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The Challenge of X

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The Challenge of X
Cyborg 009 (1968)
Episode 2
009 '68 Ep.2
Air date April 12, 1968
Written by Masaki Tsuji
Directed by Keimichiro Kimura
Episode guide
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The Terror of Monster Island
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Battle at the South Pole

The Challenge of X (Xの挑戦?) is the second episode of the 1968 anime series.



Plot SummaryEdit

Gilmore's lab falls under attack by a flying saucer piloted by a boy called Cyborg X. The culprit behind this attack is the evil Dr. Omega, who issues a challenge to Professor Gilmore to see if his Cyborg X is superior to Gilmore's 00 models. A showdown with 009 and X ensues on the field of battle, but can Joe defeat this flying menace?

Episode RecapEdit

Cyborg 009 is about to head home from Gilmore Labs and wishes 003 and Dr. Gilmore good night. Before 009 even starts his car, 003 detects something coming from the sea towards them. The surface of the ocean begins to bubble and a light emerges which surfaces and soars into the sky. Once the light sphere is turned off, the image of a young man in some kind of saucer craft emerges. 009 demands to know who the man is and he identifies himself as Cyborg X, who then dives at Dr. Gilmore 003 and 009 to startle them and then breaks into Gilmore Labs. Cyborg X then bursts through the door of the main laboratory and leaves a TV set on a table. 009 tries to stop him, but Cyborg X uses one of his ships weapons: a "Laser Shower", a pair of pulse energy beams he can manipulate in multiple directions, to attack 009. Cyborg X says he knows who 009 is and he will see him again, taking his leave after he knocks 009 to the ground. Not wanting him to get away, 009 throws a magnetic coin tracer to Cyborg X's ship.

As Cyborg X makes his escape, he accidentally knocks over a Rose Trellis Arch in Dr. Gilmore's garden. Cyborg X oddly stops for a minute and puts the roses back in place with his ship's telescopic manipulator arms before escaping, unaware that 003 had witnessed this from a distance. 009 urges 003 to get in his car as they will pursue him via the tracer. Dr. Gilmore is annoyed what a "rude guest" Cyborg X was while Cyborg 001 points to the TV he left behind. The TV has a video message from Dr. Omega, an old rival of Dr. Gilmore. Omega is jealous of Gilmore for beating him 3 years ago in developing a scientific theory but now has the perfect instrument of revenge: his very own cyborg. Dr. Omega challenges Dr. Gilmore to see who has the superior cyborg design in a battle, laughing as the video on the TV ends.

009 and 003 are on the highway and pick up the tracer's signal on Joe's dashboard radar heading south. 009 then uses his car's CB radio to call 007 and 006, only the two cyborgs are fast asleep in bed and won't respond. Seeing that he has "no other choice", 009 then screams really loud for them to wake up, which startles the two and causes them to fall out of bed. After they respond, 009 orders them to scout the area for Cyborg X, with a drowsy Cyborg 006 reluctantly agreeing.

Cyborg X passes by a busy highway interchange bridge when he sees a girl has brought roses to a makeshift grave, he recognizes the girl as Michi. Cyborg X lands his craft and greets her and unmasks, revealing that he is her boyfriend Naku. At first, Michi stands in disbelief but is overjoyed to see him alive. She asks him to come out of the ship but he reveals he cannot. Michi is aghast as Naku reveals he has no lower body made of flesh anymore, but a torso and limbs of metal and wire connected to the ship. Michi cries as Naku says he cannot be with her anymore as he has changed. 003 tells 009 that the tracer has a fixed location on Cyborg X near the interchange. 006 and 007 head to the same spot in 006's beat up car, which is backfiring its exhaust and its engine sputtering.

