Ultraman 1.37 – The Little Hero

What a delightfully oddball episode. It starts with Pigmon, the human-sized monster we met way back in episode eight, barking and hopping around in a department store toy department. Bizarrely, Pigmon has found the Ultraman monster aisle, and some of the beasts that you, young viewer, can pester your parents to purchase are available on the store’s shelves.

After several days working with scientists to translate Pigmon’s barking, we learn that Pigmon has come to warn the Science Patrol that a super-monster called Geronimon has resurrected all the dead enemies of Ultraman and the Patrol to destroy everybody. Why he decided to pick Pigmon as one of the first three is anybody’s guess. The others are Telesdon (from episode 22) and Dorako (from episode 25). Unfortunately the script claims that they’re Red King and Gabora, but the promise of something new and wild is there.

It is a tiny little letdown that we only get a couple of returning foes instead of a Destroy All Monsters free-for-all, but it’s still one of the very best fight scenes in the series, and to be fair, these may have been the only old suits available. Others were cannibalized for other monsters or discarded after being set on fire and otherwise damaged in the making of the show. The suit for the previous episode’s monster, for example, was actually a refurbished Gomora (from episodes 26-27) with a new head.

Pigmon dies in action, heroically saving Ito from Dorako, leading to a solemn and very cheesy finale with the Science Patrol removing their helmets and stoically saluting while a military hymn is hummed on the soundtrack. The grownups kept from laughing, even as we could imagine Crow and Tom Servo just falling apart over it. It would have been a little disrespectful to our son to giggle at something that intended to be sad and meaningful. Part of why it’s important to watch programs with an audience of the intended age is so you can see how the thing works for viewers that age. It’s only us boring grownups who care about reused costumes and riffing.

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