Tokyo, 1955, the rainy days of November giving way to clear nights for observing at Johoku Observatory where Doctor Toru Itsobe sees an unidentified object in the sky which is first believed to be a satellite, but around the world similar sightings follow, in Mexico, India and Britain.
The newspapers inevitably reporting the objects as flying saucers, possibly a prelude to invasion, a journalist seeks commentary from famed physicist Doctor Yoshio Komura, but scientists are by nature sceptical and he will not be drawn, yet soon after strange sightings are made in bodies of water around the city.
Doctor Komura having been developing a substance he calls “Element 101” or “Urium” which he hopes will provide limitless free energy, but observed by an advanced alien race called the Pairans they have become concerned by his experiments and sent an envoy to meet him and issue a warning from space, but other parties also want the power he has discovered.
Originally released in 1956 and the first Japanese science fiction film to be made in colour, Warning from Space (宇宙人東京に現わる, Uchūjin Tokyo ni arawaru, literally “Spacemen Appear in Tokyo“) has now been released on Blu-ray by Arrow Films both in its original version and the dubbed and recut American version which moves the introduction of the Pairans to the opening scene.
Directed by the prolific Koji Shima from a script by Hideo Oguni, a frequent collaborator of Akira Kurosawa, atypically for the era the Pairans are benevolent, warning of the dangers of Urium and of an approaching rogue planet which the media name “R,” prompting a cheerful and deferential evacuation of Tokyo despite the threat of catastrophe being global.
Perhaps influenced by the success of American science fiction, particularly When Worlds Collide and The Day the Earth Stood Still, both released in 1951, with an eye on the international market despite the setting the central families are presented as highly westernised, but as with 1954’s Godzilla the location is pertinent, the only nation to have endured an atomic bomb being uniquely positioned to offer commentary and perspective on the horror of nuclear weapons.