I do not think I have ever seen a video of Ueshiba in which his uke do not "tank." You see Yonekawa Shigemi taking falls in the 1936 Osaka video that would do one of Watanabe sensei's uke proud. That's part of aikido, part of its essence. That's why Ueshiba was furious at Ohba Hideo, in the famous demonstration at the 10th anniversary of the "founding" of Manchukuo. OHba, thinking it a mark of respect, attacked for real. Per the Aikido Journal article regarding him, he stated that "Ueshiba was a little stiff but he knew then he was in the presence of a true master." What is significant is that Ueshiba was absolutely furious with him until he was mollified by the praise of a well-known naginata teacher, who, essentially said that she'd never seen something so "for real." The irony is that, despite the praise, which pleased him, that was NOT what Ueshiba wanted to do, and he continued to expect and require compliant uke throughout. To be clear - Ueshiba's aikido required compliant uke.---Ueshiba could definitely function without compliant uke, but that's what he wanted when he presented and when he taught.
Personally, I'm decades beyond watching a film of Ueshiba for martial techniques or realistic fighting simulation. I'm watching how he uses his body. His uke are simply tools for his own study. To be sure, I am uninterested with the arm-waving no-touch throws, be they done by Ueshiba or anyone else (I think the shin-taido people do it far better and more elegantly). But what he is doing when there is body contact is remarkable.
There are some moments that Ueshiba truly shows some internal strength and technique that would be something to be proud of at any age. For just one example, the hara atemi at 2:15 of the first video. There are a lot more such moments.
I agree completely with these statements.
It's not for me, but I think it's fine for people to practice this way [with compliant uke] if that's what they want to do and they admit it to themselves and their students. It's not for me simply because I think such compliant training significantly stalls or even prevents the learning of martial skill sets.
Even when training with a (relatively) more mainstream aikido group, I have never been one who thinks Ueshiba's skills were magical or greater than human (or not attained or exceeded by others), but I think what Ueshiba displays here is interesting despite the tanking uke. My only sadness is that I truly believe that one can keep increasing their skill set well into this age range if they have uke who give better feedback than simply falling down without being touched. How good would his skills have been in the training paradigm was tweaked to allow him more feedback? <shrug> It doesn't matter now.