This review will contain spoilers for Ultraman Decker and light spoilers for Ultraman Decker Finale: Journey to Beyond.
I have been watching and enjoying Ultraman Decker for the past year as GUTS-Select and Kanata Asumi fought off the encroaching Sphere invasion even as they learned to be their own kind of heroes in a fragile, but beautiful world filled with countless characters and Kaiju.
But even in the short time between the epic series conclusion and the February 2023 exclusive international TVOD premiere of Ultraman Decker Finale: Journey to Beyond right here on Ultraman Connection, I found myself wanting more!
Now that I’ve watched the movie, what did I get?
Just that: More Decker.
More than any movie to come out of the Ultraman Series’ New Generation, Ultraman Decker Finale: Journey to Beyond feels like, in the most positive way possible, more of the show.
Decker was one of my favorite series in the New Generation, a heavily character-driven story focusing on dreams of the future and the challenges of tomorrow. Unfortunately, the series ended, as it had to, with the defeat of Mother Spheresaurus and the return of the fleet of humanity trapped in space. As a result, we didn’t have enough time to see what the vaunted future actually held for GUTS-Select.
Thankfully, this is where Journey to Beyond comes in. Taking place a year after the ending of the series, the movie takes a look at the GUTS-Select crew having taken the steps towards achieving their personal goals now that the looming threat of apocalypse is no longer hanging over their world. Ryumon is set to become the next captain of GUTS-Select, Ichika is finally getting ready to travel into space like she wants, and Kanata… Well, what does Kanata want?
Like the series itself, Journey to Beyond is interested in examining the idea of “dreams for the future,” and the road that those dreams take us on to reach them. However, there was always a challenge to this thesis, because the threat of the Sphere stood in front of everyone’s personal growth; if there was no tomorrow, what was the point of dreaming about it? Even the existence of Decker was tied, above anything else, to the crisis.
In a fun divergence, the lack of an absolute world-ending threat like the Sphere allows Journey to Beyond to keep one eye on the future across the entire story. Professor Gibellus, the Alien Zozogiga who seeks the most “beautiful” invasion as his goal, is, frankly, more of a threat on the level of a weekly foe for an Ultraman series. A fully-fledged Ultraman would likely have little issue against him and his alien lackeys. Unfortunately, the power of Decker returned to the future after the battle with the Sphere. What we have instead is Dinas.
Ultraman Dinas is the newest hero to inherit the light, the alter-ego of the Lavian Dinas, who can utilize the powers of Kaiju in both her humanoid form, as well as as a giant. Though Dinas is both endlessly compassionate and has a strong sense of justice, her skill as an Ultraman is still dangerously underdeveloped, and poses a real problem against a foe like Gibellus, who has an army at his disposal, as well as dangerous technology and the horrifying Kaiju known as Gigalogaizer.
The movie itself is well-shot, looking just as good, if not better, than the best episodes of the Decker series. Character has always been a strong point of the series, but Hiroki Matsumoto’s Kanata and Kayano Nakamura’s Dinas steal the show, having a chemistry that makes Dinas feel like she’s always been part of the cast. Matsumoto himself is a tremendous actor, having elevated the character of Kanata since July 2022, and as a sendoff, this feels like the culmination of an arc more than half a year in the making.
It wouldn’t be an Ultraman Series entry without fantastic practical and special effects, and Journey to Beyond does it better than most, having a size to it that hasn’t been easy to do since 2020. A number of different, expansive shooting locations at human scale pair especially well with the artfully-made cityscapes of the giant scale, and a tremendous cast of aliens, many voiced by famous Japanese comedians in fun cameos, further increases the feel of the movie as just Decker… but bigger!
In conclusion, if you’re coming to watch a gigantic super-spectacle on the scale of Ultra Galaxy Fight, this is not that kind of movie. What you get from Ultraman Decker Finale: Journey to Beyond is a thrilling and affectionate coda for Ultraman Decker writ large… and this reviewer couldn’t have asked for anything better than that.
Come back to Ultraman Connection for a more detailed breakdown of the movie, complete with spoilers for some of those surprise guest star aliens, Kaiju, and yes, Ultras in the weeks to come. Rent Ultraman Decker Finale: Journey to Beyond right here on the site (requires a fast free registration with Ultraman Connection)—and don’t forget to stay all the way through to the end of the credits for a tantalizing glimpse of the future!