The Tokusatsu Network continues its episode-by-episode review of 1977’s Kaiketsu Zubat with Episode Seven: A Bad Wind in a Harbor Town.
I hoped that Episode Seven would offer a little more than just a formulaic stand-alone episode. Unfortunately, even before we’ve reached the ten-episode mark, I’m already disappointed at this hit-or-miss series.
The whole point of the show is Hayakawa’s quest to find his best friend’s murderer. So naturally, I should expect some progress in this storyline– a hint, a throw away line, some close-up that will show Hayakawa that these gangs are all connected to the evil organization. If the show couldn’t deliver that just yet, then I had hoped it’d would just give me something out of the formula. Despite the previous episode’s lack of follow-through, at least it had shown a more human side to Hayakawa unseen in previous episodes.
Episode Seven is a simple, straight-forward, formulaic, stand-alone episode.
Hayakawa comes into a new town, in this case one on a harbor. A dire situation presents itself, in this case a group of beat up young boys on a baseball field and a kidnapped and beaten older brother. The locals tell Hayakawa about the crime being committed, in this case extortion, then Hayakawa comes in and saves the day.
I know there will be a misunderstanding between Hayakawa and the people he’s trying to help and he’s also, somehow, going to find himself roped and tortured.
It is honestly nothing new.
Therefore, the only way for me to keep my attention with this series, I have to take pleasure in minute details. Details, such as, being absolutely amused that Hayakawa, the incredulous badass, has time to casually strum his own background theme song on his white guitar as he beats up a group of thugs near a swimming pool. It’s laughably ridiculous and undoubtedly charming all at once.
There’s also the fact Hayakawa wears his entire outfit to bed. As the group of thugs break into the hotel he is staying in, Hayakawa is startled awake, seemingly asleep for a while. However, he’s still wearing his exact outfit; his hat and scarf still perfectly in place. Even his two followers, Midori and Osamu, still awoke in actual sleeping clothes. Hayakawa, it seems, is either always ready for action or can only afford two outfits.
And finally, in the most minute, show-of-its-time detail: it’s pretty obvious the leader of the Minus Gang, the baddies of the week, is not the most fit or most youthful of gang leaders. It was even more glaringly obvious during his tonfa wielding fight that the fast paced moves the gang leader was “throwing” at Hayakawa were made by someone else simply spinning the weapons. The footage was so hastily cut in that I found myself snort-laughing at the poor Minus Gang leader because, “he’s trying so hard!”
I mentioned my concerns over the formulaic format becoming redundant back in Episode 2 and unfortunately, with Episode Seven, my concerns weren’t unfounded. However, as with all classics of its time, I am keeping an open mind to how the overall story will play out. Even if I do find myself in another stand-alone episode, I do hope I can still find little gems of charm that can get me through the half hour.
Every Wednesday The Tokusatsu Network staff members review every episode of a tokusatsu series. To see previous episode reviews, visit our Reviews page.