Kamikaze
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The Six Million Dollar Man, "The Last Kamikaze"
Directed by Richard Moder
Produced by Lionel E. Siegel and Joe L. Cramer
Written by Judy Burns
Originally shown on TV on January 19, 1975
45 min.

In this episode shown originally in 1975, the Bionic Man, Col. Steve Austin, recovers a nuclear bomb that accidentally has fallen into the hands of a former kamikaze pilot stranded on a small Pacific island. The Six Million Dollar Man TV series, starring Lee Majors as Col. Austin, ran for five seasons with 100 episodes from 1973 to 1978. After a test plane crash, the U.S. government rebuilt Austin's body with a bionic right arm, legs, and left eye, which gives him superhuman speed, strength, and sight. Although this second season episode entitled "The Last Kamikaze" generally depicts the former Japanese pilot in a favorable light, the show contains several historical implausibilities.

Steve Austin's boss, Oscar Goldman (played by Richard Anderson), sends him to a small island to the west of the Philippines. A plane transporting an experimental nuclear bomb has crashed there, and the only survivor reported that a Japanese soldier (played by John Fujioka) took the bomb. Tomás Gabella, a Philippine guide who fought the Japanese in World War II, accompanies Steve to the island. They encounter several booby traps planted for them as they try to find the Japanese soldier who has the bomb.

The Japanese soldier, named Kuroda, captures Steve after he gets wounded by a grenade explosion. Kuroda tells him that he served as a kamikaze pilot during the war. They soon find out that Gabella and his three guerilla buddies plan to steal the bomb for their own purposes. Steve, while held captive, talks with Kuroda to try to convince him that Japan lost the war and that the two of them can now become friends. They together prevent Gabella from stealing the nuclear bomb, and Steve stops Kuroda from committing seppuku (or harakiri) with his short sword. The final scene shows Kuroda and his parents in a happy reunion.

Kuroda expresses much pride in the samurai heritage of his family, but he also feels great shame in surviving his mission as a kamikaze pilot. Kuroda's navigator Aoki committed seppuku after their failure to hit a ship, and Kuroda feels that Aoki earned his way to heaven by killing himself. Kuroda states that kamikaze pilots were not to live with their plane gone, but in actuality Japanese Navy leaders encouraged pilots to live if they could not accomplish their objective of suicide attacks. Many pilots returned to base in order to sortie at a later date. Among the kamikaze pilots who made crash landings near small islands due to engine problems, there is no recorded instance of a kamikaze pilot committing seppuku. On the contrary, these stranded pilots wanted to live and tried to return to base in order to sortie again.

This TV episode has quite a few historical inaccuracies, which maybe should be expected for this type of action fantasy. Oscar Goldman tells Steve that hundreds of Japanese soldiers can be found on Pacific islands. Even though this was true for a year or two after the war's end, almost no soldiers remained as holdouts 30 years later in 1975. Kuroda says that he was 15 years old when he joined the kamikaze corps, but 16 years was the age of the youngest kamikaze pilot to die in a suicide attack. He also says that he missed the ship he was aiming for in his kamikaze attack because he hesitated before diving, but actual kamikaze pilots who missed ships would have crashed into the sea and been killed.

Although Kuroda considers Steve Austin to be an enemy while on the island, he ultimately appreciates the American's courage and sense of honor. In the final scene, Steve receives as a gift from Kuroda his most valued possession, a thousand stitch belt that he received during the war from his mother. Although "The Last Kamikaze" has some historical inaccuracies, this episode depicts the former kamikaze pilot as an honorable warrior.