| The Golden Lion|
Cyborg 009 (1968)
|Air date||June 14, 1968|
|Written by||Susumu Takaku|
|Directed by||Kenzo Koizumi|
The Underground Golden Palace
Giant of the Heavens
The Golden Lion is the eleventh episode of the Cyborg 009 1968 anime series. It is adapted from the "Golden Lion" story in the original manga. Cyborg 008 guest stars in this episode.
A group of meteorites crash in the African savanna, causing strange things to appear in the jungle and disasters to start happening. Cyborg 008 accompanies 009, 007 and 003 on a safari near Mount Kilimanjaro to verify sightings of a glowing gold lion and to investigate the disappearance of an American military jet that was enroute to test a new kind of atomic bomb.
The episode opens with a group of glowing meteors falling to Earth in Africa and their strange radiation affects the surrounding environment. A mutant tree with vine tendrils emerges from the crater of one such meteorite and another bathes a nearby baby lion cub with energy. A third one hits a mountain and a giant golden glowing lion appears and roars before heading out into the wilderness.
Later, 008 is driving his jeep and the serene calm of nature from the jungles of his homeland surround him as he drives down the trail. He then sees a brand new kind of fighter jet fly past him, presumably an experimental model from the US Air Force. Suddenly, a strange beam of energy emerges from a mountain and hits the jet, causing it to disappear into thin air. 008 wants to investigate upon seeing this, but an alarm clock goes off in his jeep reminding him that it is time to pick up 009 from the airport. 008 decides he will investigate the matter after picking up 009.
On a plane, 007 is gorging on food while 003 and 009 watch, wondering what urgent mission 008 contacted them to investigate. A news bulletin starts on a nearby TV, stating that the US Air Force is searching for their plane which vanished near Mt. Kilimanjaro in Africa. The plane was armed with a new type of experimental weapon called the Z-Star Bomb, a nuclear explosive ten times more powerful than America's original cobalt bomb prototypes. The reporter states that the US Air Force is conducting a search in the jungles near Mt. Kilimanjaro for the downed plane.
The trio arrive at the airport and are picked up by 008. 008 informs 009 that the downed plane is not the reason he was called to Africa as it is about "something worse". As 008,009, 003, and 007 leave the airport, a mysterious figure emerges and talks to someone on a communicator wristwatch, informing them the 00 Cyborgs have arrived. A car then begins tailing 008's jeep, but is unnoticed by the four as they drive through the African jungle to a gold mine. 008 explains that the miners were attacked by a Golden Lion with unnatural powers such as the ability to breathe fire and shoot laser beams from its eyes! 008 asked 009 and 003 to come to Africa so they could help hunt for the beast near Mt. Kilimanjaro. As they head for the mountain in 008's Jeep, the mysterious people tailing the cyborgs watch and then try to crush them with a boulder above a gorge they are driving through. 008 sees the boulder coming down and everyone abandons the jeep before it is crushed and explodes after impact. 007 gets a nasty bump on his head from landing on a rock.
009 thinks it cannot be a coincidence that the boulder fell, only to hear a loud roar and see the Golden Lion above them. The large feline leaps down and prepares to attack the 00 Cyborgs. 009 faces the lion, dodging its fire blasts with his super speed and uses his Super Gun to try and defend himself from the lion's attacks. The Lion eventually gives up and retreats, leaping into the air and flying away into the sky. 009 is amazed the Golden Lion can fly and 003 wonders if the animal is a fake, some kind of robot or cyborg weapon. 009 also notes the presence of humans, observing the boulder and seeing that markings indicate it was pushed off the cliff side. 009 thinks whoever did it might be connected to the Golden Lion. 007 decides to look for the Golden Lion by transforming himself into a lion cub to get closer to it. 007 goes exploring and meets up with a lioness and her cubs. He accidentally hurts the cube while trying to get close to the mother to ask her if she had seen anything, resulting in 007 being attacked by the lioness and swatted away by her paw.
After wandering around for several hours and getting tired, 007 stumbles into the Golden Lion's territory. 007 is startled and falls off the mountain a bit, getting another bump on his head and cornered by the lion. 007 flinches and pleads not to be eaten, only to be surprised how friendly the lion is towards him as a cub, licking his face and tickling his stomach with its tongue. The Lion then carries the cub 007 to a specific part of the jungle where the tentacled tree is. 007 is attacked by the tree and after landing on his head again, accidentally reverts back to human form. This angers the Golden Lion and 007 runs for his life as the beast chases him through the jungle.