Michi continues to cry but Naku picks her up and tells her he has to leave. Michi wants to go with him, but Naku refuses and tells he must take off to face "his enemies", putting his disguise back on. Michi tires to follow but falls off the ledge and into the sea. 009, 003, 006 and 007 arrive on the same road and surround Cyborg X. In a bad mood after seeing the love of his life cry, Cyborg X fires two cyborg seeker missiles from his ship and then flees. 009 dodges the first missile and the missile evades his fire with its advanced sensors, so 009 ducks it and then grabs onto the missile, destroying it by firing into the missile's rocket exhaust. 006 and 007 are being chased in their car by the other missile, but by sheer luck/accident manage to crash through the road barricade. The debris of the barricade detonate the missile but they go falling off the bridge into the water. As 009 goes to check up on them to see if they are alright, Cyborg X abducts Cyborg 003. Cyborg X says that next time they meet, one of them will die. 006 and 007 emerge from the remains of wreckage of the car and then see Michi lying on the ground, having washed up on shore.

While Dr. Gilmore explains who Dr. Omega is to 007 and 006, 009 tries to serve breakfast to Michi. While she seems friendly at first, 009 mentioning that 003 was kidnapped by Cyborg X and his words about one of them dying the next time they meet upsets Michi. This makes her paranoid as she remembers Naku's comment about his "enemies" and she attempts to kill 009 with his Super Gun while he is cleaning the dishes. 007 walks in to offer Michi flowers as a get well gift but alerts 009 to her attempt to kill him by transforming into a tiger. During their struggle, a vase filled with roses gets blasted by a stray energy shot. 007 disarms her and Michi then cries thinking that Naku will die.

At Dr. Omega's secret island lab, 003 is restrained to a table. Dr. Omega is unimpressed with Dr. Gilmore's cybernetic designs, but Cyborg X comments that at least 003 is still beautiful on the outside. Dr. Omega sees no value in such things as cyborgs are weapons and finds his thinking absolute nonsense. Omega reminds X that he is his weapon, a battle machine designed only to kill.

In her prison cell, 003 is offered a meal by Cyborg X. She tries to talk X out of fighting 009 but he says he has no other choice and he must win. 003 does not truly believe that he is a killing machine as she saw him fix the roses in Gilmore's garden, somewhere underneath is a kind and gentle person. Cyborg X then reminisces the beauty of a rose, especially "a rose that blooms in Summer". He remembers breeding roses with Michi and picking them for her, only to receive an electric shock by Dr. Omega via his helmet. 003 tries to help but X tells her to leave him alone. Dr. Omega tells X though a PA speaker if he disobeys or thinks such thoughts again, he will electrocute him further, hovering his fingers over a control panel and a button that activates the shock. X convulses in pain but quickly recovers, 003 then offers again to help him up but he smacks her and walks away. X says it was a mistake for a machine to act human and he will avoid making his benefactor angry again by shutting out his emotions.

After calming down, Michi tells the other cyborgs about Naku, how he loved roses and her as they had been together since they were children. She tries to tell the story of how Naku got into a car accident, but Dr. Omega broadcasts a message on the TV and interrupts her. Dr. Omega challenges Dr. Gilmore to a duel of cyborgs with 009 representing the 00 Cyborgs and his Cyborg X representing his "genius". To prevent any treachery or escape from the challenge, Dr. Omega has planted a cobalt bomb in the park they will use as their battlefield. The transmission ends and Dr. Gilmore is worried. He tells the cyborgs that a cobalt bomb is so deadly that the nuclear fallout would irradiate all of Japan in addition to completely leveling Tokyo. 007 gets fired up and speaks about how they must defeat X, until he realizes that Michi is in the room and apologizes. Michi says it is fine as the man she loved may not exist anymore for teaming up with such an evil man. She pleads for the 00 Cyborgs to save the city and stop Naku. 009 says this isn't simply a test of strength, Naku could die and he will stop him. Thinking about it makes Michi sad and she sheds a tear upon seeing a rose in a vase.

001 detects the location of the video transmissions and 007 goes off to look for it, changing into a crow and searching in the sky. He gets lost for a few seconds but finally finds Dr. Omega's island, he lands and then tries to go tell the others, but Cyborg X zaps him with his Laser Shower weapon at its weakest setting. 007 tells Cyborg X off, even mentioning that Michi no longer loves him for his actions and told 009 to kill him. This upsets Cyborg X, as he cries over the loss of Michi's love for him and poetically says that "the summer rose has wilted and autumn has now come". He crushes one of Michi's roses and vows to kill 009, not because he was ordered to, but now because he wants to kill him for ruining his only source of happiness.

