April Fools' Day 2018
by Nicholas Driscoll (original by John LeMay)
April 2, 2018
Blog
 

April Fools' Day 2018Some time ago John LeMay wrote this set of fake Zone Fighter synopses (he estimated to me that it was about three years ago he wrote them), and he wanted to know if we would use it for our April Fools article this year. Anthony liked the idea, but the original version of LeMay's article stated that the episode synopses had been found on a website. Anthony rewrote the explanatory paragraph so that the synopses were instead found in an imaginary book called Godzilla Generations and even put together a fake book cover.

I thought it would be fun to add a bit of extra detail (and maybe a bit of extra plausibility) from my manga collection. I noticed that LeMay claimed Gabara had an electric beam power that shot out of his fingers, and by some coincidence Gabara also had that power in the manga adaptation of All Monsters Attack, so I scanned an image from the manga to include in the article and rewrote the synopsis a little bit. Also, LeMay did not describe episode 36 in his original article, so I thought it would be entertaining to look through the Zone Fighter manga to see if there were any original stories that I could pretend was actually an adaptation of one of the unmade script ideas. I got more than I bargained for with "Zone Fighter Crisis Attempt," which is a real manga. The synopsis I provided is an accurate one--even down to the sex doll (seen to the left)! The story itself could be considered original or a very, very loose adaptation of episode 7 from the show.

Below is the original prank, preserved. I hope you enjoyed this year's April Fools! Have a great day!

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Zone Fighter: Unproduced Episodes 27-39

April Fools' Day 2018Fans are becoming more involved in tracking down and deciphering Japanese books. It's been encouraging to see, and a wealth of information is being revealed for the first time in English thanks to their efforts. That brings us to today's subject: a late 1999 book called Godzilla Generations (ゴジラ ジェネレーションズ) released by Shogakukan, and a particular section of the book that gives some surprising revelations!

The publication, pictured to the right, has the misfortune of literally having the same name as the Dreamcast video game, Godzilla Generations, which was released a year before and makes this book hard to track down. In terms of contents, it focuses largely on the, then recent, Godzilla 2000: Millennium (1999) although also devotes coverage to past Godzilla movies.... and TV shows. One of the biggest surprises from it are a batch of script synopsis for unproduced episodes of Zone Fighter (1973)!

For those less familiar with the show, which features Godzilla in a supporting role in a few episodes, it had a surprising finale. That is to say that episode 26 failed to wrap up the story of the Sakimori's and the Garoga. Typically all Japanese TV series conclude their main storylines, such as the Ultraman series which then follows up with a new sequel series rather than a continuation. Apparently the storyline wasn't concluded because Toho had plans to do another batch of 13 episodes starting in the Spring of 1974 around the time of Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1974). 

The scripts are nothing fantastic, and as expected create a few errors in continuity here and there. However, fans would’ve been delighted as they contained even more familiar Toho monsters than were seen in the first 26 episodes! Not surprisingly these monsters were all suits that existed at the time, such as Anguirus, Jet Jaguar and Godzilla again to name a few. As a further cost saving manner nearly all of the enemy monsters were also holdovers from the first 26 episodes.

The scripts are nothing fantastic, and as expected create a few errors in continuity here and there. However, fans would've been delighted as they contained even more familiar Toho monsters than were seen in the first 26 episodes! Not surprisingly these monsters were all suits that existed at the time, such as Anguirus, Jet Jaguar and Godzilla again to name a few. As a further cost saving manner nearly all of the enemy monsters were also holdovers from the first 26 episodes.

So, with no further ado, here are brief synopses of the unproduced episodes!

Episode 27: Godzilla Captured! The Roar of Anguirus

The episode begins with the Garoga watching footage of past battles with Zone Fighter and Godzilla. The aliens concur that the only way to defeat Zone Fighter is to capture his ally Godzilla. To trap the monster, they entice him into a battle in Tokyo with the monster Spideros (the Garoga have distracted the Sakimori family in another subplot) and then capture Godzilla. In what surely would've been a ludicrous scene, Godzilla is placed within a giant cage in the middle of the city. Hikaru transforms into Zone Fighter to battle Spideros but when Spyler joins the battle he becomes hopelessly outmatched. Just as in Godzilla's first appearance on the series, Anguirus shows up seemingly out of nowhere to assist in the battle when Zone Jr. launches the Zobot to call for help (but there is an expository line from Zone Jr. how Anguirus is a monster of justice and Godzilla's greatest ally). Anguirus aids Zone in defeating Spyler, and then uses his back-slamming maneuver from Godzilla vs. Gigan (1972) to break open the door of Godzilla's cage. Godzilla then exits his cage and fires his ray on Spideros at the same time as Zone fires his proton beam and the beast explodes.

