Ultraman Tiga, to be precise.
Any episode that starts off with an establishing shot of Kumamoto Castle gets my attention immediately. An Ultraman series episode suddenly going to Kumamoto gets *PERK* readings off the scale, thanks to the location of Ultraman Land. This episode, though... It broke my widdle bwain.
First, the less breaky side. Man, Kumamoto's natsukashii. When I was there it would have been about five years after this particular episode was filmed, but it didn't look like a lot had changed in that time. I loved seeing the signs for Hokka Hokka Tei all over the place in the fight sequence. You'll see them outside of Kyushu sometimes, but HHT always really reminds me of Kyushu since they're all over the place and I got food from there often. The shopping arcade's just like I remember it. And the castle is, of course, marvelous. One of the crown jewels of the Japanese castles. Seeing the GUTS tents pitched underneath the castle walls just made me squeeble a lot. Particularly since it's obvious they re-used those tents in Mebi.
The episode itself, though... Let's just say my parsing on it took a huge right turn as soon as a random bit of Kyushu geography trivia clicked in my brain. It wasn't the caves that clicked it. No, they introduced the caves innocently enough. It wasn't flying over Mt. Aso, since I was distracted by a different story. (The last books of Mirage of Blaze that I read having taken place around Kumamoto and Mt. Aso, you see.) No, it was Daigo flying over a deep river valley that made me go, "gee, that looks like area around Takachiho. Waitaminute. Takachiho. Caves. HOLY COW ARE THEY GOING TO GO THERE?!?!"
And since I've done the math to figure out that the Ultra Papa episode's the Christmas episode in more ways than one(*), oh hell yeah they're gonna go there! My inner mythology fan swoons and faints.
You see, Takachiho is where certain pieces of Japanese mythology took place. The first myth is a tale of two siblings, and darkness, and the return of the light, and it involves a cave. Sound familiar?
In a (somewhat biased) nutshell, Amaterasu, she of the heavenly light, had a brother who was messed in the head. The brother did some stuff that led to Amaterasu being shut in a cave, and the world fell into darkness. She eventually comes out and light and happiness return, and her naughty brother is banished.
(Fortunately for Masaki, Amaterasu's brother manages to redeem himself while out in Izumo (where he was banished to), and eventually manages to not only add his $0.02 to the Japanese regalia, but also ends up with one of the gods of love and marriage as his son in law. But that's a different story.)
I gotta say, though, that Ama no Uzume no Mikoto's dance was probably a good deal more provocative than a monster getting beaten up. I guess they really couldn't include a pole dance in a children's show though, could they? Alas.
Switching mythologies slightly, Takachiho is also where Ninigi no Mikoto, Amaterasu's grandson and the legendary father of the Japanese Imperial family, came to Earth. Which makes me think: is the Spark Lens the Sword, Mirror and Jewel all rolled up into one? And while I'm certain the authors didn't realize it at the time, Tiga is the predecessor of all the Heisei Ultraman series. And so from this historical vantage the parallels in Takachiho still hold.
(*) While poking around trying to see which other episodes this particular screenplay writer wrote I found a side note that commented that at least one of Tsuburaya Eiji's grandsons is Christian. Which gives me supporting evidence that perhaps I'm not crazy when I keep picking up not-so-subtle Christian references in Ultraman series. (I'm sure certain people remember the "Cherubim" discussion. *cough*)