31 (Japanese) Monsters #5: Opticon
While drive-in theaters and TV horror host shows were among the chief U.S. importers of giant Japanese monsters in the ’60s and ’70s, it was actually quite possible to get a daily kaiju fix. All you needed was an independent television station with especially low programming standards.
In Chicago, that station was WSNS, Channel 44. It’s now a Telemundo affiliate, but in the early ’70s it funneled endless hours of cheap, dubbed Japanese kids’ shows into young, moldable brains. Ultraman was by far the best of the lot. As for the others, it was pretty much a race to be the most ridiculous. While Spectreman took home the gold, Johnny Sokko and His Flying Robot was a close contender.
Johnny Sokko (aka Giant Robo in Japan) was a live-action show about a kid who wound up owning an enormous, rocket-propelled and horribly beweaponed automaton purely by dint of being the first person to speak into its remote control. As all robot-owning children inevitably were, Johnny found himself drafted into a spy organization. Unicorn used its super-science to fend off invasion by alien Emperor Guillotine and his Gargoyle Gang.
Here’s a fun fact: both Johnny and his friend Mari (a 9-year-old girl) not only carried guns, but engaged in shootouts with Guillotine’s agents. Ladies and gentlemen, kids’ TV circa 1972.
One of the most memorable menaces foisted on Earth by the Gargoyle Gang was the terrible…
|Monster Island Nickname||Squints|
|Hails From||An Unbelievably Large Face Somewhere|
|Movies Appeared In
(not counting stock footage)
|1 (strictly speaking, a TV series)|
A flying eyeball with dangling, jellyfish-like tentacles, Opticon has strange powers beyond those of mortal sense organs. He (or she? it’s hard to tell) can emit a blinding beam of light and create a vortex that sucks people and even automobiles into his pupil. Where they become Gargoyle’s prisoners. Somehow.
In one scene, he fires a rocket with a note tied to it. That’s right, the would-be Emperor of Earth sends his ultimatums by handwritten letter.
When it comes time for the throwdown with Giant Robo, Opticon conveniently grows a pair of legs. (According to one of the Unicorn agents, Opticon floats by night and walks by day, but really, that’s just wild speculation on his part.) Robo mercilessly pummels him in the eyeball. That may seem cruel, but keep in mind that Opticon is pretty much all eyeball. The monster gets in a couple of kicks with its newly-minted limbs, but–lacking arms–is at a pretty severe disadvantage.
Another one of Emperor Guillotine’s minions is a giant, flying hand. If it ever teamed up with Opticon, the pair would be unstoppable!