Hello, and welcome back to Watch Club! I’m EJ Couloucoundis, editor-in-chief of Ultraman Connection and President for Life of the Dancan Fan Club.
And I’m Sarah Last, content creator and -- really? Dancan? The red-eyed Koosh-ball-looking Kaiju? Huh, there’s no accounting for taste after all, but maybe by the end of this episode you’ll convince me why you’re such a fan, EJ.
Fool that you are, Sarah, you have not yet BEGUN to appreciate the perfect angel monster that is Dancan. And I will be educating you thusly. (I’m sorry you’re not a fool at all please don’t get mad and leave you’re half of why this program works)
Anyways, this week begins with a set-up we haven’t seen in the show for quite some time, watching the Ultra Guard on patrol around a city! Ultraseven has a talent for taking familiar surroundings and making them seem alien and threatening, however, and that’s on full display here too. What we, the audience, might have mistaken for the ordinary sounds of construction equipment, Dan quickly identifies as the sound of an underground drilling machine, for some unknown purpose.
Dan pulls the Pointer around to try and question a nearby construction crew that seems to almost pace around mechanically, or like from last week’s episode, maybe zombie-like might be a better comparison? But before the team can get answers, another car speeds away after firing at them!
Just never a dull moment in the Ultra Guard, huh?
Dan and Soga call in the shooting as they chase this radical 60s-era VW Bus down —, which, of course, was new at the time, so who knows if they’ve ever seen such smooth, comfortable travel! They run it off the road, but the bus disappears — and moments later, Dan, Soga, and the Pointer, along with a passing police officer, disappear as well!
And they aren’t the only ones! The next day, while the Ultra Guard is still searching for their missing members, whole buildings start disappearing from the city, in broad daylight this time.
Believe it or not, this isn’t even the weirdest event that’s going to happen this episode, even though the episode is named “The Vanishing City”.
Kiriyama and Amagi take a more active role in this episode, what with Dan and Soga being disappeared, and their investigation — by helicopter! — reveals a big gob of foam bubbling where the missing building once stood. And of course, they shoot it. Not much happens, but that’s kind of the best-case scenario, isn’t it?
Meanwhile, Furuhashi and Anne take another Pointer across town to meet with TDF Staff Officer Takenaka, only for him to take them to a spiritualist who has something to say about the disappearing buildings. The entire scene is shot terrifyingly, like something out of a David Lynch movie, and in-between those shots, we get to meet a representative of this week’s invaders — the spiritualist herself, who I think is possessed? Maybe puppeted is the right word — someone else is speaking through her.
All this happens in really quick succession too, it seems like in a single day we’ve gone from whole buildings disappearing from the city, to this strange foam appearing, and then Anne and Furahashi being called in for a meeting with a woman possessed by the aliens behind it all! They’re escorted up to her fancy apartment, decked out in psychedelic lava lamps and beadwork, where they have a bizarre attempt at negotiations.
Okay “negotiations” gives a lot of leeway here, it’s more like the aliens delivering the message openly threaten the Ultra Guard to stay out of their business. It seems like their motivations are understandable, they claim they’re fleeing from a vague “cosmic disturbance” and just want a promise of temporary safety on the Earth. But to ensure that safety, they’ve hijacked an entire set of city blocks and are currently holding Dan and Soga hostage!
Even when the Ultra Guard asks where the aliens are hiding out -- you know, to make sure they won’t accidentally step on their toes -- they remain stubbornly silent, and just leave them with a dire warning against interfering. But I’m sure we’re just being paranoid here, everyone involved will eventually come to a mutually beneficial understanding, which will cultivate a peaceful friendship between these new aliens and the people of Earth, right?
I-I mean… It happened with the Quraso, right?
In all seriousness, there’s this deep sense of… I don’t know how to describe it. Tension seems too simple a word. It feels like there’s a bomb about to explode between these two forces. Immediately, the TDF is hunting for where the aliens are staying, which makes me feel like they never had a plan to honor the aliens’ wishes to be left alone to begin with. That leaves a bad taste in my mouth regarding Dan and Soga’s safety…
I agree, Anne and Furahashi’s mission right after this, to keep looking for the city, really starts to feel like a race against time. In their defense, I didn’t get the sense that they wanted to do harm to the aliens, but just didn’t trust them at all. There’s very few times in this show where the Ultra Guard seems actually scared, but it’s clearly driving their actions in this episode.
Anne won’t even let Furahashi enjoy a nice refreshing soda while they’re out searching for their missing friends! Immediately after she swipes it out of his hands though, they coincidentally find themselves at the scene of the titular city -- all the missing buildings suddenly appear out of thin air. There’s no aliens seemingly to be found there, but the civilians who vanished with the buildings are still frozen in place.
Either the Ultra Guard completely forgets about the aliens’ warning to leave the city alone, or they just don’t care, because the entire team rushes in, frantically looking for Dan and Soga among the frighteningly still and silent streets. They find Soga -- hilariously stuck stiff as a board in the same pose while they try to drag him to safety -- but no sign of Dan.
Meanwhile, the aliens have definitely noticed the commotion, and pull out their trump card. It’s not a gigantic Kaiju or robot this time… but Ultraseven himself.
There have been several “fake Ultraman” stories since the original Alien Zarab story in Ultraman — but this was the first time, coerced or not, that the Ultra defending humanity raised a hand against them. And it’s scary. Seven just starts annihilating this city — which, actually, now that I think about it, is probably a little unwise for the aliens, considering that this is the aliens’ home.
Not really, remember they’re just hiding out here on Earth temporarily! This seems more like the cosmic equivalent of trashing a hotel room. Honestly, I think that’s why I find the Ultra Guard’s actions reasonable, even if things obviously don’t go well. The Ultra Guard doesn’t trust the aliens, but the aliens also don’t even try to come to an understanding here, and clearly don’t treat the human beings of Earth with any respect.
Fair point. The Ultra Guard is immediately forced to run and hide, at risk of being destroyed by the alien they’ve called their closest ally before. Meanwhile, Furuhashi has broken off to find the alien control room, which he does fairly easily. One shot to the command console, and Seven is free — but that’s not the end of the threat. It’s my boy, bubbling out of the shadows!
Is the implication here that the mysterious man controlling the city this whole time is Dancan? Is he the only one here? Or is he just a representative for the rest of these alien citizens? Regardless of those questions, this fight is a ton of fun to watch. Both of them running through empty city streets, throwing themselves through buildings in the scuffle, it’s one of the more memorable battles of the show, I would say.
And you know what, I can kind of see why you like Dancan now! He’s almost… kind of cute? In a rubbery sort of way?
He’s adorable. And a stage show legend, just so you know. I’ve seen a few shows in Japan, and every time, without fail, Dancan is there, the consummate performer. How can you not love this guy? Plus, bubbles and foam!
It’s also really funny when Seven just kicks him like a football.
That we can definitely agree on.
Once Dancan is defeated, turned into dust and is literally blown away, everyone is relieved that the threat against the city has passed and things can go back to normal.
Er… has anyone figured out how to teleport the buildings back to the city?
They’ll… They’ll figure it out eventually.
Anyway, this is one of my favorite episodes, just for the great action, fantastic foe in Dancan, and utter strangeness of the effects and setting. An absolutely wild ride from start to finish. A big recommend.
Next week on Watch Club, it’s another great story, with the return of the Man from V3, in Ultraseven episode 34, “Terror on the Moon”! See you there!