At Gilmore Labs, Dr. Gilmore reveals an older flying vehicle he designed. While it cannot match Cyborg X's speed and abilities to interface with his ship, it can endure against Dr. Omega's patented Needle Cannon; a destructive weapons that needs time to recharge, so it can only be fired once in combat. Gilmore has outfitted a secret weapon for 009 to use after the cannon is fired, but it also only works once. Dr. Gilmore urges 009 to not use it before the cannon is fires as it will leave him defenseless. 009 suits up and prepares to take off, with Dr. Gilmore wishing him luck. 009 tells Michi that if he doesn't survive she should tell Naku one thing: Cyborgs are human and are capable of holding onto that humanity, with his friends as proof of that. 009 takes off and arrives at the park, but gets ambushed by Cyborg X hitting him with his lasers by hiding in the trees. 009's ship spins out of control from the hit for a second then stabilizes. Cyborg X then emerges and after a bit of banter, the two begin their dogfight. Cyborg X fires a seeker missile but 009 outruns it and then dives into the trees, the missile hitting a tree and missing its target. Cyborg X then tries to tail 009 at close range and fires his other missile. 009 swoops around and manages to lead the missile straight into Cyborg X's flight path, but X destroys the missile with his lasers.

Meanwhile, Michi is driving her car, trying to get to the park before Naku is killed.

The two cyborgs trade laser fire, both missing as they dodge. Dr. Omega is infuriated that it is taking so long for X to destroy 009 and orders him to use the Needle Cannon. The cannon seems to work as 009's ship breaks apart, with Dr. Omega gloating over his brilliance. But it is revealed the ship was just a shell and the real ship breaks out, revealing a sleek high speed jet. Infuriated, X fires his lasers but the jet is equipped with a deflector that absorbs the laser fire. X tries to shoot 009 from behind, but 009 flies up, deactivates his plane's afterburners and deploys a drag chute to decelerate just enough to let X speed past him and then opens up the throttle and gets behind him. 009 then makes several direct beam hits with X's laser arrays damage and the cockpit getting shot off. The jolt of the cockpit being hit jerks Cyborg X forward and disconnects some of the wires on his legs from the control unit, causing his ship to freefall out of control. Cyborg X manages to stabilize the ship just enough to make a rough but safe crash landing.

009 lands and then gets out of his jet, asking Naku to surrender, but Naku refuses and pulls out a machine gun to kill 009. Naku says he hates 009 for destroying "his precious rose" and pulls the trigger, but Michi shields 009 as she pleads Naku to stop. Before he can even react, Naku watches in horror as the bullets he fired tear through Michi's body. Michi collapses near a tree, but not before pleading for Naku to not die. With her last breath, Michi tells Naku that the roses they bred are still growing and then dies.

009 lets Naku know that Michi went as far as trying to protect the man she loved by attempting to kill him. Naku cradles Michi in his arms and cries, then carries her to his ship. Naku then frees 003 and 007, who were trapped in the park statue and takes the cobalt bomb hidden in the Cupid part of the statue. Naku says he will take care of it and that God will send Michi and him to a garden full of roses in Heaven where they can be happy. 009 looks on in sadness as Naku flies away to the where the bomb can't hurt any innocent civilians: Dr. Omega's island. Before the bomb detonates, Naku tells his now dead lover with tears in his eyes: "That summer we had was fun...", reminiscing their romance, "..but soon we will be happy again..". Naku dives in a kamekaze ramming attack, with Dr. Omega seeing this and pleading him to stop. The ship crashes and the bomb explodes, destroying the island and killing Dr. Omega and Naku. The mushroom cloud almost blooming like a flower as it goes up.

The 00 Cyborgs and Dr. Gilmore later go to the remains of the island in funeral wear and after some words from Gilmore about the immortal soul of humanity, the cyborgs parachute a large bouquet of roses onto the final resting place of Naku and Michi.

NotesEdit

  • This episode marks the first in-show appearance of Cyborg 001.
  • Cyborg 007 sings the lyric "Akai mufuraa" of the show's opening theme while bringing flowers to Michi.
  • Along with episodes such as "The Ghost of the Pacific", this story became controversial to PTA organizations due to it exposing children to dark themes such as nuclear war.

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