Episode 28: Wings of Justice: Rodan Soars! 

Apparently Toho had enough faith in their old Rodan suit to write the monster a guest spot in the next episode. This isn’t entirely unbelievable as the King Ghidorah suit that appeared in episodes 5 and 6 was just as old and a picture exists showing the Rodan suit in relatively good condition as late as 1972 (reportedly it was being displayed in department store displays). Unlike Godzilla, Rodan doesn’t appear out of the blue to save the day and has a more ambiguous introduction. In this episode the Garogas unleash the bird monster Prehistoric Terror-Beast Black Radon (I assume this actually translates as “Dark Rodan” as the monster is described as pink in color). The monster attracts the attention of Rodan, who looks upon this female monster as a potential mate! When Zone appears to dispatch the monster Rodan naturally sides with his “crush” to fight Zone. Black Radon promptly flees leaving Zone and Rodan, who surprisingly overpowers Zone, to fight it out. Zone Jr. (always one for exposition) remarks how Rodan is really a monster of justice and an ally of Godzilla and must be confused. Zone Great later ascertains that Rodan is helping the monster because he is a slave to its pheromones and comes up with an anti-pheromone which will free him from the evil monster’s influence. When Black Radon returns to wreak havoc on Hokkaido Rodan also returns to woo his potential mate but when Angel and Jr. deploy the anti-pheromone via Smokey the flying kaiju comes to his senses. When Zone appears to challenge the monsters Rodan switches sides and together he and Zone defeat Black Radon. As Rodan soars off the Sakimori’s wave goodbye as the narrator announces that the Sakimori family was happy to see that “Rodan was really a monster of Justice after all.” Not much is said about Black Radon’s design, but considering Toho’s close working relationship with Tsuburaya Productions its very well possible that they might have planned on loaning them the Birdon suit from 1973’s Ultraman Taro

Episode 29: Endless Nightmare: Defeat the Dream Monster!

Zone Fighter: Unproduced Episodes 27-39
From the All Monsters Attack manga adaptation, Gabara roasts Minilla with his electric finger rays, which were going to finally be realized in the second season of Zone Fighter.

In one of the Garoga’s more outlandish plots they unleash the dream monster Gabara (yes, that Gabara) to torment the children of Japan, the plan being that they will no longer be able to focus on their school work thus ruining the country’s economic future. Akira has the dream also and tries to fight Gabara in his Zone Jr. form to no avail. As the monster seems to only exist within dreams Zone has no way of fighting the monster. Eventually, Zone Great creates a machine that allows the Zone family to see inside Akira’s mind when he dreams. When Gabara appears on the dream monitor, Zone inexplicably flies into the dream (Zone also flies into a TV set in Episode 4) and is thus able to battle Gabara. It’s no surprise Toho would want to gain some more mileage out of the Gabara suit as it also appeared on Go! Greenman. In the episode he would also have the ability to fire an electric beam from his fingertip. Had this episode been produced, it would officially have made Gabara part of the Showa Continuity, rather than the real world dream continuity of All Monsters Attack (1969). 

According to a side-bar discussing the background of this episode, Gabara was originally meant to be able to shoot electric beams from his fingers, and was even shown to do so in the manga adaptation of All Monsters Attack. We were able to confirm that Gabara is indeed shown to have finger-beam abilities in the recently republished manga adaptation, as can be seen above.


Episode 30:  Gigan’s Counterattack

Though the monster notoriously died in Episode 11: Roar of Godzilla, with the suit still in good condition Toho decided to write in another appearance for the monster (plus they probably saw Gigan as popular, since they also had a good suit of Megalon at this time, but he doesn't appear in the show). They didn’t throw continuity to the wind however, and at the beginning of the episode it is stated that the Garoga have “rebuilt” Gigan even more powerful than before. Perhaps not wanting to make the same mistake twice, at this episode’s end Gigan merely retreats back into space free from Garoga control. 

