Monday, October 24, 2011

ULTRAMAN MONDAYS: Secret of Miroganda

Every Monday I review an episode from the classic Ultraman television series.

Episode 05: "Secret of Miroganda" (catch up on past episodes)

aka. "Treasure of the Miloganda" / "Greenmons Appears"

Original Air Date: August 14, 1966

Featured Monster:  Greenmons


A giant radioactive plant monster is killing all the members of a scientific expedition. Is the vegetation vengeful or does some other instinct motivate the mutant monster? The Science Patrol gets to the bottom of the mystery and puts an end to the plant's terror with a little help from Ultraman.


This week's installment of Ultraman isn't much of an improvement over last week's adventure about a giant cranky merman. This week, the sets and visual effects are much better, but the monster costume and story are still incredibly boring.

"Feed me, Seymour!"
The episode doesn't start off too badly. A reporter's car goes kidding off the road when it slips on a gleaming green mucus. When the reporter climbs out of the car he's suddenly attacked by a green, leafy beast that suffocates him in a choking green mist.

Your death in shadow puppet theatre
Shortly afterwards, a slimy green sheet of plant-like material crawls under the door into a geologist's office. I morphs into the same plant-like creature, choking the geologist to death in the same cloud of poisonous green pollen. Two grisly deaths in less than two minutes, and we're off to the races as the Science Patrol is called in to investigate.

Reminds me of the skin that forms on top of old green Jello
The team splits up: Ide and Arashi go to investigate a third murder, that of Dr. Yamada at his research lab where he had been experimenting with radiation and plants to create giant vegetation. He recently returned from an island expedition where he was accompanied by the reporter, geologist, a zoologist, and a photographer. They brought back the large and colourful miroganda plant because Dr. Yamada was interested in improving on the species with his radiation experiments. Now, three of the party are dead and the miroganda is missing.

"That's no moon...."
Meanwhile, Cap and Hayata investigate the murder of the reporter and the geologist. At both scenes, a perplexing mucus is discovered. Bearing traces of radiation, the substance appears to be mucin -- a constituent of mucus found in many animals -- but bonded with chlorophyll, a constituent of plants. Arashi theorizes that the miroganda could have been exposed to radiation and mutated to enormous size, but no one is willing to take the logical step and suggest a giant plant monster may be on the loose. In a world where we've encountered aquatic aliens, giant ninja space lobsters, invisible quadrupeds that eat electricity, and angry mutant fish men, no one is willing to just run with the idea of a giant plant monster.

Oh no, not the family vacation slides again.
I'm not sure if I missed a scene or something was cut from the episode, but the Science Patrol decide to protect the last remaining member of the science team, except by my count there are two left. I don't recall hearing or seeing the death of the zoologist, but I must have missed something because Science Patrol has devoted its time to protecting the last surviving member, a female reporter. From her, we learn that the miroganda was brought back from the island after she was attacked by a strange insectivorous plant that was in the water near the miroganda. From this scant information and his random knowledge of botany, Hayata concludes that the ugly, insectivorous plant was actually the juvenile form of the beautiful adult miroganda. Dr. Yamada's radiation experiments must have reverted the miroganda back into a mutated form of its juvenile state. Furthermore, the plant monster (known as Greenmons in Japan), is killing the science team members because they drank the special water on the island that it needs to survive. Will the reporter be safe?

Although the Science Patrol stands on guard, Greenmons comes for the reporter and attacks Arashi. For those keeping score, Arashi has been the only Science Patrol member to get attacked and hurt by monsters in the last three Ultraman episodes. He gets gassed and then Greenmons starts to make love to Arashi's face.

Arashi, you gonna wear me like a sleeping bag, boy.
The Science Patrol save Arashi and fight off Greenmons with their lasers, but the laser energy only serves to make Greenmons larger and more powerful. Greenmons resurfaces in a nearby city during a visually impressive entrance as he smashes into frame straight through a skyscraper in the background.

No one steps on a church in my town
Can we talk about the Greenmons costume for a minute? It looks like a big green turdgina, doesn't it? It's basically no more complex than a green latex blanket with some lights thrown over an actor. It cuts a nice silhouette on the, admittedly, impressive miniature city scape built for the final showdown, but come on. This is weak, even for Ultraman standards.

The original green thumb
The fight doesn't last long and isn't very interesting to watch because the Greenmons suit has all maneuverability of a straight jacket. Ultraman comes in with an energetic flying kick, but Greenmons just flops around, crushing buildings, and spraying Ultraman with green shit. Somehow, Greenmons's pathetic attacks cause Ultraman to lose a lot of juice; his colour timer starts to blink. And in the most anticlimactic moment yet, Ultraman lackadaisically lines up his specium ray and blasts Greenmons right in the vegina hole.

Even the Ultraman costume looks bored
And to cap off the least energetic Ultraman fight yet, Greenmons, the giant green bath mat, goes up in toxic flames.

What begins as an interesting creature feature unravels into a tedious mystery about a giant plant that, as it turns out, is pretty useless in a fight. Lovely miniature office buildings and skyscrapers go to waste in the final battle, with only a few buildings demolished and some random violence against a clock tower. I guess time waits for no Greenmons. Get it?

Bleh. As with last week, this episode of Ultraman was a serious let down. But then again, there's always next week. Five down, 34 to go. Won't you join me?

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