Later, 007 manages to escape from the Lion and reports his findings to the other 00 Cyborgs, such as the strange golden tree. Upon reaching the strange plant, 009 deduces the golden tree is from space and whoever is controlling the Lion is from Earth. 009 instructs 008 to have 007 go in disguise to find the perpetrators and 003 scout for any suspicious activity. 009 in the meantime tries to get a sample of the alien tree by cutting off a vine for Dr. Gilmore to analyze. This does not work as 009 gets snared by the tree's tentacle vines and pulled into its grasp. Making things worse, the Golden Lion arrives and blasts 009 with his flame breath. This however works in 009's favor as the vines of the tree burn off setting him free and the tree itself burns. The Lion realizes what it has done and quickly puts the fire out by severing the burning vines before they spread to the tree's trunk. 009 tries to reason with the large cat, telling it that whatever the person controlling it is doing the lion is being used. The lion hears him out and backs away, seemingly understanding 009.
Somewhere near Mt. Kilimanjaro, the trio of villains who have been observing the 00 Cyborgs meet up, deciding they must kill them before they get too close to what they are planning. 007 stumbles into them while wandering around in his lion cub disguise and then pretends to be the cub of the Golden Lion to lure two of them into a trap. The two poachers won't talk about why they want the Golden Lion until 007 changes into various large and terrifying giant tarantula and makes it seem like he is going to eat the pair if they don't talk. The two freak out and confess they work for Professor Alfred, whom six months ago wanted to steal the Z-Star Bomb for a destructive super missile he was building to destroy New York City in revenge for being kicked out of the International Science Committee, whose headquarters are based in the city. The meteor that created the Golden Lion also affected its cub, which they discovered after feeling the meteor crashes from the underground lab complex. The scientists and mercenaries held the cub hostage and demanded the beast work for them and keep people away from their complex by attacking villages and travelers. The evil scientists and henchmen promised to return the cub if the lion obeyed them. 009 realizes that Professor Alfred's henchmen are death merchants who build weapons of war and sell them to the highest bidder. With this info, 009 orders 003 to contact the US military about Dr. Alfred's base and they must destroy the base as soon as possible. 008, 007 and 009 head for the temple where the base is hidden and 007 falls down the stairs when bats start attacking them. The 00 trio then find themselves falling into a trap hole in the floor as Professor Alfred was expecting them. They survive by landing on the cage of the Golden Lion's cub dangling from the ceiling. 007 rescues the cub, but Professor Alfred mocks the 00 Cyborgs efforts as he demonstrates that the cage's rope was not made to support their combined weight and he has a pool full of large crocodiles waiting below for them as the rope starts to snap.
At the US Air Force Base, the commanding officer in charge orders an immediate missile deployment and all hands to target Professor Alfred's base. 003 objects as 009 and the others haven't finished their task yet. The officer understands her feelings, but he wants to strike before Professor Alfred has a chance to fire the Z-Star Bomb at New York City.
009 comes up with an ides to get them out of the pit and asks 007 to transform into a rope, then 008 uses his lasso skills to latch 007 onto a pillar. Meanwhile, Professor Alfred is preparing to fire the Z-Star armed missile and revels that once the bomb goes off, its effects will result in the start of World War III. The US Air Force deploys the launchers for interceptor missiles and prepare to fire on the General's command. The General apologizes to 003, but says that her friends must now become martyrs of peace and orders the missiles to fire as 003 begins to cry. The missiles then soar towards their target.
009 and 008 race to the control room and blast Professor Alfred's console before he can hit the launch switch. The mad scientist is then shot dead by 009's Super Gun fire as Joe dodges machine gun fire. The man behind Alfred's funding tries to escape out the exit, but is greeted by the menacing appearance of the Golden Lion. The Lion uses his fire breath to burn the evil death merchant alive as he screams in pain and tumbles down the stairs. 007 appears and explains that he returned the cub back to the Golden Lion and as a show of gratitude, it decided to help the 00 Cyborgs. The Lion senses the American missiles coming and warns the 00 Cyborgs before they can detect them. The lion lets the group ride on top of him while carrying his cub in his mouth, flying them all to safety before the missiles hit the base. 009 tells the Lion that he and his friends are grateful and that when Dr. Gilmore gets a chance to study their new friend, they will find a way to get the Golden Lion back home to his planet if the lion promises to live in peace. The Golden Lion agrees and then departs as the 00 Cyborgs say goodbye.
- Parts of the character model for Professor Alfred resembles Dr. Tenma from Astro Boy. This is because Ishinomori's art style during his early years was the result of his time with his mentor Osamu Tezuka.
- Another Tezuka art trace is the cub of the Golden Lion, who in one shot resembles Leo aka Kimba the White Lion.
- This episode may be controversial to some viewers due to the use of standard 1930s "Sambo" blackface cartoon character designs for African natives. It should be noted that the animators of Japan at that time were unaware of its offensive nature as they were merely emulating western animation aspects from that era and had no idea of the implications of its use.
- 007 tries to get near to the Golden Lion by disguising himself as a lion cub. In reality, 007 would have been eaten as male lions are violently aggressive in their pride and eating their young is an act to assure dominance in their group or usurp an older leader by killing their offspring.