Episode One: The Phantom...er, Dracolon: The Great Sea Monster

Director: Manuel San Fernando

Hoff! Hoff!

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Though I admittedly have little knowledge in the genre of Japanese sci-fi, I do know one thing: when a UFO crashes into the ocean near Tokyo, chances are pretty good that an attack on the city by a giant monster is inherent. Call it intuition.

Meanwhile, on a boat not too far away, we meet Johnny Sokko, a y"Say, who is that idiot out on the mast yelling he's 'The king of the world'?" oung boy on his way to...well, we're not told where he's off to. But that really doesn't matter, now does it? Johnny, while on deck peering out over the sea, meets Jerry Mano. It takes approximately three minutes of small talk between the two for Jerry to blow his cover and disclose that he is really a secret agent for an outfit called UNICORN. How does Johnny cleverly uncover this valuable piece of information about Jerry? In a brilliant battle of wits, Johnny asks, "So, what do you do?" To which Jerry replies, "I'm a secret agent for UNICORN...oops, I mean I'm a writer, "

Thank you, Captain Obvious.

Then, to add credibility to his writer story, Jerry immediately gets on his futuristic cell phone (at least in the film it's supposed to be futuristic, in reality it looked like a car antennae) and reports in to his boss back at UNICORN headquarters. I guess subtlety isn't a prerequisite for being a secret agent. "Help! We're being attacked by a blue screen!"

Luckily, before Jerry can breach any additional subjects of national security, the ship is attacked by, you guessed it -- A GIANT MONSTER! And what does one do when attacked on a ship by a giant monster? Of course! You jump into the ocean -- towards the creature!

Alas, the brilliant plan works, and Johnny and Jerry are washed ashore on an island. But before the two can breathe that heavy sigh of relief, they discover that the island is run by the evil Gargoyle Gang, sworn enemies of mankind (mankind as in people, not Mick Foley), and they especially dislike agents of UNICORN.

Now this brings up the question: what's an easy way to tell if a gGiant Robot's most formidable enemy to date: The Rythm Nation!ang is evil? Well, if skulls are embroidered on their uniforms (and/or their jaunty berets), that is a good indication of badness. Another tell-tale trait is if they take the time to end each sentence with a maniacal laugh. So, in summary, maniacal laugh + skulls = the bad guys. (Back to the review already in progress...)

Johnny and Jerry are immediately captured by the Gargoyles, and taken in for questioning. We then discover that the Gargoyle Gang is in cahoots with  Emperor Guillotine (the guy in the flying saucer), an evil alien with a jewel in his forehead, bent on taking over the world. (Original concept.) And what's the best method for success when attempting to take over the world? Sure! You bring a big monster (Dracolon: the Great Sea Monster, to be exact) to smash some buildings and raise some hell! It makes perfect sense when you think about it! It then takes the Gargoyles roughly two minutes of interrogation before Jerry and Johnny escape -- which must be some kind of incompetence record. "...and to the Republic, for which it stands..."

While escaping through the Gargoyle compound, our heroes discover -- the Giant Robot! I guess it was inevitable, with the title and all. It's there that they also run into Dr. Lucious Guardian, a scientist being held being held captive by the Gargoyles, and forced to create the aforementioned robot as a weapon of mass destruction. Well, you didn't think they wanted it for candy sales or a fund-raising carwash, did you?

Dr. Guardian explains to the duo that the only element missing for the Robot to become fully operational is an atomic blast (sounds practical enough...), and the only person who will be able to control the Robot is the first voice it hears on a specially-designed wristwatch. As Johnny puts on the wat*ding* "Next floor: Shoes, Lingerie and Giant Robots."ch (why Dr Guardian would let some punk kid play around with the watch is beyond me..), the Gargoyle Gang finally catch up to them. Dr Guardian then grabs a gun and tells Johnny and Jerry to run, and that he'll hold them off. This is a nice notion by the doctor, and it's a shame when he's killed about three and a half seconds later. Not the most effective diversion. But come to find out, the Doctor has one last trick up his sleeve: an atomic bomb set to explode in just a few minutes. An amazing coincidence with him running into the heroes at just that last second, wasn't it?

Anyway, Johnny and Jerry, of course, escape just as the atomic bomb goes off and the entire compound bursts into flames. Now, being that it was an atomic blast, wouldn't that have had an effect on our heroes, being that they were merely 50 or 60 feet away from the detonation? I guess I'm just being nit-picky. What the atomic blast does succeed in doing is activating the Giant Robot. Remembering that he was still wearing the communicator watch, Johnny"You know, after a while it just seems redundant..." immediately takes control of the Giant Robot, and orders him to fly them back home. As they fly back to Tokyo (at least that's where I assumed they were going), UNICORN contacts Jerry and tells him that the city is under attack by Dracolon. And it's about damn time! Hell, the episode only had about five minutes left! So, it's then time for a detour as Johnny orders the Giant Robot to save the day and destroy Dracolon, but not necessarily in that order.

Though, as usual, I have once again accentuated the negative of this film (er..TV episode) in my review, in all actuality, I thoroughly enjoyed Johnny Sokko and His Giant Robot. It may be due to the fact that I grew up with him and Ultraman (which was my favorite), and have always harbored fond memories of the two. The show was just as campy and fun as I remembered it, and I highly recommend checking it out if given the chance. Though it may be poor in execution, it's never short on fun.

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These are the times of which to cherish...

 

Jet Pilot Helmets....OF THE FUTURE!!!

In the future, jet pilots wear motorcycle helmets.

- While under hot pursuit by the Gargoyle Gang, Johnny and Jerry have plenty of time to talk to Dr. Guardian and get the full-story on both himself and the Giant Robot. Would that have really been an ideal time for chit-chat?

When I was that age, my watch only played Q-Bert! 

The very first time Giant Robot goes into battle, Johnny is ordering him around like an old pro, telling him to use his "Atomic Punch" and "Rocket Missiles." The problem is, Dr. Guardian never told Johnny any specifics or intricate details on utilizing the features of the Robot. Does it have an owner's manual in the glove compartment, or something?

That's giving him "the finger!" *ba da bing!*

Finally, I have to seriously question Giant Robot's battle efficiency. Before he fires any weapon, before he can make any strike to his opponent, Giant Robot first has to go through a variety of kata-like stances before any action takes place. It's like he's doing the Macarena in the middle of battle. Cut the theatrics and whoop some tail, man!

 

 

Doesn't appear to be available at Amazon.com. Sorry.

What? Now we're not good enough for ya?!

Dante's Inferno

 

 

-- Copyright 2000 by J. Bannerman

 

 

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