Episode 31: King Goro Lends a Hand

A giant ape, the conspicuously named King Goro, is set to go on display in a Tokyo Zoo. The Garoga see this as a prime example to cause a distraction while they unleash their newest scheme to poison the Tokyo water supply. While the friendly King Goro does tricks to amuse the zoo goers, the Garoga put out a frequency to drive the giant ape mad. Zone Fighter jumps into action and does his best to peacefully subdue the peaceful Goro. In the end, it is only through the charms of Zone Angel, whom naturally gets picked up in Goro's hand, that the giant ape is calmed (but only so long as he holds onto her). Seeing this, the Garoga snatch Hotaru from Goro and he returns to his rampage. Meanwhile Jou has uncovered the Garoga's evil water poisoning scheme which he alerts the Sakimoris to. As Hikaru and Zone Jr. attack the Garoga at the water plant they also disable the frequency that angers King Goro. Free of the signal, the giant ape singles out the alien invaders and chases after one of their escaping saucers. As he clutches it from the air it explodes and transforms into a Terro-Beast. Zone Fighter transforms into his giant size and together he and Goro defeat the Terro-Beast. At the episode's end the Sakimoris wave goodbye to King Goro who is swimming back to his island.

Now for the million dollar question on everyone's minds: Was King Goro a stand in for King Kong? I think so for two reasons, chief among them that the King Kong suit still existed at this time and was in relatively good shape being displayed at department stores. Second, Goro was the name given to the Kong suit when it guest starred in "Goro Meet Goro" in an episode of Ultra Q. Whether Toho could have gotten away with using an obvious King Kong stand in is unknown, but since the program wasn't ever set to air in America perhaps they thought no one would notice?

Episode 32: Underground Monster Noregon 

The monster Noregon sounds reminiscent of the silver drill monster from Episode 11 with its burrowing powers and silver color scheme except it was quadrupedal. The monster sounds somewhat like an evil version of Anguirus, but with smooth impenetrable metal scutes along its back instead of spikes in addition to a conical shaped face/snout. Actually, it's entirely possible Toho planned to use the Anguirus suit in a modified fashion to bring the monster to life.

Episode 33: Jet Jaguar: Punch! Punch! Punch!

While attending an expo on robotics, the Sakimori family is impressed (particularly young Akira) by the robot Jet Jaguar who serves as one of the main exhibits. When Garoga spies infiltrate the expo to uncover the secret of Jet Jaguar a fight ensues between they and the Sakimoris. The Garoga’s then send their monster Wagiglar to attack the expo, and before Hikaru can transform Jet Jaguar jumps into action and grows to gigantic proportions to battle the monster which he defeats. The Garoga take note of the robot’s power and in the episode’s second act manage to kidnap and take control of the robot. Jet Jaguar grows to giant size again and begins attacking Tokyo. Hikaru is at a loss as to how to fight the robot whom he knows is benevolent and the episode ends on a cliffhanger as the two square off. It’s notable to mention Norio Komata (credited writer, who did prior Zone Fighter episodes) didn’t write in an appearance for Goro Ibuki in either episode, as he likely knew actor Katsuhiko Sasaki wouldn’t reprise the role on the small screen. And being a children’s show nor did he likely worry about the continuity issue and instead Jet Jaguar just shows up devoid of an owner sort of like a robotic Herbie the Love Bug. 

Episode 34: Jet Jaguar’s Counterattack!

Under the control of the Garoga, Jet Jaguar continues his rampage until Zone Fighter (at the protest of younger brother Akira) goes to challenge the robot. Though he keeps the upper hand, Zone Fighter finds himself unable to deliver the killing blow to the robot which retreats back to the Garoga Base. Knowing that Zone Fighter won’t destroy the robot, the Garoga send it on yet another tour of destruction, this time threatening an amusement park full of children. Zone Fighter regretfully returns to battle the robot while Akira yells to him that he is no longer his brother if he destroys Jet Jaguar. As Zone fights Jet Jaguar who has now teamed with Wagiglar to destroy the amusement park, Zone Jr. and Zone Angel manage to infiltrate the hidden Garoga Base and free Jet Jaguar of their control. Regaining his senses, Jet Jaguar teams with Zone to defeat Wagiglar once more. Once the battle is finished the two Sentai shake hands and go their separate ways. 

Episode 35: Betrayal: Defeat Godzilla!

After the battle with Jet Jaguar, the Garogas know they have found a winning formula in pitting Zone Fighter against an ally he is reluctant to harm. As such, the shape shifting monster "X" (no relation at all to Monster X from Godzilla: Final Wars [2004]) is born. Described as a mud-like creature in its true form, the monster takes on the appearance of Zone’s friend Godzilla and begins destroying Japan much to the Sakimori’s horror and confusion. After an intense battle Hikaru is unable to deliver the killing blow to his old friend and the monster mysteriously vanishes. When it reappears in the episode’s third act the real Godzilla appears to challenge his impostor, more or less repeating a famous scene from Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1974). Together the duo face "X" and overcome him. 

