall intriguing piece before it goes for the kaiju action in the finale. The fight, with Ultraman and Baltan taking place not only at night but also above the city as a mainly airborne sequence with the dolls fighting and jockeying for position, makes for a strong finish and brings it up which really sells this one as a fun and unique entry in the series.
Basically bringing many fun elements together into a wholly fun and entertaining episode, this second adventure offers a lot to like, even if it does offer a few problematic areas that bring it down a touch from the stellar pilot.
This review was originally published on Don’s World of Horror and Exploitation and is gratefully reprinted with their cooperation.