Episode 11 gets up close and personal with Hayakawa and Tojo in Don’t Die Friend! One Second to Execution!
This episode features small, but welcome deviations from the formula for a refreshing story. When the episode opens, we find Chief Tojo seemingly crossing to the dark side and making a deal with God Tiger, leader of the Tiger Gang, a group of gun smugglers. Tojo’s initiation involves killing Midori and Osamu, and he sure does make it look convincing. Could our faithful officer of the law have actually turned evil?
Of course not. Hayakawa’s classic entrance interrupts the undercover operation, putting him at odds with our supporting cast, especially Tojo. The friction between these two is the focus of the episode. Hayakawa’s vigilante antics have put him on the wrong side of the law, and Tojo’s quickly waning patience is the only thing keeping our hero out of jail. If the show explores this dynamic further in the future, it could lead to some great storytelling. Instead of introducing another victim of the week, this episode puts Tojo front and center. It’s a nice break from formula, and the episode almost delivers on its potential.
The latest assassin is Mr. Sadan, the killer golfer. Honestly, I’m totally okay with killer golf at this point. What I still need a little help to accept is Hayakawa’s latest example of “here’s why I’m better.” Mr. Sadan’s trick golf shot involved bouncing the black ball off of a nearby tree and onto a nearby Dakkar logo, which it sticks to. Hayakawa tees off a henchman’s mouth, and hits the ball so hard that not only does it hit Mr. Sadan’s ball, it turns them both white and they then return to their owner’s pocket.
Hayakawa and Tojo end up in a machine gun trap with an oddly specific time limit of ten minutes. The time becomes relevant when you remember that Hayakawa can only stay transformed for five minutes. An obstacle like this would usually lead to story progression or form upgrades in other shows, and it almost looks like Zubat is going down this route. Sadly, the upgrade fails and Hayakawa just abandons his efforts. I would expect a little more persistence from a superhero protagonist, but I’ll have to settle for these little seeds of promise instead.
The rest of the episode is pretty standard, with an undercover cop and his kid getting shot, Tojo getting kidnapped, and Hayakawa saving the day, within the time limit of course. The sequence in every episode where Hayakawa is suddenly suited up and in his car actually makes sense during this episode. Tojo is kidnapped from right next to Hayakawa and brought to the shrine. So the next time we see our hero, he’s in his car driving to the rescue. That’s right folks, narrative continuity is a rare treat in Zubat, so enjoy it while it lasts.
During the final fight with the killer golfer Mr. Sadan, Hayakawa tosses him into a huge hole in the ground. Get it? Even if you don’t, Mr. Sadan immediately congratulates Zubat on his hole in one. I never did like puns.
This episode had a few promising elements, but very little dramatic payoff. What happened to the ten minute machine gun trap? It’s never used again. Is Hayakawa and Tojo’s relationship irrevocably damaged after their fight? Nope, they’re cool with each other at the end of the episode. Does Hayakawa say anything about trying to upgrade the suit again? No, he just goes back to working within the limit. Maybe in the episodes to come, the Zubat crew will learn to follow through.
Overall, I enjoyed this episode better than the last few, thanks to the little hints of better storytelling. This episode definitely benefits from forgoing a victim of the week and focusing on Hayakawa’s personal struggles, both with Tojo and the Zubat suit. There are still no answers to the series’ larger questions, or even this episode’s smaller ones, but I still have hope we’ll see some soon.
Every Wednesday The Tokusatsu Network staff members review every episode of a tokusatsu series. To see previous episode reviews, visit our Reviews page.