Blu helps a fellow scientist to perfect a flying suit. While out testing the device, the two brothers sense that a great power is hidden nearby. Also we got excited about this being a good episode so we might have overdone it on the GIFs.
I think it’s safe to say that this was our best episode yet, with a somewhat better story than we’ve seen so far, and some genuinely impressive fight choreography.
We’re quickly introduced to Ninomiya, a young scientist who is building and testing a set of Icarus-like wings. Blu is supportive, but not to the point where he willingly offers his help in testing the wings; he has to have his arm twisted after he accidentally breaks something in the lab. Honestly, I wish we’d seen Blu excited and eager to help out a fellow scientist, because his interest in science is about the only unique trait he has as a character, and he seems absolutely unenthusiastic about helping her out. Maybe that’d be a little too similar to Kamen Rider Build‘s protag, but he’s so boring.
On the complete opposite side we have Aizen, who seems to be handling emotions for the majority of the cast at the moment. He has a few excellent moments during this episode, but in particular his ‘infiltration’ of the Minato household to place a bug was very good. The fact that the bug was shaped like a jam-covered biscuit, and there just so happened to be a plate of these biscuits on a table nearby, is so completely ludicrous that I can’t help but love it. His over the top reaction to the bug getting discovered was also really good. It would not be an overstatement to say that Aizen is carrying the human segments of this show almost single-handedly at the moment.
Ninomiya, the flying scientist from earlier, reveals that she wants to be able to fly in order to ‘truly be free’, before explaining to Blu that she’s actually in an arranged marriage with someone she’s never met before. I’m quite relieved that Blu actually responds with surprise that arranged marriages still exist in Japan, because that just about sums up my reaction to that one. The marriage/freedom plot point is a little clumsy, but honestly I’m just pleased that there are stakes involved. It’s a rare piece of character development in a series that has largely gone without it. Or in last episode’s case, done it poorly.
As mentioned earlier, the fight scenes in this episode are very impressive. There’s some more good shots of the Ultramen fighting Gue Basser, a feathery, pterodactyl-like monster, in the background of larger scenes. However, it’s when Blu gets his wind-related power-up that the action steps up a notch. After jumping into the fight, the camera remains over Blu’s shoulder, giving us a very close-up view of the action. There are also moments where the camera moves back, becoming a first-person camera from the perspective of Blu, giving us a bit of a Doom movie moment as we watch him chase after the monster. This may only be happening to emphasise the power of this new wind form, and it only lasts a couple of minutes, but it’s a fantastic segment of camera work and I’d love to see more of this from Ultraman in future episodes. I worry that it’s a bit of a treat to commemorate the form change, but I’d be so much more into Ultraman if it was always like this.
Interestingly, Aizen summons Gue Basser specifically to help find the wind crystal. This was something he learned about after placing the bug earlier, hearing about it just before the bug was destroyed. You can assume then that Aizen wants it for himself, but after the Ultramen manage to dig it up, Aizen seems excited about this development. It’s possible that this just makes it easier for him to take later, but it seemed to me that he was actively helping them out. This is questionable what with all the monster-related destruction that’s being caused, but I’m still positive that there’s more to his motives. What’s more, we see he’s in the possession of an Ultraman disc, something more akin to what the Ultramen are using to power up, rather than to summon a monster with, though the disc is a little War of the Worlds looking around the edges. I’m sure we’ll learn more about that soon, but until then, here’s to futilely wishing that Aizen becomes a third Ultraman.
- Ninomiya asks Blu if he’s heard of the Ultramen. It’s kinda baffling how anyone in this universe could not be familiar with two giants that constantly show up to fight monsters.
- Still no Dinosaur Tank.
This episode was, I am certain, originally a story written for something else. Either that, or it got massively redacted in the writers’ room. Ninomiya was supposed to explicitly die. Her whole plot line is littered with death flags. Her flying device is named after Icarus, for heck’s sake. Actually, just look at this:
I don’t know what the original medium was; it might be that this is a story one of the writing staff has been sitting on for years, maybe they just got way into Greek mythology, or perhaps they just adapted a script originally pitched to a slightly more adult tokusatsu show. In the version of this episode that actually aired, we get a scene that definitely isn’t a heaven euphemism in which we are told that Ninomiya ‘had to move away’. In the canon of the show, I can’t even tell if that’s supposed to be the truth, or a misunderstanding on the part of our narrating protagonist. Maybe the ambiguity is intentional. Maybe I’m just reading too much into it.
Headcanon aside, though, this was a very good episode. Everyone put in a good performance, and the production and art direction was remarkably expressive. Each scene had a consistent and unique aesthetic, and the activation of the wind power felt like a real Thanos-calibre event. I hope they didn’t blow their whole budget on this episode, because I think this might be the first time an Ultraman show has ever convinced me of the scale of the battles, and I would love for that to keep happening.