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SHIFTING A 'SACRED SITE'

Ultraman the hero … again!

by Edan Corkill

SCENE ONE — Television production company Tsuburaya Productions’ “Monster Archive,” a two-story wooden shed used for storing “monsters” from long-running TV and film franchises such as “Ultraman.” The location is Kinuta, Setagaya Ward, Tokyo; the date is mid-February 2008.

A cleaner emerges from the second floor of the storeroom and walks down an external staircase, where another cleaner is waiting.

Cleaner 1: Did you hear they’re planning to tear this place down, sell the land and move all the monsters to some spiffy new storeroom?

Cleaner 2: Really? They’re going to move the Monster Archive . . . ? But this place is known as a “sacred site” in the history of live-action science-fiction TV production! That’s big news!

Cleaner 1: It is. But, you know, if they’re going to do it, I think they ought to be careful.

Cleaner 2: What do you mean?

Cleaner 1: Well, some of the monsters have been here since the 1960s, right? That’s over 40 years. Listen, (whispering) I haven’t told anyone this, but, the other day, I think I saw Antlar move!

Cleaner 2: You mean the monster with big beetle-like horns who appeared in Episode 7 of the original “Ultraman” TV program in 1966?! But it’s just a rubber body suit! Everyone knows the monsters in Ultraman were really actors in suits.

Cleaner 1: You believe what you want. All I’m saying is they’d better be careful!

SCENE TWO — Headquarters of the Tokyo branch of Science Patrol, an interplanetary police force that protects the Earth from monsters and aliens.

Akiko Fuji, cup of tea in hand, is operating a wall-mounted radio. Behind her sit her fellow Science Patrol team members — the dashing Hayata, the bumbling Ide and the brave Arashi. Their leader, Captain Muramatsu, paces back and forth.

Fuji: Captain, we have just received communication from Tsuburaya Productions that preparations for the relocation are now complete.

Captain: Men, this may be our most important mission to date. Over the years we’ve repelled the attacks of thousands of monsters. Of course, on many of those occasions, the 40-meter-tall benevolent alien Ultraman has provided invaluable assistance.

Hayata shifts uneasily in his chair.

Captain: This will come as a surprise to you, but it appears many of those monsters were stored in a kind of archive operated by a company called Tsuburaya Productions.

Ide: (thinking aloud) Tsuburaya, eh? That name sounds vaguely familiar . . .

Captain: Now the problem is that Tsuburya Productions needs to close down the current archive, because it is too old.

Hayata: Where will the new one be located, Captain?

Captain: They said that’s a secret. If the location gets out then hordes of die-hard monster fans will converge on the location. Such people are called otaku — which apparently means something like “geeks.”

Arashi: You mean they enjoy mixing it with monsters? Maybe we should inform our recruiters.

Hayata: How old is the storehouse, Captain?

SCENE THREE — The four members of Science Patrol are standing outside the storehouse.

Arashi: It’s made of wood.

Hayata: Unusual in this day and age. And it’s in the middle of a residential area.

Captain: No one knows exactly when it was built, but it was probably in the 1950s. Anyway, all of the monsters are inside, apparently in a drug-induced state of hibernation. Whatever you do, just don’t wake them up.

Arashi and Ide enter, followed by Captain and Hayata. More than 40 human- size monsters are arranged in lines in the middle of the storeroom. The light is dim, lending the room an ominous air.

Arashi: Hey! There’s Alien Miracle!

Ide: Shhhhh!

Arashi: (whispering) He’s the one with the big ears, remember? And there’s Red Giras. And Megaflash and Keronia and . . .

Cut to Hayata and Captain, who remain near the entrance.

Hayata: (whispering) Captain, there’s a handwritten sign on this pylon saying “one-piece dresses.”

Captain: (whispering) Before Tsuburaya took over, the storeroom was used for film and TV costumes.

Arashi returns.

Arashi: (whispering) Captain, are you sure these are the real monsters. They look a bit like rubber suits.

Captain: Arashi, if they’re in hibernation, they’re as harmless as rubber suits. But if something were to wake them . . .

Ide is deep in the storeroom, and his distant voice can barely be heard.

Ide: (yelling) Hey, Captain, I found Antlar back here. Remember? The one that looks like a giant beetle!

Captain: Ide, come back out here, it’s dangerous. You never know when they might . . .

Ide: AAAAHHH. Help!

Antlar: GGRRRAAHHGG!

Captain: Arashi, help him!

Antlar has Ide in a bear hug. Arashi runs in, steadies and shoots Antlar with his Science Patrol-issue “supergun.’

Antlar: (wounded) AAAAOOOOHHH!

Back at the storeroom entrance.

Captain: Good work, boys. Good, but . . . if my calculations are correct, there is a small chance that the ray from your supergun combined with the hibernating drug might cause a chemical reaction, making Antlar grow in size to about 40 meters in height!

Ide: Oh no!

Captain: By the way, where’s Hayata?

Cut to Hayata, sneaking around the back of the storeroom. He reaches into his pocket and pulls out his “beta capsule,” holds it up in his right hand, pushes the button and whoosh! Red flash! Blue flash! He turns into ULTRAMAN!

Cut to Ultraman flying through Space.

Cut to Captain et al.

Arashi: Captain, Antlar is growing!

Antlar, growing rapidly, smashes through the roof of the storeroom.

Ide: Good thing they built a new storeroom.

Ultraman lands and confronts Antlar.

Arashi: It’s Ultraman!

Ide: It’s Ultraman!

Ultraman and Antlar trade punches, karate chops, knee thrusts and throws. At one point, Antlar throws Ultraman just as the “colortimer” on Ultraman’s chest begins to flash red, indicating his energy reserves are low.

Deep-voiced narration: Ultraman consumes his stored solar energy faster when he is on Earth. He must return to Space before the red light stops flashing or he will collapse and not get up!

Ultraman stumbles to one knee, holds his arms in the “regular” formation that gives his hand laser powers, and zaps Antlar with his trusty “specium ray.’

Ide: He shot Antlar.

Arashi: Antlar’s down!

All: Hooray for Ultraman!

With Antlar vanquished, Ultraman flies up to Space for an energy recharge, then returns, picks up the remaining monsters and flies off with them — headed for the new Tsuburaya Productions storage facility.

SCENE FOUR — New storage facility. The location is somewhere in Tokyo; the date is March 2008.

The same two cleaners are standing by a sink, with the “monsters” visible through an open door to one side.

Cleaner 2: Well, the move went well, didn’t it? There were TV crews and I saw a foreign journalist, too!

Cleaner 1: (whispering) You remember what I was saying about Antlar? Well, today, I think I heard him groaning . . .