Kaiketsu Zubat is definitely a show of its time. The detective themed drama and the pacing are something that lived in abundance in the 70’s. While Zubat does have a set formula to each episode, by episode three there are signs of variety that tease a more fluid story line.
Now, Hayakawa Ken still helps out a person in search of their sibling that he meets in the beginning of the episode. He also still claims that he is the best at whatever skill set the local gang leader happens to specialize in. And Ken only turns into Zubat at the end of the episode to defeat said gang leader due to the suit’s limited time setting. But, what happens within these set scenes is what makes this episode interesting.
For one thing, the sibling that Ken is trying to help, a nurse-in-training named Shizuka, is not his main client this episode. That honor goes to Yamane, who is in charge of delivering a gold angel statue to French clients by the next day. After learning of the situation, Ken accepts the task of protecting the expensive statue along with Yamane and his son, Ichiro. And since Shizuka helped patch up Ichiro after a scuffle, she joined in on the operation.
At first, it does seem like the show has just upped the number of participants in this episode from one to two. Instead of one client to protect, Ken now has two groups under his wing. And instead of just dealing with the gang leader who was after Shizuka in the beginning of the episode, Killer Joe, he also has to fend off the greedy hands of Gold Mask who is after the statue. But the way that the characters are linked to each other, while a bit unexplained at times, lends a bit of variation on an already predictable formula.
Another way that formula was messed with was in the actual Zubat fight in the end. In the previous two episodes, we would see Ken tied up in a random room while the bad guys tortured him and his acquaintenses. Then, once he heard what he needed to hear, he would magically disappear from his restraints and appear a second later, blocks away in his Zubat suit and vehicle. The edits made it a lot less plausible than it even sounds, and it got tiring to see even after two episodes. At least in this episode, Ken escapes while his opponent is looking away, talking to someone else. It’s a small change, but it makes more sense. Now, if only we could see him actually transform into Zubat, that would make the change more worthwhile.
One thing that is doubtedly clear is that the weight on Hayakawa Ken’s shoulders becomes more and more burdensome with each passing episode. The victim count keeps increasing and I imagine that his quest for revenge amplifies in intensity after every encounter. He slowly becomes less of a private detective and more of a crime fighter with each attempt to take down the evil organization behind these incidents. Though, as a private detective, you’d think that he would stop accusing the lowly gang leaders of killing Asuka and start asking who they work for. That seems like the obvious ticket to the grand prize. But I guess if he did that, we wouldn’t have much of a show.
Every Wednesday The Tokusatsu Network staff members review every episode of a tokusatsu series. To see previous episode reviews, visit our Reviews page.