Prince of Space
Entry updated 1 May 2023. Tagged: Film.
Japanese film (1962; vt Planet Prince; vt Prince Planet; vt The Star Prince). Toei Company. Directed by Eijirō Wakabayashi. Written by Shin Morita. Cast includes Ushio Akashi, Joji Oka and Tatsuo Umemiya. 94 minutes. Black and white.
This American film-for-Television was compiled and dubbed into English from the Japanese films Planet Prince (1959; original title Yūsei Ōji, 57 minutes) and Planet Prince – The Terrifying Spaceship (1959, original title Yūsei Ōji – Kyōfu no Uchūsen, 64 minutes), that had been released one week apart as a two-part serial. They were based on the Japanese television series Planet Prince (1958-1959, 49 episodes), although a different lead actor and costume were used. Planet Prince was clearly influenced by the Super Giant (1957-1959) films – see Atomic Rulers (1965) and its sequels, though in the USA Prince of Space appeared first.
Earth's television programmes are interrupted when a Spaceship appears on the screens and a voice announces they are the Krankor Exploration Force. "Krankor? The ancient name of the Dark Planet," muses a watching Professor Macken (Akashi). Ambassador Phantom (Oka) of Krankor (he is actually its dictator) now appears and declares he will shortly land on Earth to make his wishes known – "You will obey them or die ... have a pleasant night's sleep." – then laughs evilly (see Villains). Next day Professor Macken holds a press conference explaining the Aliens must be after his new Rocket fuel; when a journalist questions this, pointing out the invaders are already capable of interplanetary space travel, so presumably are more advanced than us, he responds that with his fuel they would be capable of sending a hundred ships to Earth, not just one (see Invasion).
Phantom's ship lands and fires a Death Ray at anyone who comes close ... but then a flying saucer arrives. From it steps the Prince of Space (Umemiya), who is masked, dressed in white and wears a cape (see Superheroes): he orders Phantom to leave; the invader initially refuses, but after losing a brief confrontation, does so. The adopted children of Wally (Umemiya) the bootblack, who is one of Professor Macken's friends, ponder the identity of the Prince of Space, joking that it cannot be their father as he is so easily scared. Phantom eventually manages to steal the rocket fuel formula, then kidnaps Professor Macken and other leading Scientists so they can inform the governments of Earth that he has Technology capable of destroying our planet. When his soldiers identify Wally as the Prince, Phantom attempts to murder him, but once again fails and flees to his castle on Krankor. The Prince follows him there, kills its giant fire-breathing guardian, then – despite an attempt to boil him alive – rescues the scientists and destroys the castle, with Phantom dying within.
The cheap special effects (see Tokusatsu) are part of the fun of watching such movies. The film's main problem is that the Prince of Space is over-powered; he is never more than mildly inconvenienced by Phantom and there is no doubt who will win. Though the original script was doubtless little better than that for the English dub, it likely had stronger performances; whoever voices Phantom in English is particularly bad. [SP]
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