Following Episode 9’s refreshingly action-packed episode, Kaiketsu Zubat brings another energizing shot-in-the-arm in Episode 10: Knock Baseball’s Enemies Out of the Park.
After trudging through the set formula of the first few episodes, Episode 10, like Episode 9, managed to recapture my attention by changing things up just a little bit.
The storytelling in Zubat still moves and cuts to the next scene so fast that it leaves me feeling whiplash and here, still, is the smug face-off between Hayakawa and the hired hitman of the day. But for the most part, this episode slightly deviates from its formulaic storytelling that gives the series a much needed breath of fresh air.
This episode’s first deviation from its cookie-cutter episode structure is in the opening when Hayakawa joins in on a small band’s practice session. Hayakawa entering a scene playing his iconic entrance slow jam isn’t the deviation, but the fact that after the jam session, we find out the members of the band knew Asuka, Hayakawa’s late best friend and the series’ plot point.
It’s the first time that Hayakawa even gets to talk about Asuka to people who knew him and break the news about his best friend’s murder to people who would actually care deeply about his death. It re-grounds the series a bit, reminding viewers that Asuka was a “real” person and Hayakawa’s motivation stems from the pain of losing his best friend.
As mentioned earlier, the confrontation between Hayakawa and the hitman baddie of the week is pretty standard, other than the fact that “Trumpet Man” looks pretty normal compared to his predecessors.
But what I enjoyed about the “Trumpet Man” plot is how simplicity and straight-forwardness of the Black Gecko Gang’s plot. They assassinated a trumpet player so that their hitman can fill in to then assassinate a famous baseball hero on live television. This would then demoralize, if not straight up traumatize, young children around the world who looked up the baseball icon as a hero.
An interesting fact about this episode is that the person who plays the famous baseball hero is none other than the creator of the character Zubat himself, Shotaro Ishinomori. The legendary manga artist is best known for his wide range of popular characters such as Kamen Rider, Kikaider, Inazuman, Cyborg 009 and the first Sentai team Himitsu Sentai Goranger, just to name a few.
The “Trumpet Man” plot gets derailed, of course, when the band chooses another trumpet player instead of Black Gecko’s hitman. We find out the new trumpet player, Ryuichi, has a sick younger brother in need of surgery. Ryuichi hopes to play on live television in order to give much needed moral support to his brother.
Of course, the Black Gecko gang threatens Ryuichi’s life and Hayakawa, in his usual smug badass fashion, fights to protect him then plans to take over for Ryuichi on stage to further keep him from harm.
During the actual televised performance, there is a fun “case of mistaken identity” where our hitman, Hayakawa, and Ryuichi all arrive to play the trumpet confusing everyone on stage and then quickly move into an all-out fight with Hayakawa transforming into Zubat to finish things off.
Unlike previous episodes, there is no unnecessary Hayakawa capture and torture scene that just seem to be there in order for Hayakawa to have a reason to transform into Zubat.
Furthermore, Osamu and Midori aren’t captured either, but had surprisingly useful and understandable roles. Osamu had to keep watch over Ryuichi so the latter doesn’t endanger himself by going out in public. The young Osamu fails, of course, but the effort is commendable. Midori is left to look after Ryuichi’s hospitalized younger brother, not only as moral support but also to keep Ryuichi’s brother from overexerting himself. A notable charge, I must say.
In the overall scheme of things, these little differences are just that– little. However, for a series as formulaic and over-the-top as Zubat, these little differences are a godsend and I truly hope these variations continue as the series moves forward.
Every Wednesday The Tokusatsu Network staff members review every episode of a tokusatsu series. To see previous episode reviews, visit our Reviews page.