The Ultraman  (1979) Episode 26: Earth’s Greatest Crisis

The Ultraman (1979) Episode 26: Earth’s Greatest Crisis

We are up to The Ultraman Episode 26: Earth’s Greatest Crisis, the first episode of disc four!

There is some construction going on in Japan, and we are treated to scenes of it. Out on a boat in a lake, three men are decrying the noise, saying it is ruining their fishing. The oldest of them says the area is going to be a factory so this is the last time they will be fishing out there as everything is going to be polluted. Is this an ecological episode? Could be! Their fishing is disrupted when fountains erupt from the water, as they are wont to do, and just stand there, doing fountain things.

The Science Defense Squad is called in to check them out as they aren’t doing anything threatening, just a weird phenomena. Hikari, Tobe and Marume head out in the Super Maddock. Back at HQ, Mr. Miyai informs the team of other strange occurrences in China and Australia where a mountain erupted from the desert in one and a town disappeared in another. He thinks they are all connected but doesn’t know how. They see a pattern in the fountains and Pig analyzes it through the computer. It is a message! Unfortunately that message is saying the fountain is the brain of the Earth and that it is tired of humans making a mess of it and is giving them 24 hours to GTF off the planet. That’s some short notice!

Hikari and the others head down under the water to investigate in the Super Maddock while Pig works on a plan to speak to the brain. They follow a chasm down and find roots that are spreading all over. At the center of them is something that looks very much like a brain! They use the computer to communicate with the brain as the higher ups at the SDS don’t want to fight the planet as that could be very, very bad. The brain demonstrates its power by causing earthquakes all over the world and reveals it is not willing to negotiate and humanity has to leave. Tobe says that is impossible but the brain doesn’t much care about logistics. It just wants humanity to go away.

Earth brain, Earth brain, what ya gonna do?

Fed up with the brain of Earth’s nonsense, Marume opens fire on it, severing all of the roots from the brain like a champ. Now the brain can’t threaten the Earth! It’s a good thing too because the brain unfurls and is actually a giant starfish monster named Gibaaroga! It attacks the Super Maddock, knocking out all who are aboard and then leaves, flooding the cavern it is in to try and drown them.

Will Hikari come to in time to save the day? You know it, baby!

I’m not usually a giant fan of the ecological episodes, mainly because they can get a little preachy. The central conceit of this one is pretty fun and makes for an interesting dilemma. What if Earth was fed up with your bullshit and told you to go away? You can’t attack it because it could kill everyone without even giving them a chance to leave? How would you handle it? Unfortunately due to the runtime, we don’t get to explore those ideas so Marume had to pump the brakes on it. Of course we knew it had to be a monster, but what if it wasn’t? I mean the brain of Earth is an out there idea but not any crazier than any others considering giant monsters show up every week!

While the Earth is safe and the status quo is reset, there is one change that happens. Captain Akiyama is tapped to head the monster observation team in the USA, thus ending his time in the SDS. Who will the new captain be? No idea yet but I’m sad to see him go as he was a pretty good character. I’m not entirely shocked as this happened in Ultraman Returns though under different circumstances. 

The design of Gibarooga is pretty frightening. Looks like Starro but with two eyes on one stalk and teeth in his center. Plus he has tendrils that end in Venus Flytrap looking things. The “brain” bit was actually kind of like a shell so he might be a bit of a mollusk, which would explain the slug green color too. The fight wasn’t much to write home about. No new powers but the monster proved to be a decent foe until Ultraman ripped his damn arms off. Ouch.

A fine episode that I think could have been stretched out for a two-parter at least to explore the ramifications of the brain of Earth’s commands but I get kids might not want to sit and listen to ideological debates. 

That’s all for this installment. See you next time for the next installment, Ultra Fans!