Hello and welcome back, Ultraman Connection readers! It’s hard to believe that we’ve done over eighteen of these welcomes now, but we’re committed to bringing you the highlights and deep thoughts behind each new episode of Ultraman Blazar. This episode, “The Towering Terror” certainly provides a lot of different angles to discuss this week. So with the usual disclaimer about open spoilers for episode 18 contained within, let’s take a closer look at how those different angles break down… figuratively and literally.
At first glance, and from the preview last week, the main threat of this episode seemed to be a new Kaiju, named Irugo, and the polluting gases it produces. But we quickly learn from Vice Captain Teruaki that Irugo isn’t any ordinary Kaiju. It’s a space Kaiju, which means it could potentially be the rumored “third wave” following Bazanga and Gebalga from earlier in the show.
If you forgot, Emi Aobe later provides a good recap for the viewers, and Captain Gento. Bazanga and Gebalga were linked together by top-secret GGF intel, which also connected them to something called “V99”, and Test Facility 66. We don’t even know what V99 is or what exactly was being “tested” at that facility, but both details seem to be central to many underlying mysteries in Blazar, including the disappearance of Emi’s father, and even Gento’s first encounter with Blazar himself. While the rest of the SKaRD team investigates Irugo and tries to devise countermeasures, Emi is once again “off somewhere” to investigate these questions on her own.
I really enjoyed how the show delivers both parallel sets of exposition for these storylines, and thought the way it depicted parallel conversations happening was clever and even a little humorous. The team was given only vague orders from Chief of Staff Retsu Haruno about the Kaiju. Meanwhile, a different conversation between Emi and Gento was interspersed in the scene to fill in all the highly classified information left unsaid by their supervisor. Or at least, all the highly classified information Emi and Gento have between them, which still isn’t much. Emi thinks she’s found a new lead though, a scientist who was also at the scene of the test facility accident, and who happened to be a friend of her father’s.
This would have been very similar to episode 14, “Memories in the Moonlight”, if those were the only two plot lines happening.That episode also took a fairly standard “Monster of the Week” threat and coupled it with more development of Emi’s story at the same time. In fact, this series quite frequently has used SKaRD’s fight against a Kaiju as a stepping-off point to develop other characters and their own unique stakes in that same fight. It’s a great storytelling technique, and I’ve talked about it quite frequently in other articles for Ultraman shows.
But those aren’t the only plot lines running. Oh, no, readers, we’re only getting started.
In addition to Emi’s quest for answers, Gento has issues of his own, albeit ones that are a little closer to home. The long hours he’s forced to work while investigating Irugo have taken a toll on his relationship with his family. Gento can make all the excuses he wants for why he’s coming home late, but it’s clear that he’s greatly saddened by his wife and son’s disappointment. He obviously wants to be there for them, but his role with SKaRD and his responsibility for leading his team also takes priority – understandably so. He wants to be the best dad he can be, but right now that’s accomplished best by helping to understand and defeat Irugo’s poisonous attack on the city.
I’m sure his family would understand that as well, if he would just tell them the truth already! For some reason he still wants them to think that he works as an engineer in the GGF! It seems as if he’s so focused on his biggest responsibilities – to protect lives as the Captain of SKaRD – that he can’t see how small things like wearing a handmade bracelet can mean just as much to the people around him.
Gento is nothing if not consistent though; this is pretty much the same problem he had back in the midseason too. He just seems to get so caught up in his own worries and responsibilities that he can’t see other people’s perspectives. In short, he’s trying to keep too many different plates spinning by himself – his roles as Captain and a father, not to mention Ultraman – and something’s going to inevitably break when he drops one.
Oh right, we still have a Space Kaiju to talk about, don’t we?
It’s interesting to note that the show makes a distinction regarding these “Space Kaiju” which comprise the different “waves” instead of just being “a kaiju that comes from space”. After all, we’ve seen Garamon and the aliens controlling it, Alien Cannan, and most recently, the alien samurai Zangill. There’s lots of things from outer space which have arrived on Earth, least of which is Ultraman Blazar himself, but it’s clear these “waves” are a different threat level that spooks the GGF.
Irugo is another kind of threat different from its predecessors as well. Instead of attacking the city directly or its electrical grid, Irugo is stationary, but still poisons the air around it. We can only assume the reasons why but the GGF orders SKaRD to step down from their investigation after about a week with no results. I find it darkly hilarious that almost immediately after the GGF’s upper brass takes direct control of the operation, they come up with the most ill-advised plan possible and make everything worse.
Although it was pretty cool to see them bring the Seagull-Fantop out for this mission, admittedly. (Presumably it’s on loan from the XIG defense organization. I hope they don’t mind that Irugo smashed it into the pavement, I’m sure those dents will buff right out!)
SKaRD comes up with a much better plan, since they actually put effort into thoroughly studying the Kaiju, and consider collateral damage before starting an operation. Teruaki and Yasunobu realize that Irugo is hurt by the Earth’s normal atmosphere, and the sulfurous chemical cocktail it spews out seems to be a necessary measure to protect itself. Working quickly, they convert the Earth Garon into the world’s biggest air conditioner to, well… condition the air!
And it seems to work! At first. Of course there is still one more twist in this episode, and it’s a doozy. You see, the shocking part of this episode isn’t just that Irugo is the “Third Wave” of Space Kaiju, and proves to be a dangerous threat to the Earth.
The twist is that the “Second Wave" didn't end in the first place.
When cornered, Irugo curls up into a ball and transforms into another Gebalga! And then more Irugo Kaiju pop out of the ground! How long had they been underground, waiting for this? How did they even arrive on the Earth? Does this mean that Gebalga is some sort of additional developmental stage for the same kind of organism? Or are they artificial forms that serve different purposes towards some unidentified goal?
There’s no time to ponder any of these mysteries though! Now the Earth Garon and Ultraman Blazar have to contend against multiple angry eels with big sharp teeth, while getting body-checked by the giant starfish Kaiju that nearly destroyed the team back in the midseason!
Hey, wait a second… Starfish? Eels? Wasn’t Bazanga’s design based on a shrimp? And even though it wasn’t technically a Space Kaiju, Leviera was a mutant sea angel engineered with genetic material from another Space Kaiju connected to this unknown “V99”. I wonder if this general theme is just an interesting design motif, or if there’s a deeper reason why all the Kaiju seem to be based on marine organisms. Goodness, there’s enough questions already to fill another article, and I don’t have answers to any of them!
Despite all of those questions, our main characters aren’t left helpless or paralyzed by uncertainty. The Earth Garon’s AI system EGOISS – now unanimously referred to as “Earthy” – provides a strategy to utilize all of their new strengths and allies together in a never-before-seen way for this fight. Teruaki actually talks directly to Blazar, asking him to use the electricity from his Tilsonite sword to ionize and deplete Irugo’s gas. I don’t know if Blazar knows what a “vacuum arc” is, but he and Gento seem to get the gist of the plan, and follow through. Irugo and this new Gebalga both are defeated with lightning speed once the pollution is removed, and the day is saved!
Gento even gets to go home early to see his family after all! And Emi finds a new lead to bring her closer to the truth of her father’s disappearance! Everything’s just coming up roses for our heroes, it seems.
Yes, in fact sprouting in the same way I would describe the sight of more Irugo Kaiju shooting up like weeds again as the episode ends.
It’s going to be a long week to wait for the next part of this story. Until then, readers, stay tuned right here to Ultraman Connection.