The Big O: Act 05- Bring Back My Ghost

(Act 4: Underground Terror)

Although the series The Big O was written by Chiaki J. Konaka, he only wrote the general narrative of the story in Season 1, and only specifically wrote five out of thirteen total episodes in that season. The majority of the episodes from this project were written by various screenwriters who had worked with Konaka on prior occasions. And the second most prolific episode writer for this season was Keiichi Hasegawa, who drafted four episodes including numbers 08, 10, and 13, as well as this episode, Bring Back My Ghost. As for the second season, The Big O II? Well, that’s a different story for another time.

Hasegawa as a screenwriter does not write specifically or even usually for anime productions and instead sticks to Tokusatsu for the most part. Since 1996, he has been the head writer for almost all Ultraman projects since Tiga, and has contributed in some way to every Ultramon project from that time on except for Max. Konaka also spent a fair bit of time writing episodes for Ultraman series throughout the 1990s and probably first met Hasegawa on Tiga before late working under him once more on Ultramon Gaia. By 1998, Konaka was helming the series creation and head writer role for Devilman Lady. He hired Hasegawa to draft episodes of this anime, which probably solidified Hasegawa in Konaka’s mind as a figure whom he could rely on to do good, innovative work alongside him on future productions. As such, on The Big O, Hasegawa became his right hand man of sorts.

The story of Bring Back My Ghost is a complex tale of police corruption, cover ups, revenge, and destiny. And it opens upon a street in a low-income part of Paradigm City. A high-ranking general within the Military Police reclines in the back of his black sedan, pontificating all the while to his personal driver on how he believes that all of the poor in the region are no more than ‘rats… crawling the streets.’ He makes a few offhand comments about needing to clean up the place (a sentiment that will later be mirrored by the views of his ultimate boss to whom he is no more than a lap dog, and the head of Paradigm Corp, Alex Rosewater). However, his driver has more pressing concerns. The area through which they are travelling is populated by a dense fog, and there have been numerous incidents in the past few weeks of a mysterious ‘ghost’ appearing from out of the fog and destroying the cars, and the lives, of various officials within the Military Police. Worse yet, they are approaching the area in which these attacks occurred.

The driver suggests they take the long way around, but his chief pushes him onward as he believes the belief in ghosts to be absurd, that there are no such things as ghosts, and that the previous incidents must have been mere accidents. After all, some drivers are just inept and find it difficult to traverse heavily foggy conditions. Just as he says these things, the ghost appears up ahead. Its spectral pallor and general smog-like build register it immediately as a Kaiju most likely derived from the character of Godzilla’s enemy Hedorah. It appears so suddenly that the driver is unable to avoid it and is caught up in one of its beams of light, which immediately incinerates the car, and presumably those within it.

Elsewhere, Roger is hosting a group of lawyers in his foyer. Each group immediately finds the other repulsive. The lawyers in Roger’s mind on account of their having an attitude and an expectation that he will take the job they have in mind whether he likes it or not (something which makes him even more averse to taking any assignment they might dole out). Roger in their eyes by virtue of his overwhelming and immediate hostility towards lawyers. However, as this is Roger’s mansion, he has the upper hand and promises to expel his intruders through recourse to his Policy #4: If someone lacks courtesy and sincerity, I ask them to leave.’ Unfortunately, he will have to take the job, as the core lawyer, Rick Frasier, is only asking for Roger’s help on account of his ageing mother. And Roger’s Policy #5 reads: ‘I value women and the elderly.’

When he visits the old woman the following day in the luxurious, artificially verdurous East Town, he finds that she is an old billionaire who has clawed her way to the top and created a monopoly on ownership of the best lawyer’s leases around. But she is turning 75 years old soon and has recently suffered the misfortune of going blind. She seems prescient and somehow know when Roger enters her room that he is staring at a picture of her son, Bonny Frasier, on the mantelpiece. She wants to meet her son at least one more time before she dies so that she can make amends for the evils she wrought throughout her days, the evils of her past cutthroat business dealings that estranged her and her son so long ago. And she asks Roger to track him down because she has heard that Roger is an ‘honest and dependable guy.’

The only problem is that her son is known to have died a year prior. During a large riot of Paradigm’s poor citizenry against the expansion of the domes into their territory, which would force them to relocate from their homes, the Military Police fought back momentarily with violence. Bonny was there and somehow got caught up in the event. He was shot and fell off of the bridge on which the stand-off was occurring, and into the waves below. His death ended the riot and brought some solidarity between the two forces for a time that helped to cool tensions. As Roger speaks with the old woman, a symphonic Gregorian chant of sorts ebbs and flows and eventually swells into something of a fever pitch of emotion and mood unlike most any film score before it. The effect is, like much of composer Toshihiko Sahashi’s work on The Big O, a testament to the power music can have in effectively solidifying and heightening the mise-en-scene of a film, the mood and atmosphere of a piece. In this case, shifting it from an otherwise tame conversation into one replete with significance emotionally and viscerally.

As the story progresses, it is revealed by the Big Ear that Bonny was apparently onto some sort of corruption on the part of his superiors in the Military Police. Three of the men who died in the previous weeks by the bay were top-ranking Military brass who were involved in this corruption. A fourth, Colonel Gauss, is the last man left with some involvement in the undertakings. At Dan Dastun’s office, Roger finds out little more as his old police chief buddy doesn’t believe that information involving the Military Police is any business of a defector from the force like Roger. Luckily, Gauss is out on the town, being tailed by a series of Dastun-led officers mean to protect the Colonel. So when his entourage somehow manage to lose his car within a dense fog and cannot locate the Colonel, and Roger just so happens to be in Dastun’s office when this is reported, he makes his move and follows Dastun out to the bridge where Gauss was last seen.

It turns out that Bonny was the driver of Gauss’ car and led him to his death by drowning after falling from the same bridge Bonny himself was thrown from after finding out that his superiors were actively fanning the flames of hostility with the protesters by killing one of their symbolic leaders. When he was shot by his superior officer, and landed into the cold waters of the Paradigm City bay, Bonny thought he was a goner. But within those waters was the mysterious Megadeus Osrail, who saved him from death’s door, and then allowed Bonny to control him as his Dominus in order to exact his revenge. Roger defeats Osrail after realizing that the Smog Ghost was a mere projection meant to disorient and scare its victims while the real Megadeus waited out in the wings for the right opportunity to blast its opponents with a fiery laser beam of justice. Big O’s tracking devices and Roger’s quick wit were enough to figure this out and to direct their own Arc Line laser toward the Megadeus.

At the end of the day, Bonny was taken into Military Police custody by Dastun’s forces. But now before being given a chance to meet his mother and wish her a happy 75th birthday, and to reunite with his brother, the lawyer Rick who had become so jaded and so much more abhorrent since the news of his brother’s supposed death had reached him a year prior. What’s more, Dastun promises to give the kid a fair shake and a fair trial. Because even though his actions were fueled by hatred, rage, and revenge, he did manage to root out some high-level corruption and those individuals who sullied the name of the Military Police through their actions.

 

Cast in the Name of God,

Cody Ward

[Act 06: The Legacy of Amadeus]

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