Mystery Science Theater 3000: FUGITIVE ALIEN
June 24, 2015 10:59 PM - Season 3, Episode 10 - Subscribe

(1978, Color, Japan, Sandy Frank, Music, Forklift Homicide, Intro, Classic) Two episodes of the Japanese TV show Star Wolf (スターウルフ) merge into a sorta-movie by our old fiend Sandy Frank. Ken is a Wolf Raider, one of a band of space pirates, but after turning against his culture when they tried to kill an Earth kid (also named Ken), he throws his lot in with hard-drinking Captain Joe and the crew of his ship, the Bacchus III. Hey! I made a Metafilter post about this show once! It has AWESOME MUSIC, which Joel and company make good use of. I tell you truly, this is one of the best shows the Brains ever made. The movie is extremely goofy, yet still kind of watchable and likeable, and the riffing is top-notch. If you can like MST3K, you will like this. Good times ahead! YouTube. (1h40m) First aired August 17, 1991. BONUS: It's not for newbies, but you can watch the guys' first take on this movie that aired on KTMA TV! YouTube (1h43m)

Annotated MST3K - Daddy-O

IMDB (2.1 stars)
Directed by Minoru Kanaya and Kiyosumi Kuzakawa. Written by Keiichi Abe, Bunzô Wakatsuki, Yoshihisa Araki, Hiroyasu Yamamura, Hideyoshi Nagasaki and Toyohiro Andô. Starring Tatsuya Azuma, Miyuki Tanigawa, Jô Shishido as Captain Joe and Chôei Takahashi as Rocky (again?).
posted by JHarris (11 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Set phasers to hype
posted by hellojed at 12:12 AM on June 25, 2015

[The classic vanguard of forklift safety.]
posted by lkc at 12:23 AM on June 25, 2015

I don't think I'll make it today, unless my dental procedure goes exceedingly well.
posted by Room 641-A at 7:08 AM on June 25, 2015

I find this movie 100% incomprehensible.
posted by Chrysostom at 7:40 AM on June 25, 2015

Sandy Frank's editing did Star Wolf no favors. But if you think this is bad, wait until we get to Mighty Jack, which may be the least sense-making movie MST ever did. Even Manos, Red Zone Cuba, Hobgoblins, and other riffed films generally touted as the worst of the lot at least have a basic narrative track running through them, even if, in Monster-A-Go-Go's case, that track leads directly into a cliff face. Mighty Jack makes no sense at all.

Well, I've seen Fugitive Alien a number of times, and have even seen some episodes of the original show it was chopped up to make, so I can at least tell you the plot:

Our hero, Ken, is a member of the "Wolf Raiders," a race of space pirates led by an evil kind of bald guy in white makeup, who operate on the planet of Valna. These "Star Wolves" have greater strength and physical ability than humans by virtue of the high gravity (?) of their home planet. (The story is inconsistent about this -- a character says he's even stronger back home, but that's not how it works, but nevermind.) They also go about in wigs with long curly hair streaming out the back, but hey, no accounting for space taste, or "spaste."

It turns out that Ken is actually a human who was adopted by the Wolf Raiders as a child. This face becomes relevant when, in a raid on Earth, Ken and his Wolf Raider partner are confronted by a kid with a toy gun whose mother, trying to protect him, calls out his name: "Ken!" This gives Wolf Raider Ken a momentary pang of recognition, possibly some forgotten aspect of his childhood, and he hesitates in killing the pair. When his partner does so anyway, he turns his gun on him. As he slumps to the ground, he calls Ken a traitor.

Apparently Mr. Evil in charge of the Wolf Raiders sees this and calls out the raiders to bring Ken to dishonorable space pirate justice. Ken's ship is disabled flying through space, but he manages to escape his ship, and, drifting in the void, is found and rescued by the Bacchus III, an old spaceship, supposedly the oldest still operating out of Earth, helmed by the boozy-yet-IMO-awesome Captain Joe. (This is his name in the Japanese version too.) I love Captain Joe: the only human we see who can stand up to Ken in a fight, and yet he's an older guy, a bit pudgy.

Anyway, Joe suspects that Ken is a Wolf Raider, but hides this fact from the crew. They get back to Earth and discover tragically that Joe's wife and son were killed in a Wolf Raider attack. "Wait, wife and son??" Yes! In true anime fashion it just so happened that the very civilians that Ken's partner gunned down and caused Ken to turn traitor to protect were Joe's family! What are the odds?? Joe doesn't recognize this fact, but the deaths of his family in a Wolf attack fill him with renewed loathing for the pirates, and he takes this out on Ken, who he blackmails into joining his crew and running missions against the Wolves.

Two particular members of this crew are Tammy, the mandatory female member who inevitably falls for Ken, and Rocky again, who deduces Ken's origins and, in a dark warehouse one night.... triiiies to kill him with a forklift! Ole! I don't remember where it went from there. I tend to get this episode mixed up with Star Force: Fugitive Alien II, the sequel the deadly rays of which that Joel and company get exposed to a few episodes after.

Anyway, the episodes pieced together to form Fugitive Alien are actually the first two episodes of the TV show. I have actually uploaded these two to YouTube so we can watch them before the episode, if you guys want. They are unsubtitled Japanese, mind you, but at least it's a change from shorts and RiffTrax best-of compilations, right?
posted by JHarris at 12:03 PM on June 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

Preroll is going now. I've found a bunch of other weird weird Japanese stuff to use as filler! Lots of fun tonight I think, come on out when you want.
posted by JHarris at 4:26 PM on June 25, 2015

My dental procedure went exceedingly well! I may even be home by movie sign.
posted by Room 641-A at 4:53 PM on June 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

In case you don't already know the URL, as usual, it's at:
posted by JHarris at 5:40 PM on June 25, 2015

Excellent, Room 641-A! Hope to see you there!
posted by JHarris at 5:41 PM on June 25, 2015

We had quite some fun with the pre- and post-roll material this time, themed on Japanese weirdness and things inspired by Japanese weirdness. Here are all the clips from the roll, and some info on each. Some of these are from my compilations of YouTube oddities DANGER RADIOACTIVE, and some are soon-to-be-inductees.

