Jamila (ジャミラ Jamira)
FIRST APPEARS IN:
Ultraman, Episode 23: My Home is Earth
– distinct lack of neck
– an unhealthy off-white timbre
– glowing eyes trapped in a tiny, frozen face
SKILLS AND QUIRKS:
– an unflinchingly bleak back story
– intense feelings of hatred for all mankind
– fire breathing
– an allergy to water
– interrupting peace conferences
For some reason, up until this moment, I made the rather strange assumption that Jamila was Canadian, even going as far as constantly referring to him as “Canadian guy” instead of by his name. Revisiting “My Home is Earth” on DVD, I find there’s no reference to Jamila being Canadian, nor is there any reference to Canada whatsoever. How the hell did I jump to this bizarre conclusion? Perhaps my mind was warped by the general oddness of this rather special episode of Ultraman.
The original Ultraman series , like any other show, is a mixed bag, but when it’s good, it’s great, and Jamila’s episode certainly fits into the “great” category. Like all the better episodes, it takes its monster seriously. The sometimes frustratingly jokey tone of the show is replaced with a grim sadness. Yes, Jamila is perhaps Ultraman’s most heartrending foe.
When laying their eyes on Jamila, the Science Patrol are notably impressed. “I wonder which star he’s from,” muses Akiko. Only Jamila’s home planet is Earth. He was once a human being, sent by an unnamed country (not Canada apparently) to explore the Universe during the Space Race. Jamila came into contact with extraterrestrial material, which mutated him into his giant and demented form, forcing him to remain on a waterless planet. Furious at being forgotten by the human race, Jamila returns to Earth to ruin the festivities at an international peace conference.
When the Science Patrol hear of Jamila’s back story, they are taken aback – and understandably, they’re used to fighting aliens, not their own species. The Patrol’s regular joker, Ide (Masanari Nihei), is the most affected, and for once, Ultraman allows him to cease acting the fool and experience moral conflict. A moment where Ide’s protests force Jamila to see what he’s become is about as poignant as Ultraman gets.
The episode only gets more bleak as Jamila is confronted by Ultraman. Ultraman releases an “Ultra-Shower” of water from his hands, spraying Jamila and reducing him to a sobbing, dying mess as he writhes to his end in the mud amongst the collapsed flags of the peace conference building. This sad end is made all the more horrible by the fact that Jamila’s death roars are the pitch-altered sounds of a baby crying. Wow.
Despite Jamila receiving a proper funeral – perhaps the only Ultraman monster to receive this treatment? – the episode ends on an appropriately bitter note as Ide spouts the line, “Politicians are always like this… only their words are beautiful.”
As a side note, I really want this t-shirt.