Episode 36: Zone Angel Crisis Attempt

This episode, which has a humorous bent, follows the frustrated Gold Garoga leader as he berates his minions as to their repeated failings. A Garoga scientist suggests a new strategy in which Hotaru would be replaced by an evil robotic double who could infiltrate and destroy the Zone Family (yes, this is very, very similar to the plot of Episode 7: Zone Family's Critical Moment!). In fact, the scientists have already made one of these robot doubles. When Gold Garoga goes to see the new Hotaru robot, he is infuriated to see what appears to be an inflatable sex doll of Hotaru (!?), labeled a failure! However a real evil robot version of Hotaru also exists, and soon is enlisted to go and destroy the Zone Family. Meanwhile, the Zone Family are planning to head out on a hike and have a picnic. The real Hotaru, however, is conveniently off shopping for snacks for the hike, and the rest of the family goes on ahead without her. The evil robot Hotaru soon captures the real Hotaru, and takes a set of poisoned cakes to use to murder the rest of the Zone Family. All seems to be going according to plan until the Zone Family grandfather trips and falls on the cakes, and through a mixture of bumbling Garogas and luck, the real Hotaru is able to escape, change into Zone Angel, and arrive at the picnic to fight her evil double. When the robot double has her cover blown, she changes into a bulky Garoga, and the story ends with a humorous fight. What is most interesting about this episode is that a manga version exists (recently republished in the Godzilla All DVD Collection Box Vol. 39), so we can provide images of key scenes below.

Zone Fighter: Unproduced Episodes 27-39 Zone Fighter: Unproduced Episodes 27-39
Hotaru meets her evil robot double at the candy shop from the manga adaptation of Episode 36. Hotaru is forced to watch as her evil double serves poison-filled cakes to her family.

 

Episode 37: Rise of the Ancient Guardian Monster! Monsters Converge on Cape Zanpa 

This episode, and its guest monster of choice (King Caesar) shows a great deal of foresight on Toho’s part. In all likelihood this batch of episodes was written in late December of 1973, shortly before Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1974) went before cameras. In this episode the Garogas decide that trying to conquer all of Japan is futile, so they set their sights on the island of Okinawa instead, believing its conquest will crush the spirit of the Japanese people. Conveniently (as was often the case of children’s TV shows) the Sakimori family just happen to be visiting Okinawa when the Garoga unleash their new monster Killagon. In the final battle Zone is unable to overcome the monster as they battle on a beach. One of the monster’s energy rays strikes a rocky outcropping which awakens…you guessed it…King Caesar who joins the battle with Zone. Together the duo defeat the kaiju, and when all is said and done the Sakimori’s wave goodbye to Caesar as he re-enters his cave chamber (likely to be stock footage from the 1974 Godzilla film to save time and money).  This episode would have been somewhat ironic, as Zone Fighter lead Kazuya Aoyama also played a lead role in Godzilla vs. Mechagodzilla (1974) as another character. 

Episode 38: Peaceland Rediscovered

In the penultimate episode while looking through their telescope, Akira sees what appears to be their destroyed home planet of Peaceland, though Zone Great assures them that this can’t be. The family debates about flying into space to find it. Reluctantly Zone Great sacrifices the last of his life force so that Zone can fly far enough into space to investigate (oddly, children’s shows in Japan loved to kill off main characters in tragic ways). Zone is imprisoned. The Garoga then send the monster "X" in the form of Zone Fighter to begin destroying Japan to destroy the people’s trust while he is imprisoned.  

Episode 39: Zone Fighter Triumphant!

Godzilla shows up to face his old friend in a reverse of Episode 35’s scenario. The Garoga also unleash their ultimate monster Garugan (a holdover from the old Monsters Converge on Okinawa script, but would have required a new suit... which is abnormal for this season). It states that a monster (it doesn't state who this is, but probably reused from an earlier episode) shows up to help and Godzilla is defeated by the three monsters. The mystery monster oddly doesn't return for the final battle (this is in all likelihood due to the fact that Toho only had four suit performers at a time, and thus only four monsters could be onscreen at any given time). In a surprise move, Hotaru Sakimori transforms into her own giant form to assist her brother (the idea that Hotaru could transform into a giant female hero was something originally scripted for the series but was cut for budgetary reasons, making it all the more surprising that Toho would include it in the finale). Together, the Zone siblings fight off the monster, destroying the last of the Garoga’s Terror-Beast Army. As the last Garoga craft tries to escape Zone blasts it from the sky. The final shot was to be the Zone Family running through the countryside with Takeru Jou, the earth now safe for good.