Daichi finally remembers that his dad went missing, causing him to put on a pair of headphones and gaze thoughtfully across the office. Then he beats up another monster.
Remember we were complaining that Daichi had lost his dad, and that he seemed pretty indifferent about the whole thing? How we didn’t know his motivations for joining Xio, and whether he had plans to try and ‘rescue’ him? Well, they don’t get addressed in this episode either, though they do at least give it a shot. We see the flashback to the dad-abduction incident for the fifth time and actually see Daichi react to it, though it seems this was not in order to push along the story, but rather to open up a reason to finally introduce Cyber Gomora.
Great! Now that Daichi has sussed it out, perhaps we’ll see the story progress and we’ll understand what Daichi is doing about his missing dad. That’s not going to happen, but given we’re now halfway through the whole series, I’d like to think (or lie to myself) that we’re actually seeing some meaningful progression that isn’t just deus ex machina. Something that was established more than five minutes ago. Gomora has definitely been the recurring item in this show, so if turning into a friendly cyber monster doesn’t do it, nothing will. Nothing will.
It was nice to see a giant robot as the monster of the week for a change, but I think some of the nostalgia is lost on people like us who are new to the franchise. King Joe, which is an amazing name for a monster (and it isn’t even mentioned until after the credits) hasn’t ever had a significant change in design since it was introduced in Ultraseven, way back in 1967, and it certainly looks it. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s bad, as you can kind of appreciate how Ultraman likes to recycle its ‘classic’ monsters, but it’s also really boring. I will give credit for King Joe turning rigid when falling over, though.
But you know what? When Daichi plopped Cyber Gomora onto his digivice and we hear it say “realize!” instead of the usual phrases, I got a little bit excited. We see Cyber Gomora phase into existence, we get close-ups of the clawed feet and the segmented tail, before a pretty good looking light show revealing its full form. A badass monster fighting for the good guys? I’ll take it! And then Ultraman X basically steps out from behind Cyber Gomora, reminding me that he’s still around.
I realised a long time ago that Ultraman X was never going to be the show for me, and while a lot of my issues with it can be resolved by having a good plot and some character progression, I think there’s something about the Ultramen themselves that I just can’t get along with. Ultraman as a franchise has a fascinating world full of strange monsters and weird powers, and I think having a boring humanoid as the ‘Godzilla’ is just really disappointing. X tries to mix it up with changeable armour, but it’s purely cosmetic and doesn’t alter any of the fighting. Sure, the finishers change, but they all insta-kill so it doesn’t even matter.
Perhaps I should take another look at Ginga before passing judgement on the franchise as a whole, as I believe that Ginga can turn into monsters in that show, but I certainly think there’s no saving this one. I’m very curious to know whether Ultraman X has been received well by the fanbase, as well as by kids in Japan.
For the first time this week, someone other than our alien doctor friend almost notices that they’ve never seen X and Daichi together in the same room. They don’t appear to consciously tie it together though, it’s merely a ‘hey, where were you’ and then it’s forgotten. I’d accept the premise as ‘Xio are all idiots’ but for the fact that the alien doctor totally knows what’s going on, so I don’t know that it can be hand-waved away with anything other than lazy writing.
This show still has good-ish production values and the occasional cool building destruction or whatever, but it is still bad and that still saddens me.