After a series of strange disturbances, the Science Patrol realizes than a gigantic burrowing monster named Neronga has been awakened and is seeking out electrical stations and generators to refuel his energy supply, forcing Ultraman into action to stop the creatures’ rampage.
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There really isn’t much to the story here at all. A monster appears somewhere in the world, an attempt to stop it fails which causes the Science Patrol to learn about its backstory, a repeat encounter proves to offer some success against it but ultimately Ultraman is needed to finish off the job. That’s basically all there is here and is all we get, so other than getting some brief yet highly informative backstory work on Neronga there isn’t much to this one at all. This episode basically just ties Neronga into the local legends and stories from the area about the fabled well being built in the spot where the monster originally appeared and got trapped, which coincides with the new appearance. This is conveyed over two lines which is all the plot needed in this episode and is where all the story comes from.
This section of the episode is where we really get the bright spots. The main monster, Neronga, is a truly enjoyable and impressive small-screen kaiju, basically taking the Baragon costume and adding a new face to the creature. Equipping it with a wider-opening mouth, fangs, a series of insect-like antenna on top of the head and a series of foam outlines on the back and tail, the general appearance of the creature is obvious and yet somewhat different enough that it works in the format. The costume is a bit of a mixed bag, with the bright colors on the back scales contrasting weirdly with the realistic skin-tones and while the overall design looks great for what it is, the sloppiness of the creatures’ belly is odd as the rubber looks quite misshapen when it stands on its hind legs.
Unequivacably, the highlight of the episode is the otherworldly special effects. There are plenty of miniatures shown for the various buildings of the power plants which look immaculate and well-detailed, yet the fun is seeing how they’re destroyed. Since an early part of the storyline features Neronga as being invisible, the buildings, towers and electrical grids are shown to be collapsing and exploding on their own without anything touching them, and with the scenes of the footprints appearing in the ground and the roaring in the background, it sells the idea of the invisibility while also being simply jaw-dropping to look at. The later scenes of the main complex which has several office buildings, towers, electrical grids and cooling units are destroyed in a spectacular rampage that packs in explosions, fire and crumbling infrastructure looks absolutely incredible as it effectively captures the spirit of the movies at that time.
On top of that, the episode features several other fine features that are effectively introduced in the series. This here effectively starts off with the more traditional monster battling typically found in the series, in the more rough and tumbling brawling where Ultraman and the monster go into more grappling-centric fights. Here, Ultraman and Neronga are seen to be pushing and shoving while also getting in punches, chops and tosses as they really get thrown around the set rather viciously, which is rather fun to see. Likewise, the episode also contains one of the coolest and most intriguing shots ever in the series so far. That is a new angle showing Hayata transforming into Ultraman as the camera is over Neronga’s shoulder looking down as a swirling effect encircles Hayata leading into that familiar red background as he becomes the M-78 savior. Apparently, to save some money, instead of compositing Susumu Kurobe into the shot, the crew substitute a miniature Hayata instead.
Again, we really don’t have much to say about the actors. Much like the pilot, there isn’t much offered about who they are or what’re they’re about, as basically, all we get about the group is that Hoshino is reckless with his intentions of utilizing high-powered weaponry by himself, with the Science Patrol usually resorting to saving him when he puts himself in danger. Despite the audience-identification figure he becomes with his desire to dive headfirst into battle against the giant monsters and take them on, he becomes way too foolhardy with that behavior and is all we get about the characters as a whole.
One of the most important and influential figures in the genre appears in this episode, and he gets to strut his stuff in fine form. The man himself, Haruo Nakajima, gets to don the Neronga costume (since it’s basically Baragon with a new head and different fins) which means he gets a lot of screentime and scenes to showcase his prowess, which is fun to see as Neronga goes on his rampage. With this being the longest fight to date in the series, not much of an accomplishment but still worth noting, allowing him to put Furuya through his paces. That allows for even more to like about this episode and it’s one of the bright spots in the series. The fast, reckless pace also really works wonders as the episode zips along at a brisk, furious pace which keeps it interesting and truly enjoyable.
Clearly one of the brightest episodes in the series overall, this has so much to like in terms of its fast-paced, action-packed thrill ride of monster action and a generally simplistic approach. Wholly recommended to fans of all styles of tokusatsu or kaiju-based works, as well as those looking for more high-spirited Ultraman fun while there isn’t much here to dissuade those from checking this episode out.
This article was originally published on Don’s World of Horror and Exploitation and is gratefully reprinted with their cooperation.