Hello and welcome, Ultraman Connection readers! There’s a lot to talk about this week, so strap yourselves in and try to keep up through all the plot twists and turns at Mach-9 speed! Before anyone gets whiplash though, be aware that we are going to get deep into open spoilers for this week’s episode of Ultraman Blazar. If you haven’t watched it yet, you should probably come back after you’ve fixed that.
Everyone ready? Now, please keep your hands and feet inside the ride, and remain seated at all times…
Sure, I’m joking about whiplash from plot twists here, but the episode actually picks up smoothly from where we left off with the recap last week. Previously, the SKaRD team revisited all the challenges they had faced over the first half of the show, and how they’ve repeatedly proven the strength of their teamwork together. This episode features a challenge from a new Kaiju attack, and in a similar way, SKaRD rises to the occasion to once again demonstrate their shared strength, utilizing all their unique individual skills and resources.
Initially, the GGF and SKaRD mistake Deltandal for another Space Kaiju, which is understandable given its bizarre design resembling a stealth bomber jet more than a living creature. However, Deltandal definitely originates from the Earth, even if its airborne speed outrageously exceeds the Earth Garon’s capabilities. Since they can’t fight it directly, the team has to devise a strategy to slow the Kaiju down with the weapons they have.
The resulting aerial battle against Deltandal is an incredible action setpiece, and a definite highlight of the show so far. Past Ultraman series have plenty of dogfights involving the defense teams’ jets, but this one distinguishes itself just by the fact that SKaRD is piloting a giant mecha in pursuit of the Kaiju. In addition to that, the spinning camera perspectives and wide-angle shots for these scenes remind me of moments out of a jet fighter anime more than anything else. It’s wonderful to see a return to the classic “Itano Circus” display of spiraling missile volleys, which seem to be a recurring element of the storyboards for these dogfights.
All that, even before Ultraman Blazar himself joins the battle!
After the struggle against Gebalga in episode 12, Gento and Blazar seem to have found a way to work more effectively together, and we see the result of their cooperation continue to play out here in multiple ways. It’s clear that SKaRD, under Gento’s command, served an important role in this fight, even if Blazar delivered the finishing blow against Deltandal. The team’s strategy located the Kaiju quickly, prevented it from escaping their radar, and landed critical hits to slow it down, which crucially set the stage for victory before Gento excused himself outside to “fix the antenna” and transformed into Blazar.
In addition to the action, many of these scenes were just plain funny, with a lot of laugh-out-loud moments from the team’s interactions together. One of my favorites was seeing everyone’s reactions to Yasunobu’s continued habit of naming all of the machines they work with – including their Mobile Outpost, now dubbed “Mopy”.
The fight against Deltandal, along with SKaRD’s newfound teamwork now including Blazar, would’ve made for a fun Monster-of-the-Week plot on its own merits. This kind of story is a workhorse which serves tokusatsu series just as reliably as “Mopy” serves the SKaRD team. However, this subplot has another, more serious function. It contrasts with the second storyline of this episode, which delves into the mysteries around the GGF itself.
It should be clear to the audience how much the SKaRD team has improved by this point, and the importance of their individual efforts in the fight against Kaiju threats. However, Chief of Staff Haruno isn’t satisfied only with an assist in these battles. He issues an ultimatum once again, demanding that they destroy the Kaiju single-handedly, or the team will be dissolved by their superiors in the GGF. While this threat continues to motivate the rest of SKaRD to work harder to live up Haruno’s expectations, Emi Aobe contributes to the team’s efforts in a different way.
She’s been snooping around the GGF’s top-secret files related to the Space Kaiju attacks. Like Yasunobu’s nicknames, this seems to be a habit of hers, even before she joined the team! In fact, last week we learned that she was scouted and recruited by the GGF specifically because she was caught hacking into their systems! Clearly she hasn’t learned her lesson, since she’s doing the exact same thing in this episode.
The information she finds only raises more questions. It seems as if all the details she discovers about the mysterious “V99” which connects the Space Kaiju, and a specific research lab, designated as “Test Facility 66”, converge onto the team’s past. Not only was Emi’s father one of the scientists who went missing in an accidental explosion at that site, the same location – and the same explosion – involved Captain Gento as well.
In the process of investigating the GGF’s secrets, she trips into a dangerous conspiracy centered on the man who once served as the chief director over GGF Japan – Yu Dobashi. (He’s played by veteran actor Minori Tareda, who also has been in multiple Ultraman series going back to the original 1966 Ultraman!)
Even though Dobashi is retired now, he still oversees the research lab where Emi’s father disappeared, and apparently still holds quite a bit of influence in the GGF itself. Even Haruno, seems to be intimidated by him, and warns Emi of dire consequences if she digs deeper. Something about these scenes struck me as odd, and it was only after rewatching it that I understood why. Haruno doesn’t warn Emi about what she might uncover regarding the Space Kaiju. He warns her away from investigating Dobashi himself.
When she confronts him later on in the episode, Dobashi even claims that he doesn’t know anything about what the scientists were studying at Test Facility 66, or what caused the fateful explosion. Instead, he all but explicitly threatens that she will also mysteriously “disappear” in the same way her “defiant” father did, if she continues snooping into his business.
It’s almost as if the GGF superiors don’t care about the Space Kaiju or their origins. They seem to be alarmed only by the thought of their own mistakes and failures coming to light, and the consequences of uncovering their connections to this disaster. It’s certainly consistent with what we’ve seen from the “upper brass” of the organization so far, but it’s a cruel contrast to the trust and mutual respect we see between the members of SKaRD.
As I mentioned, Gento himself was also connected to this disaster, but when Emi confronts him about it, he’s very open about his failures during this event. He did everything he could to try and save the people trapped in the building. Despite that heroic effort, he still clearly holds a great deal of sadness and regret from the thought of other innocent lives lost that day. Captain Gento at least is willing to face up to the past, unlike his superiors.
This scene, with both Emi and Gento honestly connecting through their own unresolved grief and survivor’s guilt together, is one of the most arrestingly powerful and emotional moments of the show. It stuck with me for a long time after the premiere’s stream ended on Friday night. But it wasn’t the end of the episode!
Shockingly, there was another person who seemed to feel the same guilt over that event, the explosion at the research lab which claimed the lives of those scientists. One of the biggest twists of the episode – to me, at least – wasn’t Gento’s connection to that disaster, but Retsu Haruno’s. Emi claims that he was her father’s “best friend”, surely he must feel something about his friend’s disappearance and the resulting cover-up which refuses to acknowledge him.
My honest opinion? I think he does.
I had wondered since the second episode, when he was introduced, whether Haruno actually cared about his team, or if he was using them only to “further his own career” as Emi accuses in this episode. I really do think that his repeated warnings to Emi and Captain Gento, about the consequences of them stepping out of line or disappointing the higher-ups, come from real concern for their well-being. But I also think he’s too afraid of the consequences from those same higher-ups to trust his team and their strengths, in order to do the right thing.
Despite his warnings, he can’t stop Emi from swearing to uncover the truth about that day, three years ago. And Gento certainly isn’t going to try either, he almost seems happy that she’s causing trouble when Haruno tips him off about her investigation. What they will discover, and how the GGF leaders will choose to respond, is still beyond any of my speculation though. We can only wait for the next episode to find out! Until then, stay tuned right here to Ultraman Connection for all the news, commentary and information you need.