The sheer will of a man is tested in a race against time. It is crazy off-the-wall action in episode 9 of Kaiketsu Zubat: Turn Back to the River of Tears.
After a rather standard episode of Kaiketsu Zubat, it seems like someone in the production team decided to crank up the energy a little bit in this episode of Zubat. And really, any time you have an episode where it’s a race against the clock, you’re gonna have little to no time for exposition. And to be honest, for a show like this, an action-packed episode is the shot in the arm it needs right now.
The episode starts off innocently enough. Osamu is seen working hard at cleaning off a couple of boats at the side of the river. But, his task is interrupted by a disheveled man who seems to be looking for her daughter. When pressed for an answer, Osamu points to the river to a girl fishing on in a boat. Relieved, the man starts to call out to the young girl when suddenly the boat explodes to bits, killing the girl instantly.
I’ll be honest here, this seriously shocked me for a few minutes. In the last episode, a shack full of people exploded, killing everyone inside, which was surprising in and of itself; but it was telegraphed from the beginning due to the shots of the hose leaking propane gas. With this, there was no lead up at all and you wouldn’t expect them to kill off a child in that manner. In some ways, it seems like a cheap trick to get an emotion out of the viewer.
Well, it definitely worked because it set the tone for the rest of the episode.
As it turns out, the man who was looking for the little girl was at the scene of two other homicides, both involving children. He was said to have been looking for his daughter in each instance before they tragically died. When finally captured, it is found out that he is actually a local scientist who was being blackmailed by the local gang, the TTT, to hand over a poison that he mistakenly created while trying to discover the cure for cancer.
I know, it’s ambitious, but roll with it for a bit.
When he refused, the TTT gang, lead by Titanium Talon, threatened to kill a child a day till he gave up the poison. So every day, he would be given a picture of a young girl, with no hint as to their name or location. And he would have a day to find them before they died a horrible death. For a show like this, the scenario seems very serious and something that immediately grabs the audience’s attention.
But, one thing kills the mood almost immediately:
While being chased by the gang, Hayakawa saves the scientist and is confronted by an assassin. Everyone expects this to happen since it wouldn’t be a Zubat episode without one. Where the show takes a hard left turn is when the trained assassin reveals that he kills his targets, not a sword or a gun, but a fishing hook.
Yes. This assassin, Jubei the Angler, strikes fear in the hearts of many with his deadly fishing hook.
Depending on your mindset, this could be either the dumbest thing to happen in the show yet or the most brilliant thing ever. Because they actually have a fishing duel, with Hayakawa winning by fishing out a tin cup, filling it with water, and placing the water in a jar with a fish inside that Jubei previously threw into. It’s completely ridiculous and in any other episode, this would be rather entertaining. But the tone set by the opening scene of the episode, along with the fact that Jubei immediately disappears until the very end of the episode makes it feel pointless to the degree that it almost seems like it was edited in by accident.
To tie the pressing issue into the show, the next victim on TTT’s list is Midori, Asuka’s sister. She is captured by the gang and strung up above a bed of spikes. Classic. Hayakawa has to maneuver his way through the “Machine Gun of Hell”, a test of his his agility and cleverness, in order to save her. His body is also tested because he literally is riddled with bullets in an attempt to hold onto the rope keeping Midori from falling to her death. He is then tossed off of a platform and presumed dead.
This is the part of every single episode that always seems puzzling, and no matter what kind of tokusatsu logic is applied to this scenario, it fails to make sense. Hayakawa is seen lying on the floor, shot up like crazy and not moving. He’s assumed to be dead by the gang, without checking for a pulse or anything. That’s fine, a degree of belief can be spent to make up for the fact that he survives this. Maybe he had a bulletproof vest on or his sheer bravado saved his beating heart. It doesn’t really matter. What always feels like a sudden shortcut is when we see Hayakawa as Zubat, driving in from blocks away almost instantaneously. It shouldn’t be a big deal since this genre does it all the time. But for some reason, its hard to buy into with a show like Zubat. A lot of it has to do with the editing, but it also just feels like they didn’t care to explain any of his abilities.
And we’re nine episodes into this show, might I add.
While this episode was a definite step up from the previous few, it still feels like nothing has changed. Hayakawa is still nowhere close to finding the killer of his friend Asuka. Nothing really was gained from this episode, other than a shockingly entertaining 22 minutes. If there are more episodes like this, I’d say that it would be a bit easier to bear the monotony of the show. But something tells me that we will be back into the dragging routine of Kaiketsu Zubat soon enough.
Every Wednesday The Tokusatsu Network staff members review every episode of a tokusatsu series. To see previous episode reviews, visit our Reviews page.