Some of them were music from Star Wolf, the show Fugitive Alien was assembled from. As Joel and the 'bots reveal in a host segment in the second Fugitive Alien movie, they rather like most of the music from it. I do too!
1. Star Wolf opening theme.
2. Star Wolf music compilation.
3. Orchestral remix and extension of theme song to Kure Kure Takora ("Gimmie Gimmie Octopus"). I wanted to include episodes from the wacky kiddie tokusatsu show itself as they are nearly perfect WTF material, but the property owner is diligent about getting them removed from YouTube.
4. Star Wolf, ending theme. This piece is never heard in either Fugitive Alien movie, which is a shame because it's great! The singer really puts his heart into it.
5. Japanese Spiderman, Intro I still can't believe this exists. If you haven't seen it, watch it. It's certainly a... unique... take of Marvel's character. It was an officially licensed production too!
6. Opening to 80s Gigantor. I don't know who saw a classic anime show about a giant robot and thought "The perfect theme song for this is droning singing, bongo drums, and fife." I'm glad he did, though.
7. Johnny Sokko And His Flying Robot. Pretty much is what the title says. The weird thing is how young Sokko gets to wear the uniform of the paramilitary organization that maintains his robot.
8. ROBO GIGANTE. I don't know much about this, it mostly seems to be just more monster fighting weirdness.
9. The Aquabats, "Super Rad". I linked to this in a recent FPP and it's cool enough, and just barely relevant enough, to have dragged it out here. The Aquabats are a band whose gimmick is they're inept superheroes, they're frequent guests on Yo Gabba Gabba, they had a two season show on The Hub, they're just generally awesome.
10. "The Aquabats! In Color!" '99 Demo Pilot. The second Aquabats item in the list, I don't know if this really was a first attempt at a kids' show staring the 'Bats, but it's also great.
11. Kaiju Big Battel: Neo Teppen vs. Call-Me-Kevin. If I include Aquabats it's only a short step to Kaiju Big Battel, a kind of weird wrestling/music/performance art/comedy thing that plays fast and loose with tokusatsu tropes, and is really only slightly more fake than "real" professional wrestling.
12. Kaiju Big Battel: Dusto Bunny vs. Super Wrong More super wrestling shenanigans.
13. Ultraman clips. From the relatively well-known tokusatsu show.
14. Chargeman Ken 35: Dynamite in the Brain! I posted about this very odd early anime show back in 2011. It's still just as insane now. Our hero Ken's method of problem solving isn't really very heroic....
15. "Japanese Doctor Who". I don't think this is on the level, it's probably a fan production, but it's still entertaining to watch this mashup between tokusatsu shows and the BBC's long-running sci-fi show, complete with Cyberman minion thugs and a kung-fu Doctor.
16. Doctor Who Anime. Another fan production, of wildly varying quality. They play the Doctor Who theme in the background to nearly the whole thing, despite its length. Still though, kind of entertaining. Just don't take it too seriously.
17. Stitch anime intro. Did you know that Stitch, of Disney's Lilo and Stitch, had an anime show in Japan? Jumba and Pleekly are in it looking mostly like they did in the movie, but all the other characters are straight from anime central casting. The word is the show isn't very good, and takes some pretty big liberties with the show. Stitch's friend in this, by the way, is not Lilo. Apparently there's a long story there....
18. Stitch anime intro, season three. Another intro clip from the show.
19. Kyary Pamyu Pamyu: Invader Invader. Kyary Pamyu Pamyu is a cut above most J-Pop productions by remaining relentlessly bubblegum while also having a dark undertone in a thoughtful way. They're also very WTF-inspiring to the uninitiated... and even to those who know what the heck is going on.
20. Starbirds Transformation Sequence. At 3:27, this badly-dubbed anime shows a highly improbable robot introduction. The thing involves a huge truck, a highway that appears from underwater and quickly disappears, and other ridiculous steps.
21. Kyary Pamyu Pamyu: Fashion Monster. Another music video from our weirdly dark happy bubblegum idol sensation.
22. Kyary Pamyu Pamyu: PONPONPON. The last of the K.P.P. videos in the list. This is one of the most well-known ones, I think.
23. The Space Giants Intro. We have a few tokusatsu show intros.
24. Spectreman Intro. The music to this one's pretty good!
25. Ultra Seven Intro.
26. Ultraseven 94.
27. The Aquabats Super Show Intro. Okay, just a little more Aquabats, from their Hub show.
28. Battle Of The Planets Intro. The most shocking thing to us MSTies about this now is the huge words SANDY FRANK PRESENTS near the beginning.... The music is just as good as it always was, surprisingly orchestral and bombastic for a cartoon show.
29. Gatchaman Intro. The show that Battle Of The Planets was the Americal localization of also has great music, although different.
30. Best of Anime Hell. Random anime weirdness, I think this is a clips reel shown at conventions?
31. Amazing 3 Intro. Suggested by oneswellfoop, a black and white English opening to one of Osamu Tezuka's classic series, only slightly less old than original Astroboy.
32. Attack On Titan Intro. Also an audience suggestion, I've actually not seen much of this, but someone assured me it was WTF too. Well, if you say so, someone.
posted by JHarris at 3:56 AM on June 26, 2015 [2 favorites]

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