DAY TWENTY NINE:
Written by Jonathan WojcikI can't believe we're almost done! I don't even want to be done! At one point, I considered that today's entry could even be the Halloween entry, but I decided it worked better as just part of the final build-up.
Episode 12 of Ultraseven is entitled "From Another Planet With Love," and it begins with a rash of young women abruptly dropping dead.
The women are curiously found to be spontaneously drained of blood, and the only thing they all have in common is that they're all wearing a trendy new wristwatch. How does a tiny watch drain all the blood from someone's body? It's difficult to make out in the episode, but it does appear that the blood is somehow condensed and solidified into a single, inconspicuous solid piece.
It seems that young women specifically are being targeted for this harvest...until one girl's little brother tries on her watch.
In an eerily darkened scene, a council of what we can guess are disguised aliens discuss that the blood of younger human children works even better than the blood of Earth's women, leading them to rethink their plan and advertise their watches directly to little kids. But WHAT plan???
The "Spell," it turns out, are not natural blood-drinkers, but the last survivors of a nuclear war that devastated their homeworld. A requirement for blood is an effect of radiation sickness on their alien physiology, and the extra pure, extra fresh blood of human children might even be able to cure them entirely.
The design for Spell is easily one of the most haunting of any Ultra kaiju or alien; close to a pale, monochrome human figure, but with the simplified face of a crude mannequin or one of those horrible crash test dummies, broken up by the dark, scabrous patches of burned scar tissue throughout the design...and this is why "From Another Planet With Love" is one of the only ultra stories to have ever been pulled from the air and "banned" in Japan.
This is because those scars and burns are taken directly from reality. Alien Spell is modeled after what a human being can look like for the rest of their life if they lived through an atomic explosion. There were still many Japanese people living with those scars when this episode aired in 1967, and they were still treated with a shocking degree of fear, revulsion and discrimination by a public that ignorantly believed something about them could still be toxic or even contagious, with many believing in particular that their DNA must have been altered by the fallout and that they therefore mustn't have children.
This is not, however, the reason why these aliens are here. I didn't give them Day 29 because it's Cool and Edgy that they very reasonably upset people. Spell are a species sickened by their own foolish nuclear war and now desperate enough to harvest the blood of unwilling children, a concept grim enough to earn them a spot here regardless of their design, and that design too would have been chilling completely removed from context. But you can't talk about this character without that context, and I feel like it's a pretty important piece of pop culture history to think about.
Alien Spell are one of those monsters intended to instill the horror of nuclear weaponry into the audience, and they definitely do it well. The fact that they resembled any real, surviving victims of nuclear weaponry is a social issue that only could have happened under very specific circumstances in a very specific time and place, and those are circumstances we should all still strive to never, ever let happen again.