“What We Should Protect”
A powered-up Horoboros proves too strong for the Ultramen, leaving all three of them hospitalised. After three very obvious hints, Asahi finally figures out the human identities of Rosso and Blu. Also, she might be an alien now?
This show is baffling. Perhaps this is down to each episode having different writers, which might complicate things when you have fights and plot threads running over multiple episodes, but this show excels at swinging from good to bad to good again. It reminds me of those word game where you write a sentence down on a bit of paper, fold it over and pass it to the next person, so that you end up with a functional but tonally inconsistent and weird story at the end of it.
This is now our third episode with Horoboros, which is a little unfortunate when we’ve comparatively seen monsters like Bezelb and Gomess in throwaway 5 minute segments. That costume is still pretty rad, fair enough, but I think we need a bit more than standing up and bad special effects to keep it fresh. I’d honestly take a re-colour at this point, and they had an excuse to do some changes when it comes back all powered up.
To be fair though, this episode isn’t really about Horoboros, as much as it features prominently. Even Aizen is cast aside for the most part while the Minato children figure things out. It all comes down to some pretty cliche reactions though – Asahi refusing to let them fight because she’s worried about them getting hurt, then eventually siding with them and helping them out. Rosso and Blu get to have their speech about how they need to fight for the sake of Japan, or whatever. It’s been coming, no surprises here.
The truly unfortunate part to all this is that Asahi still isn’t given anything interesting to do. When Aizen is defeated by Horoboros early-on, the magic pizza cutter flies over to her and suspends itself in the air for her to collect. There’s got to be a reason for her to receive it, right? It doesn’t end up with Aizen’s human form, and it doesn’t fly off to Rosso and Blu. She then ends up chasing after Rosso and Blu when they ditch the hospital to fight again, somehow managing to catch up to them moments after they stop to fight. Ignoring that she must be running at incredible speeds in order to catch up with two Ultramen who were flying at a very apparent high speed to reach Horoboros as quickly as possible, she shows up just to gift them the pizza cutter.
It’s really disappointing to see her role boiled down to this, that she’s just delivering the magic macguffin instead of, you know, using it herself. Even if the show is reluctant to make her an Ultraman, it would be nice to see her do something that isn’t just overshadowed by her brothers. Which, leads us on to the reveal at the end of the episode, which implies that Asahi may not even be related to the Minato family, and that the memories they have of her growing up may be falsified.
On one hand, it’s a genuinely interesting twist and I’m glad that they’re doing something with Asahi, but at the same time, where is the foreshadowing, R/B? We actually do seem to had a little build-up to the missing mother situation in recent episodes, and yet that hasn’t gone anywhere yet. Going this route with Asahi is fine, but we have no reason to believe this wasn’t just scribbled onto the script at the last minute. I know that tokusatsu shows often handle foreshadowing with the subtlety of a bulldozer, but work with us here, show. Some memory issues, a throwaway line from Koma about things not being as she remembered, anything. It wouldn’t have taken much to make this revelation feel earned.
- “That didn’t look great” might be the phrase me and colons have said the most while watching Ultraman R/B.
- Goth antagonist probably isn’t the missing mum, given Aizen didn’t recognise her. Watching the way she stares/moves, I’m almost certain she’s a cloud alien like Aizen is. Maybe Asahi, too?
- Still no Dinosaur Tank.
I echo all of Euri’s above complaints. Asahi should have had more to do. This ‘twist’ came out of nowhere, and doesn’t even relate to the work that this episode was doing to seemingly build up to a reveal about our mysterious goth villain.
The thing this show does seem to be good at is leaving you plenty of room to speculate about the ultimate motivations of all of these characters. What is Aizen’s actual goal here? Whose side is mysterious goth on? Is Asahi earnestly helping the people she calls her brothers? I am genuinely super curious about all of this, and I look forward to being disappointed when this show flubs the whole thing with another completely unearned reveal.
I have another theory from this episode that I would have discarded as television magic were it not for the reveal at the end. Like the ‘Aizen is aware that this is a TV show’ theory I’m still pitching, it is patently absurd and the evidence for it is easily dismissed as Just Tokusatsu Things, but I’m going to stick with it until it’s proven untrue.
The theory is that Asahi already has superpowers of some kind, besides memory alteration. She covered many, many miles on foot in the very short time between the start of the climactic fight and her handing the pizza cutter back to the protagonists. We got a few shots of her running, but she must have covered at least twenty miles in under ten minutes. I’m not even convinced she knows it, but if she’s been inserted into this family’s life either consciously or as some kind of sleeper agent, it doesn’t seem unreasonable to expect her to have the power to fulfil her role in whatever narrative she’s needed for, whatever impossible